The first Greeks in Chicago arrived as ship captains in the 1840s. They started out as food peddlers and, by natural progression, became restaurant owners. Around the turn of the century, the Greeks concentrated around the Harrison, Blue Island and Halsted area, originally known as the as Delta but later re-named as Greek Town. During the 1960s, Greek Town was displaced by the Eisenhower Expressway and the University of Illinois at Chicago, forcing a move north a few blocks.
In 1968, gyros and saganaki (flaming cheese) were introduced in this country by Chicago’s Greek Town. From 1970 to 1990, most of the current restaurants and businesses opened, and the Taste of Greece summer festival became a tradition. In 1996, the City of Chicago helped erect traditional Greek temples and pavilions at the major intersections in Greek Town.
Today Old World traditions are prevalent in the many establishments of Greek Town. The language is still heard in the neighborhood, and the community comes together during the annual Greek Independence Day parade, the Taste of Greece and the days surrounding Greek Easter.
You will have free time during our Chicago bus tour. What restaurants in Chicago’s Greek Town are worth to be visiting?
Athena: An excellent summer patio sets this Greek restaurant apart from the rest. The outdoor space is a three-tiered affair that features brick walkways, 30-foot trees, colorful flowers, and a waterfall. The menu features classic Greek dishes, including braised lamb, dolmades, and moussaka. Warm pita bread, seafood kabobs, and eggplant dishes are solid choices as well.
Carmichael’s Chicago Steak House: This steakhouse is one that’s down to earth and proud of the top quality meat and seafood served by its kitchen. The interior is welcoming with oak paneling, brass accents, and black-and-white photos. Upon arrival at your table, you’ll receive a warm welcome with a piping hot basket of rolls and a large menu. Sit down and peruse the lengthy list. You’re sure to find something to hit the spot, whether it’s a rib-eye steak, a filet mignon, or planked Atlantic salmon.
Greek Islands: Greek Islands separates itself from the pack with festive atmosphere and a professional wait staff. Indeed, the flavorful restaurant has managed to garner a fair amount of local praise and delicious dolmades, moussaka, and lamb kokkinisto make it easy to see why. If seafood is more your style, fresh lavraki is flown in daily and broiled octopus is ideal for adventurous palates.
Parthenon: This restaurant stays open late, feeding hungry patrons after other restaurants have shut their doors. The menu includes a host of traditional mezes: you can try a platter of sausages, liver, sweetbreads, and meatballs, or sample spinach cheese pie. Main selections encompass a delectable roster of lamb, vegetable, potato, and chicken dishes. Try chicken karama, chicken simmered with tomatoes and herbs and served with rice pilafi or okra. The interior features Greek landscapes.
Have a look at our Chicago bus tour itinerary and plan your lunch time in Greek Town!