Chicago is known for all of their great foods, and eating is hands down one of the best things to in Chicago. From the deep dish pizzas that are oozing with cheese and meats and stuffed into a delicious crust, to the calorie-loaded beers that help that pizza slide down easy, it’s easy to put on a few pounds when visiting Chicago.
Chicago’s pizzas, beers, hot dogs, and meats might not be that good for you as a whole, but there are a few takes on the delicious classics that are healthier, and just as delicious. You don’t have to avoid the Windy City just because you’re trying to prepare yourself for summer. You can enjoy it all!
Chicago’s Famous Pizza
It’s the dish that Chicago is known for, and can you really come to the Windy City without being lured into a pizzeria by the smells wafting in the air alone? One bite and you’re ordering 12 pizzas to be mailed to your home address so you never have to be without. Most of the pizzas are heavy though. Heavy in cheese, dough, fillings and toppings and calories. It’s hard to imagine there’s a healthy option for one of these bad boys, but there is!
Bella Bacinos Chicago is kind of a pioneer in the land of Chicago pizza! They created the “heart healthy” stuffed spinach pizza, which has been recognized by the Chicago Heart Association and listed in the Eat Well guide. When most people think of the healthy alternatives, they automatically just know that it’s not as good as the original, but that is not the case with Bacino’s, who has been the #1 best selling pizza at the Taste of Chicago for the past 30 years. Even Oprah has featured this delicacy on her TV show twice! There’s nothing wrong with a “heart healthy” option, especially when it comes to Bacino’s.
For those that skip the deep dish, there are tons of places in this city with other crust-options too. Mista is a pizza/Italian Chicago restaurant known for their fresh, organic ingredients that are actually good to people who don’t eat this way always. Mista promotes a healthy lifestyle (one that includes pizza!) and their BYOB, so you can bring the “healthy” alcoholic option of your liking too.
Chicago Hot Dogs
It’s almost a sin to even think about ketchup while you’re near a hot dog in Chicago. Chicagoans take their hot dogs very seriously, and of course that means with no ketchup at all. The Chicago-style hot dog, for those that don’t know, is topped with mustard, white onions, relish, a skill pickle tomato slice and salt and pepper. It’s a mouth-full to say the least, but hot dogs might as well be the gems of Chicago. It’s hard to make a “healthy” hot dog usually, but there are several places that offer vegetarian options.
Head over to Kim & Carlos Hot Dog Stand on Museum Campus. Go even further with your health craze by ordering a vegan Soyboy hot dog. You can load it up with all the fixins’ so that it tastes almost the same as a regular hot dog, and save yourself a few dozen calories, grams of fat and get about double the protein. Fortunately, you hardly even notice a difference in the taste, or the price!
People in Chicago love their meat. Italian beef, Italian sausage, steak, you get the idea. While those meats are all good and well, The Chicago Diner thinks they can do them just as well. And they pretty much do as far as your health is concerned. There’s not an ounce of real meat in this place, but you still find a menu packed with burgers, Reubens, “steak” options and more. The Radical Reuben is actually one of their most talked about specialties, and might actually sway any omnivore to the herbivores territory. They even sell that Italian “beef” that Chicago is famous for. Only... a healthy version.
Just because you’re in Chicago, doesn’t mean that you have to pack on the pounds and use the delicious food as an excuse to break your diet. There are healthy alternatives to Chicago’s famous foods that give you the best of both worlds! Be sure to check out all of the great healthy hotels in Chicago while you're here to help stay motivated on vacation so you can splurge a little on the good stuff!