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Signature, Iconic, and Unique Chicago Dishes

Signature, Iconic, and Unique Chicago Dishes
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  • Signature, Iconic, and Unique Chicago Dishes

    Post #1 - May 8th, 2008, 9:26 pm
    Post #1 - May 8th, 2008, 9:26 pm Post #1 - May 8th, 2008, 9:26 pm
    Hi guys,

    this is my first time to be in the LOOP and see the Magnificent.

    I am only staying for one day. Could you please suggest any signature dishes that the wind city offers?

    Thanx
  • Post #2 - May 8th, 2008, 9:59 pm
    Post #2 - May 8th, 2008, 9:59 pm Post #2 - May 8th, 2008, 9:59 pm
    A stuffed or deep-dish pizza and an Italian beef. These are the classics -- though Mexican food is becoming iconic for Chi-town, as is soul food. Of course, you could spend months trying to eat all the food that defines this city. But the pizza and Italian beef are things you don't really find elsewhere.
    "All great change in America begins at the dinner table." Ronald Reagan

    http://midwestmaize.wordpress.com
  • Post #3 - May 9th, 2008, 10:12 am
    Post #3 - May 9th, 2008, 10:12 am Post #3 - May 9th, 2008, 10:12 am
    Ditka's Da Pork Chop

    Image

    Mike Ditka's
    (312) 587-8989
    100 E Chestnut St
    Chicago, IL 60611
  • Post #4 - May 9th, 2008, 10:23 am
    Post #4 - May 9th, 2008, 10:23 am Post #4 - May 9th, 2008, 10:23 am
    Chicago has the best Polish food in the Western hemisphere. Try Lutnia for the high end.

    Another signature dish is the Chicago hot dog - "dragged through the garden." Wiener's Circle (especially for late night abuse), and many places on Dempster are a few joints that immediately come to mind.

    Lutnia
    5532 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago
    (773) 282-5335

    The Wiener's Circle
    2622 N. Clark St., Chicago
    (773) 477-7444
  • Post #5 - May 9th, 2008, 10:42 am
    Post #5 - May 9th, 2008, 10:42 am Post #5 - May 9th, 2008, 10:42 am
    These dishes are more or less unique to Chicago:

    * Deep-dish and stuffed pizza
    * Italian beef sandwiches (and beef/sausage combos)
    * Chicago-style hot dogs
    * Maxwell Street Polish
    * Shrimp de Jonghe
    * Chicken Vesuvio (a classic version can be had at Rosebud, 720 N Rush St., 312-266-6444)
    * Jibaritos
    * And, while they're not precisely unique to this city, we offer better steakhouses than many other parts of the country

    However, in one day, you aren't going to be able to do more than a few of these. You can maybe get a hot dog and a beef and/or a Polish for lunch and then either pizza or one of the other dishes for dinner.
  • Post #6 - May 9th, 2008, 11:26 am
    Post #6 - May 9th, 2008, 11:26 am Post #6 - May 9th, 2008, 11:26 am
    If you're confined to the Loop and Magnificent Mile area, I'd say grab a beef at Luke's (215 W. Jackson) and grab a deep dish at Uno's, Due's, or Malnati's. Luke's is not first-tier beef, but, in my opinion, is better than average and I can't think of any other beef in the Loop worth recommending. (Yeah, I know, the Loop is a tough spot for good food in general.)

    If you can venture just a little farther afield, grab a beef at Al's and go across the street for a Mario's Italian lemonade (a true Chicago summertime tradition). There's also Maxwell Street Express and Jim's Original on Union, not too far from that area, for Polish sausages and breaded bone-in pork chop sandwiches. You may be pretty full by then, but it's doable.

