What Food Is Chicago Famous For | Famous Food In Chicago (2023)

What Food Is Chicago Famous For?

November 29, 2019 | Chef Specialties,

What Food Is Chicago Famous For | Famous Food In Chicago (1)

Whether you’re a Windy City native or an out-of-towner trying to find the best food to eat in Chicago, this city has something for everyone. While Chicago is famous for tons of delicious food, 10 iconic food staples should top every diner’s must-try list.

1. Deep-Dish Pizza

You can’t talk about iconic Chicago cuisine without including deep-dish pizza. Although thin crust pizza certainly has its place in the Windy City, deep-dish pizza and Chicago have become nearly synonymous.

Chefs start to make Chicago deep-dish pizza by pressing dough tightly against the bottom and sides of a round, handless pan. Next comes a thick layer of soon-to-be gooey cheese, followed by meat — usually sausage or pepperoni — and other toppings. Then, the cook repeats these layers until they top the pie with a thin, tomato-forward sauce. You need more than your hands to enjoy this pie — Chicago-style deep-dish pizza requires a knife, fork and plenty of time to enjoy the ride.

Historians debate who created the recipe for Chicago style deep-dish, but some say Ike Sewell and Ric Riccardo are to thank for popularizing the recipe in the 1940s.

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2. Chicago Barbecue

Although lesser-known than the barbecue scenes in Kansas City or the Carolinas, Chicago barbecue is just as delicious and complex. Within the Chicago barbecue scene, you’ll find a few different styles, including “boilbecue” and smokeless roast. The most iconic, though, are Delta style rib tips, which hail from the South Side.

Rib tips use a portion of the pig that is often ignored by other pitmasters — a strip of cartilage-heavy pork. Chefs traditionally serve the dish with plenty of sauce and topped with a couple of pieces of white bread.

What’s truly iconic about Chicago style barbecue is the method of its creation — aquarium pits. While other pitmasters smoke their meat in holes in the ground or large, steel smokers, the Windy City does it differently.

To meet the city’s fire codes, South Side pitmasters created the aquarium pit, which is a box of bricks wrapped in stainless steel and topped with a grate. They coined the term “aquarium pit” due to its resemblance to 50-gallon fish tanks. Tempered glass surrounds the cooking area, and a lid carries smoke out of the kitchen and up through a chimney. Ground-level doors are where logs and water control the oxygen and smoke levels.

3. Jibarito Sandwich

The Jibarito — pronounced “hee-barito” — is a Chicago-born sandwich inspired by the flavors and culinary traditions of Puerto Rico.

The Jibarito combines a protein — usually steak — with garlicky mayonnaise, fresh tomato slices, lettuce, onions and cheese. Instead of bread, two flat, crispy slices of fried plantain bind the inside.

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Using plantains in place of bread is a long-standing tradition in Puerto Rico.Juan “Pete” Figueroa made the dish his own and began serving it at his Chicago restaurant in 1996. Since then, the popular sandwich has earned a place on the menu of many Chicago eateries.

4. Steak

Food critics consistently name Chicago steakhouses as some of the country’s top steakhouses, including lists featured in Travel +Leisure, The Daily Meal, Thrillist and Forbes, to name a few. Due to the city’s stockyard history, it makes sense that some of Chicago’s most notable establishments are praised for their high-quality meats.

Windy City steakhouses are a culmination of Chicago’s classic recipes and new, modern experimentation.

5. The Rainbow Cone

Joseph Sapp and his wife Kathrine opened The Original Rainbow Cone in 1926. This beloved Chicago treat is a colorful stack of chocolate, strawberry, Palmer House, pistachio and orange sherbet ice cream piled high on top of a cake cone.

Each season, as winter ends and spring begins to bloom, natives and tourists alike flock to The Rainbow Cone to get their own towering treat.

6. Pizza Puffs

Although some eateries offer pizza puffs that you might confuse for a calzone, an authentic pizza puff is different. These are wrapped in a tortilla-like dough, stuffed with cheese, meat and sauce, and deep-fried.

