Joseph Hernandez a RoamRight Blog Author

A Foodie Tour of Chicago in 5 Meals


Image source: Flickr - Bryce Edwards 

Any foodie worth their (artisanal) salt keeps Chicago high on their gluttonous bucket list, and rightfully so. Home to both the Chicago-style hotdog and the deep-dish pizza, the Windy City is also a training ground for some of the country’s best chefs. Chefs like Graham Elliot, Grant Achatz, Stephanie Izard and Rick Bayless call the city home, setting up culinary beacons, attracting gastronauts the world over.

While these names are enough to set you off on a scavenger hunt, Chicago is teeming with spots that fly under the radar. If you’ve got only a day to stuff your face, here’s a look at the city’s essential eateries.


Don’t let Bucktown mainstay HotChocolate’s name fool you: this neighborhood hotspot has been been doling out flavorful savories for years. Chef-owner Mindy Segal is a five-time James Beard Award nominee for best pastry chef, but she also knows her way around a scrambled egg or two. Seasonal and local ingredients inspire the always-rotating menu, like the brioche French toast with crème brûlée cream and the turkey hash, with pickled cranberries, sweet potato and duck confit.


Craving a taste of the classic Chicago hotdog? Then don’t skip Hot Doug’s Sausage Superstore and Encased Meat Emporium. A veritable institution, Hot Doug’s is on every foodie’s Greatest Hits list. Sure, you can opt for the classic dog, but with menu items like the Brigitte Bardot (Andouille sausage), the Elvis (Polish sausage) and duck fat fries, it’d be a shame not to eat outside of the bun.


While window-shopping in hip Wicker Park, swing by Big Star’s taco window. While the joint offers seating (and tipples) inside, its outdoor food counter is the ideal place to grab a bite before sitting in the park across the street. These tacos are the real deal—from the mind of acclaimed chef Paul Kahan and his team—and deserve your attention. The taco al pastor, with spit roasted pork shoulder and grilled pineapple and onion, is flavorful-yet-simple, while the taco de pescado’s North Carolina catfish and chipotle mayo are off-the-charts satisfying.


Considered by some to be the be-all-end-all of American cuisine, Grant Achatz’s Alinea is an experience that can never be replicated. Combining science with art, it’s consistently rated one of the world’s top restaurants and its three Michelin stars are proof positive of its place in the current culinary pantheon.


If your sweet tooth is nagging you to see to its needs, then you must stop at Hoosier Mama Pie Co. in the West Town neighborhood. At this cozy and quaint pie shop, you’ll find handmade pies tastier than anything June Cleaver could’ve whipped up. A slice of seasonal pie—pear-apple-cranberry, anyone?—and a cup of coffee will set you back $6. After the feast-filled day you’ve just had, it’s all you can do to sit back, breathe in and loosen your belt a notch.

Which of these scrumptious bites do you want to try first?

Note: Available plans and coverages may have changed since this blog was published.


About the Author

Joseph Hernandez

Joseph Hernandez, a RoamRight Blog Author Raised in Southern California, Joseph left the temperate climes of the OC for the chilly winters of Chicago, where he earned his degree in magazine journalism. Along the way, he developed an impenetrable layer of blubber, thanks to the city's deep dish pizza and hot dogs. In recent years, he has edited an online travel magazine, helped produce two international TBEX conferences, and has written about fashion, food, wine, and travel for various online publications. Currently, Joseph is Assistant Editor at Wine Enthusiast Magazine, where he geeks out on his interests regularly. Read Joseph's blog at Pith + Moment or follow him on Twitter.

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