Fact: Chicagoans don’t mess around when it comes to food, especially when that food is pizza. On a visit to Chicago, you can forget about flimsy, foldable slices served on paper plates a-la-NYC, and settle in for a hearty, heavy, and gooey piece of pizza at one of these favorite local spots. Make sure you come hungry (read: ravenous).
A stand-out favorite among locals and mostly unknown to tourists, Pequod’s deep dish is unlike any other in the city. The crust appears to be nearly black, and many assume it was improperly cooked until they take a bite. A layer of cheese is spread on the outside of the crust and caramelized, creating the sweet flavor and wonderful chewy texture Pequod’s is known for. Find them at 2207 N. Clybourn Avenue in Lincoln Park.
Chicago Pizza & Oven Grinder Co.
The most unique spot on our list, Chicago Pizza & Oven Grinder Co (2121 N.Clark Street, Lincoln Park) is home to the famous pizza pot pie and should be on every pizza lover’s bucket list. Available in individual half-pound or one-pound servings, the pot pies are constructed of triple-raised Sicilian bread-type dough, homemade sauce, and lots and lots of melted cheese. While not your traditional deep dish, the pizza pot pie sticks with Chicago’s food mantra that ‘more is more.’ Knife and fork absolutely required. Pro tip: the whole mushrooms are fresh and delicious, and a must-order for your “topping” (more like ingredient).
Located at 1955 W. Addison Street in Roscoe Village, Bartoli’s deep dish has a light flaky crust and semi-sweet sauce. And while the slices are still quite sizeable, they’re a little lighter than some of the others featured on this list. Bartoli’s is relatively new but making a name for itself; it opened in 2013 to rave reviews and is owned by the grandson of one of the founders of Gino’s East (the next stop on our list).
If you’re looking for an extreme version of Chicago-style deep dish pizza, head to 162 E. Superior Street for a slice of Gino's. Their more than 50-year-old secret recipe results in massive pizzas that are loaded so heavily with cheese, toppings, and sauce, they take almost an hour to cook. The crust is thick, golden, and crumbly with a hint of corn, and the sauce more sharp than sweet. There are several Gino’s East throughout the city, but we like the original in Streeterville with its red checkered tablecloths and writing on the walls.
Lou Malnati’s vs. Giordano’s
Cubs vs. White Sox, Lou’s vs. Giordano’s. Lou Malnati’s and Giordano’s are the two most popular pizza restaurants in the city, and the debate over which is better is divisive and never-ending. Chicagoans pledge their loyalty either to Lou’s butter crust and chunky sauce or Giordano’s giant stuffed slice with two crusts and mounds of cheese in the middle. Our advice? Try them both and choose your side.
While in Chicago, check out their incredible Saved by the Bell-themed diner.