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For Chicagoans, the love for their favorite pizza (*cough* Lou Malnati’s *cough*) is as strong as their opinions on the Cubs and Sox, Marshall Field’s and Macy’s. Few take their pizza passion so seriously as the denizens of the Windy City!

Outside Lou Malnati's Gold Coast Location

Lou Malnati’s flagship Gold Coast location, which opened July 4, 2011, just after the restaurant’s 40th anniversary

You won’t catch the Chicago Food Planet team playing favorites — at least not on the record — but when we were picking restaurant spots for our original Near North food tasting and cultural walking tour (now called The Second City Classic Tour), we knew we had to find a pizza joint that screamed classic Chicago…enter Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria.

The first-ever Malnati’s location opened in 1971 in Lincolnwood, on Chicago’s northwest side. And yes, there is really a Lou Malnati. He got his start making pizza in the 1940s, and he didn’t stop until he died in 1978. His two sons kept the business going and growing — who would hesitate going into the family business when it’s as delicious as this?

Lou Malnati’s is family owned and operated, but the real secret to the restaurant’s success is the food: hand-selected tomatoes, mozzarella cheese from a small dairy producer, an exclusive lean sausage blend, and something magical called Buttercrust. It’s trademarked.

There are actually 34 Lou Malnati’s locations in all — plus you can order online — so no matter where you are, you can satisfy your craving for that signature Chicago flavor in all its saucy, cheesy glory.

The Gold Coast location, where food lovers stop for a slice on Chicago Food Planet’s Second City Classic Food Experience (Walking Food Tour), opened July 4, 2011, just after the company’s 40th anniversary. It’s the new flagship location, with more seating than any other location and full-service dine-in, delivery and catering services.

The River North location is showcased on the Best In Chow Food Experience has been open since 1986 and was the sixth Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria to open and the first within the Chicago city limits! This historic fact is why we feature it as one of the Best Chow in Chicago! Located just north of the Loop, with plenty of restaurants, shopping options on the Magnificent Mile, and beautiful attractions like Millennium Park and Navy Pier close-by, River North is a must visit.  If you’re looking for the perfect way to round out a Chicago day, look no further than the Best In Chow tour featuring Lou Malnati’s deep dish cheese pizza.

Pizza enthusiasts have long recognized as one of the bastions of true Chicago deep dish pizza quality. It’s become one of those places locals mention in their can’t-miss list of Chicago food spots. Even Iron Chef Bobby Flay has done his best to imitate, duplicate and improve on the Malnati’s formula on his Food Network show “Throwdown”:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=naHZd-ShVYM

(Spoiler: Of course, Malnati’s reigned supreme again.)

Need another review to back our opinion up? Check out what Bootler has to say about Lou Malnati’s here. Hint: They call it “the best ever.” What’s Bootler? Just a badass food delivery service in Chicago. Check them out today.

Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria
1120 N. State St. (plus 33 more locations) | 312-725-7777

Chicago Food Planet offers a variety of awesome walking food tours in Chicago

Discover Chicago’s hottest foodie neighborhood as you nosh on cuisine from the master chefs that started a dining revolution. [Year-Round]

Tour Length3 Hours
Cost$60 Adult | $80 Adult VIP | $35 Youth
Tour Distance0.6 Miles
NeighborhoodsWest Loop

Explore historic Mom & Pop specialty food shops and indulge in classic Chicago tastes in Gold Coast and Old Town neighborhoods [Seasonal]

Tour Length3 hours
Cost$60 Adult | $72 Adult VIP | $35 Youth
Tour Distance1.3 Miles
NeighborhoodsGold Coast & Old Town
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