12 Famous Foods in Chicago

Famous Foods in Chicago
Photo by urbanmatter.com

Want to sample the most famous foods in Chicago? Chicago is, without a doubt, one of the nation’s finest cities for food, but when it comes to signature dishes, it’s in a league of its own.

Not “What food is Chicago known for?” but “What foods is Chicago known for?”

Ask a Chicagoan about the finest pizza in the city, and opinions will be divided between deep-dish and tavern-style pizza.

When discussing handhelds in our post, you will learn about famous foods in Chicago: hot dogs, Italian sirloin, jibaritos, etc.

Let’s get started! 

1. Garrett Popcorn

Garrett popcorn is one of the famous foods in Chicago. If you’re a fan of popcorn, you haven’t lived until you’ve sampled this legendary snack cuisine in Chicago.

Since 1949, this family-owned business has been producing this delectable snack.

At Garrett Popcorn, they prepare popcorn using some of the finest ingredients available in the traditional manner. 

They use premium butterfly and mushroom kernels to give the popcorn a light and airy texture.

Then, they season it with a proprietary blend of seasonings for a flavor that cannot be found elsewhere.

Their signature item is the Garrett Mix, a combination of their cheese popcorn and caramel popcorn that is both sweet and savory. 

However, you can double down on a classic flavor, such as cheese corn, nut caramel crisp, buttery, or plain.

The good news is that the brand has become so well-known that you no longer need to be in Chicago to try it.

In addition to being available throughout the United States, they also have a presence in other countries.

2. Delicious Chocolate Brownie

In 1893, the chocolate brownie was conceived at Chicago’s Palmer House. It was originally designed to fit into boxed meals for World’s Fair attendees. 

Today, this iconic Chicago dish is one of the most popular desserts in the United States.  

3. Au Cheval Cheeseburger

Although many Chicagoans appreciate Au Cheval Restaurant’s upscale old-school cuisine and robust classic cocktails, settling into the dark, cushioned booths for a memorable meal is not reserved for special occasions.

Au Cheval’s cheeseburger is one of the famous foods in Chicago, attracting a large number of visitors. 

The “Single” consists of two 4-ounce patties of prime beef, each coupled with a slice of American cheese and topped with house-made Dijonnaise and house-cured pickles.

The buns from Chicago’s Z Baking also contribute to the magic: they are toasted on both sides to add flavor and prevent the burgers from becoming a soggy disaster.

You may also add a sautéed egg or peppered thick-cut bacon. 

4. Maxwell Street Polish

These famous foods in Chicago legend lead us to a hot dog stand at the intersection of Maxwell Street and Halsted Street.

Here, a young Macedonian immigrant named Jimmy created the Maxwell Street Polish Sausage Sandwich while working at his aunt’s hot dog stand.

This kiosk evolved into Jim’s Original and served as the linchpin of the Old Maxwell Street Market.

They have since moved but continue using the same Polish sausage recipe. 

The combination of ingredients, as well as the sausage itself, have made the famous sandwich a popular dish in Chicago.

The special smoked pork and beef sausage is served on a hot dog baguette spread with yellow mustard and has a slight crunch.

It is garnished with caramelized sweet onions and sports peppers. 

5. Original Rainbow Cone

Since 1926, this multicolored ice cream cone has been a Chicago favorite, and for good reason.

This delectable frozen dessert consists of five slices of ice cream flavored with chocolate, strawberry, Palmer House, pistachio, and orange sherbet.

The rainbow-colored stack of five flavors is served in a cone, hence the moniker Rainbow Cone. 

The crisp and crunchy cone complements the luxuriously smooth ice cream perfectly.

Obviously, Cookie Dough, Butter Pecan, Black Walnut, Mint Flake, and Chocolate Peanut Butter are not the only unique flavors available at this iconic ice cream shop.

The ideal combination of cold and creamy flavors makes this sweet classic one of the famous foods in Chicago.

It is the ideal indulgence on a sweltering Chicago summer or any other day.

6. Buttermilk Old-Fashioned Donuts

This basic pastry may not sound as enticing as some of Chicago’s other sweets but don’t overlook them.