    If you can get anywhere in the city, the other posts have it well covered.
  • Post #7 - May 9th, 2008, 11:32 am
    Post #7 - May 9th, 2008, 11:32 am Post #7 - May 9th, 2008, 11:32 am
    Go for the deep-dish pizza, either the double-crust "stuffed" pizza (e.g. Giordano's, Bacino's, Edwardo's) or the single-crust "pan" pizza (e.g. Uno's/Due, Lou Malnati's, Pizano's, Gino's East). All of these are excellent representations of the species; with the exception of Uno's, our chains do a great job at maintaining the same consistent quality across their numerous locations. Deep-dish pizza is a unique local specialty, absolutely delicious, and totally unlike the conventional pizza you find elsewhere. You can't get it elsewhere around the country, so enjoy it while you're here. Wherever you go, you can phone ahead with your pizza order to avoid waiting 30-45 minutes while there for your pizza to cook. You can find their menus on their websites.

    When you're in the Loop, you'll find several locations of Giordano's, including Prudential Plaza (just north of Millennium Park) and another on West Jackson, and Pizano's has a location on Madison. When you're on Michigan Avenue, close-by locations include Giordano's on Rush, Pizano's on State, and Gino's East on Superior. The original Uno's and Due are walkable from both the Loop and Michigan Avenue.
    Last edited by nsxtasy on May 9th, 2008, 11:51 am, edited 4 times in total.
  • Post #8 - May 9th, 2008, 11:35 am
    Post #8 - May 9th, 2008, 11:35 am Post #8 - May 9th, 2008, 11:35 am
    Hands down, Italian beef, a beef and sausage combo, or a Chicago style hot dog.

    You can get pizza anywhere in the U.S., in my humble opinion. I would stay away from the chains like Giordano's if you do go for pizza here.
  • Post #9 - October 10th, 2008, 4:08 pm
    Post #9 - October 10th, 2008, 4:08 pm Post #9 - October 10th, 2008, 4:08 pm
    Had my first Italian Beef at Al's on Ontario - dipped with hot relish. Delish.

    :D

    Oh, and the fries are great, too, and I don't like fries.
  • Post #10 - October 10th, 2008, 4:56 pm
    Post #10 - October 10th, 2008, 4:56 pm Post #10 - October 10th, 2008, 4:56 pm
    abqandrea wrote:Had my first Italian Beef at Al's on Ontario - dipped with hot relish. Delish.

    :D


    That's a great place to have your first Italian Beef. Now, as you eat your way through some other top tier beef places (including the Al's flagship on Taylor), you'll appreciate the difference. As good as that beef was, there are others that are head and shoulders above the Ontario Al's. Do a search on "Beefathon" and your find quite a few of them. Enjoy the beef!!
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #11 - October 10th, 2008, 7:27 pm
    Post #11 - October 10th, 2008, 7:27 pm Post #11 - October 10th, 2008, 7:27 pm
    To add to the "drag it through the garden" part of this thread, it is all about the condiments.

    If you go to a classic Chicago dog spot, and just order mustard and onions, or chili, you're not getting it. See the nearby Chicago Hot Dogs for Tourists thread for more details, but relish, mustard, pickles, onions, tomato and hot peppers, with a sprinkling of celery salt make it a very different dish.

    Similarly, the Italian Beef just isn't an Italian Beef without peppers. Sweet or hot or both, you're in good shape. The hot version is "giardinera" -- a spicy, oily relish of peppers, olives and other pickled veggies (typically little bits of celery, carrot and cauliflower). You're missing out on a Chicago experience if you don't say "Beef, hot and wet".

    Perhaps you don't like sausage on your pizza. That's because you haven't had Chicago Italian sausage. Especially on the deep-dish pan pizzas typical of Uno's, Due's, Lou Malnati's, Gino's East and a few others, it's a special treat. (Alert: "Uno's Grille" is not Uno's. It's a franchised operation that I believe was sold only part of the recipe. Avoid. Especially at airports)

    Enjoy!
    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang
  • Post #12 - October 10th, 2008, 8:51 pm
    Post #12 - October 10th, 2008, 8:51 pm Post #12 - October 10th, 2008, 8:51 pm
    If you're only here for a day, it would consist of the following four meals. For each, i'll list a classic location (more on the touristy side) and my favorite which is probably a bit more off the beaten path and more of a local haunt:

    Deep-dish/Stuffed Pizza - The classic is Uno's. My local recc is Art of Pizza on Ashland.

