Some of my favorites
1. It's probably been said a million times in conjunction with Al's beef, but Mario's Italian Ice on Taylor is amazingly good. Only open during the warmer months so get your fix while you still can.
2. Manny's right off of Roosevelt on Jefferson?. Best Corned Beef sandwhich and potato pancakes you will ever set eyes on. The lack of fanciness is all made up for in character here. Can be a bit expensive but it is well worht it. Oh, they also have Green River.
3. Potbelly's. One of the best all around sandwhich shops in the city or anywhere for that matter. Toasts there subs like Quizno's but after you have a Potbelly's sub you will wonder why you ever went to Quizno's. They are scattered throughout the city and suburbs and theres one in Midway, and they are always busy but very quick nonetheless.
4. Bari's 1120 W. Grand. If you are looking for an unbelievable Italian sub that can't be beat you have to try out this deli in the back of the small grocery store. They even use fresh bread from D'Amato's bakery next door.
5. If you want real Chicago food like Da Bears guys from Saturday Night Live would eat you have try Maxwell Street Depot 411 W. 31st. One of the great things about this place is that they are open 24 hours. Great greasy food, real cheap. But don't expect a wide selection here, there are only 4 items to choose from. Pork Chop Sandwhich, Polish, Hot Dog or Hamburger. Don't forget to get an RC too.
6. Almost forgot--Vernon Park Tap on Vernon Park Pl.(1 block south of Harrison about 2 blocks east of Racine) Great small Italian restaurant. Hidden among residential buildings which gives it its cozy feel. More of a family/friends place than anything. Very good food, very well priced.
I cannot agree with your opinion of Mario's Italian Ice. It is some of the worst ice I have ever tasted. I went once, waited in a long line, and ordered two different flavors. Both were nasty. I vowed to never go back. I might have thought I got an off batch if I hadn't ordered the two different ices.
For truly outstanding Italian ice you must try Freddy's. Please try Freddy's and report back. I wish Mario's ice was just okay because I live much closer to Mario's than Freddy's.
Another spot that's pretty good is Gina's in Berwyn. It's a decent alternative if Freddy's is closed. It's not Freddy's. but it is still way better than Mario's.
1600 S 61ST AVE
GINA'S ICE CREAM SHOP
6737 ROOSEVELT RD
Perhaps I'm spoiled by living 4 blocks from Gina's, but I've found myself having a much stronger craving for the penguin's lemon sorbet than any italian ice i've ever had. Sure, they're different beasts, but I absolutely love that lemon sorbet. Lunch at Noon-O-Kabab and dessert from the penguin, now that's a Lawrence Ave. trip I can love.
re: Pete Oldtown
Bari's is also a great little Italian grocer with an outstanding deli and meat counter, all sorts of Italian food ingredients that can be hard to find elsewhere (ex. Capers packed in salt), good produce section, etc. I've made some wonderful pizzas with their pepperoni and home made sausages. It's a nice place to shop when you get fed up with the morons at Jewell/Dominicks/etc.
It's probably because I expect very different things from my sandwiches, but Bari's and Potbellys has NEVER done it for me. Granted that Potbelly's is better than the average sandwich at Quiznos, but I don't feel this a terrific standard of measure.
For me, the italian sub is too cold and too meaty--the sandwich I had from Bari's had a good 3 inches of meat, which were clammy made me a little nauseous.
Now if we're talking Mexican Tortas and Vietnamese Banh Mi sandwiches, then I would enthuse about the milanesa at Dona Natys and the No. 4 (shrimp cake) and No 10 at Ba Le.