Exploring Chicago's Pepper and Egg SandwichPosted by Tom Cox
Friday, March 12, 2010
During the Lenten season my thoughts often turn from IT to P&E. P&E, of course, being the infamous Chicago Pepper and Egg sandwich. While Chicago might be known for its Vienna beef hot dog or its Italian beef sandwich, on Fridays during Lent, a different breed of sandwich appears. The Pepper and Egg, in its essential raw form consists of a portion of gently scrambled eggs and fried green peppers placed on a French roll. I don't know if it's just me, but I seem to be having a difficult time finding places that serve the P&E -- especially in the Loop -- where lunchtime dining has suffered in general with a steady influx of corporate chains and the fading away of lunch spots with table service.
However, I did manage to find the sandwich at a handful of places, and I've supplied some notes below.
Keep in mind, I did have to break my golden rule of only patronizing places with table service, but it is Lent, and we're called to make sacrifices.
Cafe' Bionda's Bionda To Go
400 S. Financial Place
A popular and tasty spot mostly frequented by the trading community, Bionda serves the P&E as a special for Lenten Fridays only. The egg had a great balance -- not too soggy, not too firm. The peppers were a nice blend of green and red and were grilled but with enough crispness to preserve a bit of the raw pepper taste. The pepper and egg was served atop an extremely fresh Turano roll and with a side of fries. I'll be back!
111 W. Van Buren
One of my favorite sit-down lunch spots in the Loop, Boni Vino just feels like home. Everything there is delicious, and maybe it's my high hopes that influenced my scoring. The P&E was average at best. The eggs were a little soggy and the green peppers were barely cooked. Also, there were so many green peppers, that they just overpowered the sandwich. However, I love this place -- just not so much for the P&E!
Luke's Italian Beef
215 W. Jackson
If memory serves me correctly, Luke's serves the P&E every Friday, not just during Lent. This may go back to the pre-Vatican II days when every Friday was supposed to be meatless. Anyway, the P&E at Luke's was pretty straight up. Eggs and peppers both a tad soggy, but otherwise right in the ballpark. The bread was fresh (important) and I got an order of their excellent fries, a one-pound bag of greasy goodness! Yum!
100 W. Ontario
A bit outside the Loop and a well-known chain, Portillo's puts out a surprisingly good P&E during Lent. The egg to pepper ratio is accurate and the consistency is perfect. Also, you can mix things up a little -- like getting your P&E on a croissant or adding onions and cheese. Good stuff!