Location: 825 W. Fulton Market, Chicago, IL 60607
A Quick Word:
After dodging this restaurant several times, I decided it was time to give it a try. The first few times, the line was outrageous or no parking was available... but this time, my friend and I decided we would wait if necessary. Publican Quality Meats is exactly what you think. It is a spin-off of The Publican, a popular restaurant located just across the street. During the lunch hour, the chefs create unreal sandwich combinations that you would never think of. From the more classic Cuban Sandwich to a twist on Fish & Chips, you can never guess their next creation. The food is absolutely some of the highest quality and best tasting in Chicago (when it comes to sandwiches). The cost is student friendly, averaging $15 per person with a beer. Unfortunately, the location is what makes PQM a difficult place to frequent. Minimal street parking is annoying and the communal tables are outright awful. But, I still highly recommend the restaurant. I think next time I will order pick up to save some time and minimize picking up all the gossip from your table mates. Anyway, I gave it a 4.5-mile rating. If they changed the seating style, perfection would be reached.
What We Ate:
"Return of the Gyro"
Once again, the pork belly creation grabbed our attention. My friend and I decided to split two sandwiches, the first being the pork belly gyro. Rolled inside a griddled flatbread, the chef creates complex flavors by using a braised pork belly, pea shoots, and a calabrian chili vinaigrette. A raita adds that creaminess we all know from a classic gyro and a quick pickled veggie salad is served alongside. Whenever you eat late-night in Greektown, you expect a messy meal. This trend continues with this pork belly gyro. The meat itself is very rich and tender, but tends to fall out of the gyro quite easily. Cutting in half is essentially impossible without making a huge mess. That flatbread is a great vessel, holding its own more than a piece of pita would do. Its tough to beat a pork belly sandwich... until you see the one below! For $11, you can't go wrong by choosing this sandwich.
"Fish & Chips"
Whenever Lent rolls around, restaurants take advantage of the fish & chips dish. Publican Quality Meats has an interesting twist on the classic english dish... a twist that doesn't involving frying. Fish & Chips here means an open faced sandwich started with dark rye toast. It is then topped with smoked trout, aged cheddar cheese, an aioli, celery, peppers, and finished off with a handful of salt and vinegar potato chips. Another bag of chips accompanies the meal. This single-handedly may be the best sandwich I have ever eaten. It surpasses sandwiches like Manny's corned beef and Cemitas Pueblas cemita. The bread is first of all very crunchy allowing it to hold up to all the toppings. The fish's smokey flavor doesn't overwhelm the palate allowing the more minor parts (celery and peppers) to still shine. The addition of salt and vinegar potato chips was genius. It added a little tanginess and more of a crunch factor to the sandwich. The presentation isn't the greatest, but who cares... it tastes amazing and I highly recommend it to anyone! And for $11, try to beat that.
- What to do - if you are dining in, just walk over to the register area near the coffee and let them know. The host or one of the waiters/waitresses will take your name and give you a menu. When your seat at the communal table is available, they will show you to your spot.
- Share! The sandwiches are good size and come with a side. I suggest splitting a couple of sandwiches with a friend.
- Don't expect an intimate meal. With communal seating, it can actually be a pretty uncomfortable experience. People talk loud, listen to gossip, and are sometimes too close for comfort.
How far would I walk for this food?