From Denver to Chicago: How to eat like a local in the United States

Whether you’re a tourist looking to visit as many places as possible, or a local who just wants to get away from the daily routine of microwaved frozen meals, this guide will take you on a whistle-stop tour through the cities of Denver and Chicago, via some of their most typical dishes.

Getting to know Denver in five meals

Taking one of Denver’s food tours is a great shortcut for finding out about the culture of Colorado through its cuisine. Let’s look at some of the dishes that best sum up the Mile High City…

Buffalo, buffalo, buffalo

Denver is well known its buffalo meat, which is prepared in a number of ways: from steak to meatballs and hamburgers. Buffalo meat is one of the healthiest on the market due to its low-fat content. Visitors can also choose to go even further and try Rocky Mountain Oysters, the name Colorado locals have euphemistically applied to bull testicles, coated in flour or cornmeal.

Meat and more meat

Lamb is a popular cut in Denver, typically in the form of lamb shanks and sweeter than beef.  In addition, meat lovers shouldn’t miss out on tartare, which is served raw with spices or a soft-boiled egg, and whose taste is absolutely next-level.

Colorado Style Pizza, a.k.a. The Mountain Pie

A.k.a. the thickest crust you’ll ever lay eyes on, which can be torn and dipped in honey, served in a side bowl. Crust aside, Colorado-style pizza contains as much cheese as physically possible, and is served with a wide variety of toppings.

Green chili

In a word: “spicy”. Don’t leave Denver without trying The Denver Omelet, which includes green chili, onions, mushrooms, ham and cheese. Spice warriors should also check out Colorado Style Green Chili, which resembles a stew but can also be applied to tacos and burritos.

Craft Beer Ice Cream

You may have heard of Denver’s Beer Ice Cream Fest, and wondered: am I reading this right? You are. This is the city where ice cream meets beer, and your Denver food tour won’t be complete with it.

If you’re still feeling puckish, Denver is famous for its Olathe Sweet Corn Festival, and you can find the city’s traditional sweetcorn in many local recipes. Finally, ask for a Mexican Hamburger to witness a unique regional twist on the perennial classic.

A taste of Chicago in five meals

The Windy City is sprawling, and easy to get lost in. Even for visitors focusing exclusively on gastronomic tourism, it can be hard to know where to start. Which are the keys stops on a food tour in Chicago? Here are our suggestions…

Deep-Dish Pizza

Tell me how thick you like your pizza, and I’ll tell you where you’re from. As the name suggests, Chicago’s trademark pizza is all about the depth between its crust. Prepared in a high-sided pan, the pizza is traditionally served in its classic sauce-and-cheese guise, but is also available with a wide variety of toppings.

Italian Beef Sandwich

This delicacy from Little Italy consists of an Italian roll containing thinly-sliced roast beef. The rest is up to you: sweet or spicy, cheese or no cheese. You can also choose how much gravy you want on it: dry (i.e. none), wet (sauce on top) or dipped (the whole sandwich is submerged).

Chicago Style Hot Dogs

What has Chicago got to add to the classic hot dog? Well, residents start with a poppy seed bun and then proceed to add yellow mustard, green relish, onions, tomato, a kosher pickle spear, peppers, and celery salt. Remember: no ketchup allowed! And there you have it: a hot dog like no other!

Chicago Style Hot Dogs and Italian Beef Sandwiches both represent not only a piece of History, since they were both created as cheap meals during the Great Depression, but also a symbol of Chicago’s patchwork of traditions, with each ingredient originating in immigrant culture.

Chicago Style – a.k.a. Garrett – Popcorn

Continuing our food tour of Chicago with this local classic, the Garrett Mix is where the salty CheeseCorn popcorn meets the sweet CaramelCrisp variety. The secret family recipe has spread across Chicago, so you’ll be sure to find a Garrett Popcorn franchise wherever and whenever you need it.

Rainbow Cone

Chicago’s Rainbow Cone is both a cake and an ice cream cone, with several layers: starting with chocolate, and continuing with strawberry, Palmer House (i.e. vanilla, cherry, and walnuts), pistachio and a final flourish of orange sherbet. You won’t have to wait for The Taste of Chicago, the city’s annual summer festival of cuisine, to try this renowned delicacy: taste it any time of the year at the Original Rainbow Cone. Again, this company has shops all over town, so you should have no difficulty locating it.

If you are still hungry, try Chicago’s barbecued Rib Tips, fried-plantain-based Jibarito, or the full-meat Gym Shoe Sandwich.

Travel the distance, and taste the difference. Begin your culinary journey today!

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