As a travel blogger, I know far too well how important it is to have local insights on a city you are visiting, especially with food. If you are like me, you want to taste everything a city has to offer. I couldn’t call myself a proper travel blogger without highlighting the Chicago eats for tourists by locals.
This Chicago eats for tourists by locals guide will help you eat your way through my home city with this perfectly curated for all meals of the day, plus some.
Bon Appétit, Buen Provecho and Smacznego. No matter how you say it, I hope you enjoy the tastes of my city.
Read the full Chicago destination guide on how to visit Chicago like a local HERE.
In the guide I share the top places to see, my favorite hidden gems and tips to best navigate the iconic windy city.
Plan Your Chicago Eats For Tourists By Locals Visit
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Where & What To Eat
Chicago Style Pizza
Pequods – Tourists tend to check out Giordanos, Pizzaria Uno and Pizzaria Due. But people who want to try one of the best deep dish pizza Chicago has to offer, go to Pequods. Yes, it’s worth the wait.
Tip: They offer a great lunch time special during the week between 11 am – 3 pm. You get a 7′ pan pizza and non-alcoholic drink at an amazing prize.
Home Run Inn – Looking for authentic non deep dish Chicago style pizza then this is the spot for you! Delicious buttery crust pizza and their frozen pizza’s sold in markets are also a top favorite by locals for at home pizza options.
Tip: Have a kitchen? I highly recommend picking up a frozen pizza and seeing what all the hype is about.
Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder Company – For another take on deep dish pizza, the Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder Company will not disappoint with their famous and equally delicious pizza-pot-pies.
FYI: This is a small venue so arrive when they open or during non-peak hours when the wait won’t be as long.
Chicago Style Eats
Small Cheval – The sister restaurant of “Au Cheval”, serves the best burger in the US with a scale back menu without the four hour wait. (Don’t forget to order a shake and add a shot and make it boozy)
Portillo’s – This restaurant chain is known for serving Chicago style food such as the legendary Chicago style hot dog (hold the ketchup), Polish sausages and Italian beef.
Must Order: Italian beef dipped with peppers and either a slice of their legendary chocolate cake or their chocolate cake shake.
Weiner Circle – The infamous place to grab a Chicago style hot dog after a night out. This tiny place serves up the dogs with a side of sass from the staff.
Ethnic Specific Cuisine
Mr. Greek Gyro – The best place to have a Greek Gyro is from this no frills spot in Greek town.
Jibarito’s y Mas – My favorite cuisine is Puerto Rican food. Jibarito’s y Mas is single handedly my favorite Puerto Rican restaurant and it is for many Puerto Ricans here in Chicago, so you know the ultimate seal of approval is there.
Must Order: Jibarito de lechon (roasted suckling pig) with arroz con gandules (rice with pigeon peas)
Mariscos El Veneno – I’m a sucker for crab legs and this BYOB seafood place is my favorite in Chicago. Buttery, spicy and with Mexican size portions it is recommended you bring a friend and share these delicious crab legs.
La Vaca – Delicious taco and margarita spot in Pilsen. Best night to go is on Tuesday for their $2.50 USD taco special.
Must Order: Lomito, La Vaca, Big Boss, El Green tacos and wash them down with a mango margarita. Be daring and request the tajin rim glasses for a nice contrast.
BEATNIK – A fabulous option if you really want to roll out the red carpet for your taste buds. Every item and cocktail I’ve ordered here reminds me how amazing Chicago cuisine can be. A MUST if you want to treat yourself while here.
Mexican Tamales – Found being sold by women in street corners in the morning. Accompany these with a “champurrado”, a Mexican thick hot chocolate. (Also sold by these carts.)
Mexican Style Corn – Neighborhoods like Pilsen and Little Village will have plenty of vendors. Add a cup of fruit and a bag of “chicharrones” with chili sauce for a full and calorie filled meal.
La Catedral Cafe – Favorite brunch spot for Mexican breakfast items and European inspired Mexican dishes. You will get your waffles, paninis, chilaquiles and licuados. Their coffee is delicious. Order 1 and share with a buddy as their mugs are massive.
FYI: I usually always visit during the weekdays to avoid the lines and will still be shocked with how filled the restaurant will be during the week.
Golden Nugget Pancake House – For an old school dinner style restaurant with delicious food head to the north side of Chicago for this 24 hour, open 365 day dinner chain. Extensive menu so even the picky eaters will find something and prices are very economical.
Inspiration Kitchen – A great hidden gem for BYOB brunch that doubles as a nonprofit organization combating homelessness in Chicago. It provides job training and support to homeless people. It’s near the Garfield Park Conservatory, which is a short 3 minute walk and free to enter.
Must Order: Fried green tomatoes and shrimp and grits.
Original Rainbow Cone – Original location is in the south side of Chicago with locations now available downtown. This is one of the oldest standing ice cream shops in Chicago. It also has one of the most original and most coveted 5 slabs of ice cream on a cone. It is a must in my books!
Must Order: The “small” cone is the perfect size to truly enjoy all five flavors. Don’t you dare try to omit flavors. This will take away from trying the original rainbow cone, the way it was intended to be.
Margie’s Candies – Being established in 1921, Margie’s candies is the second oldest ice cream parlor in Chicago serving sundae’s, shakes and candies. Legends such as mobster Al Capone and the Beatles have delighted themselves here.
Tip: Sundaes are delicious but certainly shareable so don’t get too over zealous by ordering one for each person. #Share.
Artopolis – This Mediterranean cafe in Greek town is another wonderful spot if you have a sweet tooth or looking for strong Mediterranean coffee.
Chicago Eats For Tourists By Locals – Food Tours
- Experience the ultimate “Chicago Style” Food Tour with this tour HERE.
- Combine bikes, brews and bites for a truly on-the-go tour. Book this tour HERE.
- Love pizza, just like me. This pizza tour HERE, is one you can’t miss.
See more Chicago activities provided by Viator below:
Don’t forget you can find my full Chicago destination guide HERE.
It’s a must use when planning your ultimate visit to the “Windy City”. After all, it was created by a traveler but with a local lens.
My visiting Chicago like a local destination guide includes:
- What to see
- What to do
- Where to stay
- How to get around the city
- Where to party
- Other nearby places to visit