Old Polonia and Wicker Park Food Tour

Walk, eat, and learn about the dynamics of Chicago's neighborhoods. Go from old Polish downtown to millennial mecca.

On the Wicker Park food tour, your private tour group will explore the past and present of the people, architecture, and foods of Noble Square and Wicker Park, two vibrant and rapidly changing communities. Studied by sociologists around the world for its rapid transformation in the ’80s and ’90s, the Wicker Park neighborhood had previously been home to gang bangers, drug addicts and prostitutes.

PRIVATE GROUP WICKER PARK FOOD TOUR DETAILS

Today, the Wicker Park neighborhood is often ranked in lists of “Coolest Neighborhoods” in America. Now the neighboring areas of Ukrainian Village and Noble Square are going the same direction, too.

The Chicago Detours kind of food tour means that the foods help tell the story. You will learn while enjoying a variety of authentic foods. To have a meaningful connection with the places we visit, stories on this private Chicago walking tour range from the voyage of Polish immigrants of the 1800’s to Nelson Algren, the “bard of the down-and-outer” of mid-century America. We’ll even talk about the “Die Yuppie Scum” graffiti of recent gentrification.

The private Wicker Park Food Tour starts at the former “Polish Broadway,” with a visit inside a stunning Polish Catholic Church. Paintings, gold leaf details, and sweeping arches fill this stunning interior space. Your walk around the neighborhood reveals clues to incredible contrasts of old and new. Highlights include a building that was a 1930s hamburger joint or one of Chicago’s last functioning newspaper stands.

Over a chile relleno taco, you will consider Mexican immigration and Ashland Avenue’s “taco row.” Then you’ll sample home-style Polish food in a old-fashioned restaurant. It feels like going to visit your Polish grandmother.

The tour for private groups includes a quick ride on CTA Blue Line to the Damen stop. For this Wicker Park portion of the tour, we step from the hubbub of the six corners and stroll through the vibrant public park. After that, we wander down “Beer Baron Row” to see massive 19th-century mansions and blooming gardens.

Your private group will also hear the history of the North Avenue Turkish Baths. The architecture of this building often piques interest for tour guests who have seen its terracotta sign from the CTA Blue Line train. You’ll consume an example the new school vibe of the hip neighborhood with a gourmet doughnut from Stan’s Donuts. Our Wicker Park Food Tour concludes by the shining gears of a bank vault, inside a Walgreen’s Pharmacy.

WHY BOOK A WICKER PARK FOOD TOUR FOR YOUR GROUP?

Who wants to listen to a volunteer tour docent reading names from notecards? 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 on both Yelp and TripAdvisor. Many of our private group 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!

For private groups, we have an option to include more food to make an even more abundant meal. And you can BYO on this tour, too! This food tour is great for corporate team building events.

This Chicago architecture walking tour is also available as a public tour for eight or fewer guests. 

Length

2.5 Hours

Distance

.9 Miles

Highlights

  • Step inside a dazzling Catholic Church
  • Walk by Gilded Age Mansions on “Beer Baron Row”
  • Eat Polish food like grandma used to make
  • See writer Nelson Algren’s home
  • Step inside a bank vault, now a pharmacy

Stories & Ideas

  • Old Polonia, aka “Polish Downtown”
  • What old Wicker Park was like
  • Mexican immigration to Chicago
  • The ’90s gentrification of Wicker Park
  • Inevitability of change in urban neighborhoods

Tour Includes

  • Expert guide commentary
  • Special Gifts
  • Tastings at top-rated establishments:
  • Lovely Bakery
  • La Pasadita
  • Podhalanka
  • Stan’s Donuts

Tour Reviews

My son and I really enjoyed the Old Polonia and Wicker Park tour. Although we are frequently in and about the Wicker Park neighborhood, we learned interesting facts that we didn't know. Amanda was a very friendly and personable tour guide. She's a great conversationalist and clearly enjoys her work. We loved the food too!

Tour Meeting Spot

The Wicker Park tour starts at the former “Polish Broadway,” with a visit inside a stunning Polish Catholic Church, filled with paintings, gold leaf details, and sweeping arches. Your walk around the neighborhood reveals clues to incredible contrasts of old and new, like a building that was a 1930s hamburger joint or one of Chicago’s last functioning newspaper stands.

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