Growing up in Chicago, I was accustomed to always having the best tasting and looking food. While known for our freezing weather and champion sports teams (waddup Blackhawks), our greatest pride is our food. Nowhere else in the country offers as wide a variety of food porn. Good luck staring at these Chicago foods without getting hungry.
1. The Superdawg at Superdawg
You haven’t had a real dog until you’ve had a Chicago dog.
#SpoonTip: Chicagoans do NOT put ketchup on their dogs.
2. Deep Dish Pizza at Lou Malnati’s
The holy grail of all types of pizza. Sorry not sorry, New York City.
3. The Rainbow Cone at The Original Rainbow Cone
A popular annual attraction at Taste of Chicago and Lollapalooza. Nothing screams Chicago summer like ice cream that tastes as good as it looks.
4. The Garrett Mix at Garrett Popcorn
Hands down best popcorn. It’s worth the wait in line. Where else can you get a mix of cheddar and caramel?
5. Nutella Pocket at Stan’s Doughnuts and Coffee
There are regular doughnuts and then there are doughnuts topped with sprinkles and filled with bananas and Nutella.
6. Italian Beef Sandwich at Portillo’s
The king of sandwiches in Chicago and a meat lover’s dream. Paired best with the chocolate cake shake.
7. The Angry Bird at Taco In a Bag
While Chicago has more than its fair share of to-die-for taco restaurants, this is a bucket list must for any foodie.
8. Cinnamon Rolls at Ann Sather
Real breakfast is found in the form of two giant cinnamon rolls for only $3.50. Dining on a budget has never tasted so good.
9. The Mac at Cheesie’s
There is no better late night snack than Cheesie’s. In case the convenient, close to campus locations weren’t good enough, their food truck can also be found parked downtown.
10. The Dirty Swede at Chicago Bagel Authority
Chicagoans love sandwiches, so it’s no surprise that bagel sandwiches are a must. Chicago Bagel Authority is just a friendly reminder that bagels can be eaten at any time of day.
11. Cookie Monster Ice Cream at Cone Gourmet
Hands down the best ice cream in the city. Oreo pieces AND cookie dough? What more could a person want from their ice cream.
12. Any Pizza From Homeslice
Because Chicago has non-deep dish pizza too and it is just as heavenly. Their pizza selections are rivaled by none, so good luck choosing just one.
13. Crazy Cake Concrete at Lickity Split
Everyone in the Midwest knows that Frozen Custard is the best summer treat. Lickity Split offers dessert bliss with their Crazy Cake Concrete which blends custard with your cupcake of choice and then tops it off with candy sprinkles.
14. Nachos at Wrigley Field
Not only are we sad that the Cubs didn’t make it all the way in the playoffs, but we’re extra sad that it means we have to wait now until the spring for more of Wrigley’s savory snacks. Nachos do taste better in a Cubs hat.
15. Gelato in a Cone at Amorino Gelato
A way to a girl’s heart isn’t through chocolate and flowers, it’s through chocolate gelato flowers. With a new location opening in the popular Water Tower Mall, Amorino is about to become more than just a local secret.
16. Chorizo Tacos at Frontera Fresco
Rick Bayless is famous for his mexican restaurant, Frontera Grill. You can quickly experience some of his famous foods though by visiting one of the Frontera fast-food chains, Frontera Fresco. There you can choose from a variety of tacos, tortas, quesadillas, huaraches, salads, tamales, and soups. Whatever you order, make sure you get a side of guacamole and chips. Their guacamole is one of the best.
17. The Cookie Monster at Molly’s Cupcakes
Famous for their center-filled cupcakes, you really can’t go wrong with any of the flavors. If you’re really not feeling any of the flavors though, they’ll let you create your own cupcake AND decorate it with sprinkles. Does it get any better?
18. Sushi Burrito at Sumo Restaurant
Made especially for people who just can’t decide between Mexican and Chinese.
19. Red Raspberry Italian Ice at Annette’s Italian Ice
Sadly, Annette’s is only open during the warm weather season, but their italian ices are the perfect refreshing summer treat. This Lincoln Park hole-in-the-wall is a delicious local secret.
