When in the city, it goes without saying that you need to make a stop at, not just one, but multiple popular food joints serving these scrumptious dishes.
The following are some of the Best food of Chicago which will leave you lip-smacking:
1. Get a taste of Puerto Rico in Chicago with the Jibarito
The jibarito is actually a Puerto Rican dish which was introduced in Chicago in the year 1996. Though just as mouth-watering as any other sandwich, what sets it apart from the rest is the fact that it is not made with bread but with flattened, fried green plantains, thus serving as a healthier alternative. The contents of the original sandwich include sliced beef, lettuce, tomato, onions, cheese and garlic-flavoured mayonnaise. If you aren’t a fan of beef, you would find that many places sell the sandwich with other kinds of meat like chicken or pork.
Where to find: La Bomba, Jibaritos y Mas, Jibarito’s on Harlem, The Jibarito Stop, Jibaritos Lincoln Park
2. Can't-miss out on the Chicago-style Hot Dog when in the city
It would almost be a crime to visit Chicago and not have the classic Chicago-style hot dog, also known as the Chicago Dog or the Chicago Red Hot. Often said to have been “dragged through the garden” owing to its multiple toppings, it is a Vienna beef frankfurter placed between a sliced poppy seed bun. The hot dog can be steamed, water-simmered or sometimes even grilled over charcoal. While different vendors may choose to tweak the toppings, you would most often find the meat generously coated with chopped white onions, sliced tomatoes, a spear of dill pickle, green sweet pickle relish, pickled sport peppers, all topped off with yellow mustard and celery salt.
Where to find: Gene & Jude’s, Chicago’s Dog House, ML Kitchen, Byron’s Hot Dog, Wolfy’s
3. Treat your taste buds to the cheesy goodness of Deep-Dish Pizza
A Chicago classic, deep-dish pizza is one dish you cannot miss out on when you are in the city. Though it is unclear as to when its recipe was created, it goes without saying that this thick, pie-like pizza is absolutely yummy. Baked in an iron skillet or even a round pan, the pizza’s crust is thin to medium-sized and is often made with more than wheat flour so as to bring about a burnt effect and a yellowish colour. Owing to its thickness, the toppings are added in an “upside-down” manner, with the cheese being added first, followed by a generous amount of meat. Before the sauce is added other toppings like tomatoes, onions, corn, peppers or mushrooms are sprinkled atop the meat. A variety of food joints across the city serve this delicious cheesy treat which is left uncut.
Where to find: Giordano’s, The Art of Pizza, Pequod’s Pizza, Gino’s East, Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria, Bartoli’s Pizzeria
4. Satisfy your craving for a sandwich with the Italian Beef
Having originated sometime in the 1930s, Italian beef is essentially a sandwich which has managed to become a staple in the Chicago cuisine. The dish comprises thinly sliced pieces of roast beef simmered in gravy which are placed atop bread known as an Italian-style roll. The bread itself is often dipped into the gravy and the beef is topped off with Chicago-style pickled vegetables as well as Italian sweet peppers. There are several variations of this dish and you would find it at food trucks, hot dog stands, pizzerias and even major restaurants.
Where to find: Al’s Beef, Luke’s Italian Beef, Tony’s Italian Beef, Jay’s Beef, Buona
5. Make sure to try out the Delectable Tamales
Although tamales weren’t created in Chicago, this Mesoamerican dish is a must-try when here; there are many restaurants and food trucks which sell some delicious ones! They are made out of masa, or corn dough, steamed in either a banana leaf or a corn husk. What goes inside the tamales can differ depending on the person eating them, but generally, you would find them stuffed with some sort of meat, cheese, vegetables, chillies and even fruits. You can either completely remove the cover before you begin eating or you can choose to use it as a plate.
Where to find: Kie-Gol-Lanee, Rosa’s Tamales, Tatas Tacos, Tamales Lo Mejor De Guerrero
6. Like shrimp? The Shrimp DeJonghe is the way to go!
Another classic dish to try out in Chicago, Shrimp DeJonghe originated sometime between the 19th and 20th centuries and can be served as an appetizer or the main course. It is basically a casserole which is made up of fully peeled shrimp which is coated entirely in garlic and bread crumbs which are dipped in sherry or wine. You just have to hit up one of the many food joints offering this absolute delicacy.
Where to find: Hugo’s Frog Bar & Fish House, Maple & Ash, Carson’s, Steak + Vine, La Villa Restaurant
7. Tire your tongue out licking the towering Rainbow Cone!
Something that has become synonymous with the food scene in Chicago is the rainbow cone. It was in 1926 that a couple opened up Original Rainbow Cone and began selling this absolute treat! Something for both children and adults, this dessert comprises a cake cone stacked with a number of flavourful frozen treats including chocolate, pistachio and strawberry ice cream, orange sherbert, and Palmer House, which is essentially vanilla ice cream with pieces of walnuts and cherries.
