A sandwich with pepper-hot mustard from Jim’s Original
Photography: University of Illinois Press

1 Jim’s Original offers an original condiment.

‘Made in Chicago’ book

It’s called pepper-hot mustard, and it’s a combination of local Plochman’s mustard mixed with chopped sport peppers. Owner Jim Christopoulos, the grandson of the founder, pickles his own serrano peppers. He says chopping them up into the mustard means better distribution of flavor than if you slapped a couple of whole sport peppers on your Polish sausage. Genius.

2 Chicago has two distinct kinds of egg rolls.

You may or may not know that there’s peanut butter binding the egg rolls at many local Chinese restaurants (that’s why they’re so good). You need to add a second style to your dining list — those stuffed with jerk chicken. Within the last decade, a number of Black-owned restaurants on the South and West Sides, such as 3 Kings Jerk in Austin, began offering egg rolls with spicy chicken, cabbage, and carrots.

3 The Malört recipe did indeed change.

Avid imbibers of Jeppson’s Malört speculated that when CH Distillery took over ownership and distilling of the city’s favorite bitter liqueur in 2018, it got a little less astringent. CH owner Tremaine Atkinson confirmed that it tweaked the recipe to make it more balanced and removed the artificial coloring, which ultimately changed the flavor.

A Rainbow Cone and a Chicago-style hot dog

4 Two local favorites started out a little different.

What would a Chicago hot dog be without a pickle? The dragged-through-the-garden dog we know and love took time to get to its current iteration. Early on, it featured cucumbers, which were swapped out for a tangy pickle (both locations of Byron’s Hot Dogs still offer cucumbers). Also, the Palmer House flavor on the Rainbow Cone was once maple walnut. “The profile didn’t fit with the Rainbow Cone,” says Lynn Sapp, granddaughter of the founder.

Steak and lemonade

5 A Jordanian immigrant created the steak and lemonade combo.

Eng tracked down the inventor of this South and West Side pairing, which consists of a Philly cheesesteak–like sandwich and a lemonade slushie. Haitham Allabadi launched it at his now-closed Country Club Hills restaurant in 1998, and it has proliferated around the area. The drink nods to limonana, a Middle Eastern mint lemonade slushie. Try it at any of the three locations of his new restaurant, Baba’s Famous Steak & Lemonade.