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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Sunday, March 3

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Restaurant Wed Apr 04 2007

Creamy and Dreamy in the Loop

The Vegan at Specialty's with Arline.jpg

Specialty's does a vegan sandwich - called the Vegan no less - so well that it's the only thing a few of my non-veg friends order there. "I've ventured out a couple of times, but there's no reason. It's the best thing on the menu," my pal Arline told me. Another close friend, John, has been there more than ten times but hasn't tried anything else. He introduced me to the place saying, "I found your new favorite vegan sandwich." And he was right.

I've returned twice in just a few weeks, and each time I've eaten somewhere different. You can eat at tables inside, faux-outdoor-style among plants in the building's lobby or outside on the benches of 333 W. Wacker Drive - where Wacker turns with the river. You can also have Specialty's bring loads of Vegans to you. As Arline said looking at their delivery trolley, "I always get excited when I see one of those because I know someone's going to get totally hooked up."

After paying, get your sandwich from the opening in the wall towards the back (but pick up soup at the register). Peek through the wall and you will see anonymous hands making your sandwich. The low height of the top of wall's cutout obscures the face. I watched hands spread avocado all over the flaky focaccia bread that held together a lovely mess of savory Kalamata olives, artichoke hearts, tomatoes, mushrooms and fresh basil. It was creamy and dreamy with bursts of flavor. All for just $4.

Specialty's making a Vegan.-3.jpg

Anonymous hands make your sandwich through a cutout in the wall.

Specialty's delivery trolley.jpg

Delivery trolley. "I always get excited when I see one of those because I know someone's going to get totally hooked up."

Specialty's Cafe.jpg

Dine in the faux outside.

Chicago location visited: 191 N. Wacker Dr.

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rfbrunn / April 4, 2007 10:27 PM

Seeing the vegan sandwich food trolley and knowing that you will be hooked up - with such a sandwich - must be a good vegan expectation !

rfbrunn / April 4, 2007 11:03 PM

Gotta try this sandwich !

mike / April 5, 2007 11:30 AM

if this is the same bakery as teh one in san francisco, they have my all-time favorite cookies!

Taylor / April 5, 2007 12:50 PM

Looks good, but I hate olives. I keep trying them now and again to see if I may have developed a taste for them, but I always end up disgusted. A shame they seem to have based this sandwich around them.

erin / April 5, 2007 12:51 PM

OMG - this is my favorite sandwich at specialty's. thanks for spreading the word.

and the cookies are out of this world (and 1/2 price if you get teh day-old cookies which are just as good).

Bob Brunn / June 25, 2007 7:07 PM

The Vegan sandwich: the most tasty lunch ever.

Chris, thanks for taking me to Lunch at this restaurant.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

The State of Food Writing

By Brandy Gonsoulin

In 2009, food blogging, social media and Yelp were gaining popularity, and America's revered gastronomic magazine Gourmet shuttered after 68 years in business. Former Cook's Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Kimball followed with an editorial, stating that "The shuttering of Gourmet reminds...
Read this feature »

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