(Video) Trying Iconic Chicago Foods...in Chicago!

Due to their immense popularity, you can easily find pizza puffs at restaurants, hot dog stands and even in your favorite grocery store’s frozen food aisle.

7. Flaming Saganaki

Flaming saganaki was born in Chicago’s Greektown, in the kitchens of the now-closed Parthenon restaurant. This delicacy features a slab of fried, breaded Greek kasseri cheese — though you can ask for substitutions — that is lit on fire, tableside, by igniting the splash of alcohol that’s been drizzled on top. A squeeze of lemon juice puts out the flame. It’scustomary to shout “Opa!” while serving flaming saganaki to create an even more engaging experience.

Today, flaming saganaki remains one of the top Chicago foods. You can find it on many menus across Chicago and the entire U.S.

8. Italian Beef Sandwich

What Food Is Chicago Famous For | Famous Food In Chicago (2)

While the exact origin of the Italian beef sandwich is up for debate, the Chicago staple is one of the most famous foods in Chicago. Regardless of its precise origin, the premise for the creation of this iconic Chicago sandwich is always the same.

The Italian beef sandwich was created in the 1930s and came from the need to make beef stretch further, whether at the dinner table or at formally catered events.This Chicago must-have is made with thinly sliced steak piled onto French bread, topped with peppers and served sloppy-wet with gravy.

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You can find Italian beef sandwiches in dozens of restaurants and food vendors all across the Windy City.

9. The Chicago Hot Dog

If you’re asking yourself what food you absolutely must try during your visit to Chicago, the answer is a classic Chicago-style hot dog. The Chicago-style hot dog was born out of the Great Depression and is almost as — if not just as — closely associated with the Windy City as deep-dish pizza.

If you order it “all the way” or “dragged through the garden,” your Chicago dog will be made with steamed, all-beef franks, topped with mustard, neon green relish, onions, sport peppers, sliced tomato, pickle spears and celery salt, served on a steamed poppy seed bun.

You’ll find Chicago-style hot dogs at restaurants and street vendors across the city, as well as on the menu of hot dog eateries all over the United States. Chicago even has an annual Hot Dog Fest to celebrate the staple.

10. Brownies

Did you know brownies were created right here in the Windy City? It’s true! During the 1893 World’s Fair, Chicago socialite Bertha Palmer asked the pastry chef at The Palmer House to create her something that would fit neatly into boxed lunches for the Women’s Pavilion. It was then that the beloved American dessert was born.

Although it wasn’t immediately given the name “brownie,” the baked treat was an instant hit. The original recipe used semi-sweet chocolate, walnuts and an apricot glaze.

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Visit South Side Social For A Taste Of Chicago

If you’re looking for some of the best local eats during your trip to the Windy City, look no further than South Side Social Neighborhood Kitchen & Tap, located in the Oak Lawn Hilton Hotel in Chicago’s Oak Lawn area. We offer an all-encompassing, authentic taste of Chicago — likeItalian beef sandwiches with giardiniera and sweet peppers,homemade pizza puff hand piesand our twist on the traditional chocolate brownie — in a relaxed neighborhood atmosphere.

Give us a call at 708-229-8888 or contact us online to reserve your spot today.

FAQs

What is the State food of Chicago? ›

Pumpkin pie

At the time, over 85% of the nation's consumed pumpkin was produced in Illinois, so it makes perfect sense to dedicate this popular pumpkin dish as an official symbol of the state.

What snack food is Chicago known for? ›

The 15 Foods Chicago Natives Miss Most When They're Out of State
  • Lou Malnati's Deep Dish Pizza.
  • Garret's Popcorn.
  • Portillo's Hot Dogs.
  • Portillo's Cake Shake.
  • Doughnut Vault Doughnuts.
  • Stan's Donuts.
  • Sprinkles Cupcakes.
  • Walker Brother's 49er Flapjacks.

What is Illinois signature food? ›

Unsurprisingly, Illinois' signature food is Chicago deep dish pizza. Here's what Stacker wrote about it: “Downstaters in Illinois may disagree, but Illinois' signature dish has to be Chicago deep dish pizza.