    Italian Beef - Al's Beef on Taylor - Classic & one of the best.

    Chicago-style Hot Dogs - Pretty standarized & good anywhere, but Wiener Circle is classic for late night runs, but Hot Doug's gets the most cred on this board.

    Upscale Mexican - Rick Bayless started this whole wave in Chicago with Frontera Grill, but my favorite (for price & food) is Sol de Mexico on Cicero.
  • Post #13 - October 10th, 2008, 9:07 pm
    Post #13 - October 10th, 2008, 9:07 pm Post #13 - October 10th, 2008, 9:07 pm
    nr706 wrote:Another signature dish is the Chicago hot dog - "dragged through the garden." Wiener's Circle (especially for late night abuse), and many places on Dempster are a few joints that immediately come to mind.


    what spots on Dempster do you recommend? My favorite was Mages in Skokie, but they're a distant memory. Other than Poochies and Herm's, any others we shouldn't miss?
  • Post #14 - October 11th, 2008, 1:46 am
    Post #14 - October 11th, 2008, 1:46 am Post #14 - October 11th, 2008, 1:46 am
    Ghazi wrote:Other than Poochies and Herm's, any others we shouldn't miss?


    That's pretty much it in Skokie.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #15 - November 12th, 2019, 1:26 pm
    Post #15 - November 12th, 2019, 1:26 pm Post #15 - November 12th, 2019, 1:26 pm
    Not talking about dishes created in restaurants (that could be an entirely different list) but more common foods we enjoy at stands and smaller places.

    Chicago Style Hotdogs
    Deep Dish Pizza
    Tavern Cut, Cracker Crust Pizza
    Pizza Puffs
    Gyros
    Jibarito
    Italian Beef Sandwich
    Giardiniera
    Corn Roll Tamales
    Maxwell Street Polish
    Bone-in Pork Chop Sandwich
    Mother in Law
    Gym Shoe (Jim Shoo)

    This was a list compiled in another group and I’m sure it can be added to here. :)
    "Very good... but not my favorite." ~ Johnny Depp as Roux the Gypsy in Chocolat
  • Post #16 - November 12th, 2019, 1:35 pm
    Post #16 - November 12th, 2019, 1:35 pm Post #16 - November 12th, 2019, 1:35 pm
    Moderator edit: merged Panther's 2019 list with existing thread, and will link a few other threads as discussion progresses

    Chicago Style Hotdogs
    Deep-dish pizza
    Tavern Cut, cracker crust pizza
    Pizza puffs (including the Gyro puff and Jerk chicken puff)
    Gyros (beef-lamb Kronos or house-made, see also pork belly gyros, gyros "zesty style")
    The Jibarito (plantain for bread sandwich)
    Italian Beef sandwich (see also the Beefless Beef and gravy bread)
    Giardiniera (see also Olive Mix and Hot Muffaletta)
    Corn roll tamales
    Maxwell Street Polish
    Bone-in Pork Chop Sandwich
    The Mother in Law
    The Gym Shoe (Jim Shoo)
    The Big Baby


    Many of the following can be (deliciously if not healthfully) debated, but commonly or occasionally cited in such lists also include:

