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.

(Video) Top 10 Iconic Chicago Foods You MUST Try Before You DIE

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.

(Video) 5 Foods You Have to Eat in Chicago

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) 6 MUST EAT Chicago Foods! | Jeremy Jacobowitz

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.

(Video) Eating PUERTO RICAN food in CHICAGO

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.


What is Chicago known for? ›

Some of the many things Chicago is famous for are: Chicago-style hot dogs, Chicago-style (deep dish) pizza, Maxwell Street Polish Sausage, jazz music, and 1920s gangsters, for example Al Capone. Chicago is also known for architecture, for example the Sears Tower and museums. It is also known for its loyal sports fans.

What foods were made 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.

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 food is Chicago known for 2022? ›

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 breakfast foods is Chicago known for? ›

Chicago has a huge variety of breakfast foods available, so you'll be spoilt for choice. In particular, pancakes, and French toast are staples and some of the best breakfasts in Chicago.

What is in the food? ›

Food is mainly composed of water, lipids, proteins and carbohydrates. Minerals (e.g. salts) and organic substances (e.g. vitamins) can also be found in food. Plants, algae and some microorganisms use photosynthesis to make their own food molecules.

What candy is made in Chicago? ›

Chicago has been the “candy capital of the world” since the late 1800s. Tootsie Rolls, Brach's, Frango, Wrigley Gum, Fannie May, and Mars Candy all have roots in Chicago. The Loop, specifically, has a rich history in candy making.

Why is Chicago so popular? ›

So, what makes Chicago the country's Best Big City? There are so many reasons. It could be our welcoming and inclusive spirit, award-winning food scene, stunning green spaces, iconic attractions, or our vibrant neighborhoods with something new to discover around every corner.

What beer is made in Chicago? ›

Meister Bräu was the Chicago brand — think a local version of Hamm's, Schlitz, or Old Style. Old Style, you may know, is “Chicago's beer.” It even goes so far as to brand itself as such.

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 famous for hot dogs? ›

The hot dog is in the pantheon of Chicago foods, right up there with pizza and Italian beef. And you probably don't have to go very far to get a good one as there are esteemed hot dog vendors in all corners of the city.

What dessert started in Chicago? ›

Nearly as iconic an American dessert as the chocolate-chip cookie, the brownie was created in 1893 at the Palmer House Hotel in Chicago's Loop.

Why is food in Chicago so good? ›

Because we have the absolute best produce and farmers markets, IMHO. Chicago is literally in the heart of the Midwest, so it makes sense that we have access to some of the best and freshest produce in the country.

Is Chicago a foodie town? ›

According to a new study from Wallethub, Chicago has claimed a spot on a new list of the "Top 15 Best Foodie Cities in America." In order to rank the cities, Wallethub says it "compared more than 180 U.S. cities across 29 key indicators of foodie-friendliness," including cost of groceries, affordability, number of high ...

Who has better food Chicago or NYC? ›

Even though Chicago has many great restaurants and there are so many cities in North America that get praise for their food scene, it's fair to say that NYC still tops the list.

What time is Taste of Chicago? ›

Taste of Chicago (a bite-sized Taste in Grant Park) Hours
Thursday11:00AM – 9:00PM
Friday11:00AM – 9:00PM
Saturday10:00AM – 9:00PM
Sunday10:00AM – 9:00PM
2 more rows

How long is Chicago Taste? ›

five days

Can dogs go to Taste Chicago? ›

Taste Of Chicago Is Pet Friendly.

What time is Chicago on? ›

Chicago, Illinois Current Local Time - Chicago, Illinois Time Zone
Current Local TimeChicago, Illinois is officially in the Central Time Zone
The Current Time in Chicago, Illinois is: Saturday 10/15/2022 7:29 AM CDT Chicago, Illinois is in the Central Time Zone
View Current Times in All Illinois Cities and Towns

What are the 3 main types of food? ›

The three main types of foods are energy-giving foods, body-building foods, and protective foods.
  • Energy-giving foods: They are made of carbohydrates and fats. ...
  • Body-building foods: Proteins are considered to be body-building foods as they help in body growth and also help in repairing damaged parts of the body.

What are the 7 types of food? ›

Food are divided into 7 different groups : drinks, carbs, fruits and vegetables, dairy, meat / fish / eggs, fats and high-sugar foods. Each of these groups provide different nutrients and should be consumed at a different rate.

What is Chicago known for snacks? ›

Cracker Jacks are an icon among American snacks, and they are rooted right here in Chicago. It all began more than 100 years ago when German immigrant Frederick William Rueckheim began selling popcorn on what is now as Federal Street in Chicago.

What chocolate is from Chicago? ›

Blommer Chocolate Company is an integrated chocolate manufacturer based in Chicago, Illinois, and it is considered to be the largest chocolate-ingredient supplier in North America.

