Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria is a Chicago institution and a cornerstone of the Chicago deep dish pizza scene. In this post, we review the Gold Coast location of the Lou Malnati’s chain.
Location and Hours
Lou Malnati’s Gold Coast is located at 1120 N State St in the Gold Coast neighborhood of Chicago. Gold Coast is just off the Magnificent Mile and is considered one of Chicago’s nicest neighborhoods (it is one of the richest neighborhoods in the country).
The restaurant is open from 11AM to Midnight daily, and to 1AM on Friday and Saturday nights. The restaurant does not take reservations. It does fill up, and waits of an hour or more can happen on busy evenings.
Keep in mind that Lou Malnati’s has several other locations in the city, so this might not be the best option for you.
Street parking in the area is $4 per hour, if you can find any. There are a few nearby garages, but you should expect to pay about $30 for 1-3 hours.
The location is a short walk from the Red Line’s Clark / Division stop and a longer walk from the Chicago stop.
Gold Coast as a whole is generally seen is a good “add-on” experience to time spent exploring the Magnificent Mile, and Lou Malnati’s Gold Coast is a ten-minute walk from the John Hancock building at the northern end of the Mag Mile.
Menu and Prices
Lou Malnati’s is most known for its Chicago-style deep dish pizza. The history goes that Lou Malnati’s father, Rudy, originated the recipe for deep dish pizza at Pizzeria Uno, in Chicago’s River North neighborhood in the 1940s. In 1971, Lou started his own chain in Lincolnwood, Illinois (a north Chicago suburb).
Besides deep dish pizza, you’ll find thin crust pizza and Italian pastas, salads, soups and sandwiches.
A small deep dish pizza costs about $17 to $19 plus tax and serves two people. We don’t eat a ton, but with a garlic bread appetizer ($5.95), we typically are able to take half the pizza home. You can reheat it in an oven.
There is a full bar and a small beer menu that includes a few local and rotating craft selections. Beers cost between $5 and $7 for a pint, typical prices for a restaurant in downtown Chicago.
As noted above, Lou Malnati’s Gold Coast does not take reservations. Back when we lived in the area, we’d visit regularly for dinner on the weekends, with 20+ minute waits being common and hour+ waits occasionally happening.
Most recently we visited for lunch on a Saturday and were seated immediately. The restaurant has basically four seating areas–the bar section, two front dining rooms, and a rear dining room.
During summer, the windows at the front dining rooms are raised and there are two patios on State Street.
The restaurant is heavy into Steampunk decor. There’s lots of exposed wood/piping/ventilation, along with (apparently) random industrial pieces for decoration.
Arriving at 11:50AM, we were seated in the bar area. There are plenty of TVs showing sports (college football on Saturdays). We weren’t waited on until about 12PM, but the bar area was the most crowded section of the restaurant.
We placed our entire order at once and received our beers at 12:03PM and our garlic bread appetizer at 12:15PM. Our deep dish “Lou,” well done, came out at 12:30PM.
We learned to order this particular pizza “well done” years ago, but I honestly believe this only actually happens about half the time we place the order.
30 minutes is a pretty standard turn around for Chicago deep dish. As is customary, the waiter served us our first two pieces. The Lou is a watery pizza (it’s spinach, tomatoes, and mushrooms baking for 20-odd minutes), but it’s very delicious.
We didn’t get dessert on this visit, but we’ve always been fans of the Chocolate Chip Pizza (a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie with ice cream on top).
Picking a “best deep dish pizza in Chicago” is entirely a matter of taste. Lou Malnati’s, Gino’s East, and Pizzeria Uno all have entirely legitimate claims to the title, as do probably half a dozen smaller “hidden gem” spots. Giordano’s stuffed deep dish pizza is a delicious non-traditional option.
Really, it’s enough to know that Lou Malnati’s is a cornerstone of the Chicago pizza experience. No, I wouldn’t get anything other than deep dish pizza here. Their thin crust does nothing for me (we much prefer Giordano’s thin crust).
The Gold Coast location is a large location, but it’s in a very busy part of the city. It’s best visited midday as part of sightseeing downtown, and it’s a fantastic meal to complete your “Gold Coast” and “Chicago” experiences.