Food & Drink

What food is Chicago known for

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Eat like a native

Chicago has long been famous for its food. Itís the home of many specialties Ė not just the deep dish pizza Chicagoans know is better than anything from New York. Cuisine options from all over the globe have been adopted, and in many cases, made better than the original. Are you hungry yet? Read on for more ideas.

Get your sweet on

In 1966, restaurateur Eli Schulman made cheesecake his signature dessert at Eliís the Place for Steak. The treat was so rich and creamy that it was quickly proclaimed Chicagoís finest. In fact, it was so popular that Eliís made a separate business of cheesecake and people worldwide can enjoy this delicious piece of Chicago.

If you love brownies, you can thank Bertha Palmer. The wife of the millionaire and Palmer House hotel owner came up with the heavenly snack for the Worldís Fair in 1893. Letís just say they were a hit Ė brownies were even mentioned in the 1898 Sears catalog.

If you crave something sweet for breakfast, try the whiskey caramel old fashioned doughnut from The Doughnut Vault. This popular morning treat sells out fast and when the doughnuts are gone, the shop is closed until the next morning.

Itís all about the beef

At one time, Chicago was best known for its stockyards and meat processing. This gave birth to some of the greatest steak restaurants, such as Mortonís and Gibsonís.

While itís hard to beat a perfectly cooked steak, creamed spinach and a potato the size of a football, the Italian beef sandwich might give a steak a run for the money. After the Depression, beef was difficult to come by and restauranteurs had to make what little food they had go a long way. Alís Beef came up with the perfect answer and the sandwich remains a Chicago staple. Tender roasted beef is thinly sliced, piled on an Italian roll and topped with hot or sweet peppers. Extra gravy can be added for a ďwetĒ sandwich and spicy giardiniera can give it extra kick.

Ball park foods

Nobody goes to Wrigley for the food Ė itís all about the baseball. The home of the White Sox, however, is a different story. The restaurant there is open to the public, even without the benefit of a Sox ticket. Gibsonís Restaurant Group is responsible for the fantastic menu and locals are enjoying it. One of the favorites is the pork belly wrap, consisting of fried pork belly, lettuce, onion, mayo, and pickled cherry peppers. It takes the idea of a BLT to a new level.

Looking for the traditional hot dog to go with your baseball? The Chicago hot dog is iconic. Itís an all-beef dog on a steamed poppy seed bun with yellow mustard, neon green relish, tomato wedges, chopped onions, pickle spear, hot sport peppers and celery salt.

It is never, ever, served with ketchup. Just donít do it. 

Flaming appetizers

Saganaki, the famous Greek cheese appetizer was made even better at the Parthenon in Chicagoís Greektown. Greek cheese with a high melting point is fried in a two-handled pan called a saganaki, making the cheese a little melty, but still firm. In 1968, the Parthenon decided to make it table-side, with a twist. After frying the cheese, they added a splash of brandy, lit it on fire, yelled ďOpa!Ē, and finished it off with a squirt of lemon juice. The rest, as they say, is history.

So get out there and try something new the next time youíre in Chicago. Or, if you find a Chi-town favorite with a location near you, dive in. Chances are good that youíll come away with a new favorite food. Then you can share the wealth by sending offerings to friends and family with many online ordering options!

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