Stay easy on the ketchup.
If you came to Chicago expecting a detox diet, don’t lie to yourself. Really – you will want to indulge in all the gluttonous yet delightfully lip-smacking Chicago street food on offer. After all, it’s hard to escape foodie temptation from the so-called Windy City that brings the best extremes of savouries and desserts together, from cheesy treats (deep dish pizza) to the most sumptuous chocolate cake of them all.
Chicago is the time and place to be forgiven when it comes to gluttonous behaviour towards American cuisine. Here we list the Chicago street food that you need to get your hands around, but be wary as these big taste treats are only recommended in small doses.
Deep Dish Pizza
It finally clicked what pizza pie Dean Martin refers in his classic Italian-inspired song ‘That’s Amore’ – deep dish pizza. Deep dish pizzas are a Chicago specialty, baking in ovens around the city since the 1940s.
What makes it stand out from other pizzas of the Americas is not just its crusty height, but its filling. The pizza has a pie-style base, and from the bottom up; it is filled with cheese, meets and topped off with chunky pomordo (tomato) sauce and is baked until greasy perfection.
Don’t expect this to be a take-away type pizza you can finish off in one sitting to yourself. Head to the creators of the signature slice, Uno Pizzeria or Giodorno’s for the ultimate deep pizza degustation.
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A hot dog without ketchup? What kind of world are we living in you may ask? In the world of Chicago, ketchup on a hot dog may as well be a dirty thought as their take on the almighty sausage in a bun has nothing of the stock standard sauce. Just ask the folk at Downtown Dogs Chicago as they almost banish the saucy sort!
A Chicago-style hot dog comprises of a beef frankfurter sausage in a poppy seed bun topped off with a colourful mix of yellow mustard, chopped white onions, sweet green pickle relish, dill pickle spear, slices of tomato and celery salt to taste. The Chicago dog often referred to as hot dog that is “dragged through the garden” with its salad mix of veggie toppings.
Some won’t hesitate to grab a sachet of ketchup but please stick with the Chicagoans on this one as the dogs prove to be a tasteful winner.
A bite of the Italian Beef sandwich is also one to wrap your hands around, keep in theme with the Chicagoans unrelenting love for a hand-held meal.
A favourite dating back to the 1930s, the long, sky-high meaty roll is stuffed with thin slices of seasoned roast beef that has been dipped in its homemade jus (gravy) and topped with sweet pepper.
Don’t expect for your hands to be clean after getting your mitts on one of these as this is one messy sandwich to devour – but very much worth the wash-up!
Find the original Italian Beef roll at Al’s Italian Beef.
As if this list is turning into a munchies feast with Chicago-style popcorn being a thing you need to get your hand in a bucket for.
If you thought the marriage of maple syrup and bacon was an odd but workable treat, it has nothing on the Chicago-style popcorn.
Local popcorn experts Garrett Popcorn Shops dress their corn kernels in sexy flavours such as caramel and cheddar cheese and then mix it up, giving people a snack for the sweet and the salty. It is seriously addictive, and once you pop…don’t expect to stop!
There is that old timely saying of having your cake and eating it, but what if you can’t finish it all as its too big to engulf? Or the sugar rush has already gone to your head?
Chicago’s chocolate cake is a decadent affair. A tower of moist, chocolate (and mayonnaise!) goodness awaits at the local chain Portillo’s for a minuscule price.
Urban Adventures – Total Chicago From Architecture to Food 5-hour tour from USD 99 per person.
Image source: Bon Appetit
Julia was a guest of Urban Adventures, and all thoughts and opinions are of her own.