The city of Chicago is known for many culinary treasures. The Chicago deep dish pizza, Chicago dogs, and the Italian Beef Sandwich top the list, however, the Illinois city boasts some mad street food dishes that should be on your the radar. Ladies and gentleman, may I formally introduce you to the Mother-in-Law sandwich. A sandwich known for its fierce bite and outrageous filling. This is one sandwich you wouldn't mind moving in with.
The Mother-in-law is essentially a sandwich inside of a sandwich. You got a Chicago style tamale topped with chili, raw onions, tomatoes, and cucumber all nestled in a hot dog bun. It's a combination that seems like it wouldn't work out on paper, but one bite and you'll be hooked.
You can only find this sandwich at a handful of Chicago South Side eateries, one of them being Fat Johnnies, a food stand known for their famous red hots and Mother-in-Law sandwiches. Anthony Bourdain even did a segment on them on his show, No Reservations, calling the sandwich, "the evil step-brother of the hot dog."
Sold on the streets of Chicago since the late 1800's, tamales made their way up to the windy city by way of Mississippi Delta. Men from the south created these tamales mostly made from cornmeal (rather than limed masa which traditional Mexican and South American are made from) and filled the cornmeal with a spicy chili mixture. In the 1930s machines took over the tamale business, extracting the spicy treats at lightning speed.
Cooked without a traditional corn husk, these tamales can be found at most fast-food restaurants, cooking right beside the hot dogs in the same steamer.
The Mother-in-Law Sandwich
Sadly no one knows who invented the first Mother-in-Law sandwich or who named it as such, however, there's one thing that Chicagoans can agree on: the Mother-in-Law sandwich is an unsung hero in the city.
People swear by Fat Johnnie's, Johnny O's and Ramova Grill serve up the best sandwich, but don't take our word for it; you'll just have to try it yourself.