How to Eat Healthy in Chicago: Dining with Deep Dish & Dogs

From Chicago’s deep dish pizzas to hot dogs, Chicago has a gluttonous food scene. Our city is home to one-of-a-kind local bites, such as the Maple Bacon Doughnut from Glazed & Infused, 312 beer from Goose Island Brewery, and an egg topped burger from Au Cheval. These decadent foods are a tourist attraction, but when we are surrounded by them year round we need to have a set of healthy tools to be able to dine out year round in this city. Here’s how to eat healthy in Chicago’s most notorious food scenes:

Navigating Through the Holes (Glazed & Infused)


Chicago Pizza:

Lou Malnati’s Chicago Classic Deep Dish Slice: 600 calories, 37 grams of fat, 38 grams of carbohydrates, 29 grams of protein, 730 mg of sodium

Healthy Tip:

  • Try out some of Chicago’s best thin crust spots, such as Home Slice, Coalfire, and Parlor Pizza Bar, for and lower calorie, fat, and carb option.
  • If you go deep dish, split the pizza and salad with a friend.
Coal Fire Pepperoni & Ricotta Pizza by Maggy Boyd

Coal Fire Pepperoni & Ricotta Pizza

Chicago Hot Dogs:

Portillo’s Chicago Style Hotdog: 377 calories, 20 grams of fat, 38 grams of carbs, 12 grams protein, 2,384 mg sodium

Healthy Tip:

  • Try out Flub A Dub Chubs Hot Dogs, where you can get a hot dog wrapped in lettuce or served in a lettuce bowl.
  • If you go for Portillo’s, try out their famous Chopped Salad (ask for dressing on the side).

Hot Dog Lettuce Bowl from Flub A Dub Chubs


Chicago Burgers:

Shake Shack’s Double ShackBurger: 770 calories, 50 grams of fat, 25 grams of carbs, 54 grams of protein, 1490mg sodium

Healthy Tip:

  • Try out DMK Burger Bar for their Salmon or Paleo Burger and Epic Burger for their Bunless or Turkey Burger.
  • If you go for a burger, opt for a single patty, add extra vegetables, and/or try it protein style (aka: sans bun).

DMK’s Paleo burger by DMK Restaurants


Chicago Tacos:

Taco Burrito King’s soft-shell corn tortilla with lettuce, tomato, sour cream, cheese, sauce, and choice of meat: No nutritional information (shell tortilla is fried= high in fat, sour cream and cheese= high in fat)

Healthy Tip:

  • Try out Taco Burrito King’s healthier options of a veggie taco or taco salad and Velvet Taco for their Mediterranean calamari or Ahi poke taco.
  • If you get a taco around town, remove one tortilla if there’s two, select corn over flour tortillas, avoid extra sour cream or cheese, and choose fish or chicken for the protein.

Velvet Taco’s Portobello & Ahi Poke Tacos


Chicago Brunch:

Flo Chicago’s Fruity Pebbles French Toast, Little Goat Diner’s Fat Elvis Waffles, Yolk’s Pot Roast Benedict: Nutritional information conveniently not available.

Healthy Tip:

  • Try out Eastman Egg’s Fairfax Egg Sandwich or Egg Bowl and Protein Bar’s Pancake in a Bowl.
  • If your out at brunch, create your own omelet or have a pancake topped with fresh fruit. If your craving a decadent option, offer to order it for the table to share.
The Fairfax from Eastman Egg

The Fairfax from Eastman Egg


Chicago Weekday Lunch:

Potbelly’s A Wreck Original Sandwich: 538 calories, 20 grams of fat, 59 grams of carbs, 33 grams protein, 1746 mg sodium

Healthy Tip:

  • Try out Chicago’s own meal prep service, Eat Clean Chicago, a company that cooks and delivers your meals to you.
  • If you get caught in the weekday lunch traffic, grab a flat bread sandwich from Potbelly’s, a chicken salad from Chipotle, or a bowl from Freshii.
Eat Clean Chicago's Meal Prep

Eat Clean Chicago’s Meal Prep


Navigate the menu, so you can expand your health and not your waistline in Chicago. Show your favorite healthy Chicago options to @EatHealthyChicago by using the hash tag #EatHealthyChicago.


Maggy Boyd just completed her first year as a nutrition graduate student in the UIC MS CP program. When she’s not at school she is coaching the UIC Diving Team, competing in NPC Bikini shows, and exploring Chicago. Follow her @NutritiousFoodie and her website.

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1 Comment

  1. John Chevez on May 5, 2015 at 8:01 pm

    Great read! Wanting to visit Chicago soon and appreciate some great tips on how to maintain a healthy eating schedule!! The healthier food pictures look great as well will definitely be visiting some of these spots.

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