Must Eat In Chicago – Chicago has earned a reputation as one of our nation’s top culinary capitals. And, no wonder – food is an integral part of our city’s rich history.
The first major influx of immigrants came to Chicago in the mid-1800s, bringing with them not only their hopes and dreams but also their culinary traditions. Today, these diverse offerings make Chicago’s dining scene a rich tapestry of culinary cultures.
Must Eat In Chicago
So what should you eat while you’re here? The answer is a little bit of everything. Don’t miss out on trying a true taste of our city with these iconic bites that represent the best food in Chicago.
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The world-famous “Chicago dog” is a delicious treat whose fame is surpassed only by its delicious taste. Surround all beef franks in poppy seed bun, garnish top with yellow mustard, chopped white onion, sweet pickle relish, dill pickle spears, and tomato, garnish with sport peppers, celery salt. Ask a local where to get an authentic Chicago dog, and they may point you to Portillo’s, not to be missed. Remember, in Chicago-style dogs, no ketchup is allowed!
Around 1949, you could find Gladys Otto, founder of the Garrett Popcorn Shops, on the streets of Chicago selling caramel crisp, cheesecorn, butter and bags of plain-style popcorn for 5 cents. Today, these delicacies are still prepared in copper kettles, just as they were three generations ago. In addition to Butter and Plain, Garrett’s handcrafted recipes include Spicy Cheesecorn and four different Caramel Crisp recipes in pecan, macadamia, cashew and almond. Don’t miss out on trying their best-selling, world-famous Garrett Mix: a blend of cheddar and caramel popcorn.
With all due respect to the Chicago-style hot dog, some insist that deep dish pizza is truly the most local of local foods. We are not going to take sides though. The origins of the deep dish are lost to history, though Uno Pizzeria & Grill, reputed to be the first to serve it, has been delighting customers with its take on the specialty since 1943.
What’s so special about deep dish? Well, for starters it’s not just a flat dough base – towering walls of buttery crust hold loads of mozzarella, topped with tangy tomato sauce. These hefty pies are bursting with melty cheesy goodness. Find more deep dishes at Lou Malnati, Gino’s East and Giordano’s.
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You can thank Chicago’s thriving Puerto Rican community for Jibarito. This local creation is the stuff of sandwich legend, made with sliced and fried plantains, your choice of protein (seafood, meat, or vegetables), and generously garnished with lettuce, mayo, and cheese. For a taste of the real deal we might suggest you grab a Jibarito from La Bomba in Logan Square or Papa’s Cash Sabroso in Humboldt Park.
Forget what you know about cinnamon rolls, often associated with shopping mall food courts and airports, the moment you walk into Ann Sather. Opened in 1945 by its namesake, this Swedish diner has a quaint, neighborhood-based feel and is known for its frosting-covered cinnamon treats and its fantastic brunch menu. Visit any of Ann Sather’s three locations for a taste of sweet home Chicago.
This classic Chicago dessert first debuted at the inaugural Taste of Chicago, a nationally renowned food festival, the largest of its kind in the world. At family-owned Eli’s Cheesecake, making cheesecake is an art. Interestingly, Chicago’s popular Eli’s The Place for Steak is home to this delicious cheese that has outlived the restaurant that invented it. This delicious treat comes in 40 unique flavors, but their most popular are the original plain, chocolate chip and strawberry topped.
Hungry for a great steak that’s truly a cut above the rest? Grilled steak in a city once considered America’s number one source for beef? Then sink your teeth into the T-Bone at Jean & Georgetti, a famously old-school steakhouse that’s elegant and intimate. However, it’s far from the only place recommended for a Chicago-level steak dinner. Gibson’s Bar & Steakhouse and Rosebud Prime, with outdoor patios perfect for warm-weather dining, are also top local favorites.
What To Eat On Rest Days
Meet the Italian beef sandwich, a Chicago original that originated in the city’s Italian immigrant community in the early 1900s. Although disputed, the commonly heard backstory involves an innovative street vendor named Anthony Ferrari, who came up with the idea of making cheap sandwiches of thinly sliced beef cooked in its juices in order to feed a large (and hungry) wedding crowd. Ferrari’s son Al, the namesake of the locally famous Al’s Italian Beef, helped popularize the sandwich, which today is one of the city’s most famous, original dishes.
