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Chicago Cuisine

Chicago lays claim to a large number of regional specialties, all of which reflect the city's ethnic and working class roots. Included among these are:

Chicago-style pizza, deep-dish pizza with a thin crust covered by a thick layer of cheese, is world-renowned and popular locally. Chicago pizzerias also serve the less well-known stuffed pizza (a close relative of deep-dish) and a unique crispy style of thin crust;

A Chicago hot dog is traditionally a steamed or boiled natural-casing wiener on a poppy-seed bun topped with yellow mustard, chopped onion, sliced tomato, neon-green sweet-pickle relish, sport peppers, a dill-pickle spear and a sprinkling of celery salt – but no ketchup. Many hot-dog stands also serve the Maxwell Street Polish;

An Italian beef is a sandwich featuring thinly sliced roast beef flavoured with Italian-style seasonings and served on an Italian roll sopped in the meat juices, sometimes combined with a grilled Italian sausage, and topped with hot giardiniera or sauteed, green Italian sweet peppers.

Not unique to Chicago, but ubiquitous there is gyros, reportedly introduced to the US, along with flaming saganaki, by Chicago's Parthenon restaurant. Many locally owned fast-food restaurants serve hot dogs, Italian beef and gyros.

The newest Chicago specialty is the jibarito, a sandwich served on fried plantains. The oldest delicacies are chicken Vesuvio and shrimp DeJonghe.

Steakhouses also figure prominently in Chicago cuisine and culture, dating from the city's days as a meatpacking capital.

Less well known are the South Side specialties the ”big baby”, a double cheeseburger style; the mother-in-law, a chili-topped tamale on a bun; and atomic cake, featuring banana, yellow and chocolate cake layers alternating with banana, strawberry and fudge fillings.

Chicago is also home to many fried-shrimp shacks, and has its own local fried-chicken chain, Harold's Chicken Shack.

Chicago features many ethnic restaurant enclaves, including Greektown on South Halsted Street; Little Italy on Taylor Street, just west of Halsted, and in the Heart of Italy neighbourhood in Heart of Chicago; Chinatown on the South Side; Middle Eastern fare along Lawrence Avenue between Pulaski and Kimball; Polish cuisine on the Northwest and Southwest sides; the Mexican districts of Pilsen and Little Village; Korean food along Lawrence Avenue and, increasingly, in northern suburbs such as Niles, Illinois; and the Indo-Pak stretch of Devon Avenue.





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