Chicago Food Planet Second City Classic Tour – What to expect
I was lucky enough to grab a spot on the Chicago Food Planet Second City Classic Tour during a recent trip to the city. Maybe some bias on my part given my status as a foodie, but this tour was totally worth every cent.
When visiting a new, or unknown, destination, most people tend to overlook food tours and instead settle for the classic bus route. There’s anything wrong with this, but food tours teach you about the cuisine as well as the local area at the same time.
Exploring Chicago’s second city by its food
The absolute first thing you should expect is to have a vivacious, fun and a ‘laugh a minute’ guide. Luckily for us, our group’s guide, Jaci, ticked all 3 of these boxes. The experience was far more enjoyable because of her upbeat attitude and quick wit.
This tour is called the Second City Classic, given that it takes place in the Old Town neighbourhood of Chicago. Walking around, you’ll be able to see several buildings from the Victorian times, plus a few structures that survived the Great Chicago Fire in 1871.
Below are the places we visited while on this tour. Take note: the places may vary depending on season and availability.
Stop 1: Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria
Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria has been a long-time favourite for many locals, and a Chicago institution.
The pizzeria wanted to create a place where people could come, sit down with their families and eat good pizza. If you’re not familiar of the difference between Chicago and New York style pizza, it really comes down to depth.
New York style pizza tends to have a thin, crispy crust, while Chicago style is a deeper crust with plenty more tomato sauce and toppings.
Whatever your preference, Lou Malnati’s is delicious, and I could easily have wolfed down another slice!
“Whatever your preference, Lou Malnati’s is delicious, and I would have easily wolfed down another slice!”
FOLLOWING THE RIVERA
Stop 2: TeaGschwender
What better way to cool off after a steaming slice of pizza than with a refreshing tumbler of iced tea?
TeaGschwender is a mecca for tea lovers and drinkers alike. You won’t be surprised to hear it’s originally a German brand, but this franchise set up shop in the Old Town.
Here, you can find a wide variety of premium quality handpicked loose teas from around the world. After a brief talk on tea from a staff member, the group sampled a few of the delights on offer. At the end, we took away with us, a generous-sized tumbler of the mouth-quenching pineapple iced tea — perfect for the 35° weather!
Stop 3: Old Jerusalem
A family run and owned restaurant, we were treated to a delectable pitta sandwich. Homemade crunchy falafel, salad, and with some hummus on the side, it was just the right size to save room for the next place.
Stop 4: The Spice House
An array of fragrances and aromas hit you the second you enter The Spice House. If it wasn’t already obvious by the name, we were here to get a brief Spice 101 lesson.
With spices and all sorts of salts and seasonings on offer, I walked away feeling like I’d learnt something new. That, plus I bought a small bag of Vietnamese cinnamon; something that’ll come in handy for my next apple pie.
Stop 5: The Fudge Pot
A food tour wouldn’t be complete without some kind of chocolate temptation — and ours came in the form of The Fudge Pot. This local confectioner has been keeping the locals happy, and maybe making them a little rounder, since 1963.
Suffice it to say, this isn’t a place for anyone on a diet, nor a place where you should visit every day. From homemade chocolates to truffles, the Fudge Pot is where you come to get your sweet tooth seen to. We tried the chocolate toffee block, which was so sinfully good, I had to stop myself from scoffing the whole thing down!
The store’s open till midnight on Friday and Saturdays, meaning plenty of opportunity to grab something sweet after last orders from the restaurant/bar.
“We tried the chocolate toffee block, which was so sinfully good, I had to stop myself from scoffing the whole thing down!”
FOLLOWING THE RIVERA
Stop 6: Old Town Oil
There’s only one place in Old Town where the locals come to get their hands on good quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and that’s Old Town Oil.
The owners of Old Town Oil work directly with producers around the world to create their own unique products.
From extra virgin olive oils to aged balsamic and speciality vinegars, this store inspires you to want to try everything.
I particularly enjoyed sampling the strawberry balsamic vinegar alongside Nana’s Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Both were unique in taste, yet moreish in flavour.
Stop 7: La Fournette Bakery & Café
A taste of all things French was our last stop of the tour at La Fournette Bakery & Café.
The creation of French husband and wife duo Michele and Pierre Zimmermann, they wanted to bring a taste of home to their favourite American city. And so, Old Town welcomed the addition of La Fournette to its vibrant neighbourhood.
Related post: 48 hours in Chicago: making the most from a short trip
As you’d imagine, the café serves up a mouth-watering selection of handmade croissants, artisan breads and sweets. We each gobbled down a classic Ham and Cheese Croque Monsieur, followed by 2 delicate meringue-y (raspberry-chocolate) macarons.
Want to try the Chicago Food Planet Second City Classic Tour for yourself? Head to the website to see availability of this, and other Chicago Food Planet tours. If you enter FOODIE at the checkout, you’ll receive 10% off the ticket price!
Disclaimer: Even though I was invited by Chicago Food Planet, all views are my own and based on my own experience.
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