There are so many amazing food experiences waiting for you in Illinois. Wherever you go, you’ll find talented chefs, cooks and bakers crafting memorable mouth-watering eats.
But if you’re looking for some “quintessentially Illinois” flavors, you should give this list a try. They’re some of the most famous unique, quirky and delicious creations the state has to offer, and while they have imitators elsewhere, you have to try the authentic originals here in Illinois.
The Chicago Hot Dog mirrors the history of Illinois itself: a number of elements, coming along at just the right time, in just the right way, in a manner you couldn’t quite predict, to create something greater than each of them. There are many different hot dogs in the world, but this unique recipe belongs at the top. Just remember: no ketchup.
Deep Dish pizza is the most iconic Midwest pizza style. The basics: a deep, pie crust-style construction with lots of cheese and sauce on the top. From there, experiment to find the pie that works best for your tastes. Don’t leave the state without trying it—even if you find something claiming to be “deep dish” elsewhere, it won’t be the same.
Two thick-cut slices of toasted bread, layers of juicy meats, a big ol’ pile of crispy French fries and a generous heaping of cheese sauce to set it all off. Madness, innovation, creativity and derring-do? The Horseshoe Sandwich is nothing less than a work of art.
What’s your favorite ice cream flavor? If you’re an “all of them” kind of person, the Rainbow Cone is for you. This South Chicago delight brings together chocolate, strawberry, Palmer House (New York vanilla with cherries and walnuts), pistachio and orange sherbet in one magnificent cone. It’s a treat for the eyes and the taste buds. Fair warning: you may never go back to just having a single flavor at a time…
Slow roast some beef sirloin. Stew it au jus. Spoon it into Italian bread. Throw on some spicy giardiniera and sweet peppers. Spoon on some more au jus, or, if you’re adventurous, dip the whole thing to make it extra wet. Then dive right in—that’s the recipe for experiencing Chicago’s classic sandwich, the Italian Beef. Tip for beginners: keep your body out of the drip zone—believe us, that sandwich is gonna drip!
Is popcorn a meal? Maybe not usually, but once you start on a bucket of Garrett Mix, you can probably skip lunch. Their iconic Garrett Mix is a blend of cheddar popcorn (glazed in real cheddar, of course) and caramel popcorn. It’s a sweet and savory combo that’s way too easy to pick up and almost impossible to put down.
If you’ve traveled the United States, chances are you’ve had a corn dog. But the Cozy Dog is a corn dog like no other—for one thing, it was the world’s first. A juicy hot dog, skewered and battered in the original Cozy Dog batter, fried to crispy golden-brown perfection. You have to try the Cozy Dog—not only is it the best corn dog you’ll ever eat, it’s a piece of American culinary history.
They call it the “World’s Greatest Chicken.” It’s quite a claim, but considering satisfied customers have been chowing down on White Fence Farm Fried Chicken for nearly 100 years, there might be something to it. Fresh-daily chicken, breaded in the White Fence Farm secret recipe, pressure-cooked, flash-fried for exactly three minutes and delivered hot and crispy to your table. Add to that an extensive selection of sides—bean salad, slaw, beets, corn fritters, cottage cheese and potatoes done how you like ‘em—and you’ve got a fried chicken experience to remember.