Fast food in Chicago has expanded well beyond greasy, chemical-filled burgers. From the traditional Chicago dog to vegetarian bibimbop, the city is teeming with quick meals that range from light and fresh to deep-fried. No matter what you're in the mood for, stop by one of these establishments for the city's best fast food.Boystown's Falafill has made a splash in vegetarian dining on the north side. With falafel and French fries made to order, the fun begins with your trip to the topping bar. Here you'll find a selection of salads-tabouleh, lentils with mint, boiled beets, roasted cauliflower-and you're welcome to as much as you can fit on your pita or on your tray. Don't shy away from the hot pink pickled turnips! Hot tip: recently, Falafill has teamed up with chefs from some of the city's best restaurants to create a not-to-be-missed monthly featured wrap with gourmet ingredients.
Chicago is famous for its "red hots," hot dogs piled high with mustard, sauerkraut, tomato, onions, hot peppers, and a pickle. Although this veritable salad on a bun can be found all over the city, head to the famous Hot Doug's, Inc. over on North California Street. You'll have to wait in line, but it's worth the wait. Just don't ask for ketchup!
If you have no interest in holding back on the calories, head straight to Harold's Chicken Shack on the south side. Despite its somewhat dingy appearance, Harold's serves up arguably the best fried bird in the city with delicious sauces and fries over white bread.
Chicago Bagel Authority is great when you're in the mood for a sandwich with a twist. Choose one from the menu or create your own. They steam their bagels, making the sandwiches warm and just a bit juicy.
In the middle of a cold Chicago winter, there's nothing better that a warm bowl of delicious soup. You'll have your pick of twelve made fresh daily at Soupbox on Chicago Ave, just west of the Magnificent Mile. Combine flavors (cream of leek and tomato bisque) or be a purist (beef stew or chicken with spaetzle dumplings)-and grab a hunk of sourdough bread.
Local chain Wow Bao (owned by the Lettuce Entertain You Group) offers "Hot Asian Buns" in many flavors, sweet and savory. Teriyaki chicken and barbecue pork are among savory favorites, and don't forget to grab at least one coconut custard bao for dessert. You'll also be able to grab a rice bowl or noodle soup (gluten free!). See why this has quickly become a Chicago favorite.
Crisp, just on the line between Lincoln Park and Lakeview, touts Korean fried chicken in numerous flavors. The bibimbop here is spectacularly flavorful and brightly colored with pickled carrots, kimchee, and corn. If you aren't a fan of wings normally, do yourself a favor and try one of these. You may find yourself a convert!
Al's #1 Italian Beef is known for its finely shredded beef sandwiches on French bread with peppers and giardiniera. With multiple locations in the burbs and in the city, you'll need several napkins to clean up after this ultimate sandwich experience.
Portillo's is widely known for its delicious hot dogs. In fact, requests for their dogs come from all over the country on a daily basis. Not only does Portillo's have forty-five locations all over the city and suburbs but you'll be able to please everybody. The Portillo's Restaurant group includes Barnelli's Pasta bowl where you can order quickly made, delicious Italian fare as well as several other sit-down spots. Great for families!
At Salad House in Lakeview, customers can customize their salads with as many of the endless toppings as they want. The best part: it's a flat rate for every salad, no matter what you add. So go crazy!
1208 East 53rd Street