Food Tour of Wicker Park and Bucktown

Hello Chicago! Today I wanted to share with you an amazing experience I had this weekend at the Chicago Food Planet Food Tour of Wicker Park/Bucktown! I found out about the tour through Vimbly and have been anticipating the event all month!

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I had such a great time tasting my way through the neighborhood and wanted to share every moment of it with you! Disclaimer: the foods eaten in this post were not healthy or nutritious in any way. They were however, absolutely delicious. So sit back, enjoy, and drool away!IMG_3284
This is Kent, our amazing tour guide. There were 16 of us in the group including a handful of tourists from as far away as Toronto as well as a few locals wanting to learn more about the neighborhood.IMG_3279

Kent led us around Wicker Park and Bucktown to 6 different food locations where we sampled delicious eats. IMG_3278

Kent was seriously the best tour guide- he was charming, witty, hilarious, extremely knowledgeable, and above all genuinely passionate about the neighborhood he lives in. IMG_3265
Our first stop, George’s Hot Dogs. Owner George and his wife are originally from Greece and make a killer gyro, but we were there for hot dogs.

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This mom and pop restaurant has a quick order and pick-up window up front and a small seating area in the back where we hung out.

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Kent quizzed us about the history of the Chicago hot dog and shared with us some fun facts about how the seven topping dog originated. My favorite part of the restaurant was this Vienna Beef hot dog poster stating “You Know that you are in Chicago if…” Here are some of my favorites.

  • You know what the phone number is to Empire Carpet.
  • You still claim that the Sears Tower is the tallest skyscraper in the world.
  • You stake claim to your freshly shoveled parking space with retro furniture.
  • You buy an umbrella every six months.
  • You know the expressways by name, not by number.

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And here it is in all of it’s glory…the Chicago Dog – an all-beef frankfurter topped with yellow mustard, chopped white onions, sweet pickle relish, a dill pickle spear, tomato slices, picked sport peppers and  a dash of celery salt all nestled in a warm poppy seed bun. Certainly not healthy, but definitely delicious.

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Our next stop was Hot Chocolate for a delicious chocolaty beverage! Chef Mindy Segal was named Best Celebrity Pastry Chef in Chicago, Chicago Magazine’s Pastry Chef of the Year and Outstanding Pastry Chef in the country by the James Beard Foundation in 2012!

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We sampled the “Medium Hot Chocolate” which was milk chocolate with a touch of dark chocolate and a hint of caramel topped with a house-made marshmallow – To. Die. For.

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The tour continued to The Goddess and Grocer – a gourmet deli and market offering all of Chicago’s local favorites!

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We sampled the Tuscan Kale Salad – a tasty blend of kale, raisins, pine nuts, parmesan, honey, and balsamic vinaigrette. Nom nom nom.

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Next stop, Piece! I have driven by this pizza place several times in the past and have always wanted to try it out so I was thrilled when I heard it was a stop along the tour! The restaurant was way bigger than I expected!

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And the pizza…oh the pizza. We sampled the White Pizza – plain crust brushed with olive oil, diced garlic, and mozzarella cheese and tomatoes. The list of premium toppings they offer is pretty incredible – can you say BBQ sauce, mashed potatoes and bacon? Yes please.

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Not only is Piece a pizzeria, but it’s also a brewery! Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, samples of beer made their way to our table. We sampled the Golden Arm beer which was super light and refreshing!

Ok so now I know what you are thinking – isn’t everyone on that tour starting to get full? And the answer is yes. Which is why I was so thrilled when Kent told us we were going to take a 45 minute break from eating and tour the neighborhood a bit. Whew!   IMG_3326
Recognize this place? Don’t feel bad, I didn’t either. Apparently it’s the house from the 11th season of MTV’s Real World Chicago in 2002. It was an old two-story coffeehouse converted into a living space for the cast. Today it appears to be a gym…

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Ok, how a about this boarded up building on Honore street? Any guesses? It’s the site of the filming of the movie High Fidelity shot in 2000. I certainly remember John Cusack, but wouldn’t have recognized this building in a million years. Kent’s so smart.

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We walked around the perimeter of Wicker Park and enjoyed the scenery.

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And made some interesting pit stops along the way…

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Remember the 1999 psychological thrilled Stir of Echoes starring Kevin Bacon? I’ve personally never seen it, but apparently this is the house where the movie was filmed. I guess I’m just one degree closer to Kevin Bacon…

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Then the tour took an interesting historic turn and we visited some really neat architectural homes. Including these Queen Ann style Victorian homes built in 1884 and 1877. I love the asymmetrical architecture of these homes!

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We visited some folk-style homes as well including this one where historic Polish pianist Ignacy Jan Padcrewski performed on the porch years ago.  Did you know that Chicago has the largest population of Polish people in the world outside Warsaw, Poland?

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More incredible architecture including a home that showcases a World War I cannon on the front lawn…pretty cool stuff.

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Ok friends, back to the food. Our fifth stop along the tour was Sultan’s Market.

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For a falafel pita sandwich…delish.

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Finally, our last stop on the tour was for a decadent dessert at icream! Icream isn’t just any old ice cream shop, they are serving ice cream of the 21st century!

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At icream, you choose a dessert base (such as milk or a dairy alternative), flavors, fruit, and candy add-ins and they mix up the magic. They blast each creation with liquid nitrogen freezing your customized treat instantly into a creamy dessert. Sounds like some Alton Brown would do…

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We sampled the recommended combination called “That Guy from Florida” which featured white chocolate, cream soda, and Nutella. Say the word Nutella and everyone comes running. This ice cream combination was out of this world – by far my favorite sample of the tour!

And that my friends was the end of the tour – this food coma calls for a nap.

All jokes aside, I would highly encourage both tourists and locals to check out this amazing food tour – I had such a great time and cannot wait to check out the other tours that Chicago Food Planet has to offer! Chinatown anyone?

 

 

This post is sponsored by Vimbly. Stay up-to-date with fun activities to do in Chicago through www.vimbly.com

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