The Most Underrated Chicago Food, According To Chef Lamar Moore - Exclusive

What foods come to mind when you think of Chicago? Is it deep-dish pizza? Perhaps it's the classic Chicago-style hot dog covered in a million different toppings. If you're a food history buff, you might say brownies, which were invented in 1893 at Chicago's Palmer House Hotel (where you can still buy them, per Forbes).

If you've been watching the hit Hulu show "The Bear," you might say an Italian beef sandwich. There's been something of a Chicago beef boom since "The Bear" first aired. Chicago chef Lamar Moore knows quite a bit about Italian beef. In addition to being a Windy City native, he's also a Certified Angus Beef brand ambassador chef partner. In his expert opinion, "A perfect Italian beef is on a nice kaiser roll, and there's cheddar cheese. I like hot giardiniera in there, and definitely thinly sliced beef, and dipped very, very well."

When we talked with Chef Moore, we wanted to know what the true undiscovered gems of the Chicago food scene were, beyond the stuff that any tourist guidebook would tell you about. In an exclusive interview with Mashed, Chef Lamar Moore revealed the most underrated local Chicago specialty.

Chicago's best-kept food secret is pizza, but not deep dish

Chef Lamar Moore's favorite Chicago food deep cut is such a locals-only dish that you might have trouble finding it outside of the city: a pizza puff. What is a pizza puff exactly? In Moore's words, "People describe it as a pizza pie, but it's not a pie. It's a dough wrapped around pizza filling and cheese on the inside." It's vaguely similar to a pizza Hot Pocket, but it's also its own special creation. Per the Chicago Tribune, most pizza puffs are made by Iltaco Foods and distributed to restaurants around Chicago, where they are deep-fried and served to (often inebriated) customers, usually late at night. These fried, cheese- and sauce-filled pockets of crispy dough are the perfect post-bar snack.

If you want the true local pizza pocket experience, follow Lamar Moore's ordering instructions to the letter: "A pizza puff and fries with mild sauce." Mild sauce is another local secret that might need some explanation for non-Chicagoans. According to That Mild Sauce, this mysterious condiment always contains ketchup, but beyond that, ingredients may vary. It's usually spiked with additional spices and tastes both tangy and sweet. Between the fries, pizza pocket, and mild sauce, you'll have all the fried carbs, cheese, and salt you need to go sleep off your bar crawl in true Chicago style.

Find out more about Certified Angus Beef on its website. Lamar Moore's restaurants include Chicago's Eleven|Eleven and Las Vegas' Bugsy & Meyer's Steakhouse.