Travel

Chicago Food Tour

Sample the great tastes of Chicago with this do-it-yourself Chicago Food Tour! You will taste Deep Dish Chicago Pizza, Chicago Hot Dogs, The Billy Goat Tavern Cheeseburger, Fannie May chocolates, Garrett Popcorn and also see the Tiffany Dome and Millennium Park with the Cloud Gate (aka the Bean)!

Food Tours in Chicago

There are many Chicago Food Tours available, but this self-guided Chicago Food Tour is one where you are in control of the timing for each stop and allows for any additional wandering to be added in by you!

This Chicago Food Tour is a walking food tour, although you can use Uber if you want to do less walking. There are two options for this food tour, but they both cover all the same eateries. The only difference is whether you want to include a side trip to the Navy Pier, which I highly recommend.

Where to Stay in Chicago?

We stayed at The Palmer House, which is a great Hilton Hotel in a fabulous location. Did you know that their kitchen invented the brownie? Get their original brownie recipe here. Below is a look at their bar and lounge area.

Palmer House Bar

Chicago Food Tour Maps

The first option, is the shorter option without including a trip to the Navy Pier. This option is 2.1 miles with a total walking time of about 45 minutes. If you want an easy to follow map on your mobile phone, then just Click here for this Chicago Food Tour Map in Google Maps and then click the Send directions to your phone button.

Chicago Food Tour Map without Navy Pier

This second option is the best one because it includes a trip to the Navy Pier. This option is 3.8 miles long with a total walking time of about 1 hour and 20 minutes. If you want an easy to follow map on your mobile phone, then just Click here for this Chicago Walking Food Tour Map in Google Maps and then click the Send directions to your phone button.

Chicago Food Tour Map with Navy Pier

Chicago Walking Food Tour Details

For this food tour, you may want to eat a light breakfast or skip breakfast and then start this tour at 11am.

Chicago Deep Dish Pizza

You may think that Chicago-Style Pizza has a thick crust in that deep dish, but that is not the case. It has a thin crust with a high edge from the deep dish that allows it to hold in lots of cheese and toppings. The Chicago-Style Pizza also layers on the toppings differently, with lots of cheese on top of the crust, then some toppings, like sausage is placed on top of the cheese, then the tomato sauce, then other toppings like black olives on top of the tomato sauce. So, it looks different and tastes different. The buttery crust is so delicious, it really makes the perfect base for this Chicago classic.

Chicago Style Pizza on the Food Tour Chicago
Chicago Style Pizza

Start your tour at Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria, their Gold Coