With numerous Michelin Bib Gourmand designations and Michelin-rated restaurants, it's no wonder that Chicago is renowned as a culinary destination. The real draw, however, is its indigenous foods.  From the Chicago-style hotdog and deep-dish pizza to the famed Italian beef sandwich, Chicago has many different types of food and restaurants that are original to the city. Plan an outing for clients at one of these memorable spots, and give them a real taste of Chicago.

Chicago-style HOT DOGS

Hot dog trio from Portillo's Hot Dogs Chicago

Jim's Original
1250 S. Union Ave., Chicago
At this Chicago institution, which opened in 1939, the Polish sausage is king. Just like its cousin, the Chicago-style hotdog, the Polish sausage sandwich calls for a very specific method for being served. It starts with a white hotdog bun smeared with yellow salad mustard, then a third-pound grilled beef and pork polish sausage made with Jim's recipe, followed by a heap of the caramelized onions and topped with two hot sport peppers.

100 W. Ontario St., Chicago 
Dick Portillo opened up The Dog House - a tiny hotdog stand - in 1963 in the Chicago suburb of Villa Park.  In just a few years, The Dog House achieved much success. It remodeled and renamed itself as Portillo's in 1967. Today, what began as a hot dog stand has grown to include 17 Chicago locations. The business remains operated by its founder, Dick Portillo. 

6363 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago 
Established in 1948, newlyweds Maurice and Florence Berman developed their own special dog to stand out from other hot dog vendors. With their secret recipe and unique structure - a small building topped with two 12-foot hotdog statues named Maurie and Flaurie - the two began serving their famous Superdawg. The Superdawg, whose name was inspired by popular comics of the 1940s, is not a wiener - not a frankfurter - not a red-hot - but their own exclusive creation. Aside from a few additions to the building and the menu, not much has changed at this family-owned Chicago favorite spot. The secret recipe and carhop service continues to be the core of the business, making it a nostalgic place for many who visit it.

Vienna Beef
2501 N. Damen Ave., Chicago
No visit to Chicago would be complete without trying an eponymous Chicago-style hot dog: an all-beef hot dog nestled in a steamed poppy-seed bun, topped with mustard, relish, chopped onions, tomato slices on one side, a pickle on the opposite side, and two sport peppers on top of the relish and onions, finished with celery salt. Vienna Beef originally introduced the hot dog to Americans at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition, and the love affair with hot dogs has continued ever since. To this day, they proudly serve the Chicago-style hot dog. 


Lou Malnatis

Connie's Pizza
Multiple locations
For more than 50 years, this classic pizzeria has been dishing out delicious deep-dish pizzas, such as the original pan sausage pizza and ultra gooey cheese pizza, alongside classic Italian dishes. The pizzeria got its start when Jim Stolfe traded his 1962 Oldsmobile Starfire to open the first Connie's storefront on Chicago's South Side. Today, there are numerous locations. 

Gino's East
Multiple locations, original at 162 E. Superior St., Chicago
Opened in 1966, Gino's East's deep-dish pizza quickly became popular with locals and visitors alike. Although there are now numerous locations in the Chicago area, its flagship restaurant continues to be an attraction for many visitors not only for its pizza, but also for the experience of scribbling their names on the restaurant's wood and stucco walls that still have writings from years past. 

Home Run Inn
Multiple locations
This family-owned pizza joint has been a Chicago favorite since 1947. Their original location first opened as a small tavern on Chicago’s South Side in 1923. Today, they have four Chicago locations, including the original near South Lawndale, plus Beverly, Lakeview and near Midway Airport, that serve up outstanding thin crust pies made fresh daily.

Multiple locations
Northern Italian immigrant brothers Efren and Joseph Boglio opened their own restaurant in Chicago's South Side in 1974. Their inspiration for their stuffed pizza was a family recipe that dates back more than 200 years - a double crusted, ricotta cheese stuffed Italian pie served at family celebrations. Although the original location is closed, Giordano's now boasts numerous Chicago locations.

Lou Malnati's Pizzeria
Multiple locations, original at 6649 N. Lincoln Ave, Lincolnwood
Lou Malnati's is one of the oldest names in Chicago pizza history. In 1943, Lou helped run Pizzeria Uno where he created his own pizza recipe. In 1971, he opened his own pizzeria in the nearby suburb of Lincolnwood, featuring his Chicago-style pizza recipe. Its signature butter crust, secret sausage recipe and high-quality sauce made from the finest California tomatoes distinguish Lou Malnati's pizza from competitors.

Uno Pizzeria & Grill
29 E. Ohio St., Chicago 
Opened in 1943, Uno lays claim as the birthplace of Chicago-style pizza. With a buttery crust touting tall edge like a pie, the recipe combined Italian spices and quality tomatoes with an abundant amount of cheese - the signature hallmark of a Chicago-style pizza - and called for high temperatures for an extended period of baking time. From the time of its inception, lines of pizza loving customers have become a permanent fixture at this iconic restaurant.


