A Jim Shoe- Chicago's Unique Sandwich That Doesn't Stink! **GUEST BLOGGER!
My wife is from the Chicago area, and I've spent a lot of time in the city. It is known for its unique sandwiches: Italian beef, Polish, Chicago-style cheesesteak, and gyros. However, on the South Side, there is a sandwich that seems destined to join this city's elite group of extraordinary foods: The Jim Shoe.
Numerous small shops on both the South and West Side of Chicago sell these mammoth culinary masterpieces, which also can sometimes be spelled as gym shoe.
The sandwich combines all of the best of the city into one portable meal that gets better with each bite. It's a mash-up of three types of meat: Italian beef, gyro meat, and corned beef.
In their own right, all three of these selections taste wonderful, but with onions and melted cheese mixed in, it becomes something truly special. The sandwich is dressed with lettuce, tomatoes, tzatziki sauce, and giardiniera, creating a flavor that is 100 percent authentically Chicago. There are a few places that add mayonnaise, pickles, and mustard as well.
The sandwich is most popular on the South Side and can be found within a few blocks of from Guaranteed Rate Field, home of the White Sox. The locations feature thick windows with revolving doors. Customers place their money in exchange for a bag with their sandwich, a small order of fries with mild sauce (another Chicago regional item), and a can of pop.
It is usually best devoured while sitting in your car parked along the street or eaten upon arrival at your destination when all the ingredients have had time to mingle to provide a perfect bite. It is messy once you remove it from the tightly wrapped paper or aluminum foil.
The combo of flavors is incredible, and the girthy sandwich will fill your appetite. The small pieces of meat and giardiniera fall off your sandwich and mingle with the creamy tzatziki and spicy giardiniera only adding to the enjoyment. The griddled pieces of gyro, corned beef, and Italian beef tickle your taste buds.
As far as we know, the sandwich is around 30 or 35 years old and is only a recent addition to the food scene. No one really knows the origin of its unflattering name. Many sub and gyro shops neglect to even feature it on the menu or in pictures with gyros, Italian beef, or Chicago-style Philly steaks. Instead, it appears on a piece of paper or on stand-alone menu boards.
What makes the sandwich a true foodigenous is that it’s not that common anywhere else besides the South and West Side of the city. There are plenty of quality sandwich and gyro shops throughout Chicagoland, but not every place knows what a Jim Shoe is, even though they have all the ingredients.
Perhaps one day, it will take the mantle along with the Italian beef or hopefully gain social media fame like New York’s chopped cheese, but for now, Chicago’s uber-regional sandwich is hidden gem worth the search.
For more of Marc's exciting content, videos and stories follow him on his YouTube!