THIS RESTAURANT IS TEMPORARILY CLOSED FOR RENOVATIONS.
It's hard to share secrets like Cafeteria Marianao. After all, the lines in this nondescript Logan Square shack already have you standing elbow-to-elbow with the rest of the People Who Know.
But you'll find it equally hard to keep quiet about the huge, steaming, crusty-bread sandwiches that are made to order as you watch, for around $3 a pop. The steak sandwich overflows with chopped steak, grilled onions, gooey cheese and tomatoes. The loaded Cubano, packed with roasted pork, ham, cheese and pickles, is as authentic as they come. Round it out with a bag of chips (plantain or potato), and wash it down with a bottle of fruity South American soda from the cooler along the side wall.
If the hour's too early for steak, don't underestimate the power of a simple pan con mantequilla (bread slathered with melty butter). Pair this toasty treat with a 75-cent cup of dark-roast cafe Cubano or a sweet, creamy cafe con leche. There aren't many seats, but if you're lucky enough to score one of the five stools along the back counter, you can spin toward the window and sip your breakfast to the dreamy soundtrack of sizzling eggs and spoken Spanish.
Average cost: <$10
Centerstage Reviewer: Julia Steinberger