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Jun 10, 2008 05:31 PM

What to bring back from Chicago?

My neighbor is in Chicago this week and asked could she bring anything back for me - is there anything she can transport to me that isn't too perishable that is good Chicago chow or rather close to chow? Know what I mean? We're in Philadelphia, so it's about an hour flight for her, give or take. TIA.

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  1. I'm not a fan, but perhaps Italian beef with the juice and fixings. Al's 1, at Ontario between La Salle and Wells (so easy walking distance from many downtown hotels) has a good version and can probably sell by the pound.

    Edited to add...

    1. Your neighbor can get a frozen pizza at either Lou Malnatis or Unos/Dues, but if it were me, I'd probably ask for a nice big box of mixed (cheese and caramel) popcorn from Garrett Popcorn. It think it's pretty darn unique to Chicago and it won't be warm when you get it, but it sure won't spoil.

      There are several locations around the Loop and North Michigan Avenue. I did see on their website that they opened two stores in NYC. Now that's a surprise. I hope New Yorkers learn to appreciate a fine Chicago treat.

      1. If it were me I'd ask for a bucket of Italian Beef. It's easily frozen and travels fairly well. Maybe a few bags of Jays potato chips. I'd love some Karmel Korn but unless you eat it right from the store it's not the same. Alas, the bakeries from my childhood are no longer . . .

        3 Replies
        1. re: Kate is always hungry

          Given that the OP is in Philadelphia, I would not bother importing Jays Potato chips from Chicago. Utz chips, from Pennsylvania, are far superior.

          1. re: masha

            Just about every other potato chip is better than Jays.

            1. re: chicgail

              Agreed, but I grew up eating Utz, so that's my gold standard of mass-marketed chips.

        2. Portillo's has pre-packed Italian beef and gravy to take home. It's pre-frozen, so it's easy to carry home. I've flown cross-country with 5 pounds of beef several times. A word of caution--carry-on, don't check, and don't use it as a headrest in the airport; it will give you a stiff neck.

          1 Reply
          1. re: lulubelle

            Actually I usually check the Italian beef since the stow is usually colder than the cabin. This along with the packs of Vienna Beef hot dogs and at least 2 frozen pizzas from Lou Malnati's or Gino's. The OP should also ask for a package of Gonella or Turano rolls for the beefs just to make it an authentic experience.

          2. Definitely Garrett's Popcorn. Get the Chicago Mix. It's a mixture of cheese and caramel corn that might sound weird, but it's incredibly good. I grew up in Chicago, and going downtown always meant stopping for some Garrett's. Now, whenever I go back I make sure to get some to bring back home with me.