Chicago-style hot dogs have become something of a legend—as they should be. So, where can you get the best one in town? While the answer may vary from person to person, neighborhood to neighborhood, John Dillon, concierge at the Ritz-Carlton, recommends the Chicago Dog from Chicago’s Dog House in Lincoln Park. Not planning to venture beyond downtown? Concierges’ also recommend Portillo’s on Ontario Street for a great taste of the local food staple (and its convenient location).
No trip to Chicago would be complete without tasting an Italian Beef sandwich. Right up there with hot dogs and deep dish pizza in the Chicago food hall of fame, independent concierge Lynn Nealis is a firm believer that nowhere else in the country will you find one that remotely comes close to ours. Her favorite? Al’s #1 Italian Beef in Little Italy. Be sure to order it dipped (we also prefer ours with sweet and hot peppers). You’ll receive a pile of lovely, tender Italian meats dunked in a rich broth. After, head across the street and grab some Italian ice at Mario’s Italian Lemonade, another Chicago summer favorite.
Old School Spots
Shannon Boland, chef concierge at LondonHouse Chicago, thinks you might recognize this Old Town spot; it was a transformed into O’Reilly’s Italian Restaurant in the romantic comedy “Return to Me,” directed by Windy City native Bonnie Hunt. Although Twin Anchors has been a favorite with the locals since 1932, numerous celebrities have dined here through the years, including Frank Sinatra who regularly frequented the joint. Slow-cooked baby back ribs (get the zesty sauce!) with sides like pepper-jack creamed spinach are a must-try.
Boland also recommends Gene & Georgetti, a family-owned Italian steakhouse in River North that has been serving up oversized portions of steaks, chops, and Italian specialties since 1941. With its close proximity to the Merchandise Mart, you’re likely to spot business types hobnobbing with the restaurant’s loyal regulars, and you might even see a famous face as numerous celebrities have eaten here (and they have the photos to prove it).
While Judson Corrie, concierge at the Waldorf Astoria Chicago, is a fan of the classics, he’s also a firm believe that there is a new age of iconic foods to be found around town. If you want a more native diet, he recommends venturing over to Avec where you will fall in love with their signature chorizo-stuffed medjool dates wrapped in bacon. They’ve become somewhat of a local legend and you’ll soon discover why for yourself.
The Great Debate
And last, but certainly not least, we have to weigh in on deep dish pizza. There are few cities who have built as strong of a reputation for great pizza as Chicago; after all, when they name a style after you, it’s clear you mean business. So who were the frontrunners when we posed the question to concierge? Lou Malnati’s emerged victorious with Gino’s East coming in a close second.