The Mediterranean vibe lives on in the Greektown neighborhood, thanks to its Hellenic community, which has made the area home for generations. Billed as “America’s most popular Greek restaurant,” you can get a taste of the culture in the Greek Islands — with its famous flaming saganaki appetizer (kasseri cheese flaming in brandy), flaming dramatically next to your table.
Chicago’s summer temperatures can get there. Fortunately, refreshingly flavored shaved ice can be found all over town at places like Mario’s Italian Lemonade, a small curbside dessert stand that has been a part of the Little Italy neighborhood since 1954. The family-run shop has been open on bustling Taylor Street since May. September.
“Ribs, and keep ’em coming!” Frank Sinatra said during one of his many meals at Twin Anchors Restaurant and Tavern. And you can trust ol’ Blue Eyes. Among barbecue restaurants, Twin Anchors is the city’s oldest (1932) and best (receiving the Bib Gourmand Award from the esteemed Michelin Guide). You’ll find plenty of other rib joints throughout the city, including Chicago standout Lem’s Bar-B-Q in Greater Grand Crossing.
Best Restaurants In Chicago According To Locals
Corned beef is big business in Chicago, thanks to an influx of Irish in the 1800s. The poorest of the poor in the city at the time, he bought brisket (a cheap cut of meat), brined and seasoned it, and served it with cabbage. Corned beef hits your plate with a soft, tender texture and a spicy, sour, salty flavor that has held its appeal for nearly two centuries. Want to find out what the fuss is about? Visit Manny’s Cafeteria and Delicatessen, a city institution since 1942, and you’ll see why corned beef is as popular as it is back then. Manny’s sandwiches are filled with tender slices of this blessed beef nestled between two slices of butter-soft rye – a melt-in-your-mouth treat.
Some say a burger is a burger. But in Chicago, the cheeseburger takes on a local flavor like nowhere else. Who makes Chicago-style cheeseburgers better? Try Billy Goat Tavern (home of the beloved cheeseburger) or Cooma’s Corner (try the Black Sabbath or Goatsnake Burger). And if you have time, don’t miss Food Network’s Top Burger in America at Au Cheval and find out for yourself why they’re worth the wait.
Tacos take on a distinctly local flavor at Las Carnitas Urupan, where Chicagoans have lined up since 1975 for ultra-flavorful, slow-cooked pork street tacos. Taco fans looking for other delicious options to try should consider El Milagro by its preparation. -scratch tortillas or colorful 5 Rabanitos. But you can’t go wrong with any of the family-owned taquerias in Pilsen or Little Village, Chicago’s center for Mexican American culture and cuisine.
“Life is too short for just one flavor,” he says. The Original Rainbow Cone is a Chicago institution whose signature namesake treat is a cone stacked with orange sherbet, pistachio, Palmer House (New York vanilla with cherries and walnuts), strawberry and chocolate ice cream. Try the ultra-photogenic treat at Rainbow Cone’s original Beverly location or their Navy Pier outpost.
Chicago Cut Steakhouse Restaurant
Deep dish pizza, Italian beef, Chicken Vesuvio…the list of Italian contributions to Chicago’s cuisine is long and legendary. Order the “best chicken Vesuvio in town” (according to the Chicago Tribune) at Harry Caray’s Italian Steakhouse, where half a bone-in chicken is roasted with quartered potatoes, sweet peas, garlic and white wine. While great Italian can be found all over town, we suggest starting your search by exploring Chicago’s Italian Village or Little Italy neighborhoods and find the best one for you.
Jim’s Original has been serving up its “Original Maxwell Street Polish Sausage Sandwich” since 1943, filling, flavorful and easy to serve. More than just meat on a bun, Jim’s website best describes its famous creation: “There are no words in the language known to man that can adequately describe this world-famous and much-imitated sandwich. Try it yourself to see what the hype is all about.”
Beer and brats are Chicago staples, and The Burghoff serves some of the best. This family-owned restaurant has been in business since 1898 — an era when a beer cost a nickel and came with a complimentary sandwich on the side. Another historical nugget: Berghoff obtained the first liquor license in Chicago after Prohibition ended.
The Walnut Room, located on the 7th floor of Chicago’s landmark Macy’s on State Street, has a tasty little claim to fame. Revive
Menu At Lawrence’s Fish & Shrimp Fast Food, Chicago, S Canal St
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