For true foodies, the search for the best pizza in Chicago is a culinary adventure. Chicago’s pizza history runs as deep as the crust of the city’s signature pie. According to local lore, deep-dish pizza first appeared on the scene when Ike Sewell and Ric Riccardo opened the now-infamous Pizzeria Uno in 1943. Since then, many imitators have emerged and today scores of parlors offer their own slice of culinary history. Here’s where to find some of the best pies in Chicago.
Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria (439 N. Wells St.; 312-828-9800) Near North Side and other locations
A good primer to deep dish is Lou Malnati’s, which is named after the grandson of one of the first pizzamakers in the 1940s. Today there are more than 50 locations in Greater Chicago, and you can find the one nearest to you with this handy map. This pizza chain plays up its secret family recipe and its “flaky, buttery” crust. If reviews are any indication, it’s a colossal hit. Lou Malnati’s ranks first on Yelp for the best pizza in Chicago, and one user even says it’s “quite possibly the best pizza in America.” This pizzeria doesn’t take reservations, but it “was worth the long wait” according to a TripAdvisor reviewer.
Giordano’s (223 W. Jackson Blvd.; 312-583-9400) Downtown/The Loop
Another big name to know in Chicago is Giordano’s, which brothers Efren and Joseph opened in 1974. The deep-dish family recipe creates a “stuffed” pizza made with a “bonus” layer of crust between the cheese and the sauce. TripAdvisor reviewers note that this creation takes 40 minutes to bake, which gives ample time to build a healthy appetite. “Be sure to walk in hungry and don’t waste tummy space with greens and snacks,” one Yelp reviewer suggests. There are outlets all around Chicago, but the most central location is near the Willis Tower. “Anyone who is looking for a genuine Chicago deep dish pizza should dine here,” a Google reviewer says.
Piece Brewery and Pizza (1927 W. North Ave.; 773-772-4422) Wicker Park
Not totally sold on deep dish? There are many great thin crusts lurking around the Windy City, and Piece Brewery & Pizzeria has a “very crispy crust and the perfect amount of cheese and toppings,” per a top Google guide. A favorite version, Hot Doug’s Atomic Pizza, marries sausages containing three types of hot peppers with caramelized onions and Pepper Jack cheese. That pie “may be the best pizza I have ever eaten,” a Yelp user declared. As an added bonus, Piece also serves up an array of its own beers.
Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder Co. (2121 N. Clark St.; 773-248-2570) Lincoln Park
“You can’t provide a better spectacle for out of town guests requesting a Chicago pizza,” TimeOut Chicago said of the signature pot-pie pizzas at this tiny hideaway. The unique menu item combines sauce, mushrooms and sausage contained in a thick layer of dough. “There is no pizza like it,” a local TripAdvisor user raved. The restaurant’s salad is also extremely popular with diners, with Yelp reviewers calling it “amazing” and noting several dressings. This spot is right around the corner from the lakeside Lincoln Park, known for its zoo and art museums.
Gino’s East (162 E. Superior St.; 312-266-3337) Magnificent Mile
Closing out the list is a storied deep-dish locale that opened in 1966. If its walls could speak, they would be shouting the names of diehard fans. The restaurant encourages people to scribble their signature on the walls, and it’s fun to look for scrawls from celebrities. “Bring a marker as you can write on the walls anywhere in the restaurant,” one Google reviewer suggests. Locals rave about great service and the unique crust resembling cornbread, which “allows the pizza to not be too greasy and provide a good foundation that was not too doughy,” one Yelper says. Check out the Magnificent Mile location if you’re visiting the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago.