A Visit To Happy Camper Pizza

A Chicago pizza chain has set up camp at the Fashion Show Mall—literally. And they’ve brought more than just pizza. Happy Camper Pizza boasts a glamped-out campground motif and a menu that complements two signature pizza styles with Mexican, Middle Eastern, and Italian “Happytizers” and a killer smash burger.

Happy Camper

You enter through a curved stairway behind a stone retaining wall, greeted by anything from country & western classics to modern pop on the house sound system. The interior is laid out like a trailer park campground, complete with a beer pong table, multiple firepits, and a vintage Shasta Airflyte trailer converted into a merch booth. But the retractable roof, which provides a perfect indoor-outdoor ambiance regardless of weather, is adorned with thousands of twinkling Christmas lights and dozens of sparkly disco balls. Large cabana-like booths are accented with pastel throw pillows in the shape of flowers. A DJ booth rounds out the party atmosphere.

At the heart of the menu are the pizzas. The Classic boasts an “Original Crust” described as “crispy outside, chewy inside,” and is available in two sizes, while the one-size-only Tavern Style is “extra-thin” with a crispy crust and cut into small squares. A dozen topping combinations are offered for either style.

Starters include meatballs, nachos, wings, cheese sticks, and multiple dips. In deference to the former occupant of this space (Stripburger), there’s a double smash burger with American cheese, lettuce, pickles, and griddled onions.

First Bites, First Impressions

There was a yin-and-yang balance/contrast between the two dips I tried. Whipped feta with honey and pistachio, accompanied by both pita and crostini, was sophisticated and well-balanced enough to appear on the menu of a much more formal restaurant. At the same time, the queso elote dip was a hearty, home-style treat.

The two pizzas I tried on my visit also offered very different experiences.

A pepperoni tavern style is precisely what you want from this type of pizza: easy-to-share party food made with quality ingredients. My classic-crust “Street Corn” pie, on the other hand, was an ooey-gooey, sloppy combination of roasted corn, cotija cheese, cilantro, avocado cream and cream cheese that offered an unmatched, TikTok-worthy cheese pull (if I could ever figure out how to capture that classic shot), and requires a bit more attention to eat.

But both were solid pizzas – especially for The Strip, which is notoriously short on quality pizza offerings

Finally, don’t sleep on the burger. While smash burgers are a bit more “downscale” than what used to be offered in this space, they do them well, with a beautiful crispy char on the rough edges of the loosely formed patties.