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Chicago’s Essential Tavern-Style Thin-Crust Pizza Restaurants

The best of the city’s square- and triangle-cut pies

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Is tavern-style pizza falling into the same category as deep dish?

In recent years, Chicagoans have raged that deep-dish pizza isn’t what real locals eat. The infatuation with stuffed, deep dish, pan, etc. comes from clever marketing and outside media who fumble when trying to pigeonhole the biggest city in the Midwest.

Chicagoans prefer thin-crust pizza, the narrative bleeds. It’s the pizza folks here know best and eat the most. It’s a unique style that is truly Chicagoans. It does not resemble styles seen in Boston, Wisconsin, or... St. Louis. At least Chicago uses real cheese. There even seems to be a resentment of the term “tavern style” that’s been building up. “It’s Chicago thin” crotchety locals will claim sitting on their thrones at their favorite slashie. Or, whoops, we meant packaged goods store.

Regardless, these thin-cut pizzas — cut up in triangles and squares — represent comfort, tradition, and family for many in this city. Here’s Eater’s list of the best pies in town.

For a look at deep-dish pizzerias, check out this map.

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Barnaby's

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What was once a prominent local chain has been whittled down to a just a few locations in the suburbs. That hasn’t stopped this Northbrook outpost, though, from cranking out superb tavern-style pizzas. The crisp, cornmeal-dusted crust provides the foundation for a right amount of cheese, tangy sauce, and toppings like housemade sausage.

Candlelite

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It’s hard to miss the gigantic neon arrow pointing folks in the direction of Candlelite. West Rogers Park is home to great cracker-thin-crust pizzas boasting ingredients such as Italian beef, shrimp, and barbecue chicken. On Tuesdays, those who dine in can get two pies for the price of one.

Dino's Italian Pizza & Italian Restaurant

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The Northwest Side sometimes gets overlooked, but its love for tavern-style pizza is as strong as any part of town thanks to the large Italian immigrant population along Harlem Avenue. Dino’s is a family-owned joint with a dive bar. The owners don’t even know the term “tavern-style pizza” — they just needed a way to keep the bar’s customers. The restaurant has expanded with fresh ingredients, crispy crusts, and an adherence to tradition. 

Michael's Original Pizzeria & Tavern

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Head to Uptown for cold beer and flaky and buttery crusts topped with a thick layer of ingredients. Michael’s is a sports bar that does Chicago-style pizza the way it was meant to be done. If guests prefer to hold the tomato sauce, an extra thin white pie finished with garlic, olive oil, mozzarella, provolone, and parmesan is the ideal alternative.

La Villa

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Exuding Old World charm, this family-run establishment has been a steady presence on the Northwest Side for decades. Owner Salvatore Canale makes everything from scatch, and his top notch thin crusts sport a second layer of cheese over the toppings. Selections include the La Villa Special (sausage, pepperoni, green pepper, mushroom, green olives, onion), Veggie Alfredo, and Southwestern (barbecue sauce, chicken, bacon).

Pat's Pizzeria & Ristorante

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The self-proclaimed “No. 1 thin crust pizza” in Chicago has legions of fans who agree. The cracker-like crust is impossibly thin and a perfect base for hunks of house-made sausage. Pat’s is a family owned, and is very consistent.

Chicago-style pizza with thin crust.
Pat’s Pizza is top notch.
Garrett Sweet/Eater Chicago

Crust Fund Pizza

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Crust Fund Pizza isn’t just about cool logos that may have been inspired by “Cuphead,” the impossibly challenging video game. It’s not even a restaurant. It’s a force for good from John Carruthers, an obsessive home cook with connections to the restaurant scene thanks to his day job as marketing hype man for Revolution Brewing. Carruthers has worked hard to perfect his thin-crust pies, which go up for the taking on Instagram on a regular basis on a very limited run. Carruthers asks customers to donate money to a not-for-profit group (the selection changes weekly). It’s a clever way to raise funds while celebrating some of the best pizza in town. There’s frequent collaborations with characters like food writer and pizza chef Dennis Lee and just good Chicago vibes while picking up a pie from a back alley on North Side. This is a mighty pop-up that embraces what it means to be a Chicagoan.

A pizza box filled with ambrosia.
Crust Fund Pizza is special.
Crust Fund Pizza/John Carruthers

Aurelio's Pizza

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Started in suburban Homewood, Aurelio’s has been mastering thin crust pizza for more than 60 years. It’s one of the oldest franchises in the Chicagoland area and has expanded to multiple states.