20. The White Pizza from Piece Brewery and Pizzeria
It’s no surprise that Chicago is brimming with delicious pizza places. However, where else could you get a pizza topped with mashed potatoes?
21. Ice Cream Doughnut Sandwich at Firecakes
Chicagoans really can’t be kept apart from their sandwiches. Trust us, ice cream was meant to be served in the middle of a doughnut.
#SpoonTip: Firecakes will close if they run out of doughnuts, so make sure you don’t try to go too late.
22. Buffalo Chicken at Velvet Taco
The best part about Velvet Taco is that they do not skimp on the taco filling. These tacos taste as good as they look, and luckily, the tacos here come individually so you can try more than one kind.
23. Cupcake at Vanille Patisserie
Vanille offers many french pastries and cakes, but the best are their cupcakes topped with a macaron. The frosting is encased with a chocolate shell and hidden inside the cupcake is a filling. This will definitely cure your Parisian food fomo.
24. Bao at Wow Bao
These small dough pockets filled with a variety of meats and veggies are a great snack. If you have a sweet tooth, there are even chocolate filled bao that go perfectly with their homemade ginger ale.
25. The “O.G.” Doughnuts at Mindy’s Hot Chocolate
The warm, bite-sized doughnuts accompanied by hot fudge dipping sauce are the perfect pairing for Mindy’s famous hot chocolates. There are nine different hot chocolate options, all served with their homemade marshmallows. This is a true Chicago, cold-weather dessert.
26. Crostini at Fig and Olive
Start off your meal at Fig and Olive with the crostini. While the crostini toppings may vary from season to season, they never disappoint. Plus, not only are all their dishes Instagram worthy, but the restaurant itself is just as picture perfect.
#SpoonTip: When it’s warm out make sure to request to dine outside on their Oak Street patio. You won’t regret it.
27. Marshmallow Sundae at Margie’s Candies
Margie’s is a true Chicago tradition dating back to 1921. Sit in the same chair where gangster Al Capone enjoyed homemade ice cream and toppings. Marshmallow is the best addition to any one of Margie’s 13 ice cream flavors.
#SpoonTip: Try to avoid going on weekends where wait times can be over an hour.
28. Italian Beef Sandwich at Al’s Italian Beef
The inventor of Chicago’s famous Italian beef sandwich.
29. Triple Chocolate Doughnut at Doughnut Vault
The only thing cuter than the doughnuts themselves is the decor. Enjoy delicious and fresh doughnuts until they run out.
#SpoonTip: Keep your eyes peeled around the city of one of Doughnut Vault’s food trucks where you can pick up some of your favorites.
30. BBQ CHKN from Blaze Pizza
At Blaze, you can completely customize your pizza and have it cooked in under three minutes. The build-your-own pizza options offers unlimited toppings free of charge, so if you’re really adventurous you can add every single topping on the menu. However you eat your pizza, you’re sure to have it your way at Blaze.
31. Brownie Batter Cupcake at Swirls Cupcakes
Chicago has its fair share of cupcake bakeries. Swirls Cupcakes by far offers the most unique flavor options. From chocolate caramel pretzel to banana nutella to apple fritter, there’s a cupcake for to satisfy anyone’s craving. If you’re really daring, try the surprise cupcake.
32. Umami Burger at bopNgrill
As seen on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, this unique restaurant fulfills all your burger and Korean barbecue needs. It’s a food favorite among the students at Loyola University Chicago.
33. The Jackhammer at Andy’s Frozen Custard
With five Chicago-land locations, Andy’s is very accessible. The Jackhammer is one of many flavors of concretes. Choose from a list of over 25 seasonal toppings to add to a frozen custard of your choice. The possibilities are endless.
34. Bro Bagel
We love our bagels here in Chicago. Purists can choose from plain bagels and a variety of cream cheeses, and the adventurous can explore bagel sandwich options like ‘The Veggie’ and ‘The Pizza Bagel.’
35. Candied Maple Bacon at Do-Rite Donuts
This just speaks for itself. Where else can you get something as unique as a candied bacon flavored doughnut?
