The Best Restaurants (and a Bar) for Peanut Butter and Jelly in Chicago

Moms can always count on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to keep kids happy, but the sandwich doesn't have to be child's play. Achieving the savory and the sweet, the nutty and the tart, it's not quite as easy as it looks, and several Chicago restaurants have perfected their turns on the classic. Once you've downed that peanut butter wonder mom might not have made (we have four to suggest), it's off to the bar, where a PB&J smacks on the lips in the form of a martini. (Photo: PB&J at Potbelly's)

Updated: April 05, 2010

Best Chicago PB&Js

The Cupcake Counter

229 W Madison St, Chicago, IL 60606

This Loop bakery isn't the biggest, but it is the best place for PB&J cupcakes. (Call ahead; they only appear once a week.) The secret is the house-made strawberry preserves that meld with silky peanut butter. It's a jam recipe handed down by the owner's 86-year-old grandmother. Now that's TLC.

Swim Cafe

1357 W Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60622

This twist may be the coolest rendition in town. Two pieces of chocolate bread (or white, for die-hards) are dusted with powdered sugar and spread with organic peanut butter and jam. Add-ons like blueberries, bananas--whatever's seasonal--gussy up the plate. Have them with a latte or tall glass of milk.

Blue Line Club Car

1548 N Damen Ave, Chicago, IL 60622

Channel your youth at this Bucktown bar with a PB&J martini, which is served straight-up and has a nutty amaretto aftertaste. The recipe is top-secret. Says general manager David Azizinamini, ?It's PB&J in a glass, but Blue Line will not give out how it got there." Go on Wednesday and it's only $5.

Potbelly Sandwich Shop - Lincoln

2264 N. Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL 60614

The only tweak on the classic is the signature bread, two hunks of white or wheat loaves that pass through a moving oven before being slathered with gobs of peanut butter and Welch's grape jelly. Look around, and you'll see packs of kids trying to fit these bad-boys into their tiny mouths.

Specialty's Cafe & Bakery

191 N Wacker Dr, Chicago, IL 60606

Sandwiched between two pieces of multi-grain bread, this treat gets crispiness from thinly sliced apples and creaminess from bananas and cranberry compote. The final touch is Jiff peanut butter, the nutty kind, to remind diners that while they grew up, their taste doesn't have to.