Top Sandwich Shops
Local sandwich shops are carving out a fervent following with big, meaty sandwiches piled high with quality ingredients.
Heroes, hoagies, subs, grinders, sammiches, paninis, sammies – whatever you call them, however you like them – we love our sandwiches. I mean, we really love them.
Here’s some food for thought: Technomic’s nationwide Sandwich Consumer Trend Report found that 95 percent of consumers eat at least one sandwich per week. That means in McHenry County alone, we eat more than 15 million sandwiches a year!
You can thank John Montagu for this modern obsession. Born in 1718, he was the 4th Earl of Sandwich, and the person often credited as the inventor of the modern sandwich.
The myth goes that he was such a committed gambler he wouldn’t get up from the table to eat. Instead, he had servants put meat between two slices of bread and bring it to him at the table. Others at the table would say, “I’ll have the same as Sandwich.” And so the sandwich was born.
From those early days as practical and convenient sustenance, the sandwich has morphed into something of an art form with sandwich masters all over McHenry County creating true culinary masterpieces. We’ve put together a short list of McHenry County’s best delis and sandwich shops, plus their menus’ must-trys.
Epic Deli, Johnsburg
Known for: Meats made in-house, deep-fried sandwiches and homemade desserts, particularly cheesecakes.
Order this: The Viking Quest, Epic’s best-selling sandwich, weighs in at nearly 3 pounds of turkey, pastrami, salami, bacon, ham, pepperoni, roast beef, pepper jack, provolone, cheddar, banana peppers and ghost pepper ranch.
Claim to fame: “We’ve been the winner of best sandwich shop for [Northwest Herald’s] Best of the Fox for the past two years and the best deli the past three years in a row,” said Tyler Wildey, general manager and owner. “We have 50 different sandwiches. We keep everything fresh and new.”
Known for: The highest-quality, high-end meats ordered from Tennessee, and its specially designed bread.
Order this: The Al Capone, the shop’s best seller, is a take on the traditional Italian sub with Italian capicola, salami, pepperoni, mortadella, provolone and olives.
Claim to fame: “If you’re someone who likes sandwiches, we pump some great stuff out of this little joint,” said John Ryals, owner and self-proclaimed “sub guru.” “We’ve been here 22 years. We’re kind of a hole in the wall, kinda small, but once you come in, we gotcha.”
Known for: Friendly atmosphere, unique sandwiches and being “the cool place to hang out and break bread.”
Order this: The reuben, fried chicken and bacon, Chief Dog, and ham and salami with a fried egg.
Claim to fame: “We have a very diverse menu, and we appeal to all ages,” said Teri Plazak, owner. “We’ll bend over backwards to accommodate your tastes. Our sandwiches are really large, so you get a lot for your money, and all of our products are natural.”
Butcher on the Block, Lake in the Hills
Known for: Being the neighborhood family butcher, and meats that are pure, honest and butchered the way it was in the past.
Order this: The cooked pot roast and Butcher’s Special sub.
Claim to fame: “Our motto, ‘If I’m not gonna take it home, neither are you,’” said Tom Yucuis, owner. “The beauty of [our shop] is that you have to come in here and talk to us. We have to help you. It’s all full service. We guide our customers; we’re meat cutters. You get good, quality products at a fair price.”
Flatlander Market, Marengo
Known for: Flavorful sandwiches across the board, homemade sauces and a love for customizing sandwiches.
Order this: Chicken pesto panini.
Claim to fame: “Nothing but top-quality stuff,” said Rocco Gailloreto, owner. “We get a lot of folks from around the county who are cycling or taking the scenic drive. Marengo is halfway to everywhere. We’re a great place to meet. It’s all about the flavors. Some of our best sandwiches have come from our customers. They ask, ‘Can you make this?’ We get that a lot.”