JOHNSBURG – The Baddest – a Krispy Kreme doughnut with peanut butter, white chocolate, raspberry-infused marshmallow fluff, bananas and candied bacon – might be the weirdest sandwich to ever get served up at Epic Deli.
Andy and Tyler Wildey, brothers and co-owners of the Johnsburg restaurant, aren't completely sure.
Their menu – dreamed up by Andy Wildey, who has a background in fine dining, and named by Tyler Wildey, a TV and movie junkie – is full of surprises.
"We've drawn a big enough following that I think people trust us to order things that they wouldn't normally order on a menu somewhere else," Andy Wildey said.
"It's really kind of neat to see the way things have changed, the progression of the crazier sandwiches becoming our biggest sellers and the more basic ham and cheese, turkey and cheese, taking a backseat."
The Dorito-wich, an aptly name sub, is filled with ham, cheddar, provolone, mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato slices, and, of course, Doritos.
A panini with turkey, pepper jack cheese, avocado, red onion, chipotle mayonnaise and giardiniera is known as the Wookie Foot.
Their Epic Potato Skins, a crowd favorite, are loaded with barbecue pork, bacon, jalapeno nacho cheese and onion straws.
"We really just try to push the epic concept," Andy Wildey said. "We want to take things that you could get maybe somewhere else and put our spin on it, even with the potato cups, for example. We make that pulled pork. We make our own barbecue sauce. All that food is fresh. Everything is made from scratch."
The Wildeys – helped by their parents, Alex and Jeannine, and Andy's wife, Lisa – took over the deli at 3312 N. Chapel Hill Road, Johnsburg, about a year and a half ago.
Tyler Wildey had walked into the deli, located in a former bowling alley, inquiring about a job and had walked out having been offered the chance to buy the place, he said.
The Wildeys decided to go for it.
The family has a background in the restaurant business, and Andy Wildey was the executive chef at DC Cobb. Their own place was a natural next step.
"We pretty much just rewrote the menu," Tyler Wildey said. "We sat there for about two weeks and took a menu that was about six sandwiches to 46 sandwiches and tons of sides. Andy brought in his homemade desserts. So, yeah, the rest is history."
Besides the more than 5,100 fans that have liked their Facebook page, Epic Deli was voted the best deli in McHenry County by Northwest Herald readers.
Its cheesecakes, parfaits and deep-fried candy bars were also featured on the sweets episode of WGN's "Chicago's Best" program.
Bands and other notables have made their contributions to the menu.
Two paninis were dreamed up by members of The Plain White T's.
The Dude – a sub piled with turkey, pastrami, capicola, pepper jack cheese, roast beef, hummus, artichoke, banana peppers and Dijon mustard – was designed by Ultimate Fighting Championship mixed martial artist and Johnsburg High School grad, Clay Guida.
While those creations have made it onto the menu, others designed by a finalist from "Hell's Kitchen" and Tilly and the Wall have been featured as specials.
Long term, the Wildeys would like to see another Epic Deli open up, but for now, they plan to keep on pushing the boundaries of deli cuisine.
About Epic Deli
What: Known for its creative subs and cheesecakes, Epic Deli takes fine dining cooking to a lunch menu.
Where: 3312 N. Chapel Hill Road, Johnsburg.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday
Information: Call 815-271-5204 or visit epicdeli.com