Tastes of Chicago
Updated: May 7, 2018
Chicago is known for many things but most importantly, it’s food. Not only as a gourmet dining hearthrob, but as the home of the authentic deep-dish pizza and the classic Chicago-style hot dog. Chicago is a very food-centric city, providing many flavors for any palette. Let’s take a dive into the stereotypical Chicago food world. Every option listed has been tried tested and true!
Whenever you think of deep dish pizza, you think Chicago. It’s named after the style of pan the pizza is baked in. It’s a high edge, deep spaced pan, leaving tons of room for extra large amounts of cheese and tomato sauce in the center of a thick, flaky crust, resembling more of a pie, rather than pizza. Because the pizza is so deep, the toppings are usually excessive, meaning longer baking time (Average 40-45mins, Order wings if you’re starving, they’re pretty good too). This is why the pizza’s are assembled upside down, so the toppings (cheese) will not burn. Gino’s East is one of the best Chicago pizzerias since 1966 and crowded more often than not. Chicagoans swear by this place for a deep dish fix. I’m a pizza freak so I had to try it. It took me a while to get used to the sauce on top but it grew on me. I still like the traditional style pizza better though (Don’t tell the Chicagoans). The service is always pretty good at Gino’s and the prices are fair for real deep dish pizza. Whenever you trip it to Chi-Town, try Gino’s. If you’ve never had a true deep dish pie, go in with a clean slate, compare it to nothing, go Deep AF!!
Harold’s Chicken is Chicago’s local fried chicken chain. It has been a notable part of Chicago’s Southside and the Chicago African American community since 1950. Harold’s was founded by Harold Pierce, an African American Entrepreneur who seen the need for a large fast food chain that would serve the Black community, regardless of the social obstacles to black-owned businesses. This restaurant later expanded to feed all of Chicago. The standard Harold’s chicken dinner is a half or quarter chicken, white, dark or mixed, cooked in beef tallow and vegetable oil, served with crispy golden french fries, cole slaw and a slice of white bread for $6-7. You can’t order this combo without the special sauce (fancy hot sauce). It adds a robust spice flavor that moistens the skin and soaks into the chicken. It is that added bonus! Craving fried chicken in Chicago? Visit the legendary Harold’s Chicken!
Remember that old school red white and blue cracker jack box, or the yellow crunch-n-munch that you fought your friends over? You could buy it in the store or sell it through your school fundraiser, but you always ate it instead? Well, Garrett’s is that same treat with a little extra pop. Garrett’s is a handcrafted variety of gourmet popcorn made fresh in Chicago. It’s gluten free, preservative free and handmade fresh on a daily basis. They hot air pop their kernels and create mixtures of local hometown favorites. The most popular combination is the Garrett mix, a blend of Caramel Crisp and Cheese Corn Pop, a fan favorite and my favorite. The sweet and salty mesh so well to create a bold pop of flavor on your taste buds. The popcorn itself is so airy and puffy, packing all that flavor into each kernel. They also offer the movie theater buttery, almond caramel crisp, macadamia caramel crisp, pecan caramel crisp and plain. Don’t ever go somewhere new and order plain! That’s not life! All Garrett’s treats are served in a customizable tin can. You can choose a variety of sizes, designs and flavors. Go Big or Go Home! If you’re not a fan of sweet snacks, order one as a gift and try a kernel or 2, nobody needs to know. It’s also a perfect replacement to that tin can of cookies on Grandma’s table around Christmas. Try Garrett’s Popcorn instead this year!
Okay so how many ways can you really dress up a hot dog? Apparently, several, starting from the bread. The bun must be a poppy seed bun, no exceptions, and it must be served warm. The jumbo dog is the best option for the size of meat. You can order from many toppings, including, chili and cheese, relish, tomatoes, pickles, peppers, chopped onions and grilled onions. Ketchup is looked down upon here, even when ordering fries, do not ask for ketchup! Every hot dog is worth a bite at this place. The meal comes with crispy crinkly fries for about $6. I love bread so this was a simple hot dog done right! They are also known for their Italian beef sandwiches. I have not had the chance to try this yet but I plan to on my next visit.
Will you be in Chicago anytime soon? Go try an Italian Beef sandwich and tell us about it! What is your signature Chicago go-to dish? If you’ve never been, text these to yourself and visit the nearest one whenever you’re around.