Phil's Pizza

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Just a few blocks away from Guaranteed Rate Field is this cash-only, counter-service pizzeria. Cubs and Sox fans might have their differences on the diamond but even they can both agree that the renowned thin crust pie (get it with sausage) here is an all-star.

Villa Nova

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Another contender for the thin crust crown, Villa Nova is a no-frills spot that deserves to be mentioned among the South Side’s greats. It’s worth a trip out to suburban Stickney to enjoy the square-cut pizzas topped with juicy house sausage, gooey mozzarella, and other add-ons like Italian beef and chicken.

Pizza Castle

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Tucked away in a Gage Park strip mall, this pizzeria has been drawing in patrons for more than 40 years with light, crispy, cracker-thin pies. Owner Rich Jensen makes the dough and fennel sausage fresh and bakes them in a Faulds rotary oven.

Obbie's Pizza

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Garfield Ridge residents know and love this quaint carry-out joint. The neighborhood favorite has received accolades (including an appearance on The Good Wife) for one of the best thin crust pizzas the South Side has to offer. They’re sauced all the way to the edges, giving each bite a nice balance, and cooked in a 1947 Middleby Marshall oven.

Palermo's of 63rd

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This treasured Italian restaurant (unaffiliated with the one in Oak Lawn) has been satisfying customers for nearly six decades. The quality thin crust pies, served in an old-school dining room, feature a distinctive sweet tomato sauce that sets it apart from the competition.

Italian Fiesta

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Opened in the late ‘40s, Italian Fiesta is a popular South Side staple with five locations. The pizza is also a favorite of President Obama and was served at his 2009 inauguration. It’s carryout-only and customers should expect to wait at least 45 minutes, but the reward is a solid thin crust pie with a buttery crust, lots of topping choices, and a hefty amount of oregano.

Vito & Nick's

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The institution has long been praised as the king of tavern-style pizza. In a town where deep dish gets all the buzz, Vito & Nick’s still manages to garner national recognition for its thin, crunchy crusts, topped with everything from fennel sausage and ground beef to shrimp and anchovies. It’s a must-visit not just for pizza lovers, but every Chicagoan. Make sure to bring cash and order a pint of Old Style.

Barraco's Pizza

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With seven restaurants spread across the Southwest Side, Barraco’s is the pizza specialist favored by many suburbanites. Try the Nicky’s Special for an extra thin crust pie served crispy and well done. In addition, the original Evergreen Park location is open 24 hours so diners can satisfy their cravings anytime.

Rosangela's Pizza

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Travel across city lines to the suburb of Evergreen Park for terrific pies loaded with tangy sweet sauce and fresh toppings. The crispy crusts are very thin but sturdy enough to stand up to the layers of melted cheese, sausage, mushrooms, green peppers, and more.

Milano's Pizza

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Reliable and unassuming Milano’s is where Morgan Park locals look to for some stellar thin crust. The pizzeria celebrated 35 years of operation in 2019 and its pies are notable for using imported mozzarella and a secret family sauce.

Bungalow by Middle Brow

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Middlebrow in Logan Square is a brewery and winery that focuses on beers made with wild yeast and wines made with minimum intervention. It’s a far cry from an Old Style and a pizza, but this more modern pairing works with all of their pizzas. Tuesdays are when tavern pizzas are available. They’re remarkably thin and take a more gourmet approach. You can get sausage and pepperoni anywhere, but pizza topped with vegetables from the region’s top farms and unique sauces and collaborations with restaurants are more unique. Regardless, fans of thin crust should make it a point to try Middlebrow. There might not be going back.

The edge of a pizza. Chris Peters/Eater Chicago

Kim's Uncle Pizza

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Kim’s Uncle Pizza serves the same pizza that Pizza Fried Chicken Ice Cream did when operations neighbored Maria’s Community Bar in Bridgeport. Moving to Westmont, it’s one of the best restaurants in the suburbs, a tiny spot that specializes in carryouts. This pizza has received national write-ups.

Professor Pizza

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Professor Pizza is coming off a summer residency on top of the Tabu rooftop in Fulton Market. The competitive pizza maker is an innovative who mashes up styles and creates a great variety of different pizzas. The tavern-style keeps up a high level of quality. Listed as “cracker thin” the deluxe pepperoni is dotted with hot honey and whipped ricotta. The Professor is looking for a permanent home, so look for news on that soon.