The dense, cake-like texture, slightly brittle exterior, and tart buttermilk flavor create an irresistible combination.

Typically, these traditional donuts are prepared with a light and airy batter, deep-fried until golden brown, and then dusted with sugar or cinnamon sugar. 

Buttermilk Old-Fashioned Donuts have existed for decades and continue to be one of the famous foods in Chicago.

They are ideal for submerging your morning coffee as a dessert after dinner. 

7. Chicago-style Hot Dog

The city’s renowned hot dog is an additional Chicago staple. This delicious snack consists of an all-beef hotdog enclosed in a poppy seed roll.

The patty is garnished with mustard, chopped onions, sweet pickle relish, a spear of dill pickle, tomato slices or wedges, sport peppers, and a pinch of celery salt.

The combination of these flavors and textures is unique in its own right.

The beef hot dog pairs well with the tangy and sweet relish, and the pickle’s crunch contrasts with the soft bun.

The sport peppers lend a hint of heat that enhances the flavor subtly.

8. Chicago Barbecue Rib Tips

It should come as no surprise that barbecued rib tips are one of the famous foods in Chicago.

The meat is typically chosen from the lower end of the spare rib, which has a higher fat content and imparts a rich and juicy flavor.

Cooking Chicago rib tips low and slow over an open flame and smoked wood until they are succulent, chewy, and tender is what makes them so special.

Typically, it is served ‘dry,’ which refers to a thin coating of dry rub, though it is sometimes also served with a sauce.

These rib tips are perfect for snacking with a chilled beer or pairing with traditional sides.

9. Chicago Tamales

Chicago is no novice to Hispanic cuisine, and tamales are one of the city’s most well-known dishes inspired by Mexican cuisine. 

Tamales are created from a mixture of cornmeal and meat that is wrapped in maize husks or leaves and steamed until fully cooked. 

There are numerous variations of stuffing available throughout the city. Tamales can be packed with a variety of ingredients, including chicken, pork, mushrooms, and cheese. 

They are frequently served with salsa or spicy sauce for added spice.

These delicious famous foods in Chicago are guaranteed to satisfy any palate and make a great meal or snack. 

10. Jibaritos

Jibaritos is a fusion delicacy composed of Puerto Rican and Chicagoan ingredients. 

It consists of two segments of fried, flattened plantain that have been fried until golden brown.

They are then stuffed with the meat of your choosing (typically steak or pork) and additional ingredients such as cheese, lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise, and ketchup.

It resembles a delectable sandwich but is held together by two slices of crisp plantain rather than bread or buns. 

The crisp and mildly sweet plantains pair beautifully with savory meat and crisp vegetables. Every morsel is like a flavor explosion in your mouth.

11. Italian Beef Sandwich

The Italian Beef Sandwich is another popular cuisine that is believed to have originated in the Italian-American communities of Chicago.

It has become one of the most frequently consumed delicacies in Illinois.

Thin segments of seasoned roast beef are simmered and layered on a long, crusty Italian roll or French bread with sweet peppers and giardiniera (a pickled vegetable mixture).

Slow-cooking the beef in a flavorful marinade until it is juicy and melt-in-your-mouth tender is the secret to creating a delicious Italian beef sandwich.

Before serving, the sandwich is frequently dipped in the broth in which it was prepared in order to enhance its flavor.

12. Chicken Vesuvio

Ending our list is one of the hearty, delectable, and uniquely famous foods in Chicago, chicken Vesuvio.

It is said to have originated in the early 20th century in the city’s Italian-American neighborhoods. Today, you can find this dish in many Chicago restaurants. 

Chicken Vesuvio consists of chicken thighs seasoned with seasonings, then simmered or sautéed in garlic, white wine, and potatoes with peas.

The result is a flavorful, filling dish, and ideal for a cold evening in Chicago.

There are minor variations from restaurant to restaurant, depending on who prepares the dish.


Above in our post are the locations of famous foods in Chicago. The food culture in Chicago is as diverse and dynamic as the city itself.

The cuisine is significantly influenced by the country’s history and population of immigrants. 

These famous foods in Chicago are renowned for their robust flavors, use of local ingredients, and inventive adaptations of traditional dishes.

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