The Ultimate Chicago Chow Down: Pies, Dogs, and Italian Beef You'll Drool Over
Your guide to eating your way through Chicago (Photo: Jose Luis Stephens/Radius Images/Getty Images)
Oprah. Architecture. Lake Michigan. These are just a few things often associated with Chicago. But in recent years, this Midwestern metropolis has succeeded in adding another three words to that list: “culinary hot spot.”
The fact that Chicago beat out New York to host the 2015 James Beard Awards, the Oscars of the epicurean world, is proof that the buzz surrounding Chi Town’s avant-garde restaurant scene has reached fever pitch. However, even as Chicago completes its transformation into a renowned foodie destination, locals continue to embrace the old-school scene they love — and that visitors often overlook.
On a recent vacation to the Windy City I got my first taste of one of those only-in-Chicago experiences when a friend insisted I try an Italian beef, a sloppy sandwich of shredded meat seasoned with Italian spices. For locals, it’s a traditional go-to meal. For me, the Italian beef was a revelation, one of those rare foods so delicious it was all I could think about (full disclosure: I scarfed down three in two days).
Food writer/TV host Catherine De Orio helps us navigate our way through Chicago’s food scene (Photo: Aaron Rasmussen)
My discovery had me wondering: What other magical meals had I been missing out on during all my past trips here? To answer that question, I enlisted the help of Catherine De Orio, food writer and host of the popular Chicago-area dining show Check, Please!, to give me a sample of the best fare her hometown has to serve up.
Related: Cheat Sheet: Chicago
The food is no joke at Johnnie’s… and neither is the line (Photo: Aaron Rasmussen)
A line snakes around this no-frills takeaway stand even before it opens the door for lunch. Johnnie’s menu is limited, which is a good thing since big crowds translate into precious little time to dilly-dally with decisions at the register. Luckily, an Italian beef is a foolproof selection.