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Sep 8, 2006 05:26 PM

hounder in from LA looking for Chicago "musts"

Just got in last night from LA...first time in Chicago...late night I had a gyro from Five Faces (disappointing).

I'm going to eat lunch today at Lou Malnati's or Gino's East -- I'm assuming I need to eat at the original locations OR is it the same quality if I eat at one of the Malnati chains in the burbs??

Where do I go for the qunitessential Chicago dog?

What else are Chi-town "musts" that I should check out before I leave (Monday)?

Thanks so much for any advice -- I appreciate it!

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  1. On Gyro's (for next time) try to make sure the place has Krono's Central brand meat, they display it like a Vienna hot logo in the store windows or over the counter, you'll be less likely to be disappointed next time.

    Pizza; skip Lou's and go straight to Gino's East, and yes, do the downtown location its the best.

    Hot Dogs: If you’re downtown; hit the Portillo's for a good consistent example of a Chicago hot dog (try the Italian beef here it’s one of the best) or go to Fast Track at 629 W Lake St.

    Now if your really mobile and want the absolute best Chicago dawgs, then go to Gene & Judes or Superdawg.

    I would also recommend a "true" Maxwell Polish as being on the must list and The original Maxwell St Depot on 411 W 31st St, is one of the best, get a Polish, Pork Chop and a "pop" for $5. Also a vintage Southside place is Ricobene's home of the breaded steak sandwich always good and pretty unique; they have one downtown off of Wacker & Wells. That’s my quick Chicago "junk food" tour!

    1 Reply
    1. re: abf005

      thanks for the add'l recs. unfortunately i didn't receive this msg in time and just got back form lunch at Gino's East in Libertyville, which I found to be horrible. I truly hope that the original is much different.

      And aside from hot dogs and pizza -- what else are classic Chicago foods? Any desserts? Right now I'm just feeling like "OK I'm in chicago I gotta eat pizza and hot dogs." what else? thanks again for the recs.

    2. Here's a thread from about a month ago ("Great, Cheap, and Unique") that may give you some ideas:

      1. I think hot dougs deserve's a nod especially considering it's duck fat fry time. worth the wait in line and what is more midwestern than sausage casing?

        1. Well, since you did Gino's, get yourself downtown and to Lou's, Giordano's, or where it all started, Uno or Due for deep dish pizza. If you are mobile, I'd say head to Superdawg on the NW side for a hot dog (or burger)...great old-fashioned carhop service and good food. Go to the UIC area on Taylor Street to Al's for Italian Beef and Mario's for Italian lemonade. Dont's miss out on great Chicago thin crust pizza...tons of places around. Hit a great Chicago Steakhouse, preferably one that isn't a chain (Gibson's and Gene & Georgetti are both original Chicago old-school). Finally, go to the 95th floor of the Hancock for lunch, dinner or is ok if pricey (at dinner) but the atmosphere/view is unreal on a great day or night.

          And then come back here to SoCal!

          1. Argh!! Oh no!! Not the Liberty -vile location of Gino's East, I think I've warned against that location in particular on many of my posts. I am so sorry you had to find out the hard way. Funny thing is, I think in many respects I find the texture of their version of the Gino’s classic pizza crust is actually very similar to Lou Malnatti’s of which I dislike whole heartedly. The Downtown/Rolling Meadows/Rosemont Gino’s are all pretty close and are a very different experience than what you had.

            Now I wish I’d known you were looking to eat up in this direction and I would have pointed you to several other good options; as I live in Gurnee by night, and work downtown by day. so Libertyville is one of my closest areas to go out and eat and therefore quite familiar to me.

            Now if your up north here bouncing around looking for desert, get over to the Deerfield’s bakery in Buffalo Grove, if that does not satisfy your sweet tooth nothing will; the custard coffee thing-a-ma-gig, (youll know it when you see it, looks like a deep dish pizza or super sized Eli’s cheesecake) is to die for.

            1 Reply
            1. re: abf005

              cool. thanks for the dessert rec! update: last night, "late night", went to the Weiners Circle and then Tempo Cafe. Had the apparently signature "chargrilled chedder burger" at Weiners, which I hated due to the tangy strong cheese. Fun atmosphere though. Had a much better food experience at the bumpin' Tempo, where I had a GREAT omlette served in a frying pan they brought to the table. Cool.

              Pretty soon I'm off to Malnati's...the Chicago adventure continues.