If there's one singular dish with which Chicago is deeply associated, or even equated, it's deep-dish pizza. Look, we like pizza of all kinds—this is to speak no ill of New York's legendary, foldable, thin-crust slices, for instance—but if you're hanging out in Chicago, damn right, you should be eating some deep-dish.
These seven pizza spots are beloved for their takes on the Windy City classic, and if you're feeling adventurous and know what's good for you, you should probably set up a crawl to try to them all.
Oh, and don't miss the rest of the MUNCHIES Guide to Chicago here.
Giordano's: If you think deep dish and par-baked pizza are decadent options, just wait until you try what Giordano's has to offer. The house specialty here is stuffed deep dish, a style they claim to have invented, which consists of two separate layers of dough surrounding a veritable oil well of piping hot liquid mozzarella. It's the kind of pizza Jon Stewart so famously rallied against, but if you want what is essentially a three-inch-thick pizza casserole, Giordano's is the perfect place to get hooked up.
Lou Malnati's: In a city known for its strong opinions about deep dish, Lou Malnati's is a name that comes up with regularity. While they started with a single location in Lincolnwood, there are now 46 Chicago locations (plus a bonus one in Arizona), meaning it's easier than ever to dig into one of the city's most eponymous dishes. We recommend the Malnati Chicago Classic, which comes with sausage, extra cheese, chunky marinara, and the pizzeria's signature butter crust. The butter crust is key, people: don't miss it.
The Art of Pizza: When The Art of Pizza first opened, it was just one space in a strip mall. These days, they've taken over all the surrounding storefronts and have formed what is essentially a pizza outpost dedicated to stuffing people's faces with fat stacks of cheese, dough, and sauce. They've been making pies for over 25 years now, and during that time have been ranked the best in the city on more than one occasion. If you have a hankering for some deep dish, this is a solid option.
Louisa's Pizza and Pasta: Louisa's is another gem of the Chicago suburbs that's both very popular and pretty damn small—prepared to get cozy. As a result of the lack of prep and storage space, the dough and sauce have to be made fresh daily, and toppings are constantly being prepped, cooked, and then prepped again. The pizzas also feature a rich mix of two types of mozzarella, along with a sprinkling of pecorino, giving it a salty and savory finish that helps the spot distinguish itself from Chicago's other well-respected pies.
Nino's Pizza: Chicago's got a lot of cool pizza joints but Nino's is a legitimate destination, despite being located in the northern suburb of Alsip. It's a checkered-tablecloth family joint with a lively, comforting dining room where the vibes are effortlessly good. This is in large part due to the pizza, which is multiple inches deep and weighed down with so much melted cheese. Do yourself a favor and get the housemade sausage as a topping, too. It's not a proper Chicago pizza without sausage.
Pequod's: All Chicago-style deep dish pizza may look the same to the uninitiated, but there's a rich interior life beneath the chunky tomato sauce. Pequod's specializes in pan pizza, which involves parbaking and then freezing the crust prior to its final bake, and they make things extra special by putting a layer of cheese in between the pan and the dough. The end result is a glorious and distinctive lacey-black crust, and it has a flavor you won't get from any other pizzeria.
Freddy's Pizza: This minuscule grocery store-come-pizzeria is the epitome of a hidden gem, serving up some of Chicago's most legit Italian food—eight miles outside of the city. Beyond Sicilian-style pies, Freddy's makes pasta, meatballs, and sandwiches from scratch every morning; they're even making their bread in house.
For more places to eat, drink, and get weird in the Windy City, check out the rest of the MUNCHIES Guide to Chicago here, and while you're at it, watch the Chicago episode of our series The Pizza Show.