HOME > Chowhound > Washington DC & Baltimore >


Best Chicago-style food in DMV area?

I'm a recent transplant from the Chicago area and have been trying to find some places that might best satisfy my cravings for food from home. I know true Chicago-style pizza is impossible to find out here, but what about other things? I tried the pierogis at Russia House on a suggestion and those weren't even real pierogis. I can do hot dogs at home so that's not a huge deal, but does anyone have any good suggestions about polish sausage, italian beef, or gyros?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. there is a little town about 700 miles from here - some people call it the City of Big Shoulders.

    It is your best bet for Chicago style food. There is nothing around here.

    1. You are not really going to find much food like that....mostly because those are Chicago specialties. I hear the hot dog place DC-3 near Eastern Market is supposed to be pretty good and they have Chicago-style hot dogs on their menu.

      The only other suggestion I can give is checking out the Greek Deli. It is probably similar to some of the Greek joints you can find in Chicago.

      My whole family is from Chicago and I grew up visiting them a couple times a year so I have a great appreciation for the type of food you are talking about. But really there isn't much here that is similar (or won't disappoint you). So why not explore your new city and see what we have to offer---crab cakes, half smokes, Ethiopian cuisine etc.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Elyssa

        Second this. If I suddenly found myself transplanted to Chicago, searching for a decent halfsmoke would be pretty low on my culinary to-do list.

        1. re: Elyssa

          Oh, I've definitely been exploring all the great food you guys have here. I'm not much of a seafood fan (I know, this is sacreligious!), but I have done Ben's Chili Bowl and the half smoke, I also did H street festival last weekend and ate my way through that.

          I was just looking for something to fill that homesickness void on occasion when nothing but a lovely cheese or apple filled pierogi on cold winter day will do

        2. Windy City Redhots - one in Ashburn just off Rt 7 and another in Leesburg.

          For pierogis, there used to be a guy in Fairfax that made them at home but sold them frozen. He was on this board - might be worth a search. Also Jimmy's in Herndon has them. I'm not a fan of pierogies so I can't vouch for them.

          1. You need to go to Heidelberg Bakery and Deli, on Saturdays they do a grill with different sausages that are very good. Lyon Hall might have polish sausage as well, they normally have some German influenced food.

            Not sure where the best gyro would be although if you search I think there was a big discussion about them at one point, although maybe it was on one of the food chats for Washingtonian or Wapo. I typically get kafta or schwarma instead, I know I have had one at Zorba's can't remember if it was good.

            2 Replies
            1. re: ktmoomau

              Down that angle, I'd throw in a mention for German Gourmet as well. I guess Russia Gourmet might have some things to fill the void.

              For gyros, Reston Kebab is really good. I seem to remember Atilla's being good with gyros, though it's been a while since I've been.

              1. re: ktmoomau

                I've never been to Chicago, and I suppose that Armand's Chicago Style Pizza has little to the pizza there, but the best gyro I've found in my area (Falls Church and nearby) has been at Food Corner, an Afghan kabob shop. There are a few in the area, one around Dupont Circle.


              2. Chicago native here too. When I'm craving Italian Beef and can't make it back to Chicago, I order on-line from Portillos. They'll send frozen beefs, buns, juice and peppers. Ridiculously expensive, but I do it from time to time. Especially for watching the Bears!

                I've also made it myself - but that's a process!

                1 Reply
                1. re: piafoodie

                  I didn't even realize Portillo's did online ordering! My family has already said they would surprise me with a couple of Gino's and Giordano's pizzas through the ship a pizza deal, but I"ll have to look into Portillo's for a special occasion...or when I want to school people on good Italian beef

                2. Second Windy City Red Hots for the Chicago dog and Italian beef. It's a hike to Leesburg, though. DC9 also does a competent Chicago dog, kinda steep though. Their Italian beef is just okay. Of course, all of these will be pale imitations of the original item, so set your expectations low and you might enjoy yourself.

                  Real gyros in this town are rapidly being replaced that repugnant, disgusting presliced grey bologna lunchmeat, because they don't want to spend the money maintaining a spit and training someone how to use it.

                  Kudos on admitting that deep dish is nonexistent around here.


                  2 Replies
                  1. re: monkeyrotica

                    Based on their website, I'll have to check out Windy City Red Hots. It is a bit of a hike from Silver Spring, but I can make it a stop on a day trip to the Leesburg outlets. If their website is accurate, they're the only place I've seen that uses real Vienna Beef hot dogs.

                    My first time to the grocery store here, I'm ashamed to admit, I was a little confused to not be able to go to the hot dog section and find Vienna Beef polish sausage with them....then I realized I wasn't in Kansas (I mean Chicago) anymore

                    1. re: Tiffany29

                      Doner Bistro in Leesburg also serves excellent kebabs, brats, currywursts, and of course doners. They're opening one in Adams Morgan.


