Ultimate Chicago Deep-Dish Pizza Guide for #SHSMD 2016

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SHSMD 2016 is the perfect time to try out these 7 famous Chicago deep-dish pizzerias.

September 11-14th, thousands of healthcare professionals will converge in Chicago for the annual SHSMD connections marketing conference at the Hyatt Regency Chicago. With so many interesting conversations and lectures going on, it’s safe to assume that attendees will be working up a serious appetite. Luckily, the windy city has them covered: some of the city’s top deep-dish pizzerias are located within walking distance of the conference center.

In anticipation of the event, I polled some of my most trusted Chicago friends on their favorite local spots — so without further ado, here are the top five spots to enjoy an authentic deep-dish pizza, straight from the pizza experts themselves. Just remember, these delicacies can take up to 45 minutes to cook, so be sure to call ahead if you don’t have time to spare.

Giordano’s Pizzeria

Outside of Uno’s Pizzeria, Giordano’s is Chicago’s most recognizable deep-dish chain, and many Chicagoans consider it to be the best. For out-of-towners, the most notable aspect of any deep-dish is its size, and Giordano’s certainly delivers. As Serious Eats writes, “This is not a reasonable pizza; this is event pizza. It's designed to leave you speechless.”

Luckily for us, there’s a Giordano’s located a 5-minute walk from the Hyatt Regency Chicago.

Location: 130 E Randolph St.

Bella Bacino’s

Our second pick is also conveniently located within 5 minutes of the conference. Not only does Bacino’s use only fresh and high-quality ingredients, their stuffed spinach pizza has been officially recognized as “heart healthy” by the Chicago Heart Association. Don’t miss out on this delicious, healthy pie.

Location: 75 E Wacker Dr.

Pizano’s Pizza and Pasta

Another classic Chicago pizza chain, Pizano’s goes beyond offering great deep-dish: their thin crust offerings also rank as some of the best in the city. Their deep-dish is also on the thinner side, making this pizzeria a great choice for anyone looking to cautiously test the deep-dish waters before diving in headfirst. Fun fact: Pizano’s is run by the brother of another top deep-dish pizzeria: Lou Malnati’s (see below).

Location: Mallers Building, 61 East Madison St.

Lou Malnati’s

Because Chicago has so many deep-dish joints, the city’s pizzerias need to get creative in order to stand out. Ask any deep-dish connoisseur, and they’ll tell you that what makes Lou Malnati’s special is their signature creamy lemon garlic dressing — locals dip their pizza into the concoction for a distinctive tang. The chain also offers some local Chicago history: the real Lou Malnati worked in the city’s first deep-dish pizzeria back in the 1940’s.

While the nearest Malnati’s is an 18-minute walk from the Hyatt, any local will tell you that the pizza is well worth the walk.

Location: 439 N. Wells St.

Bartoli's Pizzeria

We tried to limit our picks to pizzerias near the conference, but we couldn’t leave Bartoli’s off the list. A relative newcomer to the Chicago scene, Bartoli’s takes the best elements of the classic Chicago pizzerias of days past and refines everything into a balanced, flavorful pie. Locals are catching on: Chicago Mag recently ranked this pizzeria as the top deep-dish spot in the city. It’s a bit of a trek to get there from the conference center, but we can guarantee that you won’t be disappointed.

Location: 1955 W Addison St.

Peaquod’s

While these last two pizzerias require a longer journey from the conference, no “best of” list would be complete without Pequod's and Coalfire (see below). This off-the-beaten-path establishment makes the best pizza in town, according to my local informants. If you go during peak hours (lunch- or dinnertime), you may wait hours to eat, but my Chicago friends assure me that it’s worth sticking it out.

Location: 2207 N Clybourn Ave.

Coalfire

Coalfire is the one outlier on our list, because it serves up (drumroll please)...thin crust pizza. If you’re out and about in Chicago and stumble upon this treasure, you won’t regret stopping in for a fantastic alternative to the classic deep-dish. As their website boasts: “At Coalfire we serve a thin crust, coal-forged pizza that emerges slightly charred and bubbly from our 800 degree oven.” Enough said.

Location: 3707 N Southport Ave. or 1321 W Grand Ave.

If you’re attending SHSMD 2016 and looking to chat digital marketing for your medical practice or organization, DM me on twitter, @jonathancatly, or find me on the conference floor — we can compare notes on digital strategy, emerging best practices, and our personal picks for the best pizza the city has to offer.

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Image: Eric Chan/Flickr)