What is Illinois most famous food? ›

Deep Dish pizza is the most iconic Midwest pizza style. The basics: a deep, pie crust-style construction with lots of cheese and sauce on the top. From there, experiment to find the pie that works best for your tastes.

What is Chicago's pizza famous for? ›

The most unique and recognizable element of Chicago pizza, deep-dish crust is at least an inch deep, allowing room for extra sauce and toppings. With its even higher crust, stuffed pizza resembles a pot pie or casserole dish more than a New York-style thin-crust pie!

What is Chicago known for pizza? ›

Chicago is famous for its deep-dish style of pizza. Tourists flock to pizza joints like Uno's, Giordano's, and Lou Malnati's for that brick-thick crust. However, if you ask most Chicagoans, deep-dish isn't something we eat regularly here.

Does Chicago have the best food? ›

Chicago is the food and drink capital of the world, according to a global survey. Our suspicions have been confirmed: Chicago is the No. 1 city in the world for both eating and drinking, according to the Time Out Index, an exhaustive survey that polled more than 34,000 people in 48 cities around the globe.

What is Chicago's most famous dish? ›

If there's one Chicago food that's the best known, it's deep-dish pizza. Composed of a thick crust, zesty tomato sauce, personalized toppings and a behemoth layer of cheese, the Chicago deep-dish dares to be different.

What sandwich is famous in Chicago? ›

The Italian beef is perhaps the most iconic sandwich in all of Chicago. Although it's hotly contested, a large chunk of people think the best one is found at Johnnie's Beef out in Elmwood Park. Order it the traditional way: Topped with spicy giardiniera or sweet peppers, and dipped in jus.

What is in a Chicago deep-dish? ›

Originally invented in the '40s, the Chicago deep-dish pizza is typically characterized by a tall, bread-like crust and thick layers of mozzarella cheese and chunky tomato sauce.

What food can you only get in Illinois? ›

The State Of Illinois Has Its Own Cuisine And You Can't Visit Without Trying At Least One Of These
  • Horseshoe Sandwich. The Horseshoe Sandwich is something that many have heard of but no one has seen outside of Illinois. ...
  • Italian Beef. ...
  • Cozy Dog. ...
  • Chicago-Style Popcorn. ...
  • Deep Dish Pizza. ...
  • Pierogi. ...
  • Rainbow Cone Ice Cream.
17 Jan 2021

What food was invented in Chicago? ›

Chicago is no exception: deep-dish pizza, the Chicago hot dog, Italian beef, and Malort are all inextricably wrapped up in the city's reputation and famously originated here, along with Chicken Vesuvio, flaming saganaki, and brownies.

What is Illinois favorite snack? ›

Watching popcorn pop; popcorn is the official state snack food of Illinois.

What breakfast foods is Chicago known for? ›

A proper Midwestern brunch is hearty and filling. We're in the middle of the country surrounded by farms so that means we're all about meat and potatoes. You'll see a plate of eggs –any style, your bacon, sausage, hash browns and toast or pancakes.

How do you eat Chicago deep dish? ›

At the end of the day, the most important rule of eating a deep-dish pizza is this: There are no rules! Eat it with a fork or pick it up with your hands, as long as you enjoy every bite you're doing it right. One of the best Chicago-style pizzerias in San Jose is Pizza Chicago.

Is Chicago known for hot dogs? ›

While many variations of hot dogs being “dragged through the garden,” were popular, it soon became clear Chicagoans had a favorite combo: sport peppers, mustard, pickle, relish, onion, tomato and celery salt on Rosen's popular poppy seed bun. And thus, the legendary Chicago Dog was born.

Why is Chicago known for deep dish? ›

You might be wondering, why is Chicago attached to the deep-dish pizza title? That's because it was invented here and loved by so many. Ike Sewell and Ric Riccardo invented Chicago deep-dish pizza. These two used their love for business and Italian cuisine and opened Pizzeria Uno in Chicago in 1943.

