The first restaurant in my "Eating the Alphabet" series is the Avanti Caffe. I became quite excited about the series when I was looking on-line for a restaurant that started with "A" and I came across the Avanti Caffe. The photos of their tostinos (grilled paninis) reminded me of the most amazing sandwich I have ever had which was at Il Panorama Cafe in Howth, Ireland. Seriously, before my sandwich at Il Panorama Cafe, I did not know that it was possible for a deli meat sandwich to be so delicious and special. Il Panorama Cafe shaves their meat fresh for each sandwich! I do not know if Avanti does that because the sandwiches are not made in front of you.
I cannot speak to eating in at Avanti because I got out of work late, and we didn't get to Avanti until 15-20 minutes before they closed. They close at 5:00 pm during the week (4:00 pm on Saturdays, and are closed on Sundays). Unfortunately this is pretty common in downtown Chicago since most of the business that restaurants receive is from those who work downtown. The employee working the counter said we could eat there but we are not one of "those" people that pretend those in the service industry have no life outside of their work. Luckily it was one of the warmest days we have had here this winter, so, we took the sandwiches to a nearby park to eat. Avanti has their pop machines where customers can refill their own drinks which I love; that is a rare occurrence downtown.
I ordered the smoked turkey and Swiss tostino, and my boyfriend Timmy ordered the roast beef and cheddar tostino. The sandwiches were delicious, however, I am not sure they lived up to Il Panorama Cafe. In Avanti's defense, I am not sure it was possible for them to live up to my memories of Il Panorama Cafe since it was part of such a special day on our Ireland vacation. I loved Avanti's bread, so much so that I would have been happy with just cheese and tomato on the bread; in fact, about 3/4th of the way through my sandwich, I took the rest of the turkey off my sandwich, and gave it to Timmy so I could do just that. The pickle spears that come with the sandwiches were great too. I love homemade pickle spears. Avanti's pickle spears had a hint of jalapeno to them, however, I am not sure if that was just because there was also a pepper in the food container.