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Top 10 Chicago Foods (& Where to Find Them)


Tessa ZuluagaAuthor

Chicago is known for many things, including its stunning architecture, world-class museums, and busy nightlife. However, one aspect of the city that truly sets it apart is its incredible food scene. From deep-dish pizza to Italian beef sandwiches to hot dogs piled high, Chicago is the place to be for food lovers. 

In this article, we'll explore the top 10 foods that you simply must try when you're in the Windy City, along with the best places to find them. Whether you're a local looking for new spots to try or a visitor planning a trip to Chicago, this guide will help you easily navigate the city's culinary landscape.

  1. Deep-Dish Pizza - The Art of Pizza

  2. Italian Beef Sandwich - Al’s #1 Italian Beef

  3. Chicago Style Hot Dog - Portillo’s

  4. Rainbow Cone - The Original Rainbow Cone

  5. Chicago Style Popcorn - Garrett Popcorn Shops

  6. Barbecue Rib Tips - Lem’s Bar-B-Q

  7. Tamales - Kie-Gol-Lanee

  8. Jibarito - Jibaritos Y Más

  9. Saganaki - Mykonos Greek Restaurant

  10. Tavern-Style Pizza - Vito and Nick’s

Deep-Dish Pizza - The Art of Pizza

You can’t go to Chicago and not enjoy a slice (or 2…or 5) of deep-dish pizza, and The Art of Pizza is the place to do it. Proudly serving the Lakeview area for over 30 years, this restaurant serves authentic Chicago-style deep-dish pizza by the slice. This pizza has been voted #1 deep dish pizza by countless sources like the Chicago Tribune and Thrillist. This pizza is a must-try when in the Windy City!

Italian Beef Sandwich -  Al’s #1 Italian Beef

Stop here to get an Italian beef sandwich with some history! Founder Anthony Ferreri had the idea of making Italian beef sandwiches by cooking the beef in juices and adding secret spices. Anthony eventually had 2 kids, one of which was named Albert, aka Al. Al was in and out of jail but he had the idea of using his father’s sandwich shop as a front for his bookie joint. And so, in 1938 the sandwich shop was started. Today, it is named for its reigning title as the #1 Italian Beef sandwich, and it doesn’t miss!

Chicago Style Hot Dog from Portillo’s

In 1963, Dick Portillo opened his first hot dog stand in Villa Park, IL. Today, you can’t Chicago without hearing about Prortillo’s. Although you can now find the restaurant in several different states, there’s nothing like a Chicago dog in the city where it was founded. This jumbo hot dog features mustard, relish, celery salt, freshly chopped onions, sliced red ripe tomatoes, kosher pickles, and sport peppers piled onto a steamed poppy seed bun. Yum!

Rainbow Cone from The Original Rainbow Cone

Have you ever tried an ice cream cone that features five delicious flavors? If you haven’t- Rainbow Cone has you covered! This ice cream shop is known for its cone containing chocolate, strawberry, palmer house, pistachio, and orange sherbet! What also makes this cone distinct is the ice cream is sliced instead of scooped, so it stays on the cone better. This creation was formed in 1926 by “Grandpa Joe” Sapp and is a staple today in the Chicago food scene. 

Chicago Style Popcorn from Garrett Popcorn Shops

In 1949 Garrett Popcorn was started by a female entrepreneur who developed the recipes in her own family kitchen. Today, the popcorn shop still cooks small batches throughout each day and is made with simple, high-quality ingredients. Stop by today to try Caramel Crisp or CheeseCorn popcorn! 

Barbecue Rib Tips from Lem’s Bar-B-Q

In 1954 two brothers opened a BBQ restaurant on the south side of Chicago. Their secret sauces became wildly popular and led to the brothers’ success in the city. They now have a second location in the historic Chatham Neighborhood- check out Lem’s Bar-B-Q for their rib tips and hot links! 

Tamales from Kie-Gol-Lanee

Michelin Guide Bib Gourmand Winner 2020-2022, Kie-Gol-Lanee is an amazing authentic Oaxacan family restaurant.  Kie-Gol-Lanee means "Piedra Antigua" (old stone). Its Spanish version "Quiegolani" is the name of a small village in Oaxaca, Mexico where the culinary team is from: Santa Maria Quiegolani. Their tamales are Oaxacan-style, meaning they’re wrapped in plantain leaves stuffed with your choice of red mole with chicken, green mole with pork, or mushrooms. This restaurant does not disappoint! 

Jibarito from Jibaritos Y Más

A jibarito is a sandwich native to Chicago that is made with flattened plantains instead of bread. This dish was created by a Puerto Rican restaurant owner, and the best ones can be found at Jibaritos Y Más. Their menu features other authentic Puerto Rican dishes such as empanadillas, carne fritas, and a variety of different jibaritos. 

Saganaki from Mykonos Greek Restaurant

After growing up in Sparta Greece and learning to cook from his grandma, owner Dimitrios "Jimmy" Merageas moved to Chicago and brought his Greek recipes with him. Mykonos Greek Restaurant has been serving the people of Chicago saganaki since 1981. Saganaki is flaming cheese, commonly made with Kasseri cheese.  Stop by here to also try delicious dolmades, brizolaki, and more! Opa! 

Tavern-Style Pizza from Vito and Nick’s

Chicago might be known for its deep-dish pizza, but have you tried authentic Chicago-style thin-crust pizza? If not, or if you’re looking for the best thin-crust pizza, head over to Vito and Nick’s. Located just south of Chicago Midway International Airport, this place dates back to about 1932 when founder Vito Barraco opened up a restaurant called Vito's Tavern. Then in 1946, the restaurant started making pizzas, Sicilian style, which are famous today. In fact, this place does not, and never will, deliver. In the words of  Nick Barraco in 1965, “We will never deliver, if they want a truly great pizza, they will come in for it”. Period! 

Chicago's food scene is truly one of a kind, and there's no shortage of delicious and iconic dishes to try. From classic deep-dish pizza to lesser-known gems like the jibarito, Chicago's culinary landscape is rich with flavor and variety. Exploring the city's food scene is an adventure not to be missed. So why not grab a few friends, and indulge in some of the Windy City's most mouthwatering eats? Trust us - your taste buds will thank you!

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