Posted by: Korry | September 15, 2011

Deep Dishin’ in Chicago

Having safely arrived in Chicago from NYC without any hiccups in our non-rev travel plans (See The Truth About “Free” Travel), Jen and I began our whirlwind travel weekend. After a short detour for two McDonald’s snack wraps and Starbucks’ frappuccinos, we climbed aboard the Blue Line of the CTA (affectionately known as “The L” due to such a large percentage of the train’s track system being above ground, or eLevated) and headed downtown to visit one of my very best college friends and his wife.

This trip also marked Jen’s first visit to Chicago. I had been dying to take Jen to Chicago for some time as it is one of my very favorite cities in the world. To me, there’s no other American city like it. With its Midwestern charm and personality, its towering skyscrapers nestled against Lake Michigan to the east, and its wide boulevards that always seem impeccably clean, the city just entices you to go for a [long] walk, appreciate the innovative architecture and, of course, enjoy some delicious deep dish pizza!

Now I realize that most of the time I prefer finding those under-appreciated, hole-in-the-wall kind of places, but sometimes–especially if it’s your first time to a new city–you have to go to the tried and true tourist traps. As Jen had never had the pleasure of enjoying genuine deep-dish pizza, it was simply the only way we could begin our stay in Chicago.

If you’re going to eat deep dish, there are only three places to try: Gino’s East (famous for its cheeses), Lou Malnati’s (famous for its toppings), and Giordanos (famous for its crusts). After some debate with our friends, we chose Lou Malnati’s, and trust me, we definitely did not go away disappointed. The salad, the cheese bread, and of course the pies were all done to perfection. We savored the tall, thick crusts of our Chicago deep dish pies, filled to the brim with fresh tomatoes, cheese, sausage, and spinach before being mixed together with a tomato sauce that was just enough sweet and salty. Simply perfection!

In my humble opinion, deep dish pizzas say as much about the culture of Chicago as do the pizzas of New York City. In New York, there are shops on nearly every corner, with premade pizzas ready for you to stop in and order one slice or even a whole pizza to be heated up so you can eat it quickly and move on with your busy day. In Chicago, however, deep dish pizzas are made fresh and they take time to cook because the pies are so thick. A normal pie should take between 30 and 40 minutes to bake, slowing down the pace of the meal and encouraging you to enjoy the meal as an event in and of itself, not just a time for quick sustenance.

Tonight was no different for us. While we waited for our delicious deep dish pies to bake, we caught up with good friends, reminisced about college and imagined what the future may hold, especially for my friend who recently graduated from one of the nation’s premier business schools and was about to start a new job and thus a new chapter—or waypoint—in his life’s flight plan. It was precisely the start to our Chicago weekend that we needed. Well, minus the blisters on Jen’s feet from all our walking. But then, I guess even that makes for a good story…at least I hope it will someday.

Thankfully, those blisters didn’t hold her back the next day! With better shoes on her feet, Jen and I ventured out with our friend and walked for miles and miles sampling such amazing places as Intelligentsia, a small but growing chain of coffee shops that I think puts Starbucks to shame (definitely try the mocha latte), and later the delicious sweets of Toni Patisserie & Cafe where we ordered a chocolate moose cake with raspberry sauce to enjoy with dinner that evening. (My sweet tooth aches for it just writing these words!)

Chicago entices, it satisfies and it always leaves you wanting more…even if that’s just a ticket to anywhere else in the middle of February. For us, our tickets were to Georgia to visit my sister. Two days later we were home again which is always a nice feeling after a busy trip, but also a little sad, too, as there’s so much to explore in this world. Guess that’s what tomorrow’s for.

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So which do you prefer? New York pizza or Chicago’s deep dish? Leave a comment and let me know!

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Responses

  1. You left out my favorite! The original Pizzeria Uno, on the corner of Ohio and Wabash, is THE BEST.

    • Good point! I still haven’t had the pleasure of trying Unos. We’ll have to meet up in ORD sometime in the next few months and check it out!


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