***** Warning. Reading this post could make you hungry (especially if you enjoy meat), sick/upset (if you don't like meat) or tempting if you're on a diet.*****
1. The Gyro ("yee-row", but "year-o" works as well). Its early stage of cooking on a spit (rotisserie style) over a slow fire. The one below is from ""Doggie Diner", Woodridge, Illinois. Hard to find a better gyro in the area than theirs. Another that's very good is Gemato's (Naperville, IL). I prefer lamb, beef, pork or a mix of either meat. You can also find a chicken gyro but to me, they're not as good.
- The finished product, served on a pita w/ onions, tomato, and yogart/cream/cucumber sauce (varies by where you may go). This is about 8 oz. worth of pleasure. As a younger man,. I could eat two of these.
2. The Italian beef sandwich, one of the finest treats Chicago has to offer. It's nothing short of fantastic, as many Chicagoans will testify. This is a staple of fast food in the area (with local non-national chains). Slow cooked and shaved thin after cooking. Served on a french bread. You can order it dry (no juice), wet (inside soaked with juice) or dipped (the way you see it below- dipping the entire sandwich in the juices). You can also have it with mild or (as I prefer) hot giardinara sauce. Cheese is also an option but this time, which I added myself. Below is from Portillo's, a major local chain. Other local spots to check out include Buona Beef (Portillo's main competition- think Geno's Steak VS Pat's steak in Philly), and smaller places such as Carm's (Hillside, IL), Mr Beef (Chicago, IL on Orleans), Al's Beef (on Ontario), Roma's Beef (Chicago, IL) among a long list of great places. Portillo's, though primarily in Illinois, has two locations in California (Buona Park and Moreno Valley). Both giardinaria's you see here have bite (I chose hot). The Portillo's version has a bit more peppers. Buona's version favors towards a more olive-based flavor, but still has kick to it. Add a piece of Italian sausage and make it a combination beef and italian sausage (or just simple as for a combo). So how do I order this? Beef (or combo) with hot peppers (and cheese if I feel like it), dipped. The place you eat at will know what you want. Dipped is MESSY but very good. If you order an italian beef croissant, the hot peppers are still good but I think the sween bell peppers might be better, especially if you never had italian beef before. The rules or dry, wet or dipped still apply. Dipping a croissant may be a challenge for some because it's not as hearty as the french bread. At the very minimum, order each of these wet.
3. So now it's time for pizza. Everyone has their favorites and I am no exception to this rule. The Chicago Deep Dish Pizza is for the SERIOUS eater. Those who don't like Chicago pizza, I understand. I know it's MUCH heavier than other regions. It's a thing of beauty when you can put all your meat, dairy, grain and veggies in one slice (I DO NOT PUT FRUIT IN MY PIZZA- I don't get that at all, but that's just me). I personally don't think you can really do a Chicago deep dish pizza properly outside of Chicagoland (I think there's something in the water that makes the dough work right. I prefer Lou Malnati's (the garlic-butter crust is something special) and Gino's East, both well -established local chains. Other worth candidates I enjoy are Eduardo's, Home Run Inn pizza (I LOVE their thin crust), Giordano's, Pizzeria D.O.C (not typical deep dish but worthy of a stop if you're in the North side; D.O.C. means Denominazione di origine controllata or Controlled Origin Denomination, the Italian sign for food and wine quality control), Piece (co-owned by Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick), Ricobene's (various locations), and Papa Joe's of Orland Park are all Tremendous. Rosati's is good but all franchised unlike the other places I mentioned. Some are very good, but others not so good.
4. The Hot Dog is a thing of beauty. Below is an example of a great hot dog. My only rule as it relates to the dog is that no ketchup can be used (KILLS the texture, in my opinion). Thick salsa is OK. Chicago style- mustard, tomato, sport peppers (some say jalapenos could be a substitute), onions, relish, & kosher pickle served on a steamed poppy seed bun!!! Picture one is with mustard, onion & tomato. Aside from Portillo's and Buona Beef (mentioned earlier), there are plenty of other great places to eat and many have a Facebook and/or Twitter page.
5. Any burrito fans out there? I mean SERIOUS burrito fans. I do as well. This is a junior burrito, chicken w/ everything plus onions and sour cream. You'll see what it looks like when it's done.............
Then adding the sauce and peppers. Normally, you would add the sauce as you ate the burrito but since I'm adding peppers, I just added the sauce while I was at it. Again, most of the major food groups are in this mass of guilty pleasure!!!!
OK. It's not pretty but you get the picture.
6. Nothing says grease cravings like a pizza puff. Sausage and cheese get the job done. This one courtesy of my local grocery store. Again it's not fancy, but tastes good.
7. Can you say slider??? Ever had one? This is the legendary White Castle food chain (mostly east of the Mississippi River or states bordering it). For those who know what I am talking about, this is really a guilty pleasure. Why? For one, they're cheap (not as much as they once were but still pretty inexpensive). I got 6 jalapeno cheeseburgers for $5. You may need a pretty strong stomach. Most people who like this place (as I do) understand the "what you crave" slogan is all about. I nearly lived on these in high school.
White Castle Sliders- What many crave!!!
More guilty pleasures to come!!! There are a TON of them I will share soon.