Everyone knows Chicago has a wealth of great food options, but there are a few specific dishes you have to try before you’re a true Chicagoan. There are several different types of pizza, burgers, and a plethora of unique sandwiches you can only find here in the greatest city on Earth.
From tourists’ favorites to local inventions, these are the 16 dishes in and around the city you must try before you die. Check them out:
1. Italian Beef Sandwich
Since 1961, this restaurant has been pumping out one of Chicago's greatest sandwiches. Thin slices of seasoned roast beef are placed in a long bun and then dipped in meat juices and often topped with peppers. You can get them many places but the best might be here at 7500 W North Avenue in Elmwood Park.
2. Depression Dog
To some, this dish is known as the first Chicago hot dog, though some call it minimalist. It is topped with yellow mustard, onions, peppers and relish with a side of fries piled on top. One of the most iconic restaurants in the state to get one is at Gene & Jude's, located at 2720 River Road in River Grove.
3. Chicken Vesuvio
Though the exact origins of this dish are unknown, we do know you can get one of the best versions of this Chicago classic at Harry Caray's. The Italian-American dish is made with chicken on the bone, potato wedges, celery, and carrots, sauteed with garlic, oregano and white wine, then baked until crisp. This steakhouse has several locations throughout the city where you can try this dish.
4. Pan Pizza from Pequod's
Chicago-style pizza means many things to us natives because there are several different kinds. With several locations in the city and Morton Grove, this one sells the best pan pizza around. It is made with fresh dough and high-quality ingredients. The crust is thick and the outer edge is crusted in caramelized mozzarella cheese, making it tasty and unique.
5. Chicago-Style Deep Dish Pizza
This is the classic pie that most people think of when they visit Chicago. Toppings are placed directly on the bottom of the crust, with cheese and sauce are placed on top. While you can grab a slice at just about every pizza place in the city, you'll find one one of the finest pies at Lou Malnati's, where you can get a delicious butter crust.
6. Stuffed Deep Dish Pizza
Sometimes you have to specify when visitors from out of town want Chicago deep dish. This famous version has a special added element; like other Deep Dish-style pizzas, toppings (meat, cheese, and veggies) are placed right on crust, but the stuffed variety adds an extra layer of dough on top before the sauce with a tiny bit more cheese. The toppings bake inside the crust making for an incredibly delicious (and filling!) dish. Giordano's is best known for this pie, and they have many locations through the city and surrounding suburbs.
7. Pizza Puff
Ahhh, the Pizza Puff. Like calzones, these tasty treats are folded over before baked, with cheeses, meats, and sauce simmering inside. One bite and you'll never be able to eat a Hot Pocket again. Originally created by Albano's Pizzeria, you can get one at 5913 W Roosevelt Road in Cicero.
8. A burger from Au Cheval
There are hundreds of places to get a burger in the city, but you haven't lived until you've tried this one. Just look at this delicious monster! At 800 W Randolph Street, you'll find creations that include tasty eggs prepared many ways. Get an iconic cheeseburger with a fried egg on top at this joint!
9. The Slayer
Beware - this is NOT a normal-sized meal, nor is it really a hamburger. The Slayer is a 10 oz. burger patty on a bed of fries topped with chili, sausage, caramelized onions, cherry peppers, cheese, scallions and, according to the menu, "anger." Most people need two sittings to finish it (leftovers lovers unite!) or a friend or two to share with. Kuma's Corner is a great place to enjoy this meal. They name all their burgers after rock bands and often play heavy metal over the speakers, which creates a fun, lively atmosphere.
Locals have been enjoying this dish since Cemitas Puebla opened its doors in 2002. Their famous sandwich is made with a breaded pork chop, a spicy marinated pork chop, and ham, topped with cheese and avocado and served on a sesame seed bun. You can get one at three different locations around the city, in the West Loop, Hyde Park, and Logan Square.
Open since 2001, Papa's Cache Sabroso is located at 2517 W Division Street and it serves a sandwich you'll want again and again. This family-owned Puerto Rican restaurant's famous dish is made with rotisserie chicken or steak that is placed between fried, garlicky plantains and topped with mayo, cheese, lettuce, tomato, and onion. Yum!
12. Breaded Steak Sandwich
Though Ricobene's sells a plethora of different foods - including pizza, wings, and hot dogs - this restaurant is most famous for its incredible steak sandwich. This eatery is located at 252 W 26th Street, where you can enjoy French bread piled high with a mound of thin, breaded steak topped with mozzarella and biting giardiniera.
13. Pig Face
One of Chicago's most iconic restaurants serves a dish like none you've ever seen before. Made with a sunny side egg, tamarind, cilantro, red wine-maple and potato stix, you'll find this fabulous meal at 809 W Randolph Street. Come find out why Chicagoans go wild for this dish!
How many of these famous dishes have you tried? Share your experiences and photos with us!