    savory signature
    - saganaki (en flambe)
    - Chicken Vesuvio
    - Shrimp DeJonghe
    - local factory double-corn-tortilla tacos
    - gravy bread (at beef stands)
    - french fry sandwich with BBQ sauce (at barbecue stands) or gravy (at beef stands)
    - Carson's / Russell's / Twin Anchor's style barbecue sauce (allspice / katsu sauce)
    - Aurelio's style pizza sauce (sweet / on top of cheese)
    - potato truffle explosion (and other American molecular gastronomy ravioli)
    - pepper and egg sandwiches
    - jarred "sport" peppers
    - breaded steak sandwich with tomato sauce
    - sausage (Italian or hot link) patty "burger"
    - "fatal" sausage and peppers, fried as an evening snack
    - Greek fries with lemon and feta
    - cemita atomica
    - Ramova- / Daley's-style "sweet-and-spicy" meat chili
    - De Cecco dried pasta (with neckbone gravy)
    - stew-fried "Melrose" peppers
    - Chicago-style Dorilocos
    - (Tony's) sweet / three chili version of dry chili chicken (Chinatown)
    - fried chicken in (Harold's) hot sauce over fries
    - smoked rib tips with (Moo & Oink's or Peoria, etc.) hot links
    - onion loaf as a burger accompaniment (a la Hackney's)
    - specific subset "bunch" corn roll tamales
    - the melted / hot tavern muffaletta, e.g. Country House
    - the large hand-ground South Side turkey burger, a la That's-A-Burger
    - Kow Kow style giant peanut butter egg roll
    - the 554 (BBQ Pork and fried egg over rice, a la Seven Treasures)
    - the steak-and-lemonade experience
    - The Peppermint Steak

    sweets and desserts
    - the vampiro mangonada
    - caramel cake (a la Brown Sugar Bakery)
    - lemon-base flavored Italian ice in coarser granita with no dairy
    - peach ice a la Mario's
    - Rainbow Cone
    - Atomic Cake
    - "candy" flavored sweet potato pie
    - Nation of Islam bean pie (Clara Muhammad recipe)
    - Aunt Jemima-fronted non-pure-maple breakfast syrup
    - the Fish Boy (RIP SteveZ): hard-smoked salmon sandwiched between an Old Fashioned apple fritter
    - taffy grapes


    Drinks:
    - Malort
    - very debated: The Old Fashioned cocktail
    - the Mamie Taylor
    - Cohasset Punch
    - Chicago Cocktail (cf John Drury)
    - I've seen a Chicago Fizz cited but never run into it in the wild
    - Dr. Enuf soda
    - Prohibition-sparked fruit / botanical sodas especially black cherry (Bergo / Berghoff / Capone)
    - Filbert's root beer
    - Green River soda
    - Chicago-style (ice cream) chocolate soda a la Cock Robin / Petersen's / Oberweis


    Again, some are more signature or iconic vs. unique (or Chicago-originating), but some are fun party fodder ("wait, you didn't grow up with X?") which Chicagoans may not realize are cosa nostra in some sense. Whenever three bullets of this type are gathered it's like saying "Beetlejuice" to Rene G, so expect some (appreciated) corrections and expansions. Such lists and the culinary heritage they represent are truly owned by nobody, but since Panther mentioned the off-board origin of his list, and since they (of all things) get media-aggregated, this particular box contains the list from a notepad living on my desk (Matthew Dean, Santander on LTHForum).
  • Post #17 - November 12th, 2019, 3:34 pm
    Post #17 - November 12th, 2019, 3:34 pm Post #17 - November 12th, 2019, 3:34 pm
    For the Drinks section, how about Malort?
  • Post #18 - November 13th, 2019, 10:26 am
    Post #18 - November 13th, 2019, 10:26 am Post #18 - November 13th, 2019, 10:26 am
    Al Ehrhardt wrote:For the Drinks section, how about Malort?


    When, where, how, and mostly why (I have my theories...) did Malort become a thing. I'm sure most people of my age had no idea what it was until we learned it was a *thing*.
    Think Yiddish, Dress British - Advice of Evil Ronnie to me.
  • Post #19 - November 13th, 2019, 11:14 am
    Post #19 - November 13th, 2019, 11:14 am Post #19 - November 13th, 2019, 11:14 am
    Vital Information wrote:
    Al Ehrhardt wrote:For the Drinks section, how about Malort?