Where to find: Original Rainbow Cone
8. Indulge in the sweet and salty deliciousness of Garrett Mix Popcorn
Something that surely makes the cut for the list of must-have food of Chicago is the Garrett Popcorn or rather the Garrett Mix. The Garrett Popcorn Shop is known for this signature sweet and savoury snack, which is basically a mix of two of their popular popcorn flavours, the CaramelCrisp and CheeseCorn. You would find that there are many branches of the Shop all around the city and you can simply pop in and choose amongst the different packs or sizes.
Where to find: Garrett Popcorn Shop
9. Discover the blend of flavours that come with the Gym Shoe Sandwich
With its delightful concoction of ingredients, the Gym Shoe has made its place amongst the many dishes that make up the diverse Chicago cuisine. You can look past its funny name and messy appearance once you’ve taken a bite of the sandwich! It is made of roast or corned beef, gyro meat, cheese, iceberg lettuce, onions, mayonnaise, pickled vegetables, or giardiniera from a jar (this is a must!) and a yoghurt and mint mix, also known as tzatziki. You would find a number of food joints on the South Side selling it either to have there itself or for takeaway.
Where to find: Stony Sub, Sunsub & Philly’s, Petey’s Restaurant
10. Enjoy the burst of cheesy flavours with the Saganaki
One thing you cannot skip out on when you are visiting Chicago is Saganaki. This cheesy goodness made its way into the Chicago cuisine sometime around the 1960s and is clearly there to stay. Made out of fried white cheese, usually sheep’s milk cheese, this dish is then flambeed by the server at your table itself. Not only do you get to see your meal catch on fire, but you also get to see the flames being extinguished. With lemon juice! In fact, if you are feeling like it, cry out “Opa!” as the server performs this fun feat.
Where to find: 9 Muses Bar & Grill, Santorini, Central Gyros, Greek Islands, Athenian Room,Taxim
11. Chomp on the monstrous Corned Beef Sandwich!
If you enjoy deli food, then finding one in Chicago which sells corn beef sandwiches is an absolute must. A major part of Chicago’s food scene, this is a relatively simple sandwich made with just a few ingredients. The two slices of bread are stuffed with generous amounts of corned beef and slathered with mustard. You would generally be served some pickle to go along with it all, and should definitely order some soda to wash it all down!
Where to find: The Corned Beef Factory Sandwich Shop, Manny’s Coffee Shop & Deli, A.P. Deli, Harrington’s Catering & Deli
12. Get ready for the Sweet Steak’s hot and sugary flavoursAnother sandwich to try out in Chicago is the sweet steak which is basically a hoagie. The long buns are filled in with a decent amount of rib eye which is coarsely chopped, bell peppers, tomatoes, and pickles, all drizzled with a lip-smacking signature red sauce which is sweet and smoky at the same time. Perhaps just as popular as the Italian beef or the deep dish pizza, this variant of the classic Philly cheesesteak is sold across the city by all sorts of vendors.
Where to find: Home of the Hoagy, The Hoagie Place, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Jimmy Jamm Sweet Potato Pies
13. Don’t forget to find yourself a Pizza Puff while in Chicago
It was in the Windy City that the infamous pizza puff was created, thus becoming a staple dish in the cuisine of Chicago. While there are numerous variations of the puff which have come up over the years, the classic version is a dough pocket which is deep-fried once it is filled up with cheese, tomato sauce, and meat such as sausage or pepperoni. Moreover, a combination of other pizza ingredients like corn, onions, mushrooms, and bell peppers are filled inside the pocket as well. Make sure to ask for a pizza puff and don’t confuse it with a calzone which is baked and not fried!
Where to find: Iltaco Foods-Chicago Ave Pizza, Homeslice, Damenzo’s Pizza, Grassano’s Pizza
14. Revel in chocolatey heaven as you bite into the Brownies!
Unknown to many people, it was in Chicago in the year 1893 that brownies were invented. You cannot say that you have had a taste of the Chicago cuisine until you bite into these divine delicacies usually made of chocolate. Over the years, the original recipe has been experimented with but brownies are generally square or rectangular in shape and can vary in dentistry (fudgy or cakey). The numerous vendors across the city offer brownies with or without nuts, chocolate chips, frosting, cream cheese or even variants of the original brownie such as vanilla or red velvet.
Where to find: Bake, Sweet Mandy B’s, Hoosier Mama Pie Company, Mrs. Fields, Insomnia Cookies
15. Add Chicken Vesuvio to your list of things to try out in Chicago
A favourite amongst locals and tourists alike, chicken Vesuvio originated in Chicago itself and it is a treat to have. If you aren’t a fan of red meat, make sure to try out this Italian-American dish made of chicken on the bone. Its key components include potato wedges, peas, garlic, oregano, olive oil and white wine. All of this is put in a casserole and baked until the chicken is crispy. There is a chance that you’ll find variants of the dish involving other kinds of meats.
Where to find: La Scarola, Turquoise Cafe & Restaurant, Bacchanalia, The Rosebud, Ricobene’sBe sure to prepare a list of dishes to try out when in the Windy City so as to be able to experience the unique and diverse food of Chicago that will undoubtedly leave you wanting more.