Famous Chicago Foods
Are you more excited about Chicago’s dining opportunities than its historic architecture tour? You’re not alone! Few cities can boast a single signature dish—much less an entire menu’s worth of them. As any local will tell you, Chicago deep-dish or Chicago-style hot dogs simply don’t taste right anyplace else. Read below for a rundown of popular Chicago dishes from the team at Skydeck, and be sure to make time to try our holiday brunch!
1. Deep Dish Chicago-Style Pizza
Commonly called Chicago-style pizza, deep dish pizza may be the most famous of all Chicago foods, which is no surprise coming from a city literally named after onions and garlic. Baked in a deep pan, the crust has a distinctive high edge that surrounds generous amounts of cheese and chunky tomato sauce.
So, what’s the best place to get authentic Chicago-style deep dish? Head straight for the source and try the popular Chicago dishes at Giordano’s, one of the city’s best-known pizza restaurants. Not feeling up for a night out? The legendary Lou Malnati’s Pizzaria offers their buttercrust deep dish pizzas frozen so that you can bake them at home.
2. Traditional Italian Thin-Crust Pizza
Most people have heard of Chicago-style pizza, but you can also find traditional thin-crust Italian pizza topped with olive oil, pureed fresh tomatoes, garlic, and fresh basil. Chicago is home to the third-largest Italian population in the country, which is why so many of the most popular Chicago dishes are Italian in origin. Try Macello Cucina di Puglia in the South Loop for an authentic Italian dining experience!
3. Italian Beef Sandwich
Not to be missed among famous Chicago food specialties is the Italian beef sandwich. Okay, the sandwich itself isn’t Italian—but the name honors its characteristic Italian-style roll and sweet green pepper garnish. The beef is thin-cut sirloin, roasted in broth and spices to create that famous “jus” or gravy. Fierce debate continues as to the true origin of the Italian beef sandwich, with several restaurants claiming the honor.
Traditional Italian beef rolls are dipped in the jus to enhance the sandwich’s flavor. You can grab an Italian beef sandwich just about anywhere in Chicago, from hot dog stands and baseball games to upscale restaurants in the Loop. After a long day trekking through the loop to see Chicago monuments, this is a meal that hits the spot.
4. Chicago Hot Dog
A Chicago Hot Dog is a popular Chicago dish in its own right, absolutely distinct from a mere “hot dog.” It requires a water-bathed Vienna beef hot dog, poppy seed bun, mustard, sweet green relish, chopped onions, hot peppers, tomato slices, dill pickles, and a pinch of celery salt. It doesn’t require ketchup.
5. Original Rainbow Cone
If you somehow still have room for dessert, don’t miss this picturesque Chicago treat. Best enjoyed after a long walking tour of downtown, it’s a waffle cone loaded with five artfully layered flavors: chocolate, strawberry, Palmer House (vanilla with cherries and walnuts), pistachio, and orange sherbet.
Malört: the Signature Chicago Shot
You know what food Chicago is known for… but what should you drink with it? Many Chicagoans will answer that question with “Malört.” It’s a Swedish-style schnapps distilled with the flavor of wormwood. That might not sound appealing, but there’s a good reason Malört has stuck around since the 1930s. Sold only in the Chicago area until 2013, appreciating Malört’s bitter bouquet is something of a Chicago-style rite of passage. Sharp tongues only.
Explore Chicago’s Best With Skydeck!
Questions about the Chicago recipes and restaurants above? Contact our team to learn more about dining and family-friendly entertainment on Willis Tower’s 109th floor. We can discuss our favorite Chicago food and share some interesting Chicago facts!