Photo: Ian Freimuth
Travel Around the World Without Leaving Chicago
No need to jet-set the globe to get a taste of other cultures. From China and Mexico to Italy and Greece, you'll find authentic fare, inspired architecture and international neighborhoods right in Chicago.
First stop… Chinatown.
With its imposing bronze gates, curved rooflines, colorful murals and ornamental figures, there's no mistaking when your group has arrived in Chinatown. Here, in the second-largest Chinatown in the country, visitors are enveloped by the rich culture in the Chinatown Square, a two-level retail center. Whether they sip on some traditional bubble tea, enjoy an incredible Chinese dinner at places like Minghin Cuisine, stop in a salon or wander the countless shops, they'll feel miles away from the Midwest.
Pilsen, just west of Chinatown, is the heart of Chicago's Mexican-American culture. The neighborhood's main strip runs along 18th Street and is filled with Mexican bakeries, ethnic restaurants, cozy cafés, bookstores and galleries of affordable Mexican art. Just off the beaten path, your groups will find friendly sports bars with great beer, parks, a library and the renowned National Museum of Mexican Art.
Head north of Pilsen and you'll wander into the vibrant, intimate neighborhood of Little Italy. Primarily a restaurant district, Little Italy's many authentic eateries — like Francesca's on Taylor, The Rosebud, Tuscany on Taylor and Three Aces — lie along Taylor Street. Alongside the restaurants, your groups will discover a smattering of welcoming wine bars, several Roman Catholic churches, the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame (which has a gorgeous rooftop view of downtown!) and the Hull House, Jane Addams' settlement home.
For Chicagoans and visitors alike, Greektown refers to the string of authentic Greek restaurants around Halsted and Van Buren Streets, just west of the Loop. How authentic? Greektown is where gyros and saganaki (flaming cheese) were invented in 1968! Today, the restaurants in this area — like Athena Greek Restaurant — serve those Greek specialties and so many more. Plus, a stop by the new state-of-the-art National Hellenic Museum connects visitors to the stories of Greek history, culture and art, spanning generations. In other words, if your group is looking for a taste of Greece, this neighborhood is a must-see.
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