    When, where, how, and mostly why (I have my theories...) did Malort become a thing. I'm sure most people of my age had no idea what it was until we learned it was a *thing*.


    Rob, completely agree. I don't get it either. Why would you want to drink something you don't enjoy drinking? I've had it once and that was enough.
  • Post #20 - November 13th, 2019, 2:59 pm
    Post #20 - November 13th, 2019, 2:59 pm Post #20 - November 13th, 2019, 2:59 pm
    When I bought a bottle of Malort in the early Aughts, there was a neck hanger that said something like "Only 1 man in 10 can bear to drink Malort." Oddly, this is a product that markets itself based on distastefulness. I'm guessing it's considered by many to be a kind of test of manhood/joke, but I haven't tasted the most recent rendition from CH Distillery, which might be better compared to the past versions (?), though I'm guessing the recipe is more or less the same.

    For yucks, check Instagram #malortface
    "Don't you ever underestimate the power of a female." Bootsy Collins
  • Post #21 - November 13th, 2019, 3:15 pm
    Post #21 - November 13th, 2019, 3:15 pm Post #21 - November 13th, 2019, 3:15 pm
    Re: Malort . . . this category of spirit, Besk, is extremely popular in Scandinavia, where it is distilled throughout the region. When we were there, we tried dozens of them, each one seemingly more bitter than the last. The wackiest part was that each and every one of them far surpassed Malort on the bitterness scale. We were joking that most of them made Malort seem like Coca-Cola by comparison.

    =R=
    By protecting others, you save yourself. If you only think of yourself, you'll only destroy yourself. --Kambei Shimada

    Every human interaction is an opportunity for disappointment --RS

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #22 - November 13th, 2019, 3:25 pm
    Post #22 - November 13th, 2019, 3:25 pm Post #22 - November 13th, 2019, 3:25 pm
    Al Ehrhardt wrote:
    Vital Information wrote:
    Al Ehrhardt wrote:For the Drinks section, how about Malort?


    When, where, how, and mostly why (I have my theories...) did Malort become a thing. I'm sure most people of my age had no idea what it was until we learned it was a *thing*.


    Rob, completely agree. I don't get it either. Why would you want to drink something you don't enjoy drinking? I've had it once and that was enough.


    There are plenty of spirits that can be included in this category and plenty of adherents who "grew up with it." My father was never without a bottle of slivovitz, which always tasted like paint thinner to me. He and his friends couldn't get enough of it.
  • Post #23 - November 13th, 2019, 3:31 pm
    Post #23 - November 13th, 2019, 3:31 pm Post #23 - November 13th, 2019, 3:31 pm
    Yes, the only time I drink it (more like choke it down) is with two Swedish ex-pats that live near me.
  • Post #24 - November 13th, 2019, 6:41 pm
    Post #24 - November 13th, 2019, 6:41 pm Post #24 - November 13th, 2019, 6:41 pm
    Al Ehrhardt wrote:Rob, completely agree. I don't get it either. Why would you want to drink something you don't enjoy drinking? I've had it once and that was enough.


    Its popularity has been enigmatic to me, but I do honestly like the stuff. As do my mother and father. My parents are both Polish born-and-raised, and enjoy all sorts of that herbal and bitter stuff, and I grew up enjoying those flavors. Wormwood tea was usually available in our house, and that's exactly the same flavor as Malort. First time I had Malort (some time in the 90s), I knew what it was precisely because of my familiarity with that tea.

    I introduced my wife (then-girlfriend) to Malort at the Yak-Zie's on Diversey some time in the mid-2000s. I didn't tell her what it was, just an "old man Chicago drink" and she shot it down with not even the barest flinch. I think that is when I knew she was The One. ;)

    But, yes, some people do actually like it. My only complaint about it is that it is completely one-dimensional. (I'm specifically talking about Jeppson's). It could use some botanical accents to make it more interesting. I mean, I don't want to turn it into an absinthe or anything like that which also has a wormwood base, but a few more flavor notes would be appreciated. I know I've had craft distillery versions of Malort that did go in that direction, but it's been years since I've had anything but Jeppson's, so I'm not even sure what is available anymore besides Jeppson's.
  • Post #25 - November 14th, 2019, 8:36 am
    Post #25 - November 14th, 2019, 8:36 am Post #25 - November 14th, 2019, 8:36 am
    Al Ehrhardt wrote:
    Vital Information wrote:
    Al Ehrhardt wrote:For the Drinks section, how about Malort?


