When it comes to food, Chicago is famous for more than just its deep-dish pizza, and if you’ve been yearning for a taste of some of the Windy City’s specialties, you’re in luck! Our contributor, Arin Agase, is dishing on all the must-stop spots for good eating in Chicago below.
Welcome to the Windy City! Home of the deep-dish pizza (the best pizza in the world), the Sears Tower (don’t call it Willis!) and a gorgeous lakefront, it’s no wonder a whopping 50.2 million people visited in 2014 alone. Today, I’m sharing my favorite places to eat (local style) because when you only have a couple of days to explore a new city, it’s important to make every second count! There’s definitely no shortage of delicious foods in Chicago, so let’s jump right in. Have a favorite of your own to add to the list? Be sure to comment below. Bon Appétit!
But First, Pizza.
Pequod’s Pizza | 2207 N. Clybourn Ave.
The most delicious stuffed pizza you’ll ever eat! A caramelized crust is the grand slam to a winning recipe. We recommend doing it ‘Midwest Style’—dip the pizza in some ranch for the ultimate taste. The toppings and sauce are extremely fresh!
Try: Deep-dish sausage and green pepper pizza with a side of onion rings (drooling)!
Pizano’s Pizza & Pasta| Multiple Locations | 61 E. Madison St. (Loop)
If you’re looking for something lighter, Pizano’s has the best thin crust! Just ask Oprah—it’s her favorite in the city. Crispy, fresh and delicious—it’s the perfect midday treat while you’re exploring the city. I recommend eating it picnic-style in Millennium Park located down the street. There are free concerts all summer long and it’s the perfect way to soak in some views!
Try: Thin crust (any topping is delicious) with fresh garlic bread and pasta. If you’re brave enough, the cookie skillet is phenom!
Homeslice | 938 W. Webster Ave.
The thin crust at Homeslice is out of this world, service is impeccable and the interior is cozy and chic. This is a local favorite in the summertime—grab a seat on the back patio and enjoy a Midwestern beer with live music and entertainment. Oh, and the owner has a bulldog—I mean, come on! This is a great place for vegetarians and vegans, too! The ‘no-cheese’ pizza tastes divine, and the appetizers will make you dance—I promise.
Try: Bread sticks and goat cheese appetizer. Try the ‘Benny-B’ (italian sausage, green peppers, black olives, mozzarella, provolone and marinara). Mmmmm!
Au Cheval | 800 W. Randolph St.
Recently rated the best burger in the country, this place is my absolute favorite! Heads-up: they do not take reservations, so we recommend getting there early! I’ve seen the wait close to three hours long. The juiciest, thickest, melt-in-your-mouth burger you’ll ever eat. Trust us on this one.
Try: Everything on the menu is delicious. Definitely get the burger (with a fried egg and bacon—I’ve never seen thicker bacon) and a side of garlic aioli fries. Holy cow!
Grange Hall Burger Bar | 844 W. Randolph St.
With an emphasis on sustainable sourcing and grass-fed beef, it’s an upscale take on the classic burger—with vegan options, too! The outdoor area is beyond adorable, and the staff is friendly and fun. It’s one of my favorite places for a date night. Whatever you do, you have to get an order of the onion rings. They’re unbelievable!
Try: Ultimate (grass-fed beef, Muenster cheese, applewood bacon, arugula, caramelized onions, horseradish aioli) and the crispy onion rings that melt in your mouth!
Girl & the Goat | 809 W. Randolph St.
Perhaps the most famous restaurant in Chicago, Girl & the Goat is home to Food Network Chef Stephanie Izard—I’m actually having my wedding at her sister location! The food is incredible and the atmosphere is charming. If you’re planning a trip, make sure to book out one-to-three months in advance. It’s that popular. Or, if you arrive early enough, you can generally score a seat at the bar. The point is, plan ahead.
Try: Wood Oven Roasted Pig Face—a delicious combination of running yolk, cilantro, meat and potato—my favorite dish at the restaurant. The wood-fired oyster, pretzel bread, grilled octopus and cheesecake are also drool-worthy. Please note: The menu is always changing, but Pig Face will never leave.
Green Street Smoked Meats | 112 N. Green St.
This is my absolute favorite place for barbecue! It’s the spot in the summertime with a plethora of seating outdoors. Heads-up: You have to wait in line for food (there are no servers), so be cautious of busy times. I enjoy going during the week—it’s less crowded and food doesn’t sell out as quickly. It’s definitely a must-visit!
Try: Everything! Start off with the broccoli and macaroni salad. Try the brisket (well-smoked and super tender), chicken leg, pulled pork and ribs. OMG, THE RIBS!
Quartino | 626 N. State St.
Quartino is a wonderful local favorite. Everything is delicious, and the menu is large! It’s a great place to bring a big group of friends!
Try: Everything is sharing style, so order one of everything! We’re a fan of the pasta/salads because they are super-refreshing and light—just the way we like it!
RPM Italian | 52 W. Illinois St.
This is Giuliana Rancic’s stomping ground (you might even see her and the hubby enjoying a feast!). Not only is the food delicious and fresh, but the atmosphere is rustic and modern. It’s a great place to celebrate with loved ones. Everything on the menu is amaze-balls (as G would say!). Make reservations early or tweet Bill Rancic for assistance. He’s surprisingly very hands-on with the restaurant.
Try: Mama DePandi’s Bucatini, bread and ricotta, and Brussels sprouts. Definitely order a bunch of sides, as everything is made to share—if you dare. Also, do not skip dessert. I repeat: Do not skip dessert. So unbelievably good!
I could go on and on, as Chicago food does not disappoint! If you need more recommendations, don’t hesitate to ask me! Visit heartofchic.com or comment below and I’ll make sure to help. Happy eating!