These thin slices of beef were then soaked in a warm beef broth or gravy before being placed on a bun. Diners can choose to have it served dry (the beef is pulled from the broth with most of juice dripped off before placing it on the roll), wet (the beef is placed into the roll without letting the juices drip off, and a scoop of juice is poured on top of the beef in the roll), or dipped (once the beef is in the roll, the entire roll is dipped into the broth). The beef can either be hot or sweet - "hot" refers to hot peppers or giardiniera, and "sweet" refers to roasted green bell peppers. 

Al's Italian Beef 
Multiple locations, original at 1079 W. Taylor St., Chicago 
Opened in 1938, in the Little Italy neighborhood, Al's Italian Beef is the oldest establishment serving Italian Beef.  The menu also includes other Chicago originals like the Chicago-style hot dog and Polish sausage. Today Al's Beef is still family-operated and has grown to include numerous locations in the Chicago area.

Mr. Beef
666 N. Orleans St., Chicago 
In 1978 Mr. Beef joined the Italian Beef competition, by opening its one and only location in the River North neighborhood. Mr. Beef cooks its beef onsite and has received national exposure when The Tonight Show host Jay Leno proclaimed it as his favorite place in Chicago and when it won against Al's Beef on the Travel Channel's Food Wars. Unlike its competition, Mr. Beef has only one location.

Potbelly Sandwich Shop
Multiple locations, original at 2264 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago
In 1977, a young couple running an antique shop decided to serve toasted sandwiches for lunch to its customers as a side offering. People loved the idea of this unique lunch setting, and at times, there were lines out the door to buy the sandwiches. As time passed, the antique shop evolved into Potbelly Sandwich Shop, named after the potbelly-shaped stoves. Potbelly is known for its toasted sandwiches, malts, shakes and quirky décor, which nods to its beginnings as an antique shop. The shops often feature live music from local musicians, giving each restaurant a neighborhood feel.

La Bomba
3221 W. Armitage Ave.
Get a taste of Puerto Rico with a jibarito: a sandwich made with fried green plantains (instead of bread) and loaded with your choice of filling — seafood, meat or vegetables. This specialty was invented right here in Chicago. An authentic version can be found at La Boma, a casual Puerto Rican-inspired spot near Humboldt Park.


The Signature Room at the 95th
875 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago
Opened in 1993, The Signature Room is located on the 95th floor of 875 N. Michigan (formerly the John Hancock Center), the 100-story anchor of The Magnificent Mile. The restaurant is best known for its unobstructed views of the city and Lake Michigan. 

The Walnut Room at Macy's on State Street
111 N. State St., Chicago
Opened in 1907, The Walnut Room was the first restaurant in a department store. The 17,000-square-foot Walnut Room is outfitted with imported wood from Russia and Austrian chandeliers. The restaurant is open year round, but it becomes an even more popular and magical destination during the holiday season when its sparkling Christmas tree is on display at the center of the dining room. 


Garrett Mix

Eli's Cheescake
6701 W. Forest Preserve Dr., Chicago
Founded by restaurateur Eli Schulman, Eli's Cheesecake made its public debut at the first Taste of Chicago food festival in 1980. Since then, Eli's cheesecake has become a symbol for Chicago. Visitors can experience a slice for themselves at Eli's Cheesecake World, a bakery, café and shop on Chicago's northwest side, offering Eli's Tasting and Traditions Experience every day at 1 p.m., which includes a free slice. Group tour packages are available.

Garrett Popcorn Shops
Multiple Locations
Opened since 1949, Garrett Popcorn has become a symbol for Chicago, with many visitors flocking to its shops for the most popular flavor, the Chicago Mix: a sweet and salty combination of its CaramelCrisp® and CheeseCorn® flavors.

Palmer House Hilton Hotel
17 E. Monroe St., Chicago 
At the iconic Palmer House Hilton Hotel in the heart of downtown, visitors can savor a delicious brownie created from the original recipe in 1893. Bertha Palmer, wife of Chicago magnate Potter Palmer and president of the Board of Lady Managers at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition, charged the Palmer House's pastry chefs to create a small and lady-like dessert that could fit into the boxed lunches for the fair.  Although it wasn't called the brownie until later on, the dessert they created was hugely popular. The Palmer House continues to serve the brownie and happily shares the original recipe, which they still use today.

Related Listings

Garrett Popcorn Shops
625 N. Michigan Ave.
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 944-2630

Lou Malnati's Pizzeria Chicago - Gold Coast
1120 N. State St.
Chicago, IL 60610
(312) 725-7777

Palmer House Hilton
17 E. Monroe St.
Chicago, IL 60603
(312) 726-7500

Gino's East - Superior
162 E. Superior St.
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 266-3337

Macy's on State Street
111 N. State St.
Chicago, IL 60602
(312) 781-1000

Eli's Cheesecake Bakery and Café
6701 W. Forest Preserve Dr.
Chicago, IL 60634
(773) 736-3417

Potbelly Sandwich Shop
190 N. State St.
Chicago, IL 60601
(312) 683-1234

Giordano's Famous Stuffed Pizza
730 N. Rush St.
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 951-0747

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