Chicago, the third-largest city in the United States, is also an excellent destination for foodies. Whether you’re craving deep-dish pizza or want to try authentic Chicago-style hot dogs or Italian beef sandwiches, the Windy City is full of culinary delights. This comprehensive guide will help you discover the best places to eat, drink, and explore in Chicago.
Top 10 Tourist Attractions in Chicago
1. The Art Institute of Chicago – One of the world’s largest and most comprehensive art museums, with a collection of more than 300,000 artworks from different cultures and periods.
2. Magnificent Mile – A famous shopping district in the heart of the city, with upscale boutiques, department stores, restaurants, and hotels.
3. Navy Pier – A popular family-friendly attraction on the shores of Lake Michigan, featuring rides, games, theaters, restaurants, and museums.
4. Millennium Park – A stunning public space in downtown Chicago, known for its iconic Cloud Gate sculpture (also known as “The Bean”), gardens, fountains, and events.
5. Willis Tower – Formerly known as Sears Tower, this skyscraper offers breathtaking views of the city from its observation deck on the 103rd floor.
6. Chicago Riverwalk – A picturesque waterfront promenade that stretches for miles along the Chicago River, with scenic views, outdoor dining, boat tours, and public art.
7. Wrigley Field – A historic ballpark and home of the Chicago Cubs baseball team since 1914, known for its ivy-covered outfield walls and lively atmosphere.
8. Field Museum – A natural history museum with exhibits on dinosaurs, ancient civilizations, animals from around the world, and more.
9. Shedd Aquarium – One of the largest and most diverse indoor aquariums in the world, with exhibits on marine life, ecosystems, and conservation.
10. Second City – A famous comedy theater that has launched the careers of many famous comedians, including Tina Fey, Steve Carell, and Bill Murray.
Discovering the Culinary Delights of Chicago
Chicago is known for its Midwestern hospitality and diverse multicultural population, which has influenced its culinary scene. You can find everything from classic American comfort food to international cuisine from around the world. Here are some of the top foods and restaurants you must try in Chicago:
Chicago-style deep-dish pizza is a thick, hearty pie with a buttery, flaky crust, layers of cheese, and toppings like sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms, or onions. Some of the best places to get deep-dish pizza in Chicago include:
• Lou Malnati’s – A family-owned chain that has been serving deep-dish pizza for over 50 years, with multiple locations in the city and suburbs.
• Giordano’s – A popular chain that claims to have invented the stuffed deep-dish pizza, with dozens of locations in the Midwest and beyond.
• Pequod’s – A local favorite with a cult following, known for its “caramelized crust” and generous toppings.
Chicago-style hot dogs are a classic street food made with a steamed all-beef frankfurter, topped with mustard, onions, relish, pickles, tomatoes, sport peppers, and celery salt, served on a poppy seed bun. Some of the best places to get hot dogs in Chicago include:
• Portillo’s – A Midwest chain that serves classic Chicago-style hot dogs and beef, with a retro vibe and friendly service.
• Superdawg – A beloved drive-in restaurant that has been around since 1948, with a unique retro design and vintage carhop service.
• The Wieners Circle – A late-night spot that serves char-grilled dogs with a side of sass and humor, known for its “chocolate milkshakes” and verbal jousting with customers.
Italian Beef Sandwiches
Italian beef sandwiches are another Chicago specialty, made with thin-sliced roast beef that has been cooked in a spicy broth, served on a crusty roll with sweet or hot peppers and au jus for dipping. Some of the best places to get Italian beef sandwiches in Chicago include:
• Al’s Beef – A family-owned chain that has been serving Italian beef sandwiches since 1938, with multiple locations in the city and suburbs.
• Mr. Beef – A no-frills spot that has been serving authentic Italian beef sandwiches since 1957, with limited seating and huge portions.
• Johnnie’s Beef – A suburban institution that has been serving Italian beef sandwiches for over 50 years, with a loyal fan base and top-notch quality.
Other Local Favorites
In addition to these iconic dishes, Chicago is also known for its:
• Garrett Popcorn – A caramel and cheese popcorn mix that has become a cult classic, with multiple locations in the city and suburbs.
• Rainbow Cone – A brightly colored ice cream cone with five different flavors stacked on top of each other, served at the original location in Beverly.
• Eli’s Cheesecake – A famous dessert that has been made by hand in Chicago since 1980, with dozens of flavors and styles to choose from.
Top Restaurants in Chicago
1. Alinea – A Michelin-starred restaurant that is known for its experimental and avant-garde approach to fine dining, with multi-course tasting menus and intricate presentations.
2. Girl & the Goat – A trendy and lively spot that serves creative dishes with bold flavors, using local and seasonal ingredients, and has won multiple awards.
3. The Publican – A beer-focused restaurant that specializes in pork, seafood, and pickles, with communal tables and a rustic atmosphere.
4. Monteverde – A modern Italian restaurant that combines Italian and Midwestern influences, with handmade pastas and innovative dishes.
5. Avec – A Mediterranean-inspired restaurant that serves small plates, wood-fired dishes, and an extensive wine list, with a communal table and outdoor patio.
6. Sepia – A contemporary American restaurant that celebrates the rich history and culinary heritage of the Midwest, with a seasonal menu and an elegant setting.
7. Frontera Grill – An award-winning Mexican restaurant that offers authentic and flavorful dishes, using sustainable and locally sourced ingredients, and has a lively atmosphere.
8. Fat Rice – A Portuguese and Chinese fusion restaurant that specializes in Macanese cuisine, with bold flavors, spices, and communal dishes.
9. Big Jones – A Southern and Creole-inspired restaurant that honors traditional techniques and ingredients, with house-cured meats, pickles, and pickled vegetables.
10. The Purple Pig – A tapas-style restaurant that offers a wide range of Mediterranean-inspired small plates, charcuterie, and wine, with an outdoor patio and casual vibe.
Q: What is Chicago-style pizza?
A: Chicago-style pizza is a deep-dish pizza with a thick, buttery crust, layers of cheese, and toppings like sausage, pepperoni, or vegetables.
Q: Where is the best place to try Chicago-style hot dogs?
A: Some of the best places to try Chicago-style hot dogs include Portillo’s, Superdawg, and The Wieners Circle.
Q: What are some other local favorites in Chicago?
A: Other local favorites in Chicago include Garrett Popcorn, Rainbow Cone, and Eli’s Cheesecake.
Q: What are some top-rated restaurants in Chicago?
A: Some of the top-rated restaurants in Chicago include Alinea, Girl & the Goat, The Publican, Monteverde, and Avec.
Q: What are some popular tourist attractions in Chicago?
A: Popular tourist attractions in Chicago include The Art Institute of Chicago, Navy Pier, Millennium Park, Willis Tower, and Shedd Aquarium.
Chicago is a foodie’s paradise, with a rich culinary history and diverse influences from around the world. From deep-dish pizza and hot dogs to Italian beef sandwiches and global cuisine, the city has something for everyone. With this guide, you can discover the best places to eat, drink, and explore in Chicago, and create lasting memories.