Chicago is situated in northeastern Illinois, United States. Although the city first began as an unremarkable town settled at the mouth of the Chicago river it has now become the biggest city in the state and the third largest in the country. Its location next to the river and on the coast of Lake Michigan, which is the second biggest of the Great Lakes, along with the development of railways really helped the city expand and it quickly became a transportation hub. Chicago soon attracted people from around the world and is a diverse and multicultural city that encompasses different religions, languages and cultures.
Due to the impressively diverse population, Chicago, IL is home to food from around the globe and going on a food tour can be a really fun experience. Check out the impressive selection of vegetarian restaurants in Chicago, or walk around the streets of downtown to try all of the best street food in Chicago!
However, there are some dishes that are exclusive to this city and can't be tasted anywhere else, which is why you shouldn't miss your chance to try them. Before you go tasting menus around town, store your bags safely in Chicago.
Chicago Food: Chicago Deep Dish Pizza
You just can't take a trip to this city without ordering a Deep Dish Pizza, which is one of the most iconic Chicago foods. Much different than a regular tavern style pizza, this dish is made by tightly pressing dough around the sides and bottom of a pan, filling the container with cheese and your choice of meat (usually sausages and pepperoni are used), alongside any other toppings that you desire.
You then repeat these steps with the same ingredients until the container is filled and the final ingredient of zesty tomato sauce is added. Once it gets cooked you are left with a warm and delicious meal filled with gooey cheese surrounded by a buttery crust and it is absolutely scrumptious. The famous Deep Dish Pizza is said to have originated in the 1940s and was supposedly created by Ric Riccardo or Ike Sewell.
Chicago Food: Cinnamon Rolls
If you want to experience all of Chicago's dining scene you will need to add this treat to your list. Cinnamon Rolls are great as a dessert or just as a snack and are sure to be a favorite for anyone with a sweet tooth. Go grab some while you are in town, you won't regret it!
The shops and restaurants that serve cinnamon rolls in Chicago really don't hold back, so be prepared for several layers of a sweet, buttery and chewy dough with cinnamon. The best part is the vanilla glaze frosting on top. Just a warning; these treats are so good that once you have one it can be hard to stop!
Chicago Food: Rib Tips
Can't decide on what to eat in Chicago? Consider trying Rib Tips which are a popular Chicago barbeque special! Anyone who loves meat will definitely love this treat and they are served all around the city. If you want to try them you should go straight to the nearest Chicago smoke shack and order them right away.
What makes Rib Tips so special is that they use a unique part of the pig that doesn't usually get eaten. To make this dish you will need to use a cartilage-heavy pork served with a generous amount of sauce. Add some pieces of white bread and the meal is ready to be eaten. If you want to do it properly the Chicago way the pork should be cooked in an aquarium pit. The best place to eat them in Chicago is at Lem's Bar-B-Q!
Chicago Food: Italian Beef Sandwich
While you are in Chicago, IL you definitely have to try the city's amazing Italian Beef Sandwiches! They first made an appearance in the early 1900s and the real origin of the sandwich are up for debate, but some say that a street peddler by the name of Anthony Ferrari wanted to make cheaper sandwiches using less meat. This led to him creating the dish and now it is one of the most iconic Chicago foods sold in almost every sandwich shop!
The fun thing about this meal is that it can be made so many different ways! Do you want it hot with giardiniera peppers or a sweeter variety with sweet peppers? Maybe wet with gravy, dry, or completely dipped in the sauce! No matter what variety you choose to order you will be served a crusty Italian roll filled to the brim with thin slices of perfectly seasoned roast beef. Add peppers and gravy if you want and you are all ready to try the yummy Chicago staple.
Chicago Food: Fried Chicken
Although Chicago is home to lots of innovative foods, sometimes it is nice to go back to the basics and order a Fried Chicken dinner. It is a delicious meal around the world and Chicago really does it justice. Come see why everyone loves ordering Fried Chicken in this city! You can find it being served in almost every restaurant on the South Side of town.
The way that this meal is prepared in Chicago is simple and delicious; most places like to cook the chicken in beef tallow and vegetable oil which gives it that distinct juicy flavor. It will be served with coleslaw, a side of fries, and a couple of pieces of bread that can be used to soak up all of the extra sauce. Making the sauce itself is an art and most places aim for a slightly spicy but sweet and tangy taste but you can take your pick from either hot sauce or mild sauce. If you want a good place to try this dish go to Harold's Chicken Shack, they do it best!
Chicago Food: Pierogi
Pierogis originate from Europe and Asia but you can get some pretty delicious recreations of the dish in Chicago. These flavor-packed foods come in several different varieties and lots of eateries like to do them differently.
