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Jul 27, 2010 11:13 AM

Chicago Style Subs?

I was born and raised in Chicago. After moving to the Twin Cities, I periodically crave Chicago-style food, just like any Chicago native. I have found some great places to get Italian Beef and Chicago-style dogs. However, one of my favorite staples of Chicago food, is the sub sandwich. It doesn't seem like I can find a place in the Cities to get one like they make in Chicago. I'm looking for something like they serve at Fontano's, for any of you that have been there and know what I'm talking about. Awesome bread, tasty meats and cheeses, drenched in Italian oil and vinegar. If anyone has any suggestions, it would be greatly appreciated. Thanks folks!

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  1. I came here after 10 years in Philly, and there they call them hoagies but I think they are probably similar in some of the important ways. Sorry to say there isn't much here that has the personality of the ones I remember. I'd say check out Clancey's meat market on Upton and 43d in Linden Hills. They make their own roast beef and turkey, use excellent rolls, and have whatever else you'd want to put on there. In general, there is a lack of good bread around here, as in French or Italian style rolls. Where you do find those rolls however , is in the Vietnamese places that serve banh mi sandwiches.....try those out, they aren't Italian but they are good and cheap.

    Broder's Deli also might be a good place, they use quality ingredients and have good bread- they have a bunch of sandwiches including something called the Jersey Hoagie.

    Good luck, report back...oh and Broder's deli will sell you some great imported salami etc and cheese and olive oil and you could go home and make your own, then open up a shop here, ok?

    1 Reply
    1. re: faith

      Hogan Bros. down in Northfield has a nice sandwich (nothing like PA's hoagie shops--I grew up eating Bus Stop Hoagies in Clarks Summit, PA) that comes with a house vinaigrette which I enjoy and reminds me of the sauces I used to get back at home.

    2. Another native Chicagoan here. I know what you mean (although I don't know Fontano's). I go to Surdyk's for my sub fix. They have wonderful hot sandwiches, but also some cold subs that are great! The Euro Sub and the Six Shooter are the ones I love. They change the offerings each day, but usually one or the other are available. Fantastic Rustica bread, quality salame, good cheese. One of the Six Shooter condiment is not vinegar but mayo. First sounded weird to my sensibilities, but it absolutely works! Try Surdyk's.

      Surdyk's Gourmet Cheese Shop & Deli
      303 E Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55414

      1. Try Nelson's Cheese and Sandwich Shop in St. Paul (on Como)...just be really clear and directive about the way you want your sandwich. I miss Jersey style subs and learned to approximate my own--check out Tyler's Ultimate sandwich episode...he shows how to add oil, season and add onion. Following his model is the closest I've come to getting that specific taste.

        1 Reply
        1. re: jillbcooks

          Regarding FireRev's mention of mayo going on there, I do recall in Philly getting both mayo AND oil and vinegar (and oregano, probably some salt and pepper too) on those hoagies, not the low-cal type lunch but very very good.

        2. I'm a native north-sider. This thread deals with hoagies over here:

          Looks like this place is recommended:

          BTW, you mentioned great places to get Italian beef and chicago dogs, would you mind letting us know what those places are (in your opinion).

          4 Replies
          1. re: alpa chino

            I lived in Philly for 13 years, and also miss hoagies / subs / heros. While I haven't found anything in the TC that resembles those, there are some close ones. Buon Giorno Express is very good, though I prefer Buon Giorno in Lilydale (; the "Italian Combo" is excellent. While Clancey's sandwiches are good, they don't really come close to the style you are seeking.

            Have you tried Jersey Mike's ( in St. Anthony Village? It's a chain. The original started in Point Pleasant, NJ. They have franchises all over the US (the St. Anthony Village is the only MN location), but their sandwiches are pretty good. They're done in the Chicago/NJ/Philly style, and while not an equal, they are a decent (and perhaps closest I have found) replacement.

            Buon Giorno Express
            335 University Ave E, Saint Paul, MN 55130

            1. re: foreverhungry

              Jersey Mikes is no more. Paper on the windows and a sign saying closed for remodeling. A sure kiss of death.

              1. re: ibew292

                Bummer. It's been a few months since I last went. Thanks for the heads up. Well, I guess it's back to the Itlaian Combo at Buon Giorno's.

                The other good Jersey / Chicago style sandwich is from Brianno's, on Cliff Road in Eagan.


                2280 Cliff Rd, Saint Paul, MN 55122

                1. re: ibew292

                  Jersey Mikes reopened. The sandwich is quite good. They reopened Nov 3. New owners and employees. They have Cheese Steaks also. For a "chain" I don't think they can be beat.

            2. estreske,

              Also a Chicago native. Can't add anything further on the sandwiches, but I am dying to know where you have found great places to get Italian beef sandwiches in the TC which approximate Portillo's or Al's.

              3 Replies
              1. re: SkaTmon

                For the folks looking for good Italian Beef and Chicago-Style Dogs:

                The places I have found that compare are:

                Pappy's Chicago Style Eatery
                1783 Maryland Avenue East, St Paul, MN
                (It's in East St. Paul so it's a little sketchy, but hey, we're from Chicago right?!)

                Chris and Rob's Chicago Taste Authority
                603 7th Street West, St Paul, MN or
                3101 East 42nd Street, Minneapolis, MN
                (I used to live a block from the MPLS location, really solid all around. I did once have an Italian Beef that they just put in the pot and didn't let sit in there for a while, it was sub-par)

                1428 4th Street Northeast, Minneapolis, MN
                (They have a Chicago-style Italian Beef. It's not as Chicago-like as the other two but it's still really insanely good. Watch out for the giardiniera though, it'll getcha! Good live music too, if you're into that. I play there pretty often.)

                Uncle Franky's
                728 Broadway Street Northeast, Minneapolis, MN or
                1316 4th Street Southeast, Minneapolis, MN
                (I haven't been here but I've heard really good things. It might be worth a shot.)

                I hope this cures those Chicago-style ills. I feel your pain. Take care folks!

                Uncle Franky's
                1316 4th St SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414

                1. re: SkaTmon

                  I've thought a lot about having a Portillo's in the metro area. I think it would take a little time to catch on, but think there is enough variety in the menu that it would work. Thoughts? I'm thinking the Maple Grove are would support it.

                  1. re: tda

                    I would LOVE to have a Portillos here. I'm not a Chicago native, but I make multiple trips to Portillos every time I visit.