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Factories to Calories Fulton Market Food Tour

Discover the history of dramatic transformations in this industrial-to-chic neighborhood.

Discover the dramatic transformations of one of Chicago’s boom neighborhoods on the Fulton Market Tour. Over the course of this 2-hour excursion, you’ll get a glimpse of Fulton Market’s meatpacking past and enjoy a taste of its gourmand present.


For this walking food tour, you’ll get to enjoy delicious samples that should comprise a light meal. You’ll get to taste artisanal deli meats from Publican Quality Meats, half of the signature sub at J.P. Graziano, and finish with pickles and a craft beer sample at Haymarket Pub & Brewery. By the tour’s end you will have sampled some of the the culinary delights of Fulton Market. Food equates to a light meal.

We call the Fulton Market Tour the “Factories to Calories” tour to express the industrial roots of what is now known as a restaurant district. On the walking tour, you’ll start an overview of the train and highway systems that made Fulton Market into a vital industrial and meatpacking district. From there, you’re off on a one-mile jaunt to see a neighborhood defined by change.


Until very recently, Fulton Market was a gritty meatpacking district. So you’ll see the historic Fulton Market buildings that housed 19th-century meat and produce vendors. Today, of course, they’re home to an array of high-end restaurants. We’ll also glimpse one of the neighborhood’s last remaining meatpackers (well, if it’s still there!). We’ll discuss how even the streets and sidewalks themselves were designed to aid the often grisly work of butchering and processing meat.

Beyond that, this private walking food tour of Fulton Market will bring out just how quickly the neighborhood has changed and gentrified. As recently as the 1980’s and 90’s, Fulton Market was home to underground parties, drug busts, and low-rent art galleries. Today, instead, you will find high-end retailers and offices of massive corporations like Google and McDonald’s.

As the tour winds towards its conclusion we’ll discover how City Hall aided gentrification. Even as we walk through the neighborhood, we will see active demolition and construction that continue to change the very fabric of the city. Along the way, the tour will stop in at a historic sandwich shop, J.P. Graziano’s. The same Sicilian family has owned and operated it for three generations. Finally, we’ll discuss the infamous Haymarket Affair, an incendiary moment in Chicago’s labor and political history. We finish sharing drinks and snacks at the eponymous brewpub.


Who wants to listen to a volunteer tour docent rambling a bunch of memorized dates and names? Not us! Our expert Chicago tour guides are highly trained, smart, fun and passionate about Chicago architecture and history.

In business since 2010, we are proud to be a top-rated Chicago tour company with five-stars on Yelp and TripAdvisor. Many of our Chicago architecture walking tours integrate historic bars, food, and music history. We hope you’ll join us to explore stories and places locals don’t even know, both downtown and in Chicago neighborhoods!

This Chicago architecture walking tour is also available as a public tour for eight or fewer guests. It’s a popular Chicago date idea and great for fun corporate events.

As you look into Chicago private group tour options, this quick guide may help you decide if Chicago Detours is the best tour company for your special event. Please call us at 312.350.1131 to book your private group Chicago neighborhoods tour with us.


2 Hours


1 mile


  • Redeveloped meatpacking facilities, now trendy restaurants
  • A giant cold storage facility, now Google offices
  • "Gourmet Food Trend Row"
  • The striking art deco Richter Foods building
  • Hidden clues in the landscape tied to the meatpacking past

Stories & Ideas

  • Chicago’s history as “Hog Butcher for the World”
  • What the actual market used to be like
  • The industrial neighborhood disappearing before our eyes
  • Family businesses and traditions
  • Urban renewal and redevelopment
  • Labor history and the Haymarket Affair

Tour Includes

  • Engaging Chicago tour guide commentary
  • Artisanal deli meat sample from Publican Quality Meats
  • Half-size signature sub at J.P. Graziano
  • Sample-size or full glass of beer and pickles at Haymarket Pub & Brewery
  • All gratuities for servers, tour guide, and driver

Tour Location

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Call: 312.350.1131
E-Mail: [email protected]