    When, where, how, and mostly why (I have my theories...) did Malort become a thing. I'm sure most people of my age had no idea what it was until we learned it was a *thing*.


    Rob, completely agree. I don't get it either. Why would you want to drink something you don't enjoy drinking? I've had it once and that was enough.


    Just to clarify, I understand that some people do like it, and that's cool. I would venture to guess that Malort, or other besk's, would have remained a niche in the US if it wasn't for all of the people who drink it not because they like it, but because it's different and hip.

    Those are the people I don't quite understand, why you would drink something you dislike, but to each their own.
  • Post #26 - November 14th, 2019, 9:46 am
    Post #26 - November 14th, 2019, 9:46 am Post #26 - November 14th, 2019, 9:46 am
    If you like bitter spirits, but not sure about Malort, give Leatherbee's Besk a try. I think it's quite good.
  • Post #27 - November 14th, 2019, 10:02 am
    Post #27 - November 14th, 2019, 10:02 am Post #27 - November 14th, 2019, 10:02 am
    Al Ehrhardt wrote:Those are the people I don't quite understand, why you would drink something you dislike, but to each their own.


    Yeah, it's become some sort of Chicago hazing ritual or local cultural shibboleth. I think that's all it is. I'm not sure how it trended, though -- I've always known the drink as a kind of obscure "old man's drink" here in Chicago, but when, why, and how it made its leap to the semi-mainstream in the mid 00s, I don't know. Then again, I'm amazed at how Jaegermeister has become such a mainstream national drink in a culture where herbal liqueurs are generally only enjoyed by a niche group. (Amazing marketing on their part, is my understanding. But I don't think Jeppson's had a strong marketing push behind it -- I mean, yes, they had that "9 out of 10 people hate this stuff" campaign, but I feel that was after the drink was already starting to trend.)
  • Post #28 - November 14th, 2019, 2:24 pm
    Post #28 - November 14th, 2019, 2:24 pm Post #28 - November 14th, 2019, 2:24 pm
    De Cecco dried pasta with neck bone gravy?
    "Your swimming suit matches your eyes, you hold your nose before diving, loving you has made me bananas!"
  • Post #29 - November 14th, 2019, 6:55 pm
    Post #29 - November 14th, 2019, 6:55 pm Post #29 - November 14th, 2019, 6:55 pm
    Katie wrote:De Cecco dried pasta with neck bone gravy?


    That one might take a separate essay, but your average cardboard box of dried pasta combined with a pot of Sunday tomato sauce left out room temperature on your stove boasts some distinctly, though not exclusively, Chicagoland pathways. Certainly as a red-checked tablecloth West Side restaurant offering, it’s a signature.
  • Post #30 - November 18th, 2019, 2:04 pm
    Post #30 - November 18th, 2019, 2:04 pm Post #30 - November 18th, 2019, 2:04 pm
    Darren72 wrote:If you like bitter spirits, but not sure about Malort, give Leatherbee's Besk a try. I think it's quite good.


    Be a True Chicagoan (TM) and have a French-dippy-lookin' beef with an artisanal giardiniera skewer, bone broth, and Malort chasers at the Talbott Hotel through December 7.

    https://www.chicagotribune.com/dining/c ... HcYKKmK32M

    I personally would have gone Seven Treasures dark-soy-runny-egg-and-char-siu-drippings, Birria Reyes consome, and Russell's BBQ Sauce for my three chasers to a truffle-Dante at Tempesta Market.

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