Chicago's culinary scene goes way beyond deep-dish pizza, although that treat is certainly worth trying. A lesser-known favorite here is the Chicago-style hot dog, an all-beef, boiled dog eaten with mustard, sweet relish, onions, hot peppers, a pickle and tomato on a poppy seed bun. Chicago claims the title of candy capital as home to the Tootsie Roll and Fannie May Candies. And let's not forget its status as headquarters for the number one restaurant company in the U.S. -- McDonald's.
Pizzeria Uno, the king of deep-dish pizza, is where it all began in 1943. Visit the original venue at 29 E. Ohio Street, or, if it's busy, try sister venue Pizzeria Due at 619 N. Wabash Avenue (which has the same food in a larger space). Be aware that it takes about 45 minutes to prepare a deep-dish pie. To qualify as deep-dish, the crust has to be an inch or more thick and piled high with cheese and tomato sauce and your choice of extras -- we usually go for the sausage, onion and peppers. Chicagoans also like the pies at Gino's East, the newer kid on the block with only 50 years in the biz.
It's worth a cab ride from downtown to Greektown, where we make a beeline to The Parthenon, opened in 1968. The place serves excellent garlicky moussaka and other Greek favorites including saganaki cheese flamed with brandy (the waiters dramatically light the cheese and shout "Opa!"). Portions are huge.
Meat lovers flock to the original Morton's of Chicago, opened in 1978, where the ambience is club-like and the USDA prime aged steaks are huge. There's seafood here too, like Alaskan king crab legs and jumbo lump crab cakes. Sides include creamed spinach (our favorite).
Da Bears and da pork chops are the main attractions at Mike Ditka's. The coach's NFL Coach of the Year trophy is on display along with other sports memorabilia. While TVs show sporting events, the food is better than the usual sports bar fare; think steaks, salads and seafood (the latter comes from sustainable and environmentally friendly sources). Da coach occasionally makes an appearance.
Good food and a convenient location near Millennium Park make Tavern at the Park worth a visit. (On sunny days, try to snag a table on the outdoor patio.) Portions are generous -- the fig and prosciutto flatbread appetizer easily feeds two -- and specialties include burgers, steaks, risotto, and mac and cheese.
If you're looking not just for a meal but also for an experience, head to Alinea, which has earned three Michelin stars. Recently renoved and reopened, this Lincoln Park restaurant offers course after course of creative, impeccably plated international dishes.
Girl & the Goat draws rave reviews for its delicious small plates, ranging from goat empanadas to grilled baby octopus (with plenty of vegetarian offerings too).
Sick of continental breakfast at your hotel? Start your morning at Yolk instead. The wide-ranging menu boasts traditional options (eggs Benedict, Belgian waffles), healthy fare (the "kale scrambler") and sweet delights (Nutella crepes, cinnamon roll French toast).