Food Fight: New York Vs. Chicago
The Biggest, Baddest Cities for Fast Food
The food in both Chicago and New York is the stuff of legend. Each city has its own unique ethnic groups, geography, and cultural history that have shaped the culinary landscape. Today I look at who has the best fast food in the nation: the City of Big Shoulders, or the Big Apple.
New York and Chicago Food Trivia!
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Round 1: Italian Beef (Chi) Vs. Italian Sausage (NY)
Italian fare is Italian fare, since neither New York or Chicago have any shortage of Italians, there is a lot to choose from.
The fast food specialties, though, are surprisingly different.
NY Italian Sausage and Peppers: New York Italians are masters of the sausage. I was shocked when Italian sausage was the primary food served at my first neighborhood barbecue. It isn't uncommon for the corner Italian deli to have five or six varieties of ready to serve sausage. They are served with peppers, generally, and on a generous piece hearty of Italian bread. These are absolutely delicious, and I have to say I prefer them to most hot dogs.
Chi Italian Beef: Da Bears! Super-fans love their Italian beefs on Turano bread, drenched in au jus that somehow always burns you, and served with sweet green pepper on top. Once you've had that salty beef goodness, it's very unlikely you'll be getting up and walking anywhere for the next hour.
The Verdict: NY Italian Sausage (1 point NY, barely edged out Chi)
Italian Sausage at the Feast of San Gennaro, NYC
The Original Chicago Deep Dish at Pizzeria Uno!
This was the original Pizzeria Uno where Chicago deep dish was fist made in 1943 under owner Mike Sewell and chef Rudy Malnati!
Deep Dish Domination
Round 2: The Pie (NY) Vs. Deep Dish (Chi)
Pizza, like the previous Italian offerings, is a point of pride for New Yorker's and Chicagoans. With national pizza chains like Pizza Hut and Dominos desperately trying to reproduce the delicious pizza types of each city, you know you're in for two of the best pizzas in the country.
NY Pies: My father was born and raised in the Big Apple, and he'd been raving to me since I was a kid about the "pies" out in NYC. To describe for a non-New Yorker: a "pie" is has extremely thin crust that puffs up a little at the edge. There is usually visible flour on it, and a noticeably sweeter taste than Chicago dough. The sauce is a bit more flavorful, on the sweet side as well. The pizza is generally purchased in larger circumference than a Chicago pizza, and is sliced into a large triangular piece that you might fold while eating. Sausage is placed on the pizza in slices, pepperoni is the same.
Chicago Deep Dish: Chicago Deep Dish is pizza that is sometimes 4 or 5 inches thick, with buttery crust that rises high out of the pan. Cheese is placed directly on the crust with the sauce on TOP of it, followed by ingredients. Usually the cheese is so thick that there is a wrestling match with each slice when you take it out of the pan. It is sometimes called "pan" pizza because the pizza is served with the cookware. Sausage can come one of two ways: in a giant layer,or in bits.
The Verdict: Chi Deep Dish (1 point Chi)
Delicious Pastrami Coming of the Line at Katz's Delicatessen
Directions to Katz's, Where Harry Met Sally
Deli Sandwich (NY) Vs. Deli Sandwich (Chi)
Grinder, hoagie, dagwood, sandwich, no matter what you call it, it's pretty good. Which great city has the greater sandwich?
Chi Sandwiches: Most of the time, in Chicago, your local sandwich shop is a chain sandwich shop. The area is littered with Jimmy John's, Subway, Jersey Mike's, Panera Bread Co., and Jason's Delis (which, are an attempt at a New York knock off). Very few of these restaurants can be found in any frequency in New York City. This, is because dime-a-dozen sandwich chains wouldn't be economically viable in New York. I discuss this further in the next paragraph.
NY Sandwiches: New York must have the greatest sandwiches in the world. You can find a local deli in almost any strip mall. Generally Yiddish or Italian, you will find yourself eating a sandwich with meat stacked up to half the height of your face for the price of a soggy footlong in the Windy CIty. Katz's Delicatessen on Houston is world renowned for having the greatest sandwiches ANYWHERE. Sure, pastrami on rye is seventeen dollars, but it may be the best thing you ever eat.
The Verdict: NY Sandwiches (1 Point NY)
NY Dog Vs. Chicago Style Dog
It's Nathan's against Vienna in the epic battle of the tubesteaks.
NY Dog: New York dogs either come topped with beef (and sometimes cheese with onions), or more traditionally loaded with mustard and sauerkraut. The Coney Dog is actually a Michigan invention, but the longer dogs originated with Nathan's original stand out on Coney in Brooklyn. The hot dogs are decent, and have more of a tart quality due to the mustard and sauerkraut.
Chi Dog: Now we're talking. Sport peppers, tomato, onion, ketchup, mustard, celery salt, and relish cause a flavor explosion. I'm still partial to the saltier flavor of a Vienna vs. the more subdued Hebrew National or Nathan's
The Verdict: Chi Dog (1 point Chi)
Chicago Hot Dogs are Unmatched in Greatness
The Making of Knish
Potato Knish (NY) Vs. Pierogi (Chi)
The potato knish and the pierogi are both a form of dumpling, and are part of the more slovak influences on local food.
Pierogi (Chi): Chicago is the second most Polish city in the world, and you can grab a pierogi at any of the many Polish restaurants all over the city. Pierogis are boiled or pan-fried, and can contain any ingredients from plums to sauerkraut to potato. The outside is merely a noodle. They are simple, but delicious.
Potato Knish (NY): Although there are many knish archetypes, the potato is the one you can find being hustled on the corners all over Manhattan. It is a delicious pastry that consists of seasoned mashed potatoes covered in baked dough, and often is consumed with added mustard.
The Verdict: Potato Knish (1 Point NY, very close)
A Guide to All Food Chicago
Smile, You Have a Burrito Dinner
Chi's Burritos are Monstrous
Late Night Eatery. Greek Diner (NY) Vs. Mexican Burrito Joint (Chi)
Exempting chains, you have your choice of two types of late night eatery: one of the many Greek Diners in NY (although they exist in Chicago, trust me there's more), or the Mexican Burrito Joint (way more in Chicago).
Greek Diner (NY): Every third corner in NY seems to be home to another Greek diner. On Long Island, many of these are chrome and have the appearance of the 1950s soda fountain. Skillets, omlettes, dolmades, souvlaki, and all your Greek favorites are available until all hours of the morning. Most of the time, if you're in there late, the owner will have fun chatting you up.
Mexican Burrito Joint (Chi): The perfect after nightlife food, Chicago's massive Mexican population dictates that there will be burrito places (or taco) and they will be opened late. Chorizo, tortas, and tacos in every variety are available for dirt cheap. However, not all burrito places are created equal so you must take care to pick the right one. Horchata is a way to have a drink and dessert at the same time.
The Verdict: Mexican Burrito Joints in Chi (1 point Chi, another close one)