Tastes of Chicago
Lou Malnati’s began shipping its pizzas all over the country in 1987. The service was initially offered during the holidays to satisfy Malnati fans that relocated outside of Chicago. After 10 years of shipping their famous deep dish, Lou Malnati’s realized that ex-Chicagoans craved even more of the Windy City’s favorite foods. It was then that they partnered with other fine restaurateurs in Chicago to provide them with the best tastes Chicago has to offer. This was the start of a tasty collaboration now known as Lou Malnati’s Tastes of Chicago. Tastes of Chicago offers hometown Chicago favorites including: Carson’s ribs, Eli’s cheesecake, Vienna Beef hot dogs, Portillo’s Italian beef, Garrett’s Popcorn, Long Grove Confectionary’s apple pies and chocolates, Manny’s Deli corned beef, Wildfire steaks, and more! We also offer gift packages for any occasion, virtual gift cards, apparel and other merchandise from Lou’s and select vendors.
Now, over 20 years later, Tastes of Chicago ships more than 250,000 pizzas throughout the year. Lou Malnati’s pizza remains the most popular item shipped and we think that’s because deep dish pizza just isn’t the same anywhere outside sweet home Chicago!
Lou Malnati's Pizzeria
Considered the oldest family name in Chicago pizza, Lou Malnati's is as rich in history as its pizza is in flavor. Lou got his start in the 1940's, working with his father Rudy, in Chicago's first deep-dish pizzeria. Lou Malnati took his pizza expertise to Lincolnwood, a northern suburb of Chicago, where he and his wife Jean opened the first Lou Malnati's Pizzeria on March 17, 1971. Lou was known for his fun-loving character as well as making Chicagoland's best pizza. Loyal patrons lined the streets on opening day for a taste of his delicious deep-dish creations. Lou always thought it was funny that an Italian should open a pizzeria in a Jewish neighborhood on an Irish holiday. But that was Lou's style, he loved all types of people and didn't care much about what people thought.
After meeting with an enormous success in Lincolnwood, Lou decided to open another pizzeria in a little northwestern suburb by O'Hare Airport, Elk Grove Village. Unfortunately, the Elk Grove location had a tough beginning. A major road construction project began a few months after the restaurants opening and for 14 months business suffered immensely. At one point the accountants advised Lou to close the doors before it ruined him. But Lou would have nothing to do with that idea and persevered. Sure enough, once the construction ended, people came in droves to Lou Malnati's Pizzeria in Elk Grove.
In 1978, Lou Malnati met with an untimely death when he fell victim to cancer. Lou's oldest son Marc was just graduating from college and joined his mother in the family business. A few years later Marc's younger brother Rick finished his basketball career at downstate Illinois' Bradley University and he joined the family business as well.
The company has continued to grow by building on the loyalty of their dedicated employees. Lou Malnati's is unique in the fact that people come to work for Malnati's and don't leave! Not only do they stay around for a long while, they recruit their family members to come work for Lou's. There are some cases of three generations of one family working for the Malnati's. Not long ago, the Malnati's recognized over 25 employees that had been part of the Malnati restaurant family for over 20 years! Quite a milestone for the restaurant business. This elite group consisted of managers, cashiers, waitstaff, cooks, and even bus boys. The longstanding tradition continues with almost 80 staff members that have been with Lou Malnati's for over 10 years.
Carrying on Lou's vision of providing great food at reasonable prices Lou Malnati's has grown to include 30 family-owned Chicagoland pizzerias. In recent years the Malnati's have felt blessed by their success and wanted to do something to give back to the community. In the fall of 1995, the Malnati's opened a restaurant on the West side of Chicago in an effort to help rejuvenate a neighborhood that has not had much success in recovering from the riots of 1967 which ravaged the area. Lou Malnati's Lawndale pizzeria is unique in that any profits are given back to the community to benefit children's educational and recreational programs.
Chicago institution since 1977, Carson's is the place visited by presidents, America's favorite athletes, stars of TV, the big screen, and literally millions of BBQ devotees. With hearty portions and a no holds barred attitude of offering only the finest quality available, Carson's promises to be a fabulous dining experience. For those seeking the best in an undeniably American dining tradition, Carson’s is a must.
Founded by famed Chicago restaurateur Chris Carson, and still family owned, Carson's is regarded as the finest upscale BBQ restaurant in America.
Carson’s, uses the "indirect method", of smoking our meat on a large traditional BBQ pit smoker. Smoke and low-level heat generated from hickory (off to the sides) slowly cooks while also penetrating the meat with wonderful wood flavor. The smokers have a rotisserie system within the pit which permits them to slowly smoke 180 slabs at a time. While some barbecue purists insist that sauce never be part of the process, Carson’s believes the opposite…those purists have just never tasted a great sauce! Carson’s Signature BBQ Sauce is spectacular and that’s why we use it generously. Many places brush sauce on the meat in the final grilling stage or offer it at the table. Carson’s goes much further. Before we load our meat into the pit, we dip it into our sauce. This allows the sauce to permeate the meat as the hickory slowly does its job. Some suggest the sauce might cause the meat to burn. Carson’s sauce is on the sweet side and it does not burn, especially when smoking at temperatures between 190° and 250°. So, no boiling! No tenderizers! No dry rub! No beer! Just authentic, slow-cooked barbecue.