Joe’s on HIggins

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Joe’s Pizza is a Northwest Side icon that recently moved to a larger space with a private dining room and a bar. It’s come a long way since it’s humble beginnings along Higgins. The restaurant dates back to 1952 in Jefferson Park, but has moved twice. The tasty pizza are cheesier than most and have a bit of a sweet sauce tang.

The interior of Joe’s on Higgins. Kim Kovacik/Eater Chicago

Barnaby's

What was once a prominent local chain has been whittled down to a just a few locations in the suburbs. That hasn’t stopped this Northbrook outpost, though, from cranking out superb tavern-style pizzas. The crisp, cornmeal-dusted crust provides the foundation for a right amount of cheese, tangy sauce, and toppings like housemade sausage.

Candlelite

It’s hard to miss the gigantic neon arrow pointing folks in the direction of Candlelite. West Rogers Park is home to great cracker-thin-crust pizzas boasting ingredients such as Italian beef, shrimp, and barbecue chicken. On Tuesdays, those who dine in can get two pies for the price of one.

Dino's Italian Pizza & Italian Restaurant

The Northwest Side sometimes gets overlooked, but its love for tavern-style pizza is as strong as any part of town thanks to the large Italian immigrant population along Harlem Avenue. Dino’s is a family-owned joint with a dive bar. The owners don’t even know the term “tavern-style pizza” — they just needed a way to keep the bar’s customers. The restaurant has expanded with fresh ingredients, crispy crusts, and an adherence to tradition. 

Michael's Original Pizzeria & Tavern

Head to Uptown for cold beer and flaky and buttery crusts topped with a thick layer of ingredients. Michael’s is a sports bar that does Chicago-style pizza the way it was meant to be done. If guests prefer to hold the tomato sauce, an extra thin white pie finished with garlic, olive oil, mozzarella, provolone, and parmesan is the ideal alternative.

La Villa

Exuding Old World charm, this family-run establishment has been a steady presence on the Northwest Side for decades. Owner Salvatore Canale makes everything from scatch, and his top notch thin crusts sport a second layer of cheese over the toppings. Selections include the La Villa Special (sausage, pepperoni, green pepper, mushroom, green olives, onion), Veggie Alfredo, and Southwestern (barbecue sauce, chicken, bacon).

Pat's Pizzeria & Ristorante

The self-proclaimed “No. 1 thin crust pizza” in Chicago has legions of fans who agree. The cracker-like crust is impossibly thin and a perfect base for hunks of house-made sausage. Pat’s is a family owned, and is very consistent.

Chicago-style pizza with thin crust.
Pat’s Pizza is top notch.
Garrett Sweet/Eater Chicago

Crust Fund Pizza

Crust Fund Pizza isn’t just about cool logos that may have been inspired by “Cuphead,” the impossibly challenging video game. It’s not even a restaurant. It’s a force for good from John Carruthers, an obsessive home cook with connections to the restaurant scene thanks to his day job as marketing hype man for Revolution Brewing. Carruthers has worked hard to perfect his thin-crust pies, which go up for the taking on Instagram on a regular basis on a very limited run. Carruthers asks customers to donate money to a not-for-profit group (the selection changes weekly). It’s a clever way to raise funds while celebrating some of the best pizza in town. There’s frequent collaborations with characters like food writer and pizza chef Dennis Lee and just good Chicago vibes while picking up a pie from a back alley on North Side. This is a mighty pop-up that embraces what it means to be a Chicagoan.

A pizza box filled with ambrosia.
Crust Fund Pizza is special.
Crust Fund Pizza/John Carruthers

Aurelio's Pizza

Started in suburban Homewood, Aurelio’s has been mastering thin crust pizza for more than 60 years. It’s one of the oldest franchises in the Chicagoland area and has expanded to multiple states.

Phil's Pizza

Just a few blocks away from Guaranteed Rate Field is this cash-only, counter-service pizzeria. Cubs and Sox fans might have their differences on the diamond but even they can both agree that the renowned thin crust pie (get it with sausage) here is an all-star.

Villa Nova

Another contender for the thin crust crown, Villa Nova is a no-frills spot that deserves to be mentioned among the South Side’s greats. It’s worth a trip out to suburban Stickney to enjoy the square-cut pizzas topped with juicy house sausage, gooey mozzarella, and other add-ons like Italian beef and chicken.

