Chicago is a lot more than windy politics, famous rappers and cold winters. It boasts an undeniably diverse cuisine that you just can’t find anywhere else in the United States.

As the cultural hub of several different countries, Chicago is truly the definition of the American melting pot. Although there is never a shortage of food, here are just a few of the eats that Chicagoans can’t live without.

1. Deep Dish Pizza 


Photo by Ataya Kanji

Move over New York, this long-time pizza battle needs to be put to rest. While New York can boast about its thin and crispy crust, all Chicagoans can agree: deep dish pizza will actually satisfy your hunger.

Although many Chicagoans would say Lou Malnati’s has the best traditional deep dish in town, I can’t help but discount the glory that is the crispy, thick crust at Pequod’s.

2. Rumchata and a Taco


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Not from Chicago? I can tell because I had you at rum, but you knit your brow at the “chata” part. The spicy combination of rum and cinnamon-laced horchata will leave you the perfect amount of tipsy for an authentic taco found anywhere in Pilsen. Yes, it’s an actual thing and yes, it’s as delicious as it sounds.

3. Meat


Photo by Mithila Samak

We love all types of meat, we do not discriminate. Beef, pork, chicken, veal, lamb…you name it, we eat it. A personal favorite of mine is an Italian beef sandwich from Al’s Italian Beef. But in the words of our heros, Bill Swerski’s Superfans, we’d much rather have a nice link of Polish sausage.

4. Ice Cream


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Ice cream is one of the Chicago food groups that just cannot be ignored. When you have a craving for ice cream, you’re most likely craving the rainbow…the Rainbow Cone. The Original Rainbow Cone, located in the Beverly Neighborhood of the south side, offers the perfect combination of ice cream on one cone: orange sherbert, pistachio, Palmer House, strawberry, and chocolate.

4. Chicago Mix Popcorn


Photo by Omar Chatriwala

The perfect combination of salty and sweet, this Chicago classic will definitely leave you salivating for more. Salty nuggets of cheddar flavored popcorn nestled amongst impeccably sweet caramel slathered pieces makes this combination one to crave not once a week, but once a day.

6. Bao


Photo by Teodora Maftei

A Chicago staple, these warm pockets of spicy meat and vegetables are truly out of this world. Try an authentic one anywhere in Chicago’s Chinatown neighborhood, or head downtown on a Wednesday for Wow Bao Wednesday, where this restaurant will give you one of these bundles of joy for free if you know the secret word.

7. Doughnuts


Photo by Mithila Samak

It should not come as a surprise to you that anything deep fried would be one of Chicago’s favorite things because after all, Chicago is known for its fattening food. But one that stands out among the rest is doughnuts and we’re not talking about those generic chain eateries you think you love.

Whether you’re buying an artisanal maple bacon doughnut (in Chicago we prefer our meat with our fried dough) or a classic sour cream doughnut, Chicago’s doughnut shops are unrivaled by many.

Without these seven edible staples, the Windy City would not be able to function. Fattening foods is what keeps Chicago running all year long. Whether it’s a big slice of deep dish to warm us up during the long winters, or cooling off in the summer with a delicious rainbow cone, Chicago gives its residents a reason to rejoice no matter what season it is.

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