In Chicago, you can find both traditional and contemporary ways of making Pierogi. Go for a classic cheese and potato stuffed Pierogi, or try more creative choices like the combination of beef goulash, Polish sausage and sauerkraut! You can even find sweet and fruity varieties of the dish like plum, wild blueberry and strawberry.
Chicago Food: Chicago Style Hot Dogs
You know that this is a famous dish in the city since it is actually named after it! Although hot dogs are a popular food around the world there is definitely something special about the way the Chicago dog is made. It has been a true staple of the Windy City and is sold from street food trucks in neighborhoods around the whole town. Now it is your chance to try them yourself! Try going to The Wiener Circle in Lincoln Park or Portillo's in the South Loop.
The Chicago Style Hot Dog first got popular during the Great Depression since it was a tasty and affordable meal option. To create this dish, chefs use a water-bathed (as opposed to boiled) Vienna beef hot dog and place it into a steamed poppy seed bun. The hot dog is then decorated with green relish, slices of tomato, yellow mustard, chopped white onions, spicy sport peppers, a dill pickle spear, and, as the finishing touch, just a pinch of celery salt. Don't even think of adding ketchup; that's not how it's done in Chicago!
Chicago Food: Single Cheeseburger
With foods like the Chicago Style Hot Dog and the Chicago Deep Dish Pizza, there are some great meals that are exclusive to this city. However, that doesn't mean that you can't find traditional comfort food here as well! The Single Cheeseburger is always tasty and if you go to different restaurants around town you can see how they really make it their own.
For example, Au Cheval on Randolph St is a Chicago restaurant that has transformed the Single Cheeseburger to make it different than the ones that you can find anywhere else around the world. They make it with Johnson Farms beef griddled until greasy and juicy, then they add cheese, onions, pickles, a runny fried egg, a thick slice of bacon, and tangy Dijonnaise spread stuffed together. Put that all together in a buttery double toasted bun and your burger is ready!
Chicago Food: Jibarito
The Jibarito is a dish that is inspired by Puerto-Rican cuisine and the Spanish name of the dish translates to "little hillbilly". The dish was brought into Chicago in 1996 by Juan Figueroa and it has been a big hit ever since. The Jibarito is another sandwich that Chicago is known for, although it comes with a twist; it doesn't use any bread! But how do they keep everything in the sandwich together?
Sliced and fried plantains are used as the floor and roof of the sandwich and the contents in between can vary depending on what you want to eat. In most cases, a layer of cheese, lettuce, tomato and meat is used, although some places even make them with octopus. Chicken and pork are common varieties but the best way to have a Jibarito is with shredded beef or thinly cut steak. Garlic mayonnaise is the last ingredient added and really brings the dish together. There are lots of places to find this Chicago dish but Papa's Cache Sabroso located in Humboldt Park or La Bomba situated in Logan Square are some of the best places to go.
Chicago Food: Rainbow Cone
When you are visiting Chicago, IL you just have to try the Rainbow Cone for dessert after one of your meals. This colorful treat tastes just as amazing as it looks! At first glance, you might think that it is just a normal cone filled with ice cream but to make it right you have to use the right flavors and scoop them up in the correct order. That's how it has been done since 1926!
To create this classic summertime dessert you need to take chocolate, strawberry, Palmer House (which is a vanilla with walnuts and cherries combination), followed by pistachio and, finally, orange sherbet. Once they are all pilled into a cake cone in that order, your Rainbow Cone is ready to enjoy.
Chicago Food: Chicken Vesuvio
The Chicken Vesuvio is more than just your regular roast chicken dish and, although nobody knows for sure who created it or when it truly arrived in Chicago, a popular local spot called Vesuvio claims to be the first restaurant to serve it back in the 1930s. The dish is now named after them, although it can be found in Italian restaurants all around town.
This Italian inspired meal is made with delicious roast chicken complimented by peas sautéed in white wine which gives it that original flavor. Potato wedges are served on the side and it is a meal that is loved by both tourists and locals alike. Come try it yourself the next time that you are visiting Chicago!
Tasting Your Way Around Chicago, IL
Chicago is home to so many different cultures and they have adopted foods from all over the world creating a unique and diverse fine dining scene. The dining room of each restaurant can offer you a unique experience, from Greek cuisine and Mexican cuisine to Southern food!
Even Chicago's Chinatown is a great place to go to find new meals and it is amazing how many different kinds of treats you can eat in just this one city. Don't forget Navy Pier for tasty food! Create your very own tasting menu of all the different Chicago treats that you want to try! You might need to recover after eating so many great foods, so why not check out the best hikes in Chicago to work off the extra calories?