Chicago’s Best Za: Top 10 Thin Crust and Deep Dish Pizza Joints in the City.

Chicago is a town that prides itself on being the best at whatever it does, just ask anyone you meet on the street — they’ll tell you. That’s why the Windy City stands so firmly by its position as the world leader in pizza, both deep dish and thin crust. While culinary experts and fickle food critics scoff at the idea of pizza as fine dining, Chicagoans know the truth. We decided to pull together 10 of the most delicious, well made, and iconic pizza places in the city. The next time you are in Chicago you need to loosen your belt and dig in at these local pizza joints.

10. Pequod’s Pizza

We’re going to start off this list right by bringing you right into the heart of deep dish country. Pequod’s Pizza does what so many other companies fail to do: nail the basics. When you are advertising yourself as a pizza joint then you need to pride yourself on hitting the right notes: flaky crust, tangy sauce, and great dough. Fortunately for Pequod’s they do it all and then some. Pequod’s has been going strong since 1970.

Hot Take – There are vegetarian options available, so feel free to get in on the gluttony!

2207 North Clybourn Ave, Chicago IL.

9. 800 Degrees

If we are going to give the spotlight to deep dish pizza it is only fair that we revel in some of the best thin crust in the city. 800 Degrees of Pizza is a gourmet pizza spot that specializes in ‘build your own’ thin crust pizzas. You’ll start by building your base (crispy, gluten free, Neapolitan) and then you will move on to the sauce before loading up on your toppings. Fresh mozzarella swims in a sea of tangy red sauce as your pie is pulled from the oven and delivered with a sprinkle of sea salt. The presentation here is on point.

Hot Take – Base pizzas will only run you around $10 with a drink — perfect for budget eaters.

812 Church Street, Evanston IL.

3033 North Ashland Ave, Chicago IL.

8. Lou Malnati’s

The city of Chicago  and its surrounding area has been peppered with Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria locations, 45 to be exact, and for good reason. Lou Malnati is to pizza in Chicago as Mike Ditka is to football in the Windy City — simply transcendent. Lou Malnati and his wife, Jean, opened up their first restaurant back in 1971 and the rest is history. Lou Malnati’s is revered due to the true respect that they have for deep dish pie. Fresh cheese, a flaky crust, and tangy sauce keeps your fork busy while you eat.

Hot Take – If you aren’t going to be in the city long enough to grab a slice then you can order their pizza shipped to you via the Tastes of Chicago mail order division.

439 North Wells Street, Chicago IL.

7. Pizano’s Pizza & Pasta

We’re going to jump into a bit of history here. Chicago is littered with pizza making greats but most of them are attached to the man himself, Lou Malnati. Lou had a couple of sons get into the biz, with one opting to run the family business and the other opting to start his own. Pizano’s Pizza was developed by Rudy Malnati and he brings family care to some of the best deep dish in town. What we love about Pizano’s is that they embrace deep dish without turning it into a gimmick. The pie here is perfect in depth and never overwhelming.  This is all to say nothing of their delicious thin crust. You wouldn’t think that a Malnati brother would bring so much attention to detail in regards to the ‘other pizza’ but he does. Crispy, crunchy, and never dry this is probably one of the best thin crust joints in the city.

Hot Take – Rudy cooks his pizza at 600 degrees for 20 minutes and highly suggests a bottle of red Chianti with your meal.

51 East Madison Street, Chicago IL.

6. Al’s Pizza

This family owned restaurant is one of the biggest draws in the Portage Park neighborhood. What we found most lovable about Al’s is their insistency on making great thin crust pizza in a city so dominated by deep dish. Baked crispy with fresh cheese and a homemade sauce, Al’s pies are perfect for an evening of great food with friends. The pizza here is cut tavern style and is deliciously greasy.

Hot Take – If you want to feed the family, and then some, opt for the ‘Pizza King’ This size serves 8 people while costing only $26.

6344 West Irving Park Road, Chicago IL.

5. Renaldi’s Pizza

If you want a no frills throw back to the days of solid pizza, natural ingredients, and Italian craftsmanship then you need to head to Renaldi’s. Renaldi’s has a slew of great menu items that run the gamut of Italian fare however the main attraction will always be the pizza. Real cheese, fresh meat, and GMO free additives ensures that every slice is natural and treasured.

Hot Take – Renaldi’s is considered one of the best places for New York style pizza in the city — just don’t tell them that. They are Chicago proud through and through.

2827 North Broadway Street, Chicago IL.

4. Coalfire Pizza

Coalfire is a lesser known spot that has been dishing up beautiful thin crust for years. Open Tuesday – Sunday, Coalfire is dishing out coal fueled, oven baked pizza in quantities that would alarm most nutritionists. Coalfire’s specialty is definitely their fresh whipped ricotta and we can’t suggest the margherita pizza enough.

Hot Take – Coalfire offers crisp, crunchy, pizza topped with some of the best tasting cheese in the city — no contest.

1321 West Grande Ave, Chicago IL.

3. Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder

This is probably the most unique place, visually, on our list. Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder is located in a narrow, three story brick building that looks like it was pulled out of Victorian era London. The inside of the building is nothing but hospitable and ready to receive you, however. The big draw here is the Pizza Pot Pie which gets its name thanks to the fact that it is cooked entirely in a bowl. This is a fresh take on a tired genre and it definitely keeps deep dish fun.

Hot Take – You can get the Pizza Pot Pie by the pound. It’ll cost you a pretty penny, but it’s worth it.

2121 North Clark Street, Chicago IL.

2. The Art of Pizza

The name of our next spot sums up the experience: pizza here is treated like artwork. Recently named the best deep dish in the city by the Chicago Tribune, The Art of Pizza is slinging slices every day of the week. Our favorite aspect of AoP is their delicious, perfectly golden cooked crust.  There is something so appealing about deep dish with a crunch.

Hot Take – This is one of the few places on our list that offers deep dish by the slice. Swing by on your lunch break for a filling meal to keep you fueled for work.

1. Pat’s Pizza

When we are looking for the best pizza in town we don’t ever judge a place by its building, just what comes out on our plate. There’s no doubt that people are walking by Pat’s Pizza because it doesn’t give itself away. The building is inauspicious and laid back but the pizza comes out piping hot, crispy, and still tender enough to melt in your mouth. There’s no better thin crust pizza in the city. You aren’t getting crackers with cheese served here. You are getting something delicately served with a crispy, buttered crust.

Hot Take – Pat’s Pizza believes in their word when it comes to delivery times. No matter how busy the night is you will get your pizza exactly when you order it. Perfect for that last second Monday Night Football delivery.

628 South Clark Street, Chicago IL.

About the Author
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George Kokkonas