Dinner near Midway or on the road
Father and son foodies are traveling to Beloit College in Wisconsin. We land at Midway airport and have one eve to eat something on the road en route to Beloit - or in Chicago somewhere thats not too far afield.
We're coming from Portland, OR and would love to have something unique to the area. Italian, Polish, Jewish Deli, Chicago pizza - anything unique that says, You're in Chicago now!
Doug and Sam - Portland, OR
For Polish near Midway, definitely try Szala's or Bobak's.
I am a South Sider and do not truly believe "Chicago Pizza" to be deep dish Uno's/Lou Malnati's/Giordanos so I wont recommend that... on the South Side we eat thin crust pizza.
Jewish Deli- actually at Midway in the A concourse( I worked at the airport for many years) there is a Manny's Deli.. fantastic food -yes I know its in an airport but its great (or it was as recently as 05 when I stopped working there)
5214 S Archer Ave, Chicago, IL 60632
Szalas would be an unusual experience and is quite close to Midway. It has Polish Highlander food and so is somewhat different from what prevails on the northwest side. Take a look at the English version of their web site:
5214 S Archer Ave, Chicago, IL 60632
You can try some of the specialties that Chicago is well-known for, such as our amazingly delicious Chicago-style deep-dish pizza or provincial Mexican cuisine, but you won't find them in the immediate vicinity around Midway. Midway, like much of Chicago, is surrounded by neighborhoods where you can find ethnic cuisine - good of their type, but not necessarily a local specialty that you can't find elsewhere.
To get from Midway to Beloit, you are probably going to take I-55 south, to I-294 north, to I-90 west. From I-294 north, you can either go all the way to I-90 (at O'Hare), or you can exit onto I-290 west and hook up with I-90 in Schaumburg. If you go all the way to I-90 at O'Hare, you can exit I-90 at Elmhurst Road and go west to the Lou Malnati's at 1050 East Higgins Road in Elk Grove Village. They are one of the very best places to try our delicious Chicago deep-dish pizza. Phone ahead from the car (847-439-2000) and they can start your pizza baking so it's ready when you arrive. www.loumalnatis.com
We have two styles of deep-dish pizza. Lou Malnati's serves the single-crust "pizza in the pan" first created by Pizzeria Uno in 1943. The other style is the double-crust "stuffed pizza" popularized by Giordano's starting in the 1970s. There's a Giordano's half a mile from the main terminal at Midway. www.giordanos.com
Some of our other ethnic specialties aren't available by taking I-55 south to I-294, but you could hit them by taking I-55 north to I-90 past downtown Chicago. Going that way is not really very far out of your way in terms of distance, but I would not recommend it during prime commuting hours (3-7 pm) because during those hours you are likely to hit traffic delays on that route. If it is off hours, this opens up a lot more food options, including those in downtown Chicago. One of my favorite places to dine when picking up friends at Midway is Mundial Cocina Mestiza, in Pilsen, which is along this route. If you arrive at Midway in late afternoon or early evening, you won't hit much traffic on your way to Mundial, and then traffic going past downtown would be clearing by the time you're done with dinner. Mundial serves creative provincial Mexican cuisine which is a local specialty in Chicago but which you won't find many other places this side of the border. You'll understand better what I mean if you check out the menu on their website at www.mundialcocinamestiza.com
If you drive past downtown Chicago, you will also be going past some of our best Jewish delis. My personal favorite is Steve's. One nice thing about going to Steve's by car is that they offer free validated parking behind the restaurant, in the lot shared by them, CVS, and Petco; the entrance to the lot is on Illinois Street. www.stevesdeli.com
However, like our Polish restaurants, Jewish delis in Chicago are good of their type, but not any different from the best ones in other major cities around the country. If you really want to try the local specialties that are unique to Chicago and you won't find most other places, I'd recommend deep-dish pizza (such as at Lou Malnati's) and provincial Mexican cuisine (such as at Mundial Cocina Mestiza).
All those sound worth our noting and discussing - thank you all! I appreciate the ideas (and driving suggestions) so much! And I love Chowhound.