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Old Polonia and Wicker Park Food Tour for UChicago Alumni

Walk, eat and learn with your fellow UChicago Alumni.

On the this food tour by foot we will explore the past and present of the people, architecture, and foods of two vibrant and changing neighborhoods. In addition to Wicker Park, we tour Noble Square, the Chicago neighborhood that was once known as “Old Polonia.” We have a special rate of $38 for alumni, discounted from the regular $45.


Wicker Park has been studied by sociologists around the world for its rapid transformation in the ’80s and ’90s. Wicker Park was then a gritty neighborhood, home to gang bangers, drug addicts and prostitutes. Instead today it is often ranked in lists of “Coolest Neighborhoods” in America. Now neighboring Ukrainian Village and Noble Square are moving in the same direction, too.

Unlike other Chicago food tours that give you quantity over quality, we have three food stops on our Wicker Park food tour at authentic neighborhood establishments that help tell the story of these neighborhoods. We sample home-style Polish food in a restaurant that feels just like going to visit your Polish grandmother. Over Mexican chile rellenos, we consider Mexican immigration to Chicago and Ashland Avenue’s “taco row.” We’ll also consume an example the neighborhood’s new, hip vibe with a gourmet doughnut from Stan’s Donuts. The Chicago Detours kind of neighborhood food tour means that beyond just eating, we are going to really learn and make a connection, with each other and with Chicago’s neighborhoods and history.

Stories on this 2.5-hour walking tour range from the voyage of Polish immigrants to the “bard of the down-and-outer” of Nelson Algren, to the “Die Yuppie Scum” graffiti of the ’90s gentrification movement. We will start at the former “Polish Broadway” with a visit inside a stunning Polish Catholic Church, filled with paintings, gold leaf details, and sweeping arches. Our walk around the Old Polonia neighborhood reveals clues to incredible contrasts of old and new, like a taqueria in a building from a 1930s hamburger joint or one of Chicago’s last newspaper stands.

Your tour guide will then accompany you and your fellow alumni on the CTA up to the Damen stop to stroll through the blooming park of Wicker Park (guests bring their own train cards). In this vibrant park we begin to see the Wicker Park neighborhood’s diverse mix of people, before wandering down “Beer Baron Row” to see massive 19th century mansions. You’ll hear the history of the Turkish Baths, which often piques interest from riders on the CTA’s adjacent Blue Line.  And our Chicago neighborhood tour concludes at a special spot at the massive gears of a bank vault, now the inside of a pharmacy.

Chicago Detours was started by UChicago alum Amanda Scotese, AM ’13. Our events with UChicago alumni almost always sell out. Group size is limited! We advise you to book ASAP if interested!

We hope you’ll join us. You’ll get to meet the ever-interesting community of UChicago alumni! 

If you’re curious about Amanda’s background, read more here or connect on LinkedIn.

If you can’t make it on this date, please consider our other UChicago Alumni Association tours we are offering this summer, like the Factories to Calories Fulton Market Food Tour. Our events with UChicago alumni sell out quickly. This is limited to 14 guests. OR IF YOU CAN’T MAKE IT, WE OFFER THE OLD POLONIA AND WICKER PARK WALKING TOUR REGULARLY TO THE PUBLIC. SEE PUBLIC TOUR SCHEDULE HERE.


2.5 Hours


0.9 Miles



  • Days & Times

  • Friday, June 21st


  • Marvel at the interiors of a dazzling Polish Catholic Church
  • Stroll by Gilded Age Mansions on “Beer Baron Row”
  • Eat Polish food like grandma used to make
  • Sample chile relleno tacos in a Noble Square taqueria
  • Step inside a turn-of-the-century bank vault, now a pharmacy

Stories & Ideas

  • Old Polonia, aka “Polish Downtown”
  • Transformation in Wicker Park through the decades
  • Mexican immigration to Chicago
  • The ’90s gentrification of Wicker Park
  • Inevitability of change in urban neighborhoods

Tour Includes

  • Expert guide commentary
  • Special Gifts
  • Tax and server gratuities at each food stop

Tastings at top-rated establishments:

  • La Pasadita
  • Podhalanka
  • Stan’s Donuts

Tour Location

Holy Trinity Polish Catholic Church, 1118 N Noble St

Book Now


Call: 312.350.1131
E-Mail: [email protected]