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That being said, the intersection at Grand, Milwaukee, and Halsted, where the #65 bus meets the Blue Line and the #8, has become a more appealing place to be stuck in recent weeks, since Duran European Sandwiches Cafe opened in early February. Owner Tracy Miller started by offering coffee, pots of loose-leaf tea, organic juices, and pastries from Old Town's La Fournette. Now she's adding the sandwiches that inspired her, open-faced constructions of the type found in Vienna, where Duran is evidently something of an institution. There are several Duran shops in Wien, and branches in Budapest and Istanbul, but Miller's is the first and only licensed outlet in the States. On top of that, she's making her cafe scrupulously local, using not just La Fournette baked goods and breads but dairy from Kilgus Farmstead, meats from Andy's Deli, and chocolate from Blommer's, a few scented blocks away.
The sandwiches in question feature brotaufstriche, literally "bread spreads," salads in the form of creamy schmears or piped coils of fresh minced herbs with cream cheese and a touch of Greek yogurt for tang. Arrayed, fittingly enough, in a pastry case, they look more like artfully arranged sushi than lunch fodder.
The 15 varieties she has currently (she'll eventually offer as many as 35 ) include a number of vegetarian options, among them mozzarella, Brie, asparagus, egg salad, and Vitamin—carrot and apple salads garnished with a thin slice of apple and kiwi.
Turkey comes with the red pepper spread ajvar, hummus with arugula, salam (there a couple of choices) with hard-boiled egg.
They're $3 apiece, perhaps a tad steep for us straphangers. But when I stopped by Thursday, there was a special: three sandwiches and a cup of drip coffee for $10. Not much for an escape from the bus stop.
Duran European Sandwiches Cafe, 539 N. Milwaukee, 312-666-6008