Chicago hot dog.
Deep dish pizza.
These three constitute the generally agreed-upon triumvirate of Chicago's original foods.
One other Chicago classic, unsung and with nowhere near the visibility of the Big Three, is the breaded steak sandwich. This sandwich was apparently first conceived at 70 year-old Ricobene's in Bridgeport.
Last week, around 10PM, I was driving along Harlem and spotted "The Original Luke's on Harlem" (3130 N. Harlem) and figured, what the heck.
The breaded steak sandwich is quite a bit like chicken fried steak, but with a Chicago flourish: red sauce, mozzarella, and peppers, sweet and/or hot. It's served in a roll that you pretty much have to squish to fit the sandwich all in your mouth. Or you can eat it with a knife and fork, as they might in Patagonia.
I enjoyed this sandwich. It was tasty with Italian spices, and the meat had been pounded, maybe marinated/rubbed. It was much like a chicken-fried steak, and a good one at that.
This sandwich is hugely messy (the counterman came out to offer more napkins as it was clear I was at risk of drowning in red sauce).
I don't believe the breaded steak sandwich is available in Oak Park. Have you spotted one?