                  2. For Polish you'll have to come up to Baltimore.

                    Sophia's Place in Fells Point is a Polish deli that has counter service with a good variety of tasty homemade pierogi.

                    Ze Mean Bean, also in Fells Point, serves homemade pierogi. They have a pierogi happy hour from 5-7 where pierogis are twenty-five cents a piece.

                    If you're looking for fresh kielbasa, Ostrowski at 524 S Washington St in Fells Point makes their own. They also homemade smoked and dried sausages. (410) 327-8935
                    There is another Ostrowski's in Fells Point, on Bank St, but it is a different entity. Same family, but after a family rift, different stores and different recipes. I prefer Washington St.

                    Krakus Deli, in Fells Point, makes and smokes their own sausages. They also have homemade pierogi that is sold frozen.




                    Sorry, but I'm no help for the Italian beef or gyros.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: Vidute

                      I don't work far from Baltimore (I commute from downtown SS to the Linthicum area), so this might actually work for me. Pierogi's are a weird thing that if you've had a real one once, you never go back.

                      1. re: Tiffany29

                        So, Tiffany, I don't want to hijack this thread, but can you recommend an Italian Beef place somewhere near Soldier Field? We are staying about 2 miles North of there somewhere on the outskirts of downtown in a couple of weeks.

                        I thought that the Italian Beef at Windy City Red Hots in Leesburg was a little bit lacking in beefy taste the one time I had it, and the giardinera (sp?) was not especially spicy, but it was a decent sandwich. I have nothing to really compare it to right now. The hot dogs coming out looked pretty darned good....

                        1. re: SoxFan1

                          Not sure exactly where you're staying, but the two #1 places far and away in the city area are Al's Italian Beef (169 W. Ontario) and Mr. Beef (666 N. Orleans). Both are on the near north side so you may want to take a cab or a bit of a hike to get there, but they are to die for. I personally prefer Mr. Beef, but I've had both and they're both good. If you can't get to either of those, Portillo's will give you an adequate substitute

                          1. re: Tiffany29

                            Thanks, Tiffany. I am headed out this weekend and will make sure I hit one of these places!

                        2. re: Tiffany29

                          Tiffany, in the Baltimore area the best gyros are at SAMOS in Greektown, along with other terrific "stuff"


                      2. There is a Billy Goat Tavern here (500 New Jersey Ave NW). I don't think they're known for Chicago style food, but I occasionally go there when I'm in the mood for a beer and a greasy cheeseburger.

                        1. Maybe try the pierogi at Domku, in Petworth.

                          1. The Kielbasa Factory market in Rockville might help you with your pierogi cravings, and they have other Polish goods. Their pierogis have been really delicious.

                            3 Replies
                              1. re: monkeyrotica

                                Any restaurant with the word 'kielbasa' in the title can't be that bad...I'll give it a shot! Thanks!

                                1. re: Tiffany29

                                  Not a restaurant, but a market with LOTS of different styles of kielbasa. Also baked goods, desserts, the aforementioned pierogis, and all things Polish/Slavic.

                            1. When I lived in the Western suburbs - Wheaton, Lombard, Elmhurst - I only ever had pizza in the city at Pizzeria Uno's, and consquently whenever I go back to visit, that's where I go to get a deep dish with that buttery, flaky crust. I've found that Uno's Grill makes a pretty close approximation of that same style.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: GraydonCarter

                                Did you ever go to Stone Cottage on North Avenue and Route 83 in Elmhurst?? I know it's long gone, but oh, childhood memories of their great pizza. And I think I sipped my first beer there when I was a kid with my father - he used to take all the kids in the neighborhood there on Friday nights. It was one of those long-gone places with great pizza, pitchers of beer, and peanut shells all over the floor. Sigh.....

                                1. re: piafoodie

                                  I don't even remember ever having pizza in the Western suburbs, and I might have loved "thick crusts, piles of cheese and mounds of toppings" but I wonder if it could even be classified as Chicago deep dish style. I'm pretty sure any pizza I would have gotten was that thin crisp crust.

                                  1. re: GraydonCarter

                                    Stone Cottage was thin crust all the way. We ate tons of pizza growing up in the western suburbs and it was almost always thin crust. There were a few places where we would go from time to time for pan pizza - usually a local place called Sorrentos, or Lou Malnati's.

                              2. Since you work in Linthicum, Polock Johnny's is only a few exits up the beltway on Washington Blvd. Try the Polish with the works or with everything. Tasty indulgence.


                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Vidute

                                  "I love my PJ's but they do repeat on me"

                                  "As memory serves you gotto go with the original sauce . . . . ."

                                  1. re: drewpbalzac

                                    The original sauce is "the works". Everything is "the works" plus chili.

                                2. Best sausage in Balto is Binkert's--the German embassy is supposed to shop there. http://www.binkerts.com/

                                  1. Gyros I have two faves here in Vienna, Plaka which is actually pork


                                    And Maggios


                                    1. There is a new Chicago style hot dog place in Falls Church called The Windy Apple.