Located in the Midwest along the Great Lakes shoreline, Chicago is the third-largest city in the United States. It is globally renowned for its house music and electronic dance music, jazz, blues, shopping, comedy, sports, dining, architecture, highly-regarded colleges and universities, and premier cultural attractions such as zoos, museums, planetariums, and aquariums.
As the heart of the Midwest, Chicago is straightforward to recognize with its striking skyline calling across the vast freshwater Lake Michigan waters. This impressive sight reveals world-renowned museums, huge parks, miles of sandy beaches, public art, and possibly the finest-looking downtown globally.
Today, we will explore what exactly you can eat and the top five places to drink in Chicago. So, let’s begin.
Top 3 Foods to try in Chicago
Chicago is one of the best restaurant cities in the west. If you’re interested in a specific kind of cuisine, go for the Asian neighborhoods. The Devon Ave Indian corridor, Greektown, Chatham’s soul food and barbecue, and Chinatown are just the tip of the iceberg. Other regions are more eclectic: Albany Park and Lincoln Square have unique Middle Eastern, Korean, and German food, while Uptown offers nearly the whole Southeast Asian continent with Nigerian, Ghanaian, modern American, down-home Swedish, and stylish Japanese a few blocks away.
- Chicago Pizza: Chicago’s most prominent contribution to world cuisine might be the deep dish pizza. t’s the pizza of four dimensional beings, as a slice of it is three-dimensional! To make a deep dish pizza, a thin layer of dough is laid into a deep round pan and pulled up the sides, and then meats and vegetables — Italian sausage, onions, bell peppers, mozzarella cheese, and more — are lined on the crust.
- The Chicago Hot Dog: Perhaps due to the city’s history of German and Polish immigration, Chicago takes its hottie dogs way more seriously than the rest of the nation. A Chicago hot dog is always all-beef (normally Vienna beef), always completed on a poppy-seed bun, and covered with what looks like a full salad of tomato slices, mustard, a dill pickle spear, chili (sport) peppers, a generous sprinkling of diced onion, celery salt, and a sweet-pickle endemic-to-Chicago that is dyed a vibrant, odd bright-green color. It’s a full meal, readers.
- Italian Beef: The Italian Beef sandwich completes the Chicago triumvirate of tasty greasy treats. The main focus of the sandwich is the beef, and serious vendors will serve meat of a surprisingly good quality, which is slow-roasted, and thinly shaved before being loaded generously onto chewy, white, Italian-style bread. Two sets of options will come flying at you, so prepare yourself: sweet peppers or hot, and dipped or not. The “sweet” peppers are sautéed bell peppers, while the hots are a mixed Chicago giardiniera. The dip, of course, is a sort of French dip of the sandwich back into the beef broth. (Warning: dipped Italian portions of beef are sloppy!) If you are in the mood, you may be able to get an Italian Beef with cheese melted over the beef, although travelers are looking for the “authentic Italian Beef” perhaps should not stray so far from tradition.
Top Places to drink in Chicago
Chicago is a drinking town, and you can find bars and pubs in every part of the city. It is believed that Chicago has the second-highest bars per capita in the U.S. (after San Francisco). Chicagoans have their choice of the hottest clubs or the best dive bars in town. Most areas that thrive on the bar culture do so for the variety, and bar hopping is quite common. Grab a drink or two, have a good time, and then try another place. It is all about variety. Be prepared to be asked for identification to verify your age, even at neighborhood dive bars. Smoking is banned in Chicago bars (and restaurants).
The best places to drink for drinking’s sake are Wicker Park and neighboring Logan Square and Bucktown, which have a world-class stock of quality local breweries and dive bars, which the CTA Blue Line can reach. These two areas are where the majority of Chicago’s hipsters live, with the effect that most of the bars are considered Hipster Bars. North Center and Roscoe Village are also a great destination for the art of the beer garden. Just to the west of the Addison CTA Red Line stop and near Wrigley Field in Lakeview is the Wrigleyville district with bars that are popular with twenty-somethings. These bars are crowded on weekends and whenever the Cubs are playing. One block to the East of the Addison stop on Halsted Street, is the center of Chicago’s gay community, known as Boystown. Boystown centers around Halsted street and stretches from Belmont Avenue to the south to Irving Park Road on the North. Clark Street runs at an angle through the area. This district is filled with many trendy shops, bars, clubs, and restaurants. Housing is at a premium rate in this area. Boystown is busy most nights of the week and very busy on weekends. Just to the south, the Lincoln Park neighborhood has bars and beer gardens and some trendy clubs for the neighborhood’s notorious high-spending Trixies. This is another costly neighborhood.
Tourists and locals also converge upon the nightclubs of Rush and Division St. This area remains very popular, although other areas of the city are becoming increasingly popular as nightlife destinations as well. For the last few years the West Loop’s warehouse bars were the place to be, but more recently, the River North neighborhood has become popular. Still, the Rush/Division bars do huge business. Streeterville, immediately adjacent, exchanges the dance floors for high-priced hotel bars and piano lounges.
Although you can find good dance music in Wicker Park and the surrounding area, the best places to dance in the city are the expensive see and be seen clubs in River North and the open-to-all (except perhaps bachelorette parties) clubs in gay-friendly Boystown, which are a lot of fun for people of any sexual orientation. Halsted St in Boystown has many LGBT bars and nightclubs for every age and type of music. Take the Redline train and get off at Belmont station.