Sunday, May 24, 2009

Chicago's Famous Nosh

I'm currently in Chicago, visiting my dear friend Kimberly and the food scene is just incredible (expect a lot of coverage next week). Right off the bat, I just had to feature Chicago's fantastic nosh foods. Behold the mighty Chicago-style hot dog and deep dish pizza!

Chicago-Style Hot Dog

First thing was first, I had to try a typical Chicago dog, decked with everything but ketchup. I was excited when Kimberly took me to Portillo's Hot Dogs, which has been around for almost 50 years and started out modestly as a stand nicknamed "The Dog House." Today, Portillo's has more than 30 locations, most of them in the state of Illinois.

I was very impressed overall but especially with the cheery and efficient service. After we placed our order, we waited for our number to be called. Waiting wasn't boring at all, as the happy Portillo's expediter added a clever little saying with each order - "Number 35, baby you got to be mine." Well something like that... And now, for the hot dog:

Portillo's Hot Dog - We both ordered a classic Chicago dog with everything on it--mustard, relish, chopped onions, sliced tomatoes, green chilis and a Kosher pickle. It was all nestled in a poppy seed bun, which was just delicious, holding all these ingredients quite well. Besides all the add-ons, I loved the actual hot dog--it was the perfect size and so flavorful. Whereas a NY hot dog wouldn't necessarily fill you up, this one did a great job at it.

Crispy Onion Rings - This was our side dish and it was solid. Enveloped in coarse bread crumbs, it was super crunchy and not too greasy. I liked that the rings were substantial in size but at the same time, they weren't excessive. Overall, a good side option to split with someone.

The costs are refreshingly low for the good value that Portillo's provides. The "whole-shebang" hot dog was only $2.45 and the onion rings were $1.95. In general, prices range between $2.45-$3.45 for hot dogs, $3.99-$4.55 for chicken sandwiches, $3.35-$5.82 for burgers and $3.49-$6.49 for beef-n-sausage sandwiches.

3 Loud Mmmms

Portillo's Hot Dogs - 100 W. Ontario, Chicago, IL 60654

151 Bus to Ontario

And now on to pizza...

Chicago-Style Deep Dish Pizza

The pizza in Chicago is special too and as many of you know, it's famous for having a super thick crust. We ordered a small pie from Giordano's, known for its stuffed pizza. Although we ordered a small pie, to say that it was huge and filling is an understatement.

Stuffed Vegi Pizza - Our 10" stuffed vegi pizza included onions, green peppers and mushrooms. The reasoning behind getting the vegi option was to infuse healthy ingredients into an already rich pizza. We absolutely loved it but couldn't even finish half of it in one sitting. The cheese was plentiful and stringy and the vegetables nestled inside were tender, giving the pizza an earthy taste. My ultimate favorite aspect was the crust, which tasted more like a hearty pie than a pizza. It was super soft and slightly buttery--it felt more like a treat than a traditional pizza would. I highly recommend it, especially to New Yorkers who aren't used to this type of pie.

Deep dish, stuffed pizza comes at a premium but you really do get more bank for your buck. Our small pizza set us back about $19 but we were able to get 4 servings out of it over a two day period. When you think about it that way, it's actually a decent value--about $5 per serving.

3 Full Mmmms

Giordano's - Prudential Plaza 135 East Lake, Chicago, IL 60601

151 Bus to Millenium Park


  1. I spoke to Chicago, and the whole city says come back anytime b/c there is a lot more food for you to experience...but most importantly, I ALSO say come back anytime for my own reasons!!

  2. haha of course! I want to come back :)

  3. Ohhhh my god that Pizza looks awesome! Sad to say, I've never had deep dish. I WANT TO GO TO CHICAGO!!

  4. I live 4 blocks from Portillos and LOVE Chicago deep dish! YUM :)

  5. Cool - you must get those yummy hot dogs all the time. I wouldn't be able to control myself :)



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