Famous Chicago Foods & Best Restaurants to Try Them (From a Local)

Chicago is one of the best cities in the world for foodies! Although Chicago is famous for its deep dish pizza and Chicago-style hot dogs – there is so much more great food in Chicago. Don’t limit yourself to just these iconic dishes, but they should definitely be on your Chicago bucket list to try at least once!

If you are not planning to visit Chicago soon, you can order some of these dishes to try at home.

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Famous Chicago Food Every First Time Visitor Needs to Try

These are the most famous Chicago food and restaurants. If your time in Chicago is short, consider going on a food tour to try a wide variety of the best Chicago dishes:


Chicago-style hot dog

famous chicago food specialties

A Chicago-style hot dog or Chicago dog is one of the two foods that Chicago is most famous for. The classic version of the Chicago dog is an all-beef hot dog served on a poppy seed bun and topped with yellow mustard, pickle, relish, sliced tomato, onions, sport peppers and celery salt. Ketchup is famously not allowed.

Portillos is a convenient restaurant to try the Chicago hot dog as it has outposts all over Chicago.  Most tourists will head to its huge River North location which can get busy during peak lunch hours.

Superdawg is an old-school drive-in which serves its own version of the Chicago dog. It is located off the tourist beaten path on the Northwest side of Chicago and is a bit of a drive from downtown Chicago (about a 20-30 Uber or Lyft drive away or more depending on traffic).

If you are not visiting Chicago soon, you can order Chicago style hot dogs online here and enjoy them from home.

Deep dish pizza


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There is a lot of debate which restaurant in Chicago serves the best deep dish pizza but you can’t go wrong with either Lou Malnati’s or Giordano’s, two of the most popular and famous choices with several locations in downtown Chicago. If you do eat at one of these keep in mind that they are usually busy especially on weekends and in the summer (during peak times you will often see people waiting outside on the sidewalk).

Most locals prefer Pequods in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago which is said to have the best deep dish pizza in Chicago and is famous for its caramelized crust.

Italian beef sandwich


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Al’s Italian Beef is the best and most famous place to try an Italian beef sandwich.

You can also try Italian beef at Portillos if you are there for a Chicago hot dog.

Chicago Style Popcorn

For popcorn head to Garrett Popcorn Shops. There are several locations including Navy Pier and Michigan Avenue.


Gibsons Bar & Steakhouse is a Chicago classic restaurant in the famous Viagra triangle in the Gold Coast, and it has great people watching and you might even spot a celebrity or land a sugar daddy.

Fast Food

Besides the local food, you’ll also find your favorite fast-food chain in Chicago (including Wendy’s etc.)

Ethnic Food

Chicago is a city of immigrants and is known for its great ethnic food including the following:

Greektown – Greektown is very close to downtown Chicago and easy to visit.  

Chinatown – Chicago has a large Chinatown area. In the summer, the most scenic way to visit is by water taxi from the Riverwalk.

Mexican – Pilsen is one of the best neighborhoods for Mexican food. Another great spot to try a variety of disches are the food vendors at Maxwell Street Market on Sunday mornings.  

Famous Chicago Restaurants

Wieners Circle in Lincoln Park is known for its char dogs, char burgers and cheese fries but mostly for the late night verbal abuse and crude humor between the customers and the employees. The iconic hotdog stand has been featured on many tv shows and including this scene on Conan featuring Jack McBrayer:

In addition to the restaurants above famous for their food, the restaurants are famous for their killer views of the Chicago skyline. These are on my list of the most instagrammable places in Chicago.

Cindy’s is a restaurant and bar on the rooftop of the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel located near Millennium Park. Make sure to spend some time outside on its famous open-air terrace which offers panoramic instagram worthy views of Millennium Park and Lake Michigan.  This is a popular spot due to the amazing views and the wait for the elevator can be long but if you visit around the time it opens you can enjoy the great views without the crowds.

J Parker is a restaurant and bar on the rooftop of the Hotel Lincoln with 180 degree views of the lakefront.

Kennedy Rooftop located on the seventh floor of the Hyatt Place Wicker Park has great Chicago skyline views.

Planning a trip to Chicago? Check out my Chicago guides and itineraries:


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