What to eat in Chicago during your trip

Author: Veruska Anconitano, Award-Winning Food Travel Journalist, Sommelier & Outdoor LoverAuthor information
About the author
Veruska Anconitano
Veruska is a a food travel journalist with awards to her credit, such as World Best Food Travel Journalist. She holds a certification as a sommelier and she is also an ardent lover of the outdoors. Aside from this, Veruska is a Multilingual SEO and Localization Consultant and co-owns multiple websites that cater to a global audience.
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Chicago is one of those cities rarely included in the list of places to see in your life: you go to Chicago if you are traveling on Route 66 or if you are passing by but it is rare to find tourists who decided to spend a few days in the Windy City just to see it. Yet Chicago is beautiful, the Lake Michigan makes it attractive in winter and warm in summer and on a gastronomic level Chicago is one of those cities that leaves you amazed.

Eating in Chicago is truly one of the best ways to discover the city and its people, real food enthusiasts also thanks to the presence of immigration and its constant tendency to culinary experimentation: here the portions are anything but normal, the combinations can be bizarre and you will find some of the best American chefs with their restaurants ready to give luster to a city too often become famous because for other reasons in recent years.

What to eat in Chicago during your trip?

Two are the main symbols of Chicago in terms of food, hot dog and deep pan pizza, but they’re not the only ones.

The Chicago Style hot dog

The hot dog is a real institution and the real Chicago Hot Dog is completely different compared to the hot dog that we usually imagine and eat. Firstly it can be either grilled or cooked in steam and it is always served in a poppy seeds bun that give it a sweet taste; the dressing should never be ketchup but may be one or more of the following classic ingredients:

  • Yellow mustard
  • Green and sour relish
  • Onion into small pieces
  • Sliced tomato
  • Pickled cucumbers
  • Spicy green chillies
  • Celery salt.

The real Chicago resident will always ask for a Hot Dog drag it through the garden which means filled with all the above ingredients, without any limit.

Hot Dog Chicago

The hot dog at Gene and Jude’s

Chicago deep pan pizza

Everything you need to know about the Chicago style pizza is in the video below, included my face while testing it.

chicago pizza

The steak

The steak is the historical legacy of the city that for years has been the “butcher” for the entire United States: always ask for the t-bone, the cut of meat that is served up with a side of hand cut fries with the skin. Often the experience of eating meat in Chicago is truly unique although the portions cannot necessarily be normal and the toppings are often over the top.


The Italian beef

This meat has very little of Italian but in Chicago this is a real “specialty” which is served not only at take away and diner but also in restaurants. What is the Italian beef specifically? It is roast beef served with a frayed and quite creamy sauce; it was popularized around theGreat Depression time by Pasquale Scala, a butcher who worked in Stockyards, the Italian neighborhood that does not exist anymore, to overcome the economic problems. Still today it is served in a long rising soft bun bathed in sauce topped with pickles and green peppers. Obviously this beef has very little of Italian but it is among the foods most loved in Chicago.

italian beef


Well yes, Chicago is definitely the place where eating popcorn is an experience. In 2003 the popcorn has been named the official food of Illinois, just to say. They come in different types and flavors and there also also many manufacturers, more or less local, moving the business: their scent radiates all the streets and neighborhoods and resisting, in my opinion, it is impossible!


Rainbow Cone

The famous multi-layer and multi-colored cone was born in Chicago in 1926 thanks to the eponymous ice cream shop. It is made up of many flavors, all stacked: orange sorbet, pistachio, Palmer House (vanilla with cherries and walnuts), strawberry and chocolate.

rainbow cone


Do you know that the brownie was invented in Chicago? The creative mind was Bertha Palmer, wife of the owner of the famous Palmer House Hotel, which in 1893 responded to the request to create a sweet and easy to carry dessert during the Columbian Exhibition in Chicago in 1893.


These are just a few things you need to taste necessarily during a trip to Chicago; beside these, there are also many types of food and wine from everywhere in the World together with American chefs experimenting. I’ll tell you more about where to eat in Chicago in a different article

Have a look at my trip to Chicago:

[Pics by Giuseppe]

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