Sometimes a venue has such an abundance of American charm and such sweet, courteous employees that rooting for its continued success comes naturally, whether or not the food actually lives up to the quality of the people that work there. Luckily for the West Loop, Vinnie's Sub Shop can build one of the city's best sub sandwiches, too.
It's a glorious hat trick for a neighborhood establishment: cutesy pictures on the walls, owners who call you "sweetie," and large, masterfully crafted sandwiches. The neighborhood already has a signature sub shop down the street in Bari Foods, but Vinnie's motto, "We dare to compare," shows a little swagger in the hoagie wars, and they have the product to back it up.
With the exception of some salads soups, and a nice selection of chips, Vinnie's strictly sticks to subs, specifically pushing the 9-inch sub (6 inches are for meek weaklings), with a foot-long available for those looking for the extra oomph. And if these sandwiches were any more packed with ingredients, there'd be a trail of lettuce on the floor when you leave. Among your choices: onion, pickle, mustard, oil & seasonings, Miracle Whip (!), as well as provolone, Swiss, cheddar, American or Munster cheese. This is in addition to layers upon layers of meat – like ham, salami and bologna on the American or Copicollo and mortadella on the Italian (both sandwiches are $4.75-$5.75). Of course, the bread can make or break a sandwich like this, and Vinnie's works masterfully crusty and never stale.
A subtle Italian flag theme should quickly tip the customer to the owner's origins, but pictures all over the shop of Chicago's past equally establishes the restaurant as an eager addition to the community. The shop is also lovingly adorned with photographs of the owners' family members.
Average cost: <$10
Centerstage Reviewer: Andy Seifert