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The wait is almost over: Lollapalooza is kicking off Friday, with Paul McCartney set to headline the 3-day music festival’s first night. If it’s your first time hitting up the weekend extravaganza — or visiting Chicago for that matter — make sure to check out these five must-try eateries to experience food like a true local. As one Uber driver put it best, the food in Chicago is “second to none.” (And he’s totally right.)
While most travel guides tend to mention Giordano as the ultimate go-to for the famous Chicago-style deep dish pizza, Lou Malnati’s is the pizza joint you really want to check out. Order the Malnati Chicago Classic, made with Lou’s lean sausage, extra cheese and vine-ripened tomato sauce on Buttercrust (!), and you’ll never see (or taste) deep dish the same again. loumalnatis.com.
Unlike the typical hot dog you’re used to having with ketchup, don’t even try asking for the condiment if you want to try a true Chicago-style hot dog. And Portillo’s, which first opened in Villa Park, Illinois, in 1963, does its classic hot dog with mustard, relish, chopped onions, sliced tomatoes, kosher pickle and pepper on a poppy seed bun. Need we say more? portillos.com.
Garrett Popcorn Shops
There’s a reason why Garrett has been a Chicago tradition since 1949: The locals’ longtime favorite snack shop knows how to do its popcorn with just the right amount of flavor and variety. You can choose from options such as buttery, plain, CheeseCorn or CaramelCrisp. And if you can’t decide, don’t freak. The Garrett Mix — combining both the savory CheeseCorn and sweet CaramelCrisp — is meant for those who want it all. (Guilty.) garrettpopcorn.com.
Girl and the Goat
If you’re a fan of Bravo’s Top Chef, then it’s likely you recognize the name Stephanie Izard, winner of the show’s fourth season. After trying her restaurant, Girl and the Goat, it’s no wonder she took the crown. Several must-try menu items: Wood oven roasted pig face (tastes much better than it sounds), confit goat belly (strikes the perfect balance between sweet and savory) and the fried oysters (because everything is better fried). Girl and the Goat, 809 W Randolph St.; 312-492-6262; girlandthegoat.com.
Rick Bayless, another Top Chef winner (the first season of Top Chef Masters), is widely known for specializing in Mexican cuisine, so if you want a taste of his culinary expertise, look no further than his Wicker Park restaurant, Xoco Bistro. While the menu features many classic dishes (ceviche, sopes and chicharrones), consider ordering the ahogada sandwich. It’s a torta with pork carnitas, black beans and pickled onions, dipped into a mildly spicy tomato-arbol chile broth. And if that doesn’t fill you up, there’s churros (with a chocolate shot for dipping!) for dessert. Yum. Xoco Bistro, 1471 North Milwaukee Ave.; 872-829-3821; rickbayless.com.
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Portia de Rossi
James Gordon Meek