The (Deep) Dish: Chicago Food

IMG_2752The Windy City, the Second City, Chi-Town, whatever you call it, the third biggest city in the U.S. is possibly one of the best cities in the country (at least in my books). The whole vibe of the city was a lot more relaxed and easygoing than anywhere in New England or New York City: we were waiting for brunch outside of a restaurant on our last day and a woman who said she was in a rush stopped to talk to us for ten minutes, recommending other places we could try even though we hadn’t asked her for advice. I’m definitely a fan of Chicago and all it has to offer, and this week I’ll be doing a three part blog series on Chicago’s food, sights, and entertainment. And there’s no better way to jump in than to dig in.

Coffee—One of the exciting things for me when I travel somewhere new is finding good coffee shops. Some of my friends make fun of me for it, but finding good, local shops is a great way to get a vibe for a city, and Chicago has a lot of good ones. Additionally, getting coffee and a light bite is a cheaper way to get breakfast, and it’s not nearly as heavy as a sit-down meal if you plan to eat out at other meals and don’t want to be bogged down when you go out to explore.

IMG_2773
The Wormhole

My favorite was The Wormhole. This Wicker Park coffee shop is decorated with toys and posters from old video games and movies, and their drinks are named after some old school favorites, so how could I resist trying a Peanut Butter Koopa Troopa latte? Great vibe inside and my favorite coffee.

We also visited Intelligentsia Coffee. This chain has some locations throughout Chicago as well as New York and LA, but the coffee here was great, they had tasty baked goods, and there was a good, relaxed feel inside (which is what I got from the city overall, so I’ll have to stop saying that). Another spot we tried was Overflow Coffee. This shop was located in a weird spot and inside of a strange building that seemed sort of empty and sparse, but the coffee was good. It’s similar to Wormhole in that they play soundtrack music from Inception and Jurassic Park in the background. I recommend either the Nutella Mocha Latte or the Overflow.

IMG_2755Deep Dish—Now for the real food. Chicago is known for deep dish pizza and its Chicago Dogs, and for good reason. For some incredible deep dish pizza, head to Lou Malnati’s. They have locations throughout the city, and their pizza is unreal (if you’re ever looking for a birthday present idea, Lou’s ships across the country…). With thick buttery crust and a flavorful tomato sauce, their pizza tasted so good, like how I thought Chicago would taste if it were a food. We all split a medium cheese and a small Lou’s Classic (which has sausage on it as well), and it was a little much, but not too much to conquer after a day of walking all over the city (Chicago is also massive). If you’re used to New York pizza, keep in mind that this is a lot heavier.

While we were in Bucktown, we also tried Piece Brewery & Pizzeria for lunch. They make their own beers, and the pizza is made in the New Haven style. Also very good, but hard to follow in Lou’s footsteps. Later that day, after hiking around Bucktown and Wicker Park and walking over an hour, essentially across the highway to make our way to the Cubs game, we made it to Scooter’s Frozen Custard in Lakeview. Their flavors were so good (like Chocoloreo, Coconut Cream, Caramel Fudge Nut Brownie Chip) and the frozen custard was perfect after all that walking. It’s heavier than soft serve, and a small serving is plenty.

Scooter's
Scooter’s CFNBC

IMG_2728Chicago Dogs—We went to this little hole-in-the-wall connected to Popeye’s called Gold Coast Dogs. We’d looked up some places to check out for the best Chicago dogs, but we were all starving after trekking around the Art Institute and this was the closest place for lunch. I always get hot dogs completely plain, so I was a little tenuous about trying one of these, loaded with tomatoes, peppers, onions, relish, and pickles, but they were really good: the peppers in particular added a nice punch.

Brunch–Finally, brunch in Chicago was a lot more popular than we’d expected. We had planned on going to Longman and Eagle, but it was a little to far to go there and back to the hotel before our flight, so we first tried Wildberry Pancakes and Cafe, but the wait was too long, and then ended up at Eggy’s Diner. The wait didn’t seem too bad at first, but we ended up waiting over an hour for a table of four. Once we got inside the service was quick and their breakfast food was great.

So that about wraps it up for Chicago food (at least all that’s possible to sample in a weekend). Up next is Chicago Entertainment.

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