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Eight Iconic Chicago Eateries

Eight Iconic Chicago Eateries

Eight Iconic Chicago Eateries

There are many restaurants that people visit Chicago to see and dine at and then there are those places that put Chicago on the map. The iconic Chicago restaurants that you must eat at if you’re only in town for a short while and the restaurants that you have to have tried if you call yourself a Chicago local. This is a list of the most iconic Chicago eateries. The restaurants that people come just to Chicago to eat at. Sometimes these aren’t the local favorites, but you have to have them if you’re a tourist or showing out-of-town visitors around.

Portillo’s Hot Dogs
100 W. Ontario St.
Chicago, IL 60610

Perhaps the most iconic Chicago restaurant award goes to Portillo’s Hot Dogs. If you’re a local you’ve definitely eaten here and if you’re visiting you better try it. When people talk about the classic Chicago hotdog, they’re talking about the Portillo’s hotdog. Yes, the name is confusing because they carry much more than your average hotdog, including Italian beef sandwiches, French fries, shakes, beer and croissant sandwiches, so most people just call it Portillo’s. Get anything you like at this iconic eatery including their famous chocolate cake. Whatever your feelings are about this delicious cheap fast-food restaurant, you have to bring all of your out-of-town guests here to let them try it for themselves. There are multiple locations including spots in the suburbs, so there are no excuses.

Al’s Beef
169 W. Ontario St.
Chicago, IL 60654

Just a little ways down the street from the downtown Portillo’s location you’ll find the next spot on our iconic eateries tour, Al’s Beef. Al’s Beef is a no-frills, you-get what-you-asked-for, no-nonsense type of restaurant. The most popular dish at Al’s Beef is of course the beef! You can get the little, regular or big-beef size option and you have to add the peppers and cheese. When adding peppers to your Italian beef you can always choose hot or sweet peppers. I like to get both because I’m greedy and get the sandwich wet, which means extra gravy. If you’re really crazy you get the entire sandwich dipped or submerged in gravy, but for me it’s too much and you have to eat the whole sandwich quickly before the bread gets too soggy. To each their own, though. Again, here the name can be misleading, because of course they have plenty of other options to choose from than Italian beef. They’re also relatively known for their French fries that you can add cheddar, BBQ, chili, nacho, chili cheddar, buffalo bleu or get loaded with cheddar cheese, bacon, onion and a side of sour cream. Yes, it’s completely gluttonous and yes it is delicious. Don’t let yourself or your friends miss out on this classic joint; there are plenty of them to find around town.

Lou Malnati’s
1120 N. State St.
Chicago, IL 60610

While there’s a constant debate over whether Lou Malnati’s is “the best deep-dish” in town, there’s no denying that it’s an iconic Chicago eatery. Personally, it’s not my favorite pizza in town, but when people think of Chicago food they think two things, hotdogs and deep-dish, and Lou Malnati’s is synonymous with Chicago deep-dish. Again, this selection is a classic Chicago eatery with multiple locations. These top three are some of the most popular food destinations in Chicago, so having just the one would be a madhouse. These locations are spread out throughout the city and the Chicagoland area. So give Lou Malnati’s a chance if not to say you’ve tried an iconic Chicago pizzeria, but just to confirm that yes, Giordano’s is better.

Big Star
1531 N. Damen Ave.
Chicago, IL 60622

Shifting over into some more specific area eateries you could argue that Big Star is well on its way to becoming an iconic Chicago eatery. Currently people travel from neighborhoods all over the city to visit and taste Big Star’s taco joint, so it’s only a matter of time before Big Star makes it big. Big Star only has one location in Wicker Park that draws in crowds of people every night. The ambience, the food, the drinks, everything works to make Big Star so successful. I bring all my friends traveling in from out-of-town to Big Star and I’m sure I’m not alone. If you Google “Places to eat in Chicago,” you’re sure to find it on a list out there somewhere, so don’t fight it anymore! Big Star is making its iconic list debut.

Margie’s Candies
1960 N. Western
Chicago, IL 606047

Our first, but not final, dessert spot on this guide, Margie’s holds a special place in the hearts of many Chicagoans. With two locations, one on the North Side and one on the Northwest Side, Margie’s has been giving out goodies for over 90 years. A family-owned dessert place, Margie’s has served those young and old as well as many celebrities including the Beatles! Known for their delicious sundaes, Margie’s doesn’t disappoint when it comes to dessert. Dessert options from homemade candies, ice cream and their famous sundaes, you can eat as many sweets as your heart desires here. Wait times in warmer weather can be long, but the nice thing is even if there’s a line out the door you can always order your treats to go.

Superdawg Drive-In
6363 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Chicago, Il 60646

With two locations, one in Chicago and another in Wheeling, Superdawg has been top dog of iconic Chicago eateries since 1948. A super couple opened the hot dog stand so that it was open during the summer while husband Maurie Berman was taking classes at Northwestern and Florence (Flaurie) was free from her teaching job in the Chicago Public Schools. It’s only grown and flourished from there! You can enjoy a real Superdawg in its purest form at either location and see what all the talk is about. Superdawg is just as famous for its food as it is for its giant hotdog sculptures with flashing eyes on the roof. So stop over today and get a taste of iconic Chicago culture.

Pequod’s Pizza
2207 N. Clybourn Ave.
Chicago, IL 60614

Pequod’s is another local favorite that’s breaking into the “iconic” list. When tourists hear deep-dish, Pequod’s might not be the first place they think of, but once you try it it’s hard to deny its quality. Pequod’s is near the movie theater on Webster, which makes it the perfect date night dinner before a movie. Just a heads up though, this is the only Chicago location and wait times can get ridiculous. There’s also one in Morton Grove. In other words, don’t cut it too close to your movie time or you’ll definitely miss the show. My favorite thing about Pequod’s is their lunch special. For $4.95 you can get a 7” cheese pan pizza and a fountain soda. A deal that can’t be beat. So stop over and give your new favorite deep-dish pizza a try.

The Original Rainbow Cone
9233 S. Western Ave.
Chicago, IL 60643

For those of you that aren’t familiar with The Original Rainbow Cone, it’s a famous Chicago summer/dessert destination since it opened in 1926. Another husband and wife business that flourished and developed into what it’s known as today. Rainbow Cone is famous for – you guessed it – their rainbow cone that features layers of chocolate, strawberry, Palmer House (New York vanilla with cherries and walnuts), pistachio and orange sherbet. These layers of flavor and color make it look like a rainbow hence the name. Currently closed for the winter season, Rainbow Cone is an attraction near the South Side in the summers. If you can’t make the trek down to Western and 92nd, you can find Rainbow Cone featured at food festivals throughout the summer in Chicago, such as the largest food festival in the country Taste of Chicago. So there are no excuses! Look forward to trying Rainbow Cone once the weather warms back up.