Stree tview of Chicago

Typical Chicago foods and where to try them

Chicago is a great destination for foodie travelers looking for unique experiences and delicious dishes. There are four traditional Chicago dishes that you must try when visiting the city: deep dish pizza, an Italian beef sandwich, Chicago-style hot dogs and Garrett’s popcorn.

Read on to find out more about Chicago’s signature dishes and where to get them - you’ll be eating where the locals eat.

Chicago-style deep dish pizza in skillets

1. Deep dish pizza

Every city has its own take on pizza, and Chicago’s pizza is deep dish. Deep dish pizza was first created in Chicago in the 1940s and is a part of Chicago’s history and culture. Cooked in a deep iron skillet, Chicago-style pizza has an elevated crust and is filled with a layer of cheese and a generous coating of chunky tomato sauce. That’s right! The toppings are upside down.

Where to try it:

The best place to eat deep dish pizza in Chicago is at Lou Malnati’s. Alternative options include Gino’s East or Pizzeria Uno, both good date night restaurants in Chicago.

Italian Beef Sandwich with peppers, onions and au jus

2. Italian beef sandwich

Another iconic Chicago delicacy is the Italian Beef Sandwich. Chicagoans have been eating this sandwich since the 1930s! It consists of thinly sliced beef roast beef on top of a French roll. The meat is served au jus, meaning ‘with juice.’ Sometimes, the roll is even dipped into the juice the meat is cooked in.

Locals will add giardiniera, a relish made from pickled vegetable, to their sandwiches. You may also see the sandwich embellished with sauteed Italian sweet peppers.

Where to try it:

The best place to eat an authentic Italian Beef sandwich is Al’s Beef, which has several locations across the city.

Chicago Style Hot Dog with mustard, pickle, tomato, relish and onion

3. Chicago-style hot dogs

A timeless classic, the Chicago hot dog is a favorite in ball parks and on warm summer nights. Hot dogs are historically an Austrian dish whose recipe traveled to the US with early immigrants. In the early 20th Century, hot dogs became popular at fairs and baseball games and, during the great depression, they were sold for a nickel on Maxwell Street.

The Chicago-style hot dog essentially an all-beef frankfurter that’s been steamed or grilled, served on a poppy seed bun. Accompaniments include mustard, onions, sweet pickle relish, tomato wedges, a dill pickle, and celery salt. Now, that’s a mouth full!

Notoriously, the Chicago dog does not contain ketchup – it is culturally agreed upon in Chicago that ketchup on a hot dog is unacceptable.

Where to try it:

The best place to try a classic Chicago style hot dog is Portillos. As an alternative, Devil Dawgs offers a unique twist on hot dogs and is late at night.

Caramel and cheese popcorn

4. Chicago-style popcorn

Garrett Popcorn is an American chain with its roots in Chicago. Since this company has been around for over 70 years, they have a collection of family secrets and trademarked recipes.

The most notable menu item is the Garrett Mix: caramel & cheesy popcorn, which is famous in Chicago. If that’s not for you, they have a multitude of other interesting, mouthwatering, flavors to choose from.

Where to try it:

There are several Garrett locations in Chicago, and sometimes you’ll find a line out the door. This popcorn is worth the wait!

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Valentina Djordjevic

Author - Valentina Djordjevic

Valentina has always been obsessed with researching, organizing, and planning her vacations. She knows that many people don’t have the time and energy to do this, but they still want to get the most out of their travels and her website, Valentina’s Destinations, allows her to help other busy professionals maximize their experiences. Valentina is originally from Serbia, and she grew up in Chicago. She loves hunting down local restaurants, unique experiences, and hidden gems.

Last Updated 26 October 2021

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