If you have your sights set on Chicago, be sure to pack your stretchy pants as this city has a big appetite. From deep dish pizza brimming with cheese to Chicago-style hot dogs on poppy seed buns, there are so many amazing restaurants to try and incredible dishes to discover. From key lime pies to freshly glazed doughnuts, here is the lowdown on where to eat in the Windy City.
Bang Bang Pie Shop
Pie lovers need to look no further than the sweet doors of Bang Bang Pie Shop. The famous bakery churns out mouth-watering pies seven days a week, often generating a line around the block. Popular favourites include their honey pie with a shortbread crust, the blackberry peach pie with a brown sugar crumble or the more traditional key lime pie. Those with chocolate cravings can sink their teeth into a slice of the chocolate chess pie with a dark chocolate and smoked salted caramel filling. On the savoury side of things, their biscuits are a must and can be served with sausage, ham, candied bacon or simply butter and honey.
Beginning as a hot dog stand in Chicago back in 1963, Portillo’s has grown to be a popular restaurant chain right across the country. The menu now stretches to beef, burgers, salads, fries and shakes but it’s the hot dogs that first developed the restaurant’s loyal following. It would be remiss to visit Chicago and not take the time to try a traditional Chicago-style hot dog. The hot dog with everything at Portillo’s will see you with a sausage on a steamed poppy seed bun, piled high with mustard, relish, celery salt, onions, tomatoes, pickles and peppers. Try and save room for one of their ridiculously good shakes, like the chocolate cake shake.
How can you visit the Windy City without munching on a slice of deep dish pizza pie? Lou Malnati’s is famous for their signature Chicago-style deep dish pizza, handcrafted using a recipe that has been passed down through generations. Made from scratch, their pizzas use California vine-ripened tomatoes, an exclusive sausage blend, fresh mozzarella cheese supplied from a small dairy and a buttery crust made from a secret family recipe. In addition to pizza, soup, salads, pasta and sandwiches also grace the menu. Stick around for one of their creamy tiramisus or a freshly baked chocolate chip pizza topped with vanilla bean ice cream for dessert.
One of America’s great loves, doughnuts are something of a staple, whether it’s a treat with your morning coffee or an afternoon sugar hit. The Doughnut Vault is relatively new to the restaurant scene in Chicago but has quickly developed a following with long lines in the mornings and on weekends. Choose between their old fashioned buttermilk doughnuts or the yeasty glazed ones that come in a variety of fantastic flavours including coconut cream, triple chocolate and lemon poppy seed or try and catch a seasonal jelly doughnut. Pick up a coffee and enjoy your morning treat down by the Chicago River.
Al’s Italian Beef
As the Philly cheesesteak is to Philadelphia, so is the Italian Beef to Chicago. This saucy sandwich is a Chicago food legend and features spiced dry roasted beef that is then soaked in gravy and served with sweet and hot peppers. You can choose the level of ‘wetness’, ranging from regular – just enough gravy to make the beef juicy all the way to dipped, where the entire sandwich (bread and all) is dipped. You will need to roll up your sleeves and devour the dipped sandwich as best you can – perhaps don’t wear your favourite shirt. They also have an extensive secret menu with all kinds of eats, from gypsy fries to cheese hot dogs and BLT’s. If a sandwich is not your thing, there are also hot dogs, chilli or burgers to try.
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