As one of the largest cities in the United States, Chicago has a thriving food scene that offers an array of options for both locals and tourists. From classic deep-dish pizza to international cuisine, the city boasts an abundance of restaurants, food markets, and eateries.
But beyond the common tourist hotspots, Chicago still has plenty of hidden gems to discover if you’re looking to immerse yourself in the city’s food scene.
Here are a few of the best-kept secrets to explore:
1. Bang Bang Pie and Biscuits – This bakery and cafe may look unassuming from the outside, but its homemade pies and biscuits are not to be missed. From sweet blueberry pie to savory biscuits with gravy, Bang Bang offers comfort food at its finest. They also serve brunch, sandwiches, and coffee.
2. Johnny’s Beef – If you’re in the mood for an iconic Chicago-style hot dog or Italian beef sandwich, look no further than Johnny’s. The small storefront in Elmwood Park has been serving up delicious sandwiches since 1950 and is a favorite of locals.
3. Aji Ichiban – This small candy and snack shop in Chinatown may seem like an odd choice for foodies, but it’s a must-visit for those looking to try unique snacks and candy from Asia. Their selection includes everything from fish-shaped waffles to wasabi-flavored Kit-Kats.
4. The 606 Trail – Not exactly a restaurant, but the 606 Trail is a must-visit for those looking to explore Chicago’s food scene. The 2.7-mile long elevated trail is lined with street art and offers stunning city views. Along the way, you’ll find pop-up food stands, food trucks, and nearby neighborhoods with diverse dining options.
5. Birrieria Zaragoza – This family-owned restaurant in Archer Heights serves up some of the best birria (Mexican stew) in the city. Their goat birria is slow-cooked for hours in a clay pot and served with homemade tortillas, lime, and onion.
6. Pub Royale – This modern pub in Wicker Park offers a unique fusion of British and Indian cuisines. Their menu includes dishes like spicy lamb vindaloo and butter chicken poutine, as well as an extensive selection of craft beers and cocktails.
7. Gene’s Sausage Shop – This traditional Polish deli in Lincoln Square has been serving up homemade sausage, deli meats, and pierogi since 1972. They also have a rooftop bar with a selection of German and Polish beers and stunning skyline views.
These are just a few examples of the hidden gems that Chicago’s thriving food scene has to offer. Whether you’re a tourist or a local, these eateries and markets are worth seeking out to experience the diverse and delicious flavors of the Windy City.