Can we take a minute to give Chicago pizza the moment it deserves?
It could be that the reason we love having Chicago as our home base so much is because of the food (and most specifically the pizza). It is also one of the things that draws in millions of tourists each year.
We’re highlighting our four favorite spots in the city for pizza. There is an overwhelming amount (and trust me we have tried a LOT of them), so we hope this list will give you some direction in where to find the type of Chicago pizza you are looking for.
*These are in no order because they are all so different that it was impossible to rank!
Ranalli’s is the spot we frequent the most since we live so close (and never get sick of their classic Chicago thin crust pizza.) We love it so much we even had our wedding rehearsal dinner here!
Favorite pizza: I’m a sucker for the prosciutto & arugula thin crust. It is absolutely incredible and is filled with all the right flavors. This pizza has an olive oil and mozzarella base, topped with prosciutto and parmesan and loaded with arugula. I have ate an entire one of these alone before (in one sitting)- that is how much I love this pizza.
Favorite additional menu item: The chicken tenders, hands down. They are the best chicken tenders we’ve ever had by a long shot. Each “tender” is basically a full chicken breast and hand breaded. Doesn’t get much better than that!
Atmosphere: Located in the heart of trendy Lincoln Park, there is an amazing patio in the summer as well as an upscale bar setting inside.
Fun facts: Ranalli’s is a Green Bay Packers and Wisconsin Badgers bar for all you out there from Wisconsin visiting Chicago. On Packer game days they have draft beer deals in Packers cups you can keep!
Good to know: This place is part of the 4 Corners Restaurant Group. You can find their pizza at other 4 Corners restaurants in Chicago, such as Gaslight.
This next on our list is a always a fun one. Homeslice is the ideal place to gather with friends, enjoy a fun unique atmosphere and eat some amazing ‘za.
Favorite pizza: We love the Big Teve. It is topped with spinach, roasted red peppers, red onions, mushrooms, oregano, feta, parmesan, mozzarella, provolone, garlic (key ingredient) and olive oil. It is the ideal vegetarian pizza but also so tasty with added sausage (what we usually add).
Favorite additional menu item: It has to be the Bloody Mary’s. They are topped with a slice of pizza, and served with a miller. Can’t be beat!
Atmosphere: Another Lincoln Park hot spot, this place has one of the best patio’s, if not the best, I’ve seen in Chicago. From couches, to swings, to sitting in old campers, it is the coolest place to hang out for a day.
Fun fact: Homeslice has a few sister restaurants in the city, Happy Camper in Old Town and Paradise Park in Wicker Park. Each of these have unique and fun interiors but have the same pizzas as Homeslice, just with different menu names!
Good to know: Homeslice isn’t just great for lunch and dinner. It has amazing breakfast pizza if you are looking to incorporate some pizza into your brunch (with the Bloody Mary of course).
We talked about a few trendier places in Lincoln Park, but let’s move up north a few miles to Buena Park– our old neighborhood! Michael’s Pizza is by far the best Chicago tavern-style pizza we have had in the city. It is perfect in every way from the crust to the toppings. We are addicted to this pizza (luckily for our bodies we don’t live next door anymore).
Favorite pizza: The Michaels Special is what we get every time. It comes with sausage, mushroom, green pepper and onion. It is everything you could ask for in a traditional tavern-style pizza. We have a hard time saving any for leftovers.
Favorite additional menu item: The buffalo wings are mouth-watering! Somehow they not only mastered the perfect pizza, but also the perfect wings. We always have to get both of these when we come (and in turn eat way too much).
Atmosphere: This is a classic Chicago sports bar. Nothing fancy, nothing trendy, just being themselves and we LOVE it for that reason. It is an ideal place to cozy up on a cold winter night or to enjoy a sports game.
Fun fact: They have games available on the back wall that you can bring to your table and play while you wait for your pizza.
Good to know: Keep an eye out for their daily specials. We personally love the $9 pitchers of beer on Sundays or $15 pizza on Wednesdays!
Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder
If I had to pick a single favorite pizza in Chicago, it would most definitely be this. However, these pizza’s are not your average tavern style, nor are they traditional Chicago deep dish. These are their own kind, a pizza pot pie. This place has recently become more well-known due to some articles that went viral, but has been a local favorite since the 1970’s (a place Chris has been going his whole life!).
Favorite pizza: The half-pounder pizza pot-pie with mushrooms. They only give you two options: half pounder/ whole pounder, mushrooms/ no mushrooms. This pizza will change your life. You can thank us later!
Favorite additional menu item: You can’t come here without getting the Mediterranean bread and a salad to share. The trio of these two plus the pizza is out of the world. (*The salad is a must due to dipping the bread in the homemade dressing!).
Atmosphere: Tucked away in a small brick building in Lincoln Park, you could pass it up if there wasn’t always a line out the door. It is a beautiful, traditional and romantic.
Fun fact: This building has a lot of history. Read the back of the menu to see the whole story.
Good to know: There are a few things you need to know: it is cash only and they don’t take reservations. You may wait for hours to be seated (you most likely will) but get a drink at the bar and make sure you are making eye contact with the man up front who is seating customers. It is ALWAYS worth the wait. Try to get there right as they open for your best chance at not waiting long for a table.
We’re keeping this list short and sweet because there are so many more we could add but if you’re only in Chicago for a short time, these are the four you shouldn’t miss. Most tourists visit Lou Malnati’s or Gino East for some traditional Chicago deep dish. Don’t get me wrong, those are great, but if you want to try something new I would encourage you to try any of these four.
If you have a trip planned to Chicago we would love to give you more recommendations and hear about your experiences if you try these places. We hope you’ll love Chicago pizza as much as we do!
Emilie & Chris