Eli M. Schulman opened his first restaurant, Eli’s Ogden Huddle, on the west side of Chicago in 1940. Eli developed a reputation for being a wonderful host and serving great food which lead to him opening Eli’s Stage Delicatessen just off Michigan Avenue in 1962 and then Eli’s the Place for Steak in 1966.
It was in the kitchen at Eli’s the Place for Steak that Eli developed his now famous cheesecake as his signature dessert. Eli’s Cheesecake made its public debut outside the restaurant at the first Taste of Chicago that was held on Michigan Avenue on July 4, 1980. Eli’s has been the #1 dessert at Taste since that time selling almost 2 million slices of cheesecake at the Taste alone.
In order to support the growing cheesecake business, Eli’s opened Eli’s Cheesecake World on Chicago’s northwest side. The 62,000 square foot state-of-the-art bakery includes a café and visitors center. Eli’s has been named as the top food tour in the country by the Food Network and is a popular attraction with regularly scheduled classes and events like a weekly Farmers Market and the Annual Eli’s Cheesecake Festival.
Eli’s is famous for creating giant cheesecakes for special events including the City of Chicago’s 150th birthday, the Inaugural of President Clinton in Washington DC in 1993 and 1997, Hillary Clinton’s 50th birthday at the Cultural Center in 1997 and the City of Chicago’s Millennium Cake.
Eli’s is a family owned business that is committed to promoting Chicago and its civic and cultural institutions. Eli’s has an educational and business partnership with Wright College and the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences. Each year, Eli’s supports over 1,200 organizations with donations of cheesecake.
When two young immigrants brought their frankfurter recipe from Austria-Hungary to Chicago's World Fair/Columbian Exposition in 1893, they knew they were starting a taste sensation. What they didn't know was that they were starting an empire. The new-fangled hot dog sandwich -- a pure beef frankfurter in a steamed bun with yellow mustard, bright green relish, chopped onion, tomato wedges, a kosher pickle spear, sport peppers and a dash of celery salt -- quickly became Chicago's favorite treat. It wasn't long before the entire country discovered Vienna.
The Chicago-style hot dog hasn't changed, and neither has Vienna® Beef's commitment to quality. Customers know that Vienna® Beef means goodness throughout, from the 100% domestic beef and sweet brisket trimmings to the high-tech processing and old-world hickory smoking, all prepared in our USDA Establishment 1 approved facility. Customers know the "V" means pure Chicago flavor -- without a single unnatural additive or undeserved compliment.
Though Vienna enjoys a strong retail presence, it's the restaurants and hot dog stands that have made us who we are. We happily help new customers with equipment and strategy suggestions and we also provide them with point-of-sale typically displaying our famous "V" logo. Their customers return the favor by lining up.
In Chicago, more than 80% of the 1,800-plus hot dog vendors proudly feature Vienna® Beef products. Sports fans have enjoyed our products for years, from where the Sox and Cubs swing, the Bulls hold court, and the Blackhawks take the ice. Also, millions of people can sample a "Chicago Style" hot dog at the Taste of Chicago. We'll never forget our roots. Nevertheless, over half of our business now extends beyond our hometown, reaching as far as Europe, Denmark, Mexico and the Pacific Rim. Our trusted distributors make sure that whether you are in Phoenix or Tokyo, you can taste Chicago in every Vienna bite.
Vienna remains a family-run business with a hometown flavor. Our horizons may be wider, but our approach hasn't changed since 1893: use the finest ingredients to make the best products; honor the smallest requests with a big effort; and serve up a taste that will stir memories and open doors. More than ever, the Vienna® Beef logo is the sign of great-tasting food products and people who care.
Dick Portillo was born at 1333 West Van Buren in Chicago, Illinois. His family then moved to a government-subsidized housing project on Mohawk Street, called Mother Francis Cabrini Housing Project, now part of Cabrini Green. After his father started earning an income of $2,000 a year, they were prompted to leave and moved to 1617 South Central Park. His family later moved to the southwest suburbs. He was a 1957 graduate of Argo Community High School at 63rd and Harlem.
The first Portillo's hot dog stand known as "The Dog House" opened in 1963 on North Avenue in Villa Park. Owner and Founder Dick Portillo, invested $1,100 into a 6'x12' trailer without a bathroom or running water. To get the water he needed, he ran a 250 ft. hose from an adjacent building into his trailer.
By 1967 "The Dog House" was a success and was ready for a new look. After it was remodeled it was renamed "Portillo's". Over the years it has grown: Portillo's expanded to Southern California in 2005, and is continuing to look at future expansion into Indiana.
The stores' decor reflect Dick Portillo's love of history. From 1920's, '30's and '50's themes, to a Colorado mine shaft he visited, to a Chicago street scene reminiscent of his old 16th and Central Park neighborhood, each restaurant has a distinctive atmosphere that is very personal to him.