The Top 15 Quintessential Chicago Foods You Must Try

Posted by Leila Zammatta on Friday, January 11th, 2019 at 9:05am.

Chicago is known as one of the world's greatest food cities, and our real estate team definitely appreciates every aspect of the city's culinary scene. Here are some unique elements of dining in Chicago that new residents should definitely know about.

1. Pan pizza - this is similar to the much heralded deep dish but with a caramelized crust and baked cheese on top. A little less rich but no less flavorful, this is what real Chicago natives tend to prefer. And it's a little lighter if you're counting calories or just don't want to be in a food coma.

2. The "Mother in Law" - a hot dog/tamale/chili combination that's unique to the south side of Chicago. If you like that, try the Gym Shoe, which uses gyro meat (a nod to the area's Greek immigrants) as well.

3.Italian beef - this is perhaps the world's messiest sandwich, the classic combination of roast beef, rich "au jus" (a.k.a. gravy) and spicy or sweet picked giadinera peppers and other vegetables is a classic Chicago-Italian blend. In fact, giadinera in general is a Chi-Talian staple, and is wonderful on a classic Italian sandwich as well.  Slightly more formal restaurants will have Chicken Vesuvio (chicken roasted with plenty of garlic and other herbs) and all sorts of traditional red sauce-based dishes.

3. Craft cocktails - check out the classics from Violet Hour, Sable, the Aviary, and beyond. For anyone who appreciates a classic beverage or an unusual and expertly crafted drink, these places are a must-visit.

4. Malort  - speaking of cocktails, Malort is an herbal-based Swedish style liquor that is a Chicago tradition. This liquor could possibly be an acquired taste, but it is worth trying at least once, just for the experience.

5. Craft beer - the craft beer scene in Chicago is also extensive, with local breweries creating all manner of speciality brews that are relatively easy to find at the various beer-focused beers and gastropubs throughout the city.

6. Chicago style popcorn - combining cheese and caramel popcorn is actually delicious - the perfect sweet and salty snack. Just ask the fans of Garretts!

7. Chicago dogs - hold the ketchup and drag it through the garden (meaning put all the various vegetables toppings on it).

8. Chocolate cake milkshakes - Portillo's chocolate cake milkshakes are more than worth the calories if you have the slightest sweet tooth.

9. The Jibarito - this sandwich was invented in Chicago by Puerto Rican immigrants, and it's essentially a Latin sandwich or torta but using fried plaintains instead of bread, these unique treats are becoming increasingly popular, especially on the West side, but know that the Borinquen restaurant is the original.

10. Dinner and a show - the Wiener's Circle's unique staff offers a side of improv theater along with your meal. It's worth it to watch them interact with the clientele alone - plus it is decent diner food as well.

11. All things Asian - you might not expect it, but Chicago is home to fantastic Asian food. With both excellent dim sum and amazing restaurants (including late night options) available in Chinatown, a variety of Indian and South Asian restaurants on Devon, and authentic Vietnamese food on Argyle, you don't need to leave the city limits to explore the culinary scene on the other side of the world, or to pick up some favorites if you are from that part of the world and craving a taste of home.

12. Excellent vegan food - it's not all Midwestern meat and potatoes here. Chicago has plenty of vegan and vegetarian options too, thanks to our diverse mix of cultures.

13. The best steak you'll ever have - you can find amazing steaks in Chicago, from classic all-American style cuts in old school steakhouses to South American spots.

14. The best burgers too - and Chicago does love its beef in the form of insane burgers as well. Kuma's Corner is quite possibly the original spot, but you can get creative burgers loaded with all sorts of toppings at many different places around the city.

15. The best food is a family business - Last but not least, while Chicago is home to some of the best chefs in the world producing amazing cuisine, some of the smaller food trucks, ethnic joints, and family-owned places are the best places to discover the true flavor of Chicago.

Getting hungry? Live in the heart of it all at Lakeshore East or any other condo or townhome in downtown Chicago, and you'll be able to sample all these delicious treats and more. Get in touch with our real estate team and start discovering the amazing food and everything else about your new home.

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