photo: courtesy of Bridget Montgomery
There are approximately 2,000 pizza joints in Chicago, but only about 10 of them are regularly lauded and staunchly defended as the best. Pequod's, named after the whaling ship from Moby Dick, is one of those 10.
The blue vinyl awning, the lighted whale and neon beer signs belie a typical Chicago dive frequented by blue-collar crowds. When Pequod's opened in the early 1970s with pool tables, darts and blonde wood, that's exactly what it was. As the neighborhood gentrified, Pequod's was infused with hipsters playing Golden Tee attracted by the blue-collar kitsch. In 2005, a kitchen fire temporarily shut down the place, and they cleared out the vintage accoutrement in favor of West Loop loft vibe with a slight Prairie-style accent.
Thankfully, the pizza never changed. Debates rage over whether the crispy thin crust or the deep dish is better. Our money is on the deep dish, baked in cast iron pans blackened by decades of seasoning, the overflowing cheese emerges from the oven as a halo of caramelized crust, lending a crispy nutty counterpoint to the pizza's gooey interior. Servers bring it tableside and set it on whale-shape cutting boards. If you like encased meats on your pie, the thick hunks of spiced sausage at Pequod's may be the best in town.
Average cost: $10-$20
Centerstage Reviewer: Michael Nagrant