Are M&Ms made in Chicago? ›

The Chicago facility was established in 1929 and was the first large scale manufacturing operation built by M&M/Mars. Located at 2019 N. Oak Park Ave., the plant produces many great chocolate and confection products including 3 Musketeers Bar, Snickers Bar, Mars Almond Bar, Munch Bar and Milky Way Bar.

Is Chicago Clean? ›

Chicago has a pretty strong national reputation for being a very clean city. Unlike New York – where trash is put on the curb – Chicago is a city of alleys, so trash and debris is placed out of view. Trash is regularly picked up and streets are regularly swept.

Is Chicago nice to live? ›

With a population of 2.71 million, Chicago is the most populated city in Illinois and the third most populous city in the country. One of the top largest urban areas in the world, the Chicago metropolitan area is an excellent place to live and is considered one of the best places to live in Illinois.

Why is Chicago cheap? ›

One of the main factors why Chicago home prices fall below the national average is the city has seen an overabundance in housing supply, driving home prices down. With a lower appreciation rate of 2.20%, Chicago real estate hasn't risen much in value compared to the rest of the country.

Why do people like Chicago? ›

Chicago is often called one of America's best food cities, and it's easy to see why! Our area has a rich history as a major production hub for meatpacking and agriculture. Today, you'll find amazing restaurants and bars in every neighborhood.

What was Chicago's original name? ›

The first known reference to the site of the current city of Chicago as "Checagou" was by Robert de LaSalle around 1679 in a memoir.

What city is called Shy town? ›

One of the many nicknames for the city of Chicago, Illinois, Chi-town (or Chi-Town) can be traced back to the early 1900s.

What is the Chicago handshake? ›

In the Chicago drinking world, the Chicago Handshake is slang for a drink special involving a shot of Jeppson's Malört paired with an 'old-school' Midwestern beer, most typically Old Style Beer. Although Old Style originated in Wisconsin, it became Chicago's beer after crossing state lines in 1935.

What beer is drunk in Chicago? ›

Here's a peak at what beers people have checked-in the most in Chicago for the last ninety days: Proprietor's Bourbon County Brand Stout (2021) - Goose Island Beer Co. Bourbon County Brand Classic Cola Stout (2021) - Goose Island Beer Co. Bourbon County Brand Cherry Wood Stout (2021) - Goose Island Beer Co.

What sandwich is Chicago famous for? ›

Johnnie's Beef

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.

Is Chicago famous for hot dogs? ›

The hot dog is in the pantheon of Chicago foods, right up there with pizza and Italian beef. And you probably don't have to go very far to get a good one as there are esteemed hot dog vendors in all corners of the city.

What breakfast foods is Chicago known for? ›

Chicago has a huge variety of breakfast foods available, so you'll be spoilt for choice. In particular, pancakes, and French toast are staples and some of the best breakfasts in Chicago.

What is a sandwich called in Chicago? ›

Italian beef
Buona Chicago's Original Italian Beef
Place of originUnited States
Region or stateChicago, Illinois
Created byMultiple claims
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What is Chicago Italian beef? ›

An Italian Beef is a sandwich, originating in Chicago, made of thin slices of seasoned roast beef, simmered in au jus (known by Chicago locals as 'gravy') on an Italian-style roll. The sandwich's history dates back at least to the late 1920s.

What is the most popular sandwich in Illinois? ›

ILLINOIS: A Horseshoe sandwich

Illinois is known for an open-faced sandwich called the Horseshoe, made with thick-sliced toasted bread, your choice of meat, and topped with french fries and a secret cheese 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

Which popular snack 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 food is made in Illinois? ›

Illinois is a leading producer of soybeans, corn and swine. The state's climate and varied soil types enable farmers to grow and raise many other agricultural commodities, including cattle, wheat, oats, sorghum, hay, sheep, poultry, fruits and vegetables.

Are Chicago dogs good? ›

If you were to ask any Chicagoan about where to get the best dogs in the world, I guarantee that they'll say their hometown. The Chicago style hot dog is nationally (and internationally) known to be a fantastic dish.

Are Chicago dogs beef? ›

A true Chicago Dog has seven specific ingredients: chopped white onion, neon green sweet pickle relish, a dill pickle spear, a tomato slice (or wedge), pickled sport peppers, and celery salt, all sitting atop an all-beef hot dog on a poppy seed bun.

How do you eat Chicago dog? ›

Well, it starts with a steamed poppy seed bun and an all-beef frankfurter. Then it's topped with yellow mustard, bright green relish, fresh chopped onions, juicy red tomato wedges, a kosher-style pickle spear, a couple of spicy sport peppers and finally, a dash of celery salt. And no, we didn't forget ketchup.

What time is Chicago on? ›

Chicago, Illinois Current Local Time - Chicago, Illinois Time Zone
Current Local TimeChicago, Illinois is officially in the Central Time Zone
The Current Time in Chicago, Illinois is: Saturday 10/15/2022 7:29 AM CDT Chicago, Illinois is in the Central Time Zone
View Current Times in All Illinois Cities and Towns


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