Is there a better way to get a sense of a city you're visiting for the first time than by gorging on the iconic local food specialties? Sure, you might be able to think of other ways to learn about a new place, but none are as delicious or as immediately satisfying. If you're visiting Chicago, you better come hungry. This is a town that knows how to eat well, and it will reward those with a curious spirit and a big appetite.
Of course, it's always good to know the difference the restaurants genuinely serving great food and the ones offering a watered down experience in the name of profits. Also, as much as I'd like to steer you to the eccentric little restaurants dishing out spectacularly delicious food at reasonable prices, there comes a point when guests just want to experience the food the city is most famous for. In Chicago, that means definite things, like deep dish pizza, Chicago-style hot dogs, and Italian beefs. But there is so much more.
Here's our guide to how to find them.
But let me pause to address on little issue: What's the difference between a busy restaurant and a touristy one? It's a thinner line than you'd imagine. Not all touristy restaurants are always busy, and not all busy restaurants are necessarily touristy. In the end, these are places that have a sort of iconic must-visit kind of feel to them. You may not love deep dish or Chicago-style hot dogs (which makes me sad), but they are dishes that you at least should try.
With NATO in town, this seemed liked a perfect time to celebrate what is quintessentially Chicago. Take a look at our list, and then let us know if you think of any places we missed.