This mouthwatering 3-day itinerary showcases the diverse flavors of the Chicago culinary scene while guiding visitors on a unique tour around the Windy City
From Asia to the Middle East and Europe to Latin America, Chicago is a melting pot of diverse culinary culture. But how did such diverse culinary options end up in the Windy City? Historically a trade city with canals, railroads, and nearby rivers and lakes, Chicago was viewed as an excellent place for those from abroad looking for new opportunities. As the city experienced a flood of immigrants during the 1800’s, tensions rose between differing cultures. To feel safe, a sense of belonging and to preserve their heritage, immigrants from the same regions formed ethnic neighborhoods. From Greektown, Bronzeville and Little Italy to Chinatown and Pilsen, join us on this journey around the world in 3 days as we sample Chicago’s diverse culinary options.
Duration: 3 Days
This Itinerary is Ideal For: All
Begin your Chicago culinary tour in the charming Andersonville neighborhood, on the north side of the city, with a trip to Taste of Lebanon. This restaurant serves renowned Middle Eastern fare including falafel, hummus, grape leaves, and chicken and beef shawarma. Perhaps this establishment’s most popular dish is its lentil soup, which is served piping hot and will wow your group’s taste buds.
Staying on the north side, head to the Uptown neighborhood, and specifically, Demera Restaurant, which serves high-quality Ethiopian food. Demera prides itself on making its dishes from scratch, including roasting its own Ethiopian coffee beans. Among Demera’s most lauded meals are its vegetarian Gomen (collard greens slow cooked with onions, garlic and ginger) and sambusas (fried dumplings served with a sweet and spicy honey sauce). Demera also offers family-style combination platters that include beef, chicken, lamb, seafood and vegetarian portions.
Cap off your day on the north side with a visit to NoodleBird, a lauded establishment that brings the vibrant street food scene of Macau and Asia to Chicago’s Logan Square. Order at the counter in this fun, fast casual atmosphere overlooking the kitchen, where you can watch the action as the food quickly comes to life. Try the live-fire charcoal grilled chicken, handmade rice noodles topped with crunchy peanuts, sweet glazed barbecued pork and the famous flaky egg custard tarts.
Groups seeking to enjoy a hearty breakfast, brunch or lunch should head to Manny’s Cafeteria & Delicatessen, a storied institution in the South Loop that has served classic deli fare for more than 75 years. This iconic eatery is known for its famous corned beef and pastrami, but also serves a renowned assortment of breakfast options, from traditional buttermilk pancakes, bacon and eggs to fried matzo with onion, salami and corned beef. Visitors will also appreciate Manny’s rich history, as the dining room walls are decorated with news clippings, reviews, snapshots and memorabilia demonstrating how deeply Chicagoans treasure this historic restaurant.
In Chicago’s West Loop, visitors can make a pit stop in Greektown, where you will find a myriad of top-notch restaurants. One such establishment is Athena Restaurant, which combines fine Greek architecture and art with comfortable seating, warm fireplaces and an outdoor patio with an award-winning view of the Chicago skyline. It offers special group lunch, dinner and beverage menus that serve appetizers like oktapodi skaras, Greek salad, chicken kabob, gyros, and for dessert, baklava.
Ever since it opened in 1998 in Chinatown, Lao Sze Chuan has become one of the country’s most beloved Chinese restaurants, having been voted the No. 1 Chinese restaurant in the U.S. by multiple publications and being named to the Michelin Bib Gourmand list numerous times. Lao Sze Chuan prides itself on providing traditional Sichuan cuisine with high-quality ingredients and serves an array of spicy dishes including handmade dim sum, salt and pepper squid and oven roasted Peking duck.
If you get a later start to your day and are more in the mood for lunch, a must-visit on the South Side is Taqueria Los Gallos in South Lawndale. This Mexican spot, with plenty of seating for large groups, serves more than just tacos and burritos. In fact, its most popular offering is carne en su jugo — a soup from the city of Guadalajara. This fabulous soup is a beef broth filled with grilled steak, avocado, bacon and pinto beans and boasts a hearty flavor most soups can’t match.
Next stop on your Chicago culinary tour is the legendary Chicago’s Home of Chicken and Waffles in Bronzeville. This esteemed restaurant serves crispy fried chicken and thick waffles creating a delicious sweet and savory combination. Another popular menu item is the fried chicken gizzard, livers and giblets served with waffles or French fries.
For dinner, travel to Little Italy where you’ll find Tuscany on Taylor, which serves the authentic, fresh cuisine of a small Italian village with some of Italy’s finest wines. Tuscany’s engaging décor, hearty menu and sizable dining area are perfect for hungry groups looking to share some laughs.
From pizza cooked in a wood-burning oven to pasta dishes served with tomato or Bolognese sauce, Tuscany on Taylor’s menu will delight your crowd. Another spectacular dining option is Piccolo Sogno in River West, a classic Italian restaurant with a beautiful outdoor patio that enables patrons to enjoy an al fresco dining experience in an alluring setting.
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