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CHI

Review

Jack Li

Lardon

$$$$
Written by
Jack Li

Lardon makes the best pastrami in Chicago. And yes, we realize the gravity of that statement.

This casual daytime spot in Logan Square is a salumeria, which means it has lots of cheese and various meats they cure in-house. The small menu also has charcuterie boards, salads, and sandwiches.

But that pastrami is the main reason we keep coming back here. It turns out that Chicago’s best pastrami makes for an incredible Reuben, which is made more interesting with the addition of goat gouda (Midnight Moon if you’re into cheese-mongering) and housemade sauerkraut that balances out the richness without overwhelming the smoky flavor of the meat. That same thoughtful sandwich engineering extends to the deceptively simple finocchiona and butter sandwich, which has a layer of salted arugula.

Jack Li

Unsurprisingly, a place specializing in meat and cheese curates one hell of a charcuterie spread. So instead of a la carte-ing your own, order the Chef’s Board. It comes with a wide selection of meat and cheese, and housemade accoutrements like onion jam, smoked almonds, and truffle lardo that we classify as a condiment because we put it on everything.

While this place is primarily a daytime spot during the week, they also serve a wonderful dinner Friday through Sunday. That’s when you can order dishes like crispy pork trotters, confit duck leg with poached pears, or a complex plate of roasted carrots with amaranth, quinoa, smoked carrot puree, and pickled dates. Basically, anything to make your European bistro dreams come true. Our favorite way to enjoy this little cafe is to come here with a friend, and catch up over a glass of wine and one (or more) of the above.

Whether hanging out with friends over wine and an elaborate charcuterie spread, or eating a Reuben solo while catching up on work emails, just know that the space is small. So if you want to guarantee a table, plan ahead and make reservations. After all, the best pastrami in town is worth it.

Food Rundown

Jack Li
Chef’s Board

You could build your own board from their long list of a la carte meat and cheese, or you can do the responsible thing and order their Chef’s Board. It comes with a variety of meat, cheese, and housemade accoutrements (like a not-too-sweet onion jam) that brings out the best in both. And it’s large enough to keep you busy for a while - like Legos, but with salumi and honey.

Jack Li
Rueben

This sloppy masterpiece is constructed from the best pastrami in Chicago, layered with housemade sauerkraut, pickles, and Thousand Island dressing. But the best part is the addition of goat cheese, which we didn’t realize our Reuben needed until now.

Jack Li
Finocchiona And Butter Sandwich

This is a simple and delicious option. The spicy finocchiona is complemented by a thick smear of butter and salted arugula. Like a colleague who’s a refreshing antidote to your boss’ toxic positivity, it adds some much-needed acidic bitterness.

Jack Li
Carrot And Ancient Grains

Roasted carrots are served on a bed of quinoa and amaranth, with smoked carrot puree and pickled dates. It’s sweet, smoky, tangy, and we’ll be sad when it leaves the menu.

Jack Li
Pork Trotter Croquettes

Along with being delicious, our favorite thing about these croquettes is that they’re square. Much like how the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup tree shape has the best chocolate to peanut butter ratio, square croquettes give us the best pork-to-crispy breading ratio. Plus, the olive aioli and pickled cauliflower goes with it perfectly.

Jack Li
Crispy Duck Leg Confit

Lardon only serves dinner Friday through Sunday, and dishes like the duck leg confit makes us sad that this is the case. The tender duck leg has crispy skin and is served atop watercress with poached pears and squash.

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