When planning a trip to the Windy City, it’s important to consider things like transportation and accommodations , not to mention diversions such as Chicago’s art scene  and famed museums , but I’d be remiss in the fourth part of my six-part series if I didn’t mention the food! 'Cause one thing I remember fondly from my college days is Chicago’s eclectic cuisine.
Whatever you crave – from sushi to hot dogs – Chicago’s got it. But, just as New Orleans is famous for its seafood, and Memphis is celebrated for its barbecue, the Windy City has a specialty, too: stuffed pizza. Although many restaurants offer this diet-busting phenomenon, the best – in my humble opinion – is Giordano’s  (800/982-1756). In fact, my husband and I love their pizzas so much that we’ve even been known to order them from afar.
Of course, there’s nothing quite like eating a Giordano’s “world famous stuffed pizza” in the Windy City itself. Luckily, there are several locations throughout the city and surrounding suburbs – including one just west of Millennium Park  (223 W. Jackson Blvd., 312/583-9400, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. daily, $7-30). Although the “special” – stuffed with sausage, green pepper, mushrooms, and onions – is a popular choice, vegetarians will be happy to know that meat-free selections are also available. In fact, my personal favorite is the spinach pizza, which also includes mozzarella and parmesan cheese. As thick as these stuffed pizzas are, a small 10-incher usually fills me up nicely. The menu contains plenty of other winning choices, too, from zucchini fritters and minestrone to salads, classic pasta dishes, and hearty sandwiches, including one with Giordano’s famous meatballs. If you actually have room afterward, you should sample one of the desserts, preferably the cannoli or tiramisu.
Now, if for some crazy reason, pizza doesn’t thrill you, never fear. Chicago offers a multitude of dining choices – for a multitude of budgets. Some of my favorites include the Billy Goat Tavern  (430 N. Michigan Ave., 312/222-1525, 6 a.m.-2 a.m. Mon.-Fri., 10 a.m.-2 a.m. Sat.-Sun., $3-6), a cheap burger joint opened in 1934 and immortalized in John Belushi’s “Cheezborger! Cheezborger!” sketch on Saturday Night Live; Sushi Naniwa  (607 N. Wells, 312/255-8555, 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Mon.-Thurs., 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m. Fri., 3-11 p.m. Sat., 3-10 p.m. Sun., $5-23), where I first fell in love with sashimi and Asian sherbert; and Cornelia’s Bistro & Cabaret Lounge  (750 W. Cornelia Ave., 773/248-8333, 5-9 p.m. Sun., 5:30-10 p.m. Mon.-Tues. and Thurs., 5:30-11 p.m. Fri.-Sat., $6-24), a rustic, laidback eatery with an imaginative menu – an excellent place to enjoy a romantic dinner, sip a cucumber vodka martini at the bar (5:30 p.m.-1:30 a.m. Mon.-Sat., 5 p.m.-midnight Sun.), or listen to live music three nights a week. If you don’t mind venturing outside the city, head north to Evanston, where you’ll find the Davis Street Fishmarket  (501 Davis St., 847/869-3474, 4:30-10 p.m. Mon., 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Tues.-Thurs., 11:30 a.m.-midnight Fri.-Sat., 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Sun., $6-40), a family-owned seafood restaurant where Mom and I dined every time she visited me at Northwestern – and that’s saying a lot, coming from two New Orleanians particular about fresh seafood.
After sharing all those wonderful gastronomic memories, I’m now starving – and naturally, in a city as vast as Chicago, I’ve barely touched the surface. So, for more information about the local dining scene, feel free to check out DineMe! Chicago Restaurants , Chicago’s Restaurant Guide , DiningGuide Chicago , Metromix Chicago , Choose Chicago , and Citysearch . Happy eating!
As always, I’m open to ideas for future posts. If you have any suggestions, burning questions, or destinations that you’d like me to explore in greater detail, please comment below or contact me at laura [at] wanderingsoles [dot] com.