10 Foodservice Facts About Chicago

What comes to mind when you hear the phrase “Chicago food scene”? Chances are your brain goes straight to Chicago deep-dish pizza, loaded heavily with layers of cheese, meat, and tomato sauce. Or maybe, your mind conjures images of a Chicago dog, topped with mustard, relish, tomato slices, and hot peppers. The Italian beef sandwich, essentially a Philly Cheesesteak without cheese is another iconic menu item. If you’re looking for something less classic, you’ll want to try the edible fruit balloon dessert from Michelin star restaurant, Alinea.

The Windy City always ranks in the top 10 or top 15 best food cities in the country, and for good reason. Chicago is rich with a multitude of cuisines, including Mexican, Italian, Portuguese, Greek, Chinese, Indian, and much more. The Brizo Food Metrics platform has data gathered on 12,296 foodservice establishments in the city; out of these establishments, 9,404 are independent locations and 2,892 are chains. 

In such a bustling, food-forward city, there is a lot of restaurant data to process. Using the Brizo Food Metrics platform, we rounded up some data-rich foodservice facts of Chicago to save you time and energy. Instead of trying to figure out what the top cuisines, menu items, and amenities are here, we did the work for you. 

Brizo Data Facts for Chicago

Top cuisine 

Although Chicago is known for its signature dishes such as deep dish pizza and dogs, the city is rich with cuisines from around the world . On one block, you can get a plate of pierogies, and then next door, birria tacos. Out of all cuisines, American is most popular here, with 5,292 establishments. Next is Mexican food, with 1,656 establishments, and then Italian, with 826 establishments. 

Top dietary style

Fried chicken sandwiches, sour cream glaze donuts, jibarito sandwiches, and barbeque are some other Chicago classics. With that being said, it’s no surprise that 7,275 establishments identify as offering fried food, while 5,450 offer comfort food. The third most popular dietary style here is vegetarian, with 4,278 locations offering this option. 

Top food chain

For independent establishment operators, it is important to understand what chains are most prominent in the area to know what they are up against. Dunkin’ Donuts is the most popular chain here with 197 locations; Subway is close behind with 191 locations. Starbucks rings in as the third most populous chain with 149 locations. 

Top food delivery marketplace

As a big city with a lively food scene, food delivery is bustling here. Out of the 12,296 establishments in Chicago, 10,406 offer delivery. Grubhub works with 5,956 establishments, DoorDash with 4,737, and UberEats with 4,681. 

Menu item: tacos

Mexican food is one of the top cuisines in Chicago, and that means tacos are a popular menu item in the Windy City. There are 646 establishments in the city that are listed as offering tacos on their menus; 540 of these are independent locations and 106 are chains. 

Accepts cryptocurrency

As more and more customers have become familiar with cryptocurrency, more establishments have begun accepting it as a form of payment. In Chicago, 1,297 establishments are listed as being able to accept some form of cryptocurrency. Most of these establishments are independent casual American restaurants. 

Menu item: pizza

Pizza in Chicago is different from anywhere else, and there are 1,171 establishments to try a slice from in the city. Most are independent operators (806). One of the most famous pizza places in the city is Lou Malnati’s, which opened in 1940. 

Late-night eats

Looking for something to satisfy your late-night “drunchies” (aka drunk munchies)? You won’t need to look for long: 693 establishments in Chicago are open between the hours of 9 pm-2 am, while 2,479 identify as “late-night eats”. While many of these establishments are chains like McDonald’s and 7-Eleven, 257 are independent. Most late-night food spots offer fast food or fried food, and identify as American. 


After your late night out, you and your friends will likely need to reconvene over some brunch the next day. In Chicago, 1,760 establishments offer brunch; most brunch options are American comfort food. There are 231 Mexican establishments with brunch, and 579 locations that offer vegan menu items for this mid-morning meal. 

Outdoor seating

As we enter the summer season, Chicago weather will hover around an average of 80 degrees, giving you the perfect excuse to drink a beer outside on a patio. 1,993 establishments in the city offer outdoor seating, and 1,997 are pet friendly. Does that beer outside sound lovely? Out of all the places that offer outdoor seating, 1,071 also offer beer. 

Gathering Data on Chicago (and Other Big Cities)

If you’re a vendor selling to foodservice establishments in Chicago (or any city for that matter), it can be extraordinarily time-consuming to research and gather the correct contacts. In Chicago alone, Brizo Food Metrics offers access to 16,990 unique contacts. For foodservice operations looking to research competitors, Brizo’s easy-to-use platform has data on 12,296 locations. This is just in Chicago; throughout the U.S. and Canada, 120,300 food and beverage establishments, 600,000 menus, and over 200 million menu items. Reach out today to get set up with a free trial of Brizo today, and start saving time and money when it comes to competitive research