Most people don’t consider seeing a new city as relaxing, but it’s one thing that really gets me out of my head and gives me a new perspective on my own life. This made visiting Chicago at the end of my trip for 5 days a fantastic decision. There wasn’t much on the itinerary but there was a list of three iconic Chicago foods I wanted to try: deep dish pizza, Chicago-style hot dog and Italian beef. I managed to tick off all three easily and I could understand why each of them was so famous.
My hotel, MileNorth upgraded me to a huge suite so I spent more time there than I usually would (but probably still only an average amount of time for other people). The hotel was conveniently located right next door to one of the most famous pizza places in Chicago, Gino’s East. The inside of the restaurant had black walls covered in graffiti and it feels more like a bar than a restaurant. I loved the casual atmosphere of the place so much that I visited 3 times for lunch. I tried the sausage, pepperoni and plain cheese versions of their deep dish. Visiting at lunch time is something I can’t recommend enough, every night that I walked past Gino’s East (the Superior location) there was a huge queue outside. Also a small pizza costs $20-25 in the evening whereas the lunch menu offers you soup or salad, a drink and a 6 inch pizza for $7.25.
Usually I would say a 6 inch pizza is a little small for me (I’m basically made of pizza, I often surprise myself with how much pizza I can actually stuff in my gob), but remember this is deep dish! I found at lunch time it was a struggle to finish it off and I’d skipped breakfast all the days I visited there. They weren’t doing specials when I visited but it seems now you can get a daily special of their more interesting flavour combinations. I’d highly recommend Gino’s East at lunch time. I think the lunch menu is an amazing deal. Would be a dream if they could open a branch in Hong Kong.
Giordano’s was just a couple of blocks down the road on Superior Avenue and I loved this place a lot too. It was much busier during lunch hours. This isn’t actually a deep dish pizza, but a stuffed pizza. The cheese on this thing was insane. I would have gone back to Giordano’s again but Gino’s East was a nicer place for a single diner to sit. Giordano’s felt a little bit more upscale inside and a lot more family-orientated. Which had the better pizza? As I mentioned before, Giordano’s cheese was superior but I preferred the crust at Gino’s East. This is the kind of contest that could only be settled by me going back one day and trying every pizza on both their menus. It was surprising to me how much I enjoyed both places as I’m really a fan of the ultra thin crust pizza you are likely to associate with Italy and New York. I usually wouldn’t order deep dish, but from my visit to Chicago I did learn most deep dish pizzas outside of the windy city are NOT really proper deep dish. So if you’re not usually a fan but have never tried the real thing, order one in Chicago. I’d highly recommend the ones with a sausage patty. If you’re a pizza lover, try both places. If you only have enough time for one, then the atmosphere is everything. I would go to Giordano’s with my family and Gino’s East with my friends or partner.
I can talk about pizza a little bit too much. I also tried Italian beef and a Chicago style hot dog while there. Both of which I loved and can’t wait to go back to Chicago to try again. The only other major food moments I had on the trip were Kansas City beef brisket from Oklahoma Joe’s and the Philadelphia cheesesteak (with broccoli rabe) at Campo’s Deli.
I did a lot of walking around the city looking at the beautiful buildings in Chicago. I also visited the Field museum, one of the most famous natural history museums in the world. I try and visit every natural history museum I can because I find dinosaurs fascinating and I still haven’t seen a velociraptor skeleton. It was one of the best museums I’ve visited and I highly recommend it.
This was my last stop on the six week tour and it was a relaxing but interesting city to visit. Definitely one for food, architecture and culture. It’s near the top of my list of cities to revisit and definitely one I would recommend to most of my friends. I don’t want to end on a negative note but be warned (like a lot of major US cities) it has terrible transport links to and from the airport. To sum up the trip and not end on an unhappy note, I did wonder if booking such a long time travelling would take some of the magic out of it. I felt the opposite. Seeing so many places gave me more of a feel for a country I have always been fascinated by. My trip was filled with moments I will never forget. Maybe I’ll make a separate list post of those.