36. Little Miss Sunshine Açaí Bowl at Peeled Juice Bar
Peeled is proof that here in Chicago we do choose healthy options (sometimes.) The best way to start your day or end a workout is a Peeled smoothie or açaí bowl.
37. Churros at Xoco
Another Rick Bayless classic, Xoco offers Mexican street food favorites such as empanadas, churros, and Mexican hot chocolate. For a quick bite or warm dessert in the winter, this is the place to be in Wicker Park.
38. Ribs at Gale Street Inn
Known as “Chicago’s Finest Ribs,” this place is a must for all rib fanatics.
39. White Chocolate and Caramel Pretzel Pancakes at The Bongo Room
The Bongo Room does not take reservations, but the weekend wait is ALWAYS worth it. The best Sunday brunch is the white chocolate and caramel pretzel pancakes, but if you’re lucky, a friend will share food with you and get the red velvet pancakes.
40. Short Rib Ravioli at Siena Tavern
Good food and a cool atmosphere, what more could a person want from a restaurant? Every item on the menu is perfection. Take your friends here to seem uber trendy and cultured. You’re welcome in advance.
41. Chocolate Caramel Cupcake at More Cupcakes
You can probably already tell that we love our cupcakes here in Chicago. More Cupcakes is known for their upscale environment and minimalist display. Stop by for delicious cupcakes with unique toppings.
42. Baby Back Ribs at Smoque BBQ
Nothing is more classic and representative of Chicago than a restaurant with a welcoming atmosphere and huge portions. Smoque is known for their family style tables and “neighborhood kind of place” atmosphere. The barbecue sauce is homemade so you can’t go wrong with anything from their large variety of meat.
43. Mario’s Italian Lemonade
This unique lemonade stand is a summer treat. Walk up and order from a menu filled with fresh Italian ice flavors with pieces of real fruit. This stand is only open from May to September each year so get it while you can.
If you’re a true Chicagoan, chances are you know about the not so tiny pizza rivalry. Giordano’s is home to the original Chicago-style deep dish pizza. Choose from toppings that are actually baked into the cheese. This massive pizza is best enjoyed with a fork and knife.
45. Chocolate Marshmallow Macaron Cake at Sugar Fixé
Paris may not be a car ride away, but Sugar Fixé is the next best thing. If you’re a major macaron enthusiast, you’ll love the macaron cake that resembles a mega macaron. Dreams really do come true.
46. Machos Nachos at Little Goat Diner
Chips drenched in cheese and sour cream and covered with bbq pork, beans, peppers, and avocado. It’s food porn heaven. Just don’t forget to share them, so you leave room for the rest of the meal. As the sister restaurant of Girl and the Goat, nothing on the menu disappoints.
47. Sprinkles at Glazed and Infused
Glazed and Infused’s classic doughnuts are sugar heaven, but their specialty doughnuts for holidays and special occasions are the real treat. The jumbo sprinkle doughnut is also a great birthday surprise.
48. Pulled Pork Sandwich at Green Street Smoked Meats
This is some of the best barbecue in the city, if not the midwest. The twinkling lights and long tables make it feel like a home meal in your own backyard.
49. Double Doozie at Sweet Mandy B’s
Yes, this is slightly biased because it’s my favorite bakery in the country, but I promise this is by far the best bakery in Chicago. All of your baked good dreams are fulfilled here. There is not a single bad item on the menu. A must try is the double doozie (a sugar cookie frosting sandwich topped with more frosting), but the chocolate chip peanut butter chip brownie and lemon cupcakes are a must, too.
50. Popcorn, Peanuts & Chocolate at RPM Steak
Owned by Giuliana Rancic and her husband Bill, RPM brings the L.A. steakhouse vibe to Chicago. Their steaks are delicious, as expected from a place of this caliber. However, the show-stealer is their popcorn, peanuts, and chocolate dessert which consists of peanut butter ice cream in a chocolate bowl topped with hot fudge and popcorn. Definitely save room for dessert when dining here.
#SpoonTip: They may or may not also serve a bowl of giant cotton candy.