Chicago lays claim to a large number of regional specialties that reflect the city's ethnic and working-class roots. Included among these are its nationally renowned deep-dish pizza; this style is said to have originated at Pizzeria Uno. The Chicago-style thin crust is also popular in the city.
The Chicago-style hot dog, typically an all-beef hot dog, is loaded with an array of toppings that often includes pickle relish, yellow mustard, pickled sport peppers, tomato wedges, dill pickle spear and topped off with celery salt on a poppy seed bun. Enthusiasts of the Chicago-style dog frown upon the use of ketchup as a garnish, but may prefer to add giardiniera.
There are several distinctly Chicago sandwiches, among them the Italian beef sandwich, which is thinly sliced beef simmered in au jus and served on an Italian roll with sweet peppers or spicy giardiniera. A popular modification is the Comboan Italian beef sandwich with the addition of an Italian sausage. Another is the Maxwell Street Polish, a grilled or deep-fried kielbasa on a hot dog roll, topped with grilled onions, yellow mustard, and hot sport peppers.
Ethnically originated creations include chicken Vesuvio, with roasted bone-in chicken cooked in oil and garlic next to garlicky oven-roasted potato wedges and a sprinkling of green peas. Another is the Puerto Rican-influenced jibarito, a sandwich made with flattened, fried green plantains instead of bread. There is also the mother-in-law, a tamale topped with chili and served on a hot dog bun. The tradition of serving the Greek dish, saganaki while aflame, has its origins in Chicago's Greek community. The appetizer, which consists of a square of fried cheese, is doused with Metaxa and flambed table-side.
Two of the world's most decorated restaurants and also receiving the Michelin Guide 3 Star Award, Alinea and Grace are both located in Chicago. In addition, a number of well-known chefs have had restaurants in Chicago, including Charlie Trotter, Rick Tramonto, Grant Achatz, and Rick Bayless. In 2003, Robb Report named Chicago the country's "most exceptional dining destination".
Chicago had a murder rate of 18.5 per 100,000 residents in 2012, ranking 16th among cities with 100,000 people or more. This was higher than in New York City and Los Angeles, the two largest cities in the United States, which have lower murder rates and lower total homicides. However, it was less than in many smaller American cities, including New Orleans, Newark, and Detroit, which had 53 murders per 100,000 residents in 2012. The 2015 year-end crime statistics showed there were 468 murders in Chicago in 2015 compared with 416 the year before, a 12.5% increase, as well as 2,900 shootings13% more than the year prior, and up 29% since 2013. Chicago had more homicides than any other city in 2015 in total but not on per capita basis, according to the Chicago Tribune. In its annual crime statistics for 2016, the Chicago Police Department reported that the city experienced a dramatic rise in gun violence, with 4,331 shooting victims. The department also reported 762 murders in Chicago for the year 2016, a total that marked a 62.8% increase in homicides from 2015. In June 2017, the Chicago Police Department and the Federal ATF announced a new task force, similar to past task forces, to address the flow of illegal guns and repeat offenses with guns.
According to reports in 2013, "most of Chicago's violent crime comes from gangs trying to maintain control of drug-selling territories", and is specifically related to the activities of the Sinaloa Cartel, which by 2006 had decided to seek to control illicit drug distribution, against local street gangs. Violent crime rates vary significantly by area of the city, with more economically developed areas having low rates, but other sections have much higher rates of crime. In 2013, the violent crime rate was 910 per 100,000 people; the murder rate was 10.4 while high crime districts saw 38.9, low crime districts saw 2.5 murders per 100,000.
The number of murders in Chicago peaked at 970 in 1974, when the city's population was over 3 million people (a murder rate of about 29 per 100,000), and it reached 943 murders in 1992, (a murder rate of 34 per 100,000). However, Chicago, like other major U.S. cities, experienced a significant reduction in violent crime rates through the 1990s, falling to 448 homicides in 2004, its lowest total since 1965 and only 15.65 murders per 100,000. Chicago's homicide tally remained low during 2005 (449), 2006 (452), and 2007 (435) but rose to 510 in 2008, breaking 500 for the first time since 2003. In 2009, the murder count fell to 458 (10% down). and in 2010 Chicago's murder rate fell to 435 (16.14 per 100,000), a 5% decrease from 2009 and lowest levels since 1965. In 2011, Chicago's murders fell another 1.2% to 431 (a rate of 15.94 per 100,000). but shot up to 506 in 2012.
In 2012, Chicago ranked 21st in the United States in numbers of homicides per person, but in the first half of 2013 there was a significant drop per-person, in all categories of violent crime, including homicide (down 26%). Chicago ended 2013 with 415 murders, the lowest number of murders since 1965, and overall crime rates dropped by 16 percent. (In 1965, there were 397 murders.)
Jens Ludwig, director of the University of Chicago Crime Lab, estimated that shootings cost the city of Chicago $2.5 billion in 2012.
In 2014, the Chicago police department reported a total murder count of 390 through December 20, 2014, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. That means that Chicago was able to record their lowest number of murder totals in close to five years for the second continuous calendar year, despite an overall increase in shootings. The Cook County medical examiner's office had reported a total of 410 homicides with 16 of those including fatal police shootings, all within the same time period.