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Venerable Paulina Meat Market Now Serves Sandwiches

Customers have bombarded the popular North Side butcher with meat orders during the pandemic

An orange brick storefront
Paulina Meat Market
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Ashok Selvam is the editor of Eater Chicago and a native Chicagoan armed with more than two decades of award-winning journalism. Now covering the world of restaurants and food, his nut graphs are super nutty.

Paulina Meat Market, one of the city’s most popular butchers, now serves sandwiches. It’s one of the changes the 71-year-old North Side institution has made during the pandemic. The effort to add sandwiches has been in the works since 2017.

The butcher has long been a favorite of home cooks and chefs. Doug Sohn, the owner of Hot Doug’s — the famous encased meat emporium — would have the restaurant’s custom sausages made at Paulina. They still serve Hot Doug’s meats in the meat case.

Co-owner Bill Begale says the meat market has been bombarded with orders during the state’s stay-at-home order. Some days they would get 200 to 300 orders. That’s why they closed the shop to the public and offered only curbside pickup. To keep up with demand, they also revamped the website for online orders. They’re now back open to the public with the sandwiches.

“Everybody here is healthy,” Begale says. “We wash our hands like 60 times a day normally. We’re constantly sanitizing our hands, constantly cleaning the counters and wiping down scales.”

The timing just lined up right to debut the sandwich counter, it had nothing to do with the pandemic, Begale says. Begale and his crew now have a new sandwich station. There are no sandwich artists here. The butchers will fix up sandwiches for customers. They’ve got seven or eight sandwiches, Begale says. Pastrami and corned beef are the headliners.

While there’s a grill, customers may have to wait until next year for Paulina’s famous sausages. Begale points out there’s no seating to enjoy the encased meats. He hopes to have patio seating next summer. At that time they could fire up the grill.

Paulina has also started to carry fresh seafood. It’s a work in progress, Begale says. He isn’t sure the seafood will be a permanent addition, they’ll see if demand keeps up. Paulina carries salmon, whitefish, mahi-mahi, shrimp, scallop, and canned lump crab meat.

So far, customers have been respectful of social distancing rules. Everyone has to wear a mask. No exceptions.

“Honestly, if they’re not wearing a mask, they’re not going to shop here,” Begale says.

Paulina Meat Market, 3501 N. Lincoln Avenue.

Paulina Meat Market

3501 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL 60657 (773) 248-6272 Visit Website