Guilty Pleasures

Chicago's Taylor Street Deli Combo Sandwich: A Delicious Hot Italian Mess

The Guilty Pleasure: Combo Sandwich Where To Get It: Chicago's Taylor Street Deli, Scottsdale Road north of Loop 202 Price: $6 ($7 with peppers, highly recommended) What It Really Costs: You might want to get your shirt dry-cleaned after eating.

One of my favorite regional guilty pleasures that has found its way to the Valley of the Sun has to be the Italian beef sandwich. Extra-juicy beef, flavorful peppers, all barely contained by a crusty roll... It's heaven on a plate. For a good number of years, I was content to nosh on a regular Italian beef. Then, I browsed through Jane and Michael Stern's recent book The Lexicon of Real American Food. In this extensive culinary glossary, they discussed an option not often seen outside of Chicago, the combo sandwich.

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To most Americans, if you say the words "combo" and "sandwich" in the same breath, they think you mean a sandwich that comes with a side and a drink. To Chicagoans, it means something entirely different. A Chicago combo sandwich takes an Italian beef and an Italian sausage, and puts them together in the same piece of bread. The result is much greater than the sum of its parts. The seasonings of each play off the other perfectly, going together like Jay and Silent Bob.