Pizza Castle

Tucked away in a Gage Park strip mall, this pizzeria has been drawing in patrons for more than 40 years with light, crispy, cracker-thin pies. Owner Rich Jensen makes the dough and fennel sausage fresh and bakes them in a Faulds rotary oven.

Obbie's Pizza

Garfield Ridge residents know and love this quaint carry-out joint. The neighborhood favorite has received accolades (including an appearance on The Good Wife) for one of the best thin crust pizzas the South Side has to offer. They’re sauced all the way to the edges, giving each bite a nice balance, and cooked in a 1947 Middleby Marshall oven.

Palermo's of 63rd

This treasured Italian restaurant (unaffiliated with the one in Oak Lawn) has been satisfying customers for nearly six decades. The quality thin crust pies, served in an old-school dining room, feature a distinctive sweet tomato sauce that sets it apart from the competition.

Italian Fiesta

Opened in the late ‘40s, Italian Fiesta is a popular South Side staple with five locations. The pizza is also a favorite of President Obama and was served at his 2009 inauguration. It’s carryout-only and customers should expect to wait at least 45 minutes, but the reward is a solid thin crust pie with a buttery crust, lots of topping choices, and a hefty amount of oregano.

Vito & Nick's

The institution has long been praised as the king of tavern-style pizza. In a town where deep dish gets all the buzz, Vito & Nick’s still manages to garner national recognition for its thin, crunchy crusts, topped with everything from fennel sausage and ground beef to shrimp and anchovies. It’s a must-visit not just for pizza lovers, but every Chicagoan. Make sure to bring cash and order a pint of Old Style.

Related Maps

Barraco's Pizza

With seven restaurants spread across the Southwest Side, Barraco’s is the pizza specialist favored by many suburbanites. Try the Nicky’s Special for an extra thin crust pie served crispy and well done. In addition, the original Evergreen Park location is open 24 hours so diners can satisfy their cravings anytime.

Rosangela's Pizza

Travel across city lines to the suburb of Evergreen Park for terrific pies loaded with tangy sweet sauce and fresh toppings. The crispy crusts are very thin but sturdy enough to stand up to the layers of melted cheese, sausage, mushrooms, green peppers, and more.

Milano's Pizza

Reliable and unassuming Milano’s is where Morgan Park locals look to for some stellar thin crust. The pizzeria celebrated 35 years of operation in 2019 and its pies are notable for using imported mozzarella and a secret family sauce.

Bungalow by Middle Brow

Middlebrow in Logan Square is a brewery and winery that focuses on beers made with wild yeast and wines made with minimum intervention. It’s a far cry from an Old Style and a pizza, but this more modern pairing works with all of their pizzas. Tuesdays are when tavern pizzas are available. They’re remarkably thin and take a more gourmet approach. You can get sausage and pepperoni anywhere, but pizza topped with vegetables from the region’s top farms and unique sauces and collaborations with restaurants are more unique. Regardless, fans of thin crust should make it a point to try Middlebrow. There might not be going back.

The edge of a pizza. Chris Peters/Eater Chicago

Kim's Uncle Pizza

Kim’s Uncle Pizza serves the same pizza that Pizza Fried Chicken Ice Cream did when operations neighbored Maria’s Community Bar in Bridgeport. Moving to Westmont, it’s one of the best restaurants in the suburbs, a tiny spot that specializes in carryouts. This pizza has received national write-ups.

Professor Pizza

Professor Pizza is coming off a summer residency on top of the Tabu rooftop in Fulton Market. The competitive pizza maker is an innovative who mashes up styles and creates a great variety of different pizzas. The tavern-style keeps up a high level of quality. Listed as “cracker thin” the deluxe pepperoni is dotted with hot honey and whipped ricotta. The Professor is looking for a permanent home, so look for news on that soon.

Joe’s on HIggins

Joe’s Pizza is a Northwest Side icon that recently moved to a larger space with a private dining room and a bar. It’s come a long way since it’s humble beginnings along Higgins. The restaurant dates back to 1952 in Jefferson Park, but has moved twice. The tasty pizza are cheesier than most and have a bit of a sweet sauce tang.

The interior of Joe’s on Higgins. Kim Kovacik/Eater Chicago

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