What is Chicago cheese? ›

Chicago Cheese is a white unripened cheese. It has a slightly stringy texture. It is excellent for the preparation all kinds of cheese pies. Use it as an appetizer with crackers, fresh or dried fruits.

Is Chicago known for Mexican food? ›

​​Chicago has lured food aficionados with its well-known local staples for decades. Still, its Mexican culinary scene has undoubtedly positioned itself among one of the best in the country — one that draws, surprises, and delights locals and tourists alike.

Is Chicago deep dish really pizza? ›

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia struck down Chicago-style deep dish, ruling that the overflowing mess of sauce and cheese can't be considered pizza. The conservative stalwart, speaking at the Union League Club of Chicago's 126th annual George Washington's Birthday celebration, said he enjoys Second City pie.

What is the famous drink in Chicago? ›

Arguably the most popular of Chicago's famed drinks, the Old Fashioned is a cocktail pretty true to its name. The first-recorded mention of this cocktail was in an 1803 newspaper, where the editor mentioned a drink made with a combination of spirits, sugar, water and bitters.

What snack was invented in Chicago? ›

Twinkies. Twinkies were invented in Schiller Park, Illinois on April 6, 1930 by James Dewar, a baker at Continental Baking Company.

What snack food was invented in Chicago? ›

Cracker Jack- One of the many new foods introduced at the Chicago World's Fair in 1893, Cracker Jack is the brainchild of German immigrant Frederick William Rueckheim and his brother, who "debuted their candied popcorn mixed with peanuts at the exposition, and three years later the first batches of molasses-covered ...

What is a Chicago pie? ›

Chicago pizza, however, is baked in a round pan similar to a pie pan—this is the “deep dish” that gives the pizza its other name. The buttery, rich dough is spread on the bottom of the oiled pan and also worked up the sides, and it is partially baked before toppings are added. It should be crispy, flaky, and rich.

Why does Chicago pizza have sauce on top? ›

On the other hand, Chicago-style pizza sauce is always scooped on top of the cheese layer before baking. Covering the cheese with a chunky crushed tomato sauce helps to keep the cheese from burning as the pizza bakes.

Why does Chicago cut pizza in squares? ›

As history and legend have it, square-cut pizza was born in the bars of Chicago's South Side. To keep the good working people of the city drinking, the pubs developed a pizza that was less bready, a little more salty, and could be cut up into squares and offered to patrons for free.

What is Chicago's most famous dish? ›

If there's one Chicago food that's the best known, it's deep-dish pizza. Composed of a thick crust, zesty tomato sauce, personalized toppings and a behemoth layer of cheese, the Chicago deep-dish dares to be different.

What is Chicago's national fruit? ›

State symbols
TypeSymbolYear adopted
FruitGold Rush Apple (Malus × domestica)2007
FossilTully monster (Tullimonstrum gregarium)1989
GrainCorn2018
InsectMonarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus)1975
26 more rows

What drink is Chicago known for? ›

Arguably the most popular of Chicago's famed drinks, the Old Fashioned is a cocktail pretty true to its name. The first-recorded mention of this cocktail was in an 1803 newspaper, where the editor mentioned a drink made with a combination of spirits, sugar, water and bitters.

What food can you only get in Illinois? ›

The State Of Illinois Has Its Own Cuisine And You Can't Visit Without Trying At Least One Of These
  • Horseshoe Sandwich. The Horseshoe Sandwich is something that many have heard of but no one has seen outside of Illinois. ...
  • Italian Beef. ...
  • Cozy Dog. ...
  • Chicago-Style Popcorn. ...
  • Deep Dish Pizza. ...
  • Pierogi. ...
  • Rainbow Cone Ice Cream.
17 Jan 2021

Who is the richest person in Illinois? ›

The Chicago native has a substantial amount of his estimated $5.82 billion tied up in publicly traded stocks.
...
1Ken Griffin sells first of 4 condos in his $54.5 million selloff
2A $25 billion grocery deal takes the fight to Walmart
3Pritzker reveals his 2021 tax returns
2 more rows
23 Jun 2022

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