When I was thirteen or fourteen my mom’s cousins, who were more like an aunt and uncle to us, took me to her house in the suburbs Chicago for a week. For a kid who spent her life in the rural woods of Upper Michigan this was a eye opening experience. I can still remember sitting in a restaurant near Northwestern University and trying capers for the first time. Chicago was the closest major metropolitan city – and it was 6 hours away (!) – that I got to know and a place I truly love. It’s also safe to say Chicago is the city my food-loving genes were ignited.
If a trip to the Windy City is in your plans then you’ll want to book a great Chicago hotel and check out these five foodie neighborhoods to start your eating adventure.
If you love Mexican food you need to head to Pilsen. The area was originally settled by Czech immigrants, later Germans and Irish immigrants called it home, and of late it’s Latin immigrants from Mexico and Central America. The Mexican food you find here is extremely authentic as many of the restaurants cook for locals who want the real thing and not a Tex-Mex hybrid. You also have the chance to take in amazing street art as dozens of neighborhood walls have murals. When you’re ready for something sweet don’t forget to stop at La Michoacana Paleteria y Neveria for homemade paletas!
Talk about gentrification, the West Loop was once heavily industrial thanks to it’s location on the Chicago River. Many of the old warehouses have been converted to apartments, shops and restaurants. Some of Chicago’s best restaurants are here including Blackbird, Next, The Girl and the Goat, and Sepia. Fine dining is not hard to find but you also can hit on some great food at a more affordable price as well. You can’t miss out on Gold Coast Dogs or Parthenon, two great lunch options.
Logan Square is an old Chicago neighborhood that has seen a lot of lives over the years. One of it’s best features are the long park-like boulevards. Numerous preservation projects also are happening here to save old historical buildings. There’s no clear food type that takes first place here, you can find a little bit of everything. Opt for one of the local favorites to get your food game on. Stop in to Miko’s Italian Ice for a classic sweet summer treat. If you have a sweet tooth Pierre’s Bakery is a must for unique desserts and a great tres leches cake.
It’s probably no surprise this neighborhood has a heavy Eastern European influence. Today it still functions as the hub of Ukrainian life in the area. But, the food scene here is diverse. Kasia’s Deli serves crazy affordable Polish delicacies to warm you up on a cold winter day. At Podhalanka you’ll feel like you’re back in the old country being fed by grandma. Pop into Flo for all day dining including a stellar brunch menu. Finally, Frontier is a fantastic gastropub to catch a game while eating amazing food.
Devon Avenue (Little India)
Northwestern Chicago, near O’hare airport, is home to Little India, the cultural and culinary hub of Indo/Pakistani life in the city. The neighborhood is multicultural but there’s certainly a heavy Asian subcontinent feel. Viceroy of India is well known for it’s fantastic butter chicken. For a great buffet Tiffin is an excellent choice. For Pakistani cuisine Khan BBQ is a favorite. Hema’s Kitchen is considered one of Chicago’s best restaurants and Sukhadia‘s is the place to go for a dessert once you’ve licked up all your curry! You can easily spend an entire day shopping and eating in Little India!
Chicago is making a name for itself on the food scene and for good reason. No matter where you end up there’s plenty of options for everyone. The bigger question may be where do you start?
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