5 to Try: Corned Beef Sandwiches in Chicago

Contrary to what its name may indicate, there is no corn in corned beef. Rather, it refers to the large grains of rock salt used to slow-cure the hunk of meat. This popular delicatessen delicacy, which traditionally comes stacked high between two slices of fresh rye bread with a smear of mustard (Swiss cheese and coleslaw are permitted additions; mayonnaise is not), is rife with controversy on where to find the best. Here are our five favorites in Chicago.

Updated: March 22, 2010

Delicatessen Delicacies

Manny's Coffee Shop & Deli

1141 S Jefferson St, Chicago, IL 60607

This South Side family-owned spot has barely changed since it opened in 1942, and that's just how the long list of regulars likes it. They know to grab a tray, be prepared for some wisecracking remarks from the staff and order the sliced-to-order corned beef sandwich. That's exactly what then president-elect Barack Obama did in November 2008, and you should too.

Ashkenaz Deli

12 E Cedar St, Chicago, IL 60611

What this miniscule counter-service Gold Coast deli lacks in ambiance and space--come warmer weather, the sidewalk patio is a welcome addition--it more than makes up for in its authentic Jewish food. Case in point: its juicy corned beef sandwich served warm on rye bread. On a diet? Quit your kvetching and order it extra-lean.

Perry's Deli

174 N Franklin, Chicago, IL 60606

Two important things to know about this Loop deli: Don't talk on your cell phone unless you're looking to set off the ?alarm? and receive a verbal smack down, and order the humongous corned beef sandwich. Oh, and after consuming said sandwich, be prepared for a food coma. And we mean that in the nicest way possible.

Kaufman's Bagel & Delicatessen

4905 Dempster St, Skokie, IL 60077

The made-in-house bagels may hog the spotlight, but it's the four different cuts of corned beef from almost pure fat (deckle) to super trim that you can get on three different kinds of traditional Jewish rye (marble, seeded or plain) that make the schlep to Skokie worth it. Grab some treats from the bakery--some turtle brownies or rugelach, perhaps?--for the drive home.

Eleven City Diner

1112 S Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL 60605

Don't let the hip diner-esque decor, big-name items (Lavazza coffee), and newness of this South Loop deli fool you: Eleven City Diner is the real deal. The proof is in its hand-sliced corned beef sandwich. And don't ask us about the grilled tilapia or cheese ravioli, we haven't been able to get past the beef.