What to Eat in Chicago Before You Die

Live like you're dying and eat up

What to eat in Chicago? Pizza and hot dogs? Yeah, Chicago does 'em great. (See #1 and #2.) But when locals wind up homesick and craving the food that really makes them long for sweet home Chicago, these are the cult-classic dishes they dream about.

Kailley's Kitchen

1. Pepperoni Pan Pizza At Pequod's

The pepperoni is crispy. The cheesy is gooey, but it’s the crunchy caramelized crust that gets us every time.

2207 N. Clybourn Ave.; 773-327-1512 or

The Duck Inn

2. Duck Fat Dog At The Duck Inn

You can go for a classic Chicago dog, or you can up your game with a juicy beef-and-duck link that takes this ballpark food to a whole new level.

2701 S. Eleanor St.; 312-724-8811 or

3. Carrot Cake At Gibson's

You can’t not Instagram this monster. It’s bigger than your head.

1028 N. Rush St.; 312-266-8999 or


4. Pizza Potpie At Chicago Pizza & Oven Grinder Co.

It’s not quite deep dish, it’s not quite pot pie. You must try it yourself to understand. No regrets.

2121 N. Clark St.; 773-248-2570 or

Road Food

5. Caramel And Cheesy Popcorn Mix At Garrett's

Our signature sweet-and-savory treat is worth the line at Garrett’s.

Locations here

6. Whole Duck At Sun Wah Bbq

The skin is crispy. The meat is moist. The price is low. Order ahead--these birds fly out of the kitchen.

5039 N. Broadway;

7. Beef Wellington At Swift & Sons

There are too many steak houses in Chicago to pick just one, but this is the steak of the moment. Served with mushrooms, foie gras and spinach in a puff pastry.

1000 W. Fulton Market; 312-733-9420 or

Belly of the Beest

8. Chickpea Fritters At Girl And The Goat

Only Stephanie Izard could make a vegetable taste this good.

809 W. Randolph St.; 312-492-6262 or

9. Arroz Gordo At Fat Rice

A big bowl of Macanese flavor, aka rice layered with about eight different kinds of meat and seafood. Oh, and eggs. This rice is fat.

2957 W. Diversey Ave.; 773-661-9170


10. Endive Salad At Blackbird

This delicate creation served in a crisp bird’s nest and topped with a perfectly poached egg arguably kicked off a food revolution in Chicago.

619 W. Randolph St.; 312-715-0708 or

11. Cheeseburger At Au Cheval

A perfect diner-style burger with two thin patties, a buttery bun, melty cheese and a not-so-diner-style three-hour wait.

800 W. Randolph St.; 312-929-4580 or

12. Chorizo-stuffed Bacon-wrapped Dates At Avec

You can bring a date. As long as he’s wrapped in bacon.

615 W. Randolph St.; 312-377-2002 or

13. Honey Butter Fried Chicken At Honey Butter Fried Chicken

Hot, crispy, tender perfection made even better by the fact that you slather sweet butter on it.

3361 N. Elston Ave.; 773-478-4000 or

Dining Chicago

14. Cassoulet At Sunday Dinner Club

At the secret club associated with Honey Butter Fried Chicken, devouring the ultimate wintertime casserole will be easy. Getting on the word-of-mouth-only mailing list? A little more challenging.

773-878-2717 or

Feeding off the Rails

15. Belgian-style Mussels At Hopleaf

Steamed in beer and served with a pile of piping hot frites, they’re everything you always knew mussels could be.

5148 N. Clark St.; 773-334-9851 or

16. Milanesa Torta At Xoco

Crispy, creamy, spicy, layered, griddled, huge. Too incredible to really call a “sandwich.”

449 N. Clark St.; 312-661-1434 or

17. Maple Bacon Long John At Glazed & Infused

When you realize you can eat bacon on top of a doughnut, nothing is ever the same.

Locations here

18. Green Bean Salad At In-on Thai

A mountain of exotic-tasting goodness with shrimp, ground pork and hard-boiled eggs swimming in sweet coconut milk.

3821 N. Broadway St.; 773-857-2475 or

Baker & Nosh

19. Pecan Sandies At Baker & Nosh

These cookies taste and crumble like they have a stick of butter in every bite. That is to say, they’re incredible.

1303 W. Wilson Ave.; 773-989-7393 or

20. Honey Ham Empanada At Café Tola

All of the piping-hot empanadas at this tiny spot are worth waiting in the Saturday morning line for, but this one is basically a deep-fried version of our favorite breakfast sandwich. So there’s that.

3612 N. Southport Ave.; 773-687-8428 or

21. Steak And Ale Pie At Pleasant House Bakery

The savory treat with the flaky crust that proves British food’s not all long as it’s served in Chi-town.

964 W. 31st St.; 773-523-7437 or

22. Maple Bourbon Pecan Pie At Bang Bang Pie & Biscuits

They get the crust-to-nut-to-custard texture exactly right. See?

2051 N. California Ave.; 773-276-8888 or

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Lindsay Champion

Freelance Editor

From 2015-2020 Lindsay Champion held the role of Food and Wellness Director. She continues to write for PureWow as a Freelance Editor.
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