5 Foods You Have to Eat During #SHRM18 in Chicago

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This year’s annual SHRM conference takes place in Chicago, which is great news for people who love to eat! Chicago has so many foods that are unique to the city, as well as special takes on classic dishes from all over the world. Sure, you can always grab a bite in and around the conference center, but getting out and exploring the city with your stomach will make your trip so much more special. And besides, your brain needs fuel to work at its best, right? Here are some of my Chicago favorites for you to try this summer:

Pizza Puffs

Pizza puffs are a Chicago original (maybe… it’s disputed). They’re a bit like what I know as panzerottis and what some of you might know as calzones. They’re a smallish pocket pizza, generally fried, that’s crimped at the edges like a ravioli. They can be filled with just cheese and sauce, or cheese and sauce and pepperoni, or whatever you normally put on your pizza. And they’re delicious. But make sure to pick a place that serves in-house pizza puffs – if you don’t, you’ll be getting a frozen food that contains only 50% of the tastiness of a fresh puff.

Restaurant Recommendations: Albano’s Pizzeria

Italian Beef Sandwich

During the Depression, butcher and sausage maker Pasquale Scala popularized a sandwich made of thinly sliced roast beef stacked with green peppers and au jus on a bun. It caught on and became known as “Italian Beef.” These days, it’s a Chicago staple and one you won’t want to miss (unless you’re a vegetarian!).

Restaurant Recommendations: Al’s Beef, Mr. Beef On Orleans

Deep-Dish Pizza

I mean, obviously, right? You can’t go to Chicago and skip out on pizza. Chicago has been locked in a fierce battle with New York over which city makes the best pizza – even though their ideas of the perfect pie are nothing alike. Chicago deep-dish pizza is a pie: thick, gooey, and packed with toppings over a flaky crust.

Restaurant Recommendations: The Original Gino’s East of Chicago

Chicago-Style Hot Dogs

Can a hot dog really be a regional specialty? A hot dog is a hot dog, in my opinion, but it’s all in how you dress it up. Chicago beef dogs come in steamed sesame-seed buns topped with mustard, onion, pickle, tomato, hot peppers and… celery salt. No ketchup allowed! Like many of Chicago’s hallowed food traditions, this one started during the Depression at Fluky’s on Maxwell Street though, like so much food history, that’s disputed. Whatever the true history of this distinct dog, it’s a flavor you have to experience in person, in mouth, because no description of mine can do it justice.

Restaurant Recommendations: George’s Hot DogsFranks ‘N’ Dawgs

Jibarito

The jibarito is a Puerto Rican-Chicago sandwich that uses flattened, fried green plantains in place of bread. The classic jibarito, created by Juan “Peter” Figueroa at his Borinquen Restaurant, contained steak, cheese, lettuce and tomato – but these days pork, chicken and even all-veggie options are common. It’s a simple sandwich made with fresh, thickly cut ingredients and it’s incredible even in it’s most basic traditional form. While the sandwiches are available all over Chicago, I recommend a Puerto Rican restaurant for that classic jibarito flavor.

Restaurant Recommendations: La BombaBorinquen

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell (@jmillermerrell) is a workplace change agent, author and consultant focused on human resources and talent acquisition living in Austin, TX. Recognized by Forbes as a top 50 social media influencer and is a global speaker. She’s the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource and host of the Workology Podcast.

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