One of the best ways to explore Chicago’s rich culinary landscape is to embark upon one of many available food tours. So many have popped up in recent years that they’re specialized right down to the concept and cuisine. Of note are tours for the tastebud thrill seekers, history buffs and pizza fanatics. Want to know which to choose? We’ve selected the very best around town whether you're going by foot, bus or bike.
01 of 07
What To Expect: Participants are strongly urged to nosh on something light before taking part in this unique event on the near South Side. Each restaurant's doing full portion sizes, which includes an authentic Beijing Peking duck and Hong Kong-style dim sum. Five restaurants are on the Chinatown walking food tour, including Ten Ren Tea & Ginseng Co. for authentic Chinese loose leaf tea. It's about three hours long.
Departure Point: Meets near Cermak & Wentworth (exact meeting location provided with ticket purchase)
How Much: $55 per person; $35 for children
Schedule: 10:30 a.m. Friday-Monday
02 of 07
What To Expect: Participants will meet on the Far North Side in what's called "Little Saigon" on Argyle Street and travel by foot for about three-and-a-half hours to historic Uptown and Andersonville. Along the way, they'll visit contemporary dining destinations as well as unique independently owned businesses, ethnic markets and antique shops. Of course there will be a host of tastings, ranging from authentic banh mi at a pioneering Vietnamese restaurant to a Prohibition-era bar serving Swedish glögg.
Departure Point: Uptown, near the Argyle Red Line Station (exact location will be revealed upon ticket purchase)
How Much: $55 per person
Schedule: 11:30 a.m. Fridays, Saturdays
How To Get Tickets
03 of 07
1893 World Columbian Exposition Food Tour
What To Expect: The 1893 World’s Fair a.k.a. the Columbian Exposition--one of the most significant events that marked the city's recovery from the Great Chicago Fire--is revisited during this tour of five historic venues. The three-hour walking tour is lead by an actress portraying Bertha Honore Palmer, one of the top socialites of the turn of the century, who will entertain guests with her favorite memories of the era. Other famous Chicagoans participants will meet along the way include actors portraying Daniel Burnham and Frank Lloyd Wright as they visit the Cliff Dwellers Club, Palmer House Hilton, The Century Room, Pedway and the Pittsfield Building. Guests will enjoy Chicago-style hot dogs, popcorn, brownies (it was invented at the Palmer House), fruit pies and chili con carne. All guests will receive food from each food stop (Vegetarian options are available, but let the organizers know in advance. Also note that they cannot accommodate vegan or gluten-free dietary restrictions).
Departure Point: Cliff Dwellers Club (200 S. Michigan Ave.)
How Much: $78 (includes tax, all food and entertainment)
The Schedule: 1 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, May through October
04 of 07
What To Expect: This bus tour proves in three-and-a-half hours that there's more to Chicago's rich pizza scene than deep dish. Participants get to witness the pizza-making process at some of the city's most celebrated parlors, including the likes of Spacca Napoli, Pequod's and Italian Fiesta (President Obama's favorite home-town pizza that's located near his Hyde Park home). Wear loose clothing because there will be plenty of tasting going on.
Departure Point: Near Millennium Park on Madison Street between Michigan and Wabash avenues
How Much: $59.99 per person fee includes tastings and transportation to each location
Schedule: 11 a.m. daily (except Tuesdays and Thursdays)Continue to 5 of 7 below.
05 of 07
Bites, Bikes & Brews Tour
What To Expect: Participants get in a good workout during a four-hour cycling tour taking them to popular eating neighborhoods Gold Coast, Lakeview, Lincoln Park, Old Town and Wrigleyville. They'll need it because there will be generous tastings of cupcakes, craft beers, hot dogs and pizza in each neighborhood. And yes, there are vegetarian options. Wear loose, casual clothing.
How Much: $65 per person fee includes bikes (seniors and students pay $59.50)
Schedule: 11:30 a.m. daily
06 of 07
Savor Historic Gold Coast & Old Town Food Tour
What To Expect: The Gold Coast and Old Town are two of the city's trendiest neighborhoods, yet they also boast a number of cool, vintage, old-world elements. The Victorian-era buildings, brick alleyways and narrow, tree-lined streets are charming backdrops to a busy main strip of restaurants and bars. Along this three-hour walking tour, guests will sample from four spots, including MORE cupcakes and Five Faces Ice Cream Shop.
Departure Point: Pizano’s Pizza, 864 N. State St.
How Much: $55 per person
Schedule: Each tour starts at 11:30 a.m. daily
07 of 07
What To Expect: Unloosen those belts, wear comfortable clothing and eat an extremely light breakfast if you plan to head out for the South Side tour. That's because this culinary adventure--which is three-and-a-half hours by bus--heads to soul food-focused neighborhoods Bronzeville, Hyde Park and Englewood as well as Bridgeport. The guide also offers a bit of the neighborhoods' rich history along the way, from blues and jazz immortals to the city's legendary barons of industry. Vegetarian options are available for all the stops on tour; inform when booking.
Departure Point: Downtown location TBA for ticket holders
How Much: $125 per person fee includes unlimited tastings and transportation to each location. Beverages are included (craft beers and premium wines included for patrons 21 and over).
Schedule: 11 a.m. daily (except Tuesdays and Thursdays)