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.
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.
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.
The best place to eat an authentic Italian Beef sandwich is Al’s Beef, which has several locations across the city.
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.
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.
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.
There are several Garrett locations in Chicago, and sometimes you’ll find a line out the door. This popcorn is worth the wait!
Last Updated October 26, 2021