There are many reasons why people visit Chicago. The high standards the city sets for comedy, blues and architecture are also met when it comes to food. For those on a budget, warmer months encourage picnics on the beach and all too frequently it’s a joy to forgo the crisp white tablecloths and indulge in a hot dog oozing ketchup and grease through the napkin. You won’t go hungry in Chicago…cue watering at the mouth.
They’re going for the played-down utilitarian look here. But you’ll soon discover where their best efforts go. Simple and satisfying, their humble taco does this place proud. Whisky buffs will be pleasantly surprised by the selection of lesser-known drams while others can hit the tequila slammers and cheap brews. The patio is the big pull in summer months.
1531 N. Damen Ave / Under $10
This joint was such a staple “I’ve got the munchies after a night out let’s take a detour on the way home” kinda place, that they took the wise decision to stop serving alcohol. But the Weiners Circle is still great during the day when nothing else but a classic char dog drowned in relish, mustard, onion, pickle, tomato, celery salts, peppers, cheesy fries and a ginormous cola will do. Everyone – from suits to pram-pushers, tourists to the unemployed – is hopelessly hooked.
2622 N Clark St / hot dogs $3.20
Forget your local multiplex cinema offering of chewy sawdust; Garrett’s popcorn is how it was always meant to be. A popcorn social hierarchy becomes all too clear as you munch your way through handfuls of CaramelCrisp or CheeseCorn. You can choose from a cashew, macadamia or pecan blend but our personal favourite (and Oprah’s too apparently) is ‘The Chicago Mix’!
625 N. Michigan Avenue
The cacao beans are freshly ground and roasted on the premises, so you know you are about to experience a little piece of heaven. Chilli, allspice and almond milk are added to create Aztec, Almendrado and Barcelona varieties. Hungry? Churros make fantastic dunking vessels.
449 North Clark Street / from $2.75
While the food does hold its own, nothing works more magic than dinner under the stars. The ivy-covered walls of this “little dream” restaurant only add to the fairytale surroundings and they offer a number of very nice wines. A good choice if you’re looking for something a bit special.
464 N. Halsted St / Under $20
Owner Willie Wagner has fared well in a number of national competitions for his pulled pork and ribs. Food is served to live country music on weekends and the full bar in the venue’s saloon offers custom cocktails, hand-selected wines and craft beers. Late night treats include candied bacon – delicious!
1213 W 18th St between Racine Ave and Allport St / $5-$13
And the rest…
Enjoy a guilt-free and grass-fed beef Burger at DMK Burger (2954 N. Sheffield). If you find yourself in the city in mid July it’s worth braving the crowds for the delicious bites on offer at the Taste of Chicago Festival (Grant Park). Fine weather calls for lazy days in the park or on the beach so pick up your picnic goodies at Goddess and the Grocer (25 E Delaware Place). We – and most of Chicago – recommend the cinnamon rolls at Ann Sather’s Swedish diner (3411 N Broadway St) but we understand if you fall to the beck and call of the eggs Benedict. It’s not going to be hard finding a pizza parlour in the city that started the deep pan pizza craze, but where is the best? Our money is on Coalfire (1321 W Grand Ave) for consistent pizza perfection.
Now stop drooling!
If you are staying in the city you could try one of the hostels in Chicago.
- Chicago Blues: Our guide to the Chicago Blues scene
- Where to stay in Chicago: Lake Michigan
- 10 things to do in Chicago
Thanks to TheeErin, Jodimichelle, biskuit, thefoodgroup, Zol87, COD Newsroom and maveric2003 for the images off Flickr! Please note, images were held under the Creative Commons Licence at the time of publication.