Publican Quality Meats (Restaurant/Market, West Loop)
Location: 825 W. Fulton Market
Phone: (312) 445-8977
Cuisine: Market/Sandwich shop
My first thought after one minute of browsing Publican Quality Meats was simply “how did it take this long for a place like this to exist in my neighborhood?” As a West Loop/West Town/River West resident (who really knows the proper name for our neighborhood anyway), I immediately fell in love. And that’s the true beauty of it. The shop fills a niche in the neighborhood, and I’d even say the city, that’s been hopelessly barren for years. With so many accomplished chefs and more and more of them everyday producing products you can bring home and introduce into your own cooking, why has it taken so long to get all this in one place?
You walk into Publican Quality Meats on Fulton Market and the place is busy. Always busy. It’s a mix of people coming to try their sandwiches and people picking up some products or meat from the butcher. On your left when you enter is the long butcher/sandwich counter with a display case full of tempting meats and cheeses. To your right, shelves and shelves of products from local chefs around Chicago. Think Frontera salsas, Bill Kim hot sauces, and much more. I wanted to buy everything and go on the world’s most elaborate picnic.
My friends and I ordered some sandwiches from the counter, including the “better than a gyro,” a meatball sandwich, and a turkey sandwich. The gyro was the highlight, and reminded me of the naan-wiches from the now extinct gastro-wagon. All the sandwiches were full of flavor and delightfully messy. The menu changes often using seasonal ingredients, most of which are locally sourced, so every choice is sure to be a good one. You can even have a beer with your sandwich since this tiny shop somehow managed to secure a liquor license in this crazy city.
On our way out, we sampled items from the butcher counter including different meats and cheeses for a friend to bring to a BBQ later that day. The staff was very helpful in choosing what to buy and will be conscious of your price range if you ask. The unique meats and cheeses really elevated the level of a very standard BBQ to watch the Cubs lose.
If you’re looking to really impress someone or throw a very different dinner party, you can buy pheasant, rabbit, or any whole animal that they will break down for you. If cooking isn’t your thing, have a private event in the 32 seat dining area with a meal you’ll likely always remember.
While it’s definitely not in the price range of most everyday shoppers, heading to Publican Quality Meats for a much better than average sandwich or some tasty treats to bring to a party is definitely worth it. Of course, so is the occasional indulgence just for yourself.