Changes and Spaces in Pilsen Food Tour – July 7 Only

The historic Pilsen neighborhood on Chicago's South Side, considered to be the heart of Mexican Chicago

We have canceled the Changes and Spaces in Pilsen Food Tour that was scheduled to run on Saturday, July 7. In lieu of the event, we will make a donation to several community-based organizations: Chicago Community and Workers’ Rights, The Pilsen Alliance, and The Resurrection Project.

We designed the Changes and Spaces in Pilsen Tour to address the varied perspectives people have on the rapid changes that are happening in many of our Chicago neighborhoods. Gentrification is a complex process. We believe that to bring a tour group into Pilsen and ignore such a present topic would be irresponsible. The tour also includes a critical look at what role we as visitors have as a tour group.

The ideas that we were to have discussed on the three-hour-long tour are more complex than what can be communicated in the tour description on our website, let alone the length of a social media comment.

We had hoped to use the tour, and the donations from it, as something positive for the community. Instead, we are aware that some community members do not welcome our tour, and chose to cancel it. We will donate the amount of money we may have brought in from ticket sales to the community organizations mentioned above.

As a company, we are committed to responsible travel and to community building. We use storytelling to connect people with the places and ideas around them. Our guided tours encourage guests to engage thoughtfully with their surroundings and contribute to the ongoing conversations about the forces shaping our communities.

This Pilsen tour is a sort of “People’s History” of the neighborhood. Instead of focusing on the history and architecture of power, like downtown skyscrapers, we are going to find the spectacular in the everyday cityscape of our Chicago neighborhoods.

Chicago Detours will donate 100% of gratuities and a portion of ticket sales to The Resurrection Project. This Pilsen-based community organization will give to the Casa Studente, which is a new model of affordable university student housing that the group visits on the tour.

Offered as a one-off event to the public, but always available as a private group tour. This lively and insightful walking food tour explores the vibrant and historic Pilsen neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side, considered to be the heart of Mexican Chicago. Our tour focuses on the last 50 years of Pilsen’s history, which coincides with Mexican immigration to Chicago. Surrounded by factories, Pilsen has historically been a working-class neighborhood, but it is currently being gentrified by young professionals. This unique experience considers the emotionally packed process of “gentrification” and what it means for the community in Pilsen. We’ll also taste a variety of Mexican food, and reflect on our own roles in neighborhood changes.

As with all tours with Chicago Detours, we’ll mix fun and exploration with learning as we consider the the contentious process of gentrification. Chicago is undergoing a massive building boom right now, resulting in big changes to communities and cityscapes, such as in Pilsen. The sites and topics on our food tour show the contrasts of gentrifying change, including the sites and topics on our tour. We’ll see politically charged community murals juxtaposed with trendy street art. Guests get a chance to peek through the dilapidated facade of a 19th-century building to see a hidden garden. We’ll also discuss the irony of gourmet tacos, since tacos were originally fuel for a working man.

On our tour, we’ll share Alexai Galaviz-Budziszewski’s perspectives on everyday life in Pilsen. His novel, “Painted Cities,” illustrates both the beauty and brutality of life in Pilsen during the ’70s. We will use these stories to explore the complex changes in Pilsen, from the gritty inner city of the recent past to the Yuppie playgrounds of the possible present and future.

For example, we’ll talk about why buildings are “sunken” below the street level in Chicago. We’ll also stop at a storefront that is now someone’s living room. There, instead of a retail display, we’ll see their personal hodgepodge of knickknacks.

The tour tells how some of the honorary street signs that pepper our neighborhoods laud the everyday people who make this city great. Tour guests will also consider the role of artists in Pilsen, and the evolution of painted public art, from community murals, to graffiti, and the street art of today.

Chicago has the second-largest Mexican population outside of Mexico. So naturally tour guests will feast on delicious foods that reflect the culinary diversity of Mexico. We will dine on family-style grilled skirt steak inside the rustic, woodsy surrounds of Canton Regio, owned by the same family which ran the of the famous Nuevo Leon restaurant. We’ll also have a tasting of savory bites, such as plantains topped with ancho chile sauce and roasted pecans, at 5 Rabanitos. This restaurant is owned by former workers of Rick Bayless’ Frontera. And for dessert, we will indulge in your choice of fresh home-made paleta, with flavor options from strawberries and cream to cinnamon rice pudding.


3 hours


1.3 Miles


  • Days & Times
  • Monday
  • Tuesday
  • Wednesday
  • Thursday
  • Friday
  • Saturday, July 7
  • Sunday


  • Playful street art and powerful community murals
  • Thalia Hall, a 1893 Czech social hall, which is now a trendy nightlife spot
  • Delicious Mexican food beyond tacos: skirt steak, grilled slabs of oozing cheese, chicken mole, and more
  • Contemporary architecture of La Casa Student Housing
  • Ornate historic neighborhood churches
  • Eclectic decorations in former storefront windows

Stories & Ideas

  • The beauty and brutality of the inner city
  • A vast community zoo that was in a residential apartment
  • Mexican immigration to Chicago
  • The evolution of Chicago’s street gangs
  • The main players in the game of gentrification
  • Stories behind the unique Mexican cuisine of Pilsen

Tour Includes

  • Engaging tour guide commentary
  • Special map for sightseeing before the tour
  • Special gifts

Three food stops:

  • Meal of grilled skirt steak arrachera served with fire roasted chiles, grilled panela cheese, and other sides.
  • Taste of vegetarian sope, chicken mole, and plantains covered with ancho chile and pecans
  • Your choice of paleta (fruit sorbet or ice cream bar)

Tour Meeting Spot

We will begin inside Pilsen Community Books, 1102 W 18th St. Walking tour ends at 5 Rabanitos, 1758 W 18th St, a block from the 18th Street Pink line CTA station.

If you are driving, pay parking (street meter pay boxes) on 18th Street and free parking on 16th Street is always available. Be sure to look at street signs as there are many areas that are permit parking only at certain times of the day.

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