Duran European Sandwiches & Cafe
Open-faced goodness at Duran in River West.

Power salads have their place, but around Chicago, a flurry of new cafés are luring us back to that beloved midday comfort food: the not-so-humble sandwich.

Duran European Sandwiches & Café in River West is the first U.S. outpost of an Austrian classic. The dainty open-faced sandwiches are topped with artfully piled meats and cheeses. (They look like party treats.) Try the finely chopped egg salad as part of the $10 three-sandwiches-plus-coffee combo. 529 N. Milwaukee Ave.; 773-517-7703 or duraneurosandwich.com

Lakeview's Sandwich Me In focuses on sustainable ingredients and inventive combinations--think a hot, sweet-and-salty peanut-butter-and-jam calzone ($7) or glazed pork loin topped with apples and sauerkraut ($8). 3037 N. Clark St.; 773-348-3037 or sandwichmeinchicago.com

Sauce and Bread Kitchen, an Edgewater collaboration between two farmers?-market favorites (Co-Op Sauce and Crumb Chicago), offers creative sandwich fare plus condiments and sweets. The kicky turkey on baguette with tamarind-guajillo-chile rub and pickled veggies is already legendary ($8). 6338-40 N. Clark St.; 773-942-6384 or sauceandbread.com

Da Lobsta in the Gold Coast is schooling Chicagoans on the traditional Maine-style roll. Indulge in lobster meat drizzled with garlic butter and celery salt and tucked inside a toasted New England?style bun smeared with tarragon mayo--all for a relatively affordable $13. 12 E. Cedar St.; 312-929-2423 or dalobstachicago.com

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