Favorite Chicago Style Foods
Written by: Catalogs.com Editorial Staff
by Catalogs.com Info Guru Elizabeth Sobiski
Chicago is a haven for foodies.
The diverse population, rich history and forward thinking chefs makes this city a destination for those looking to eat well. Here, we’ve listed the top 10 Chicago style foods, perfect for those visiting the city or looking to add new flavors to meals at home.
10. Maxwell Street Polish
Over 70 years ago at the corner of Maxwell and Halsted streets, a European immigrant named Jimmy started working at a family-owned hot dog stand. He created a unique sandwich composed of succulent Polish sausage, sweet grilled onions, tangy mustard and sport peppers on a hot bun. The sandwich, known as the Maxwell Street Polish, was his offering to the hard-working men and women in the neighborhood. The restaurant, now located at Union Ave and James Rochford, continues to be a popular destination for authentic Chicago cuisine.
9. Chocolate Cake Shake
Ice cream blended with indulgent chocolate cake is the crave-worthy treat served up by Portillo’s. This local institution takes their famous chocolate frosted chocolate cake and mixes it with ice cream for a totally unique shake. It’s the perfect treat to enjoy any time of the year. Just be ready for the sugar rush that’s sure to follow.
With the largest Polish population outside of Poland, it’s no wonder that Chicagoans love their pierogis. What is a pierogi, you might ask? It is a thinly rolled dough stuffed with a variety of fillings, from sweet to savory. Traditionally, these pockets of goodness are filled with seasoned meats, sauerkraut and mushrooms or potatoes and cheese. They are boiled until they float and finished with a quick fry in butter and oil until perfectly browned.
7. Chicago Mix Popcorn
Chicago mix is a popcorn blend trademarked by Candyland company, based in St. Paul, Minnesota. Their mix, named Chicago because the owner liked the name, includes cheddar, caramel and seasoned popcorn. In the city of Chicago, the favorite hometown mix is simply cheddar and caramel. This hometown blend has taken off in popularity and is available through a number of local and online retailers. It’s so popular that when local popcorn shops open new storefronts there are people waiting in long lines waiting for the fun snack.
Chicagoans love their barbecue and everyone has an opinion. Ribs are a local favorite and Smoque BBQ on the north side is famous for them. Slabs of meaty baby back or St. Louis cut ribs are massaged with dry rub and smoked for hours. Then they are finished with a slathering of a semi-sweet sauce. Nothing says summer like barbecue.
5. Italian Beef
The Italian beef sandwich is a Chicago icon. Al’s Italian Beef takes the credit for creating the recipe in 1938, when meat was hard to come by. Thin slices of perfectly roasted beef are piled on Italian bread, topped with sweet or hot peppers and some of the roasting jus, or gravy as Al calls it. To add even more flavor, add mild or spicy giardiniera, a mix of pickled vegetables and chili peppers.
It’s impossible to talk about Chicago food and not mention pizza. This city’s citizens are passionate and very vocal about their beloved pizza. This deep pan-style pizza is loaded with flavor and toppings. So loaded, in fact, that they often take up to an hour to cook. Every pie has a deep crust filled with a hearty layer of cheese from their neighbor up North, then fresh toppings and covered with rich tomato sauce. Why not have the cheese on top like other pizzas? Because the sauce protects the other ingredients from burning during the long cooking process.
3. Eli’s Cheesecake
In 1966 restaurateur Eli Schulman decided to make cheesecake his signature dessert at his restaurant, Eli’s the Place for Steak. His creation was so rich and creamy that it was quickly proclaimed the best in town. The restaurant closed in 2005 and the family owned business now focuses on providing Chicago and the rest of the world with their phenomenal dessert treat. Locals can still visit the bakery café on the west side of the city near O’Hare airport.
Chicago is well known for their steakhouses. Morton’s and Gibson’s are longtime favorites while David Burke’s and Ditka’s are high in the popularity pool. The key is perfectly aged steaks cooked to perfection and served with exquisite sides. From rich prime rib to incredibly tender loins, Chicago and beef go hand in hand.
1. Chicago Dog
No trip to Chicago is complete without consuming a Chicago style hot dog. To build the perfect dog, you need an all-beef hot dog, steamed poppy seed bun, yellow mustard, pickle relish (the really green kind), tomato wedges, chopped onions, a pickle spear, sport peppers and a dash of celery salt. Under no circumstances of any kind should you ever put ketchup on this hot dog. The combination of flavors is unlike anything else in the nation.