Eat your way through Chicago
The Windy City is way more than deep dish pizza and The Bean. Once you have crossed off the tourist spots, explore where the locals eat with these five favourites.
Chicago is no doubt one of the best food cities in the US. It’s also a city of neighbourhoods. Break out of downtown and head to these need-to-visit hoods – your stomach will thank you.
Comfort food with an upgrade
Located in the Logan Square neighbourhood, Big Bang Pie Shop serves delicious authentic Midwestern comfort food. You will instantly feel a sense of community as you see neighbours gathering after a morning run or just a friendly catch up with their dogs in the pie garden. Yes, they have a pie garden! The pie menu changes seasonally but their classic tart key lime pie is always available and not to be missed. If you want something a bit more savoury, try one of their butter biscuits made fresh daily
Doughnut worry, be happy
If you’re an earlier riser, take advantage of the Doughnut Vault. This shop near the North Side serves up the best doughnuts in town – but on a very limited basis. They are open until they sell out, so if you snooze, you lose. Current hours for this location are 8 am to noon on weekdays and they open at 9:30 am on weekends. Check their website for daily specials including vanilla birthday cake and blueberry old fashioned with crumble. The inside space is very tiny which explains the line outside. Enjoy your doughnuts and bargain one-dollar coffee outside on the patio.
Good time dining
Parsons Chicken and Fish is designed as a fun eating and drinking establishment – with a ping pong table inside the Lincoln Park location. Fried chicken is the main attraction but if you enjoy spicy food, don’t miss their demon-style chicken sandwich with house-made potato chips. Even the pickles have some kick. On a warm day, there’s no better place to be than outside on the patio sipping a Negroni slushy. But come winter, bring your ice skates as there’s a skating rink at the Logan Square location.
This sweet little bake shop is filled to the brim with nostalgia with its retro tables and bright pastel colours. Needless to say, Sweet Mandy B’s is a Lincoln Park institution. Crowd-pleasers include the red velvet, confetti, and cookie monster frosted cupcakes. There’s also a full menu of pies, cookies, brownies, and their famous peanut butter Rice Krispies treat. Once a month, young chefs get to try their hand at decorating! As their slogan states, “the best things in life are sweet.”
Sought after burgers
If you ask a Chicago local their favourite burger, nine out of ten people will mention either Au Cheval or Small Cheval. The diner spirit is alive and well at Au Cheval in the West Loop with burgers and other hearty dishes on the menu. The place is so popular that lines on weekends can be hours long. If you’re craving a burger but don’t want to queue, then head to Small Cheval where they only serve hamburgers, cheeseburgers, and golden fries on their stripped-down menu.
Text Rebecca Plotnick
Photos Rebecca Plotnick and Doughnut Vault