Eat Through Chicago Without Leaving Home
The Windy City's most iconic food delivered to your door
Chicago is one of the greatest food cities in the United States.
From a multi-course tasting menu at Alinea to a truly fine burger at Au Cheval to a wine-by-the-glass menu that would make any oenophile weep tears of joy at the Purple Pig, Chicago beckons you to eat and keep eating.
If Covid-19 crushed your weekend plans to eat yourself into a food coma in the Windy City, there is a way to get your fix of some of Chicago’s most iconic foods: Goldbelly. The site allows both small and large restaurants to sell their products for delivery nationwide.
If you’re craving a taste of Chicago, there are three things you have to have: Deep dish pizza, Italian beef, and Chicago dogs.
There are conflicting reports, but Chicago deep-dish pizza was likely invented in the 1940s by Pizzeria Uno founder, Ike Sewell, though other recipes date back to the roaring ‘20s. Chicago deep-dish pizza is characterized by its deep, doughy crust, chunky tomatoes, and Instagrammable cheese pull. Chicagoans also love thin-crust tavern-style pizza, and Chicago’s Labriola Pizza offers a package of one deep dish and one tavern pizza for $89, with a choice of cheese, pepperoni cups, and sausage and mix and match.
The pizzas arrive in a box that offers the suggestion to “eat more pizza,” and they’re packed in dry ice. To maintain the crust, the deep dish is wrapped in foil around the edges. Following the directions, the deep dish came out slightly dark on one side, which had no effects on taste (or cheese pull). The thick tomato sauce on the deep dish was tangy, and the generous crumbles of sausage were sweet. Although the thin pizza resembled a supermarket frozen pizza, it was surprisingly piquant.
The Italian Beef
Italian beef is a true immigrant story. In the early 1900s, Italians left their homeland, bound for Chicago. While some worked in factories, others earned their wages selling sandwiches. Cheaper, tougher cuts of beef could become tender when slow-cooked in its own juices. The beef was served on hoagie rolls soaked in jus and topped with giardiniera.
Buona ships its Italian beef kits via Goldbelly ($99 makes eight sandwiches). The beef, with jus, arrives in a tub that must be thawed for two to three days, so plan accordingly. After the several-day wait, it’s cooked on a stovetop, slopped onto the supplied rolls, and topped with the giardiniera that comes with the kit. Take note that there are three ways to eat an Italian beef: “Dry” is just the beef on the roll (no gravy), and a “wet” Italian beef requires you to drizzle a generous amount of gravy onto the meat once it’s placed on the rolls. Real Chicagoans “dip” the roll in the gravy before adding the meat, more gravy, and the giardiniera.
The Chicago Dog
A proper Chicago Dog must adhere to a strict set of rules. The bun should always have poppy seeds, and the wiener must always be from Chicago-based Vienna Beef. Finally, the hot dog must always be topped with yellow mustard, neon-green relish, sport peppers, and celery salt. And never, ever put ketchup on a Chicago Dog or risk being banished to Wisconsin. Vienna Beef sells a complete hot dog kit through Goldbelly ($79.95 for 10 hot dogs). The kit arrives in dry ice and is the most satisfying to assemble: One look at the astroturf-hued relish and you’re transported to O’Hare Airport. And, once you bite into that dog — complete with a proper snap — it’s as if you’re in Wrigley Field.
Order all at goldbelly.com.
Or... $200 for 2 plane tickets to chicago + $25 deep dish for two + $20 two Italian beefs + $15 two hot dogs + $20 in divy bikes/cta = $280 vs $270 for a day trip instead. Add in a night stay somewhere near the airport and it's $425, plus you can eat even more the next day. If you book ahead you can probably get $100 tickets and $150 hotel room. $60 tickets from many places in the south.
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