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Chicago

deep dish pizza chicagoChicago'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's culinary scene includes celebrity chefs like Charlie Trotter, and ethnic delights served up in Chinatown, Greektown, West Town (Polish) and the Near West Side (Italian).

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 if you can snag one of the 18 small tables or five booths (sister venue Pizzeria Due, at 619 N. Wabash Avenue, 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 45+ 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 "Oopa!"). Portions are huge.

You can't get more nostalgic than Ed Debevic's, where the ambience is 50's-style diner and the menu includes "Ed's mom's meatloaf," wet fries (with gravy) and bacon cheeseburgers, with a side of wisecracking waitresses. Think a "Happy Days" dining experience with "The Twist" playing in the background.

Charlie Trotter is the star chef of Chicago, and Charlie Trotter's is simply one of the best restaurants in the world. Three set tasting menus are offered daily, featuring French- and Asian-inspired dishes like unagi terrine with grapefruit, red curry and kaffir lime, or coriander-encrusted bobwhite quail with watercress and pomegranate. Make no mistake: This place is designed to appeal to foodies who will find the steep price tag worth every penny. Open for dinner only; jacket required.

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 attractions at Mike Ditka's. The coach's face is on every plate (in caricature form) and his NFL Coach of the Year trophy is on display along with other sports memorabilia. While TV's offer sports 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 sometimes makes an appearance.

Good food and a convenient location near Millennium Park make Tavern on 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 menu options include steaks, burgers, pasta, salad and seafood.
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