Sure, you can survive quite well without meat loaf just like your grandmother made or the special double chocolate dessert from the neighbor down the street, or the best spaghetti and meatballs you ever had from your dad's favorite restaurant -- which was torn down 25 years ago???? Yes, its survivable, but it sure isn't fun!
Chicago has been home off and on for my whole life. My mother and father and their families all lived in that Midwestern bastion of multi-ethnic, cultural and culinary heritages. My mom made comfort food, that she learned from her mother, who learned from her mother and so on back to the dawn of time. I learned from mom and still make a few of her recipes occasionally.
Not surprisingly though, there are an enormous number of restaurants in the Chicago area. I couldn't begin to guess how many but lots! They cover the full range of foods offered in homes around the city, plus a few extras. There are Italian, Chinese, German, Swedish, Greek, Indian, Polish, Japanese, French; as well as places for ribs, crepes, fondue, soul food, fish, vegetarian, or pizza. Nearly anything you can think of.
I have been gone from Chicago since 1991, that's 18 years! Nevertheless, there are days when I would kill to have a chocolate malt from Super-Dawg, Steak Diane from Allgauer's, hamburgers from Hackney's, anything from Nick's Fishmarket, pizza from Riggio's, a steak sandwich from Booby's, or Chop Suey and Egg Foo Yung from Wah Sun's. These, and many, many more, are from my favorite places from the times Chicago was home. Some of them no longer exist or have changed, but I swear, sometimes I can positively drool over the remembered taste of a food that I haven't eaten in more than 18 years!
I think anyone who has ever moved from Point A to Point B will know what I mean. Food, "glorious food", often doesn't translate well from place to place, like Saganaki (a Greek flamed cheese), for instance. I haven't had decent Saganaki since leaving Chicago. I live in Texas now, what do cowboys know about Greek food?? So its unlikely I'll get Saganaki here anytime soon. Sure could go from some Saganaki right about now. Ooooh, what was the name of that Greek place we used to go to in the Loop.....don't worry, I'll think of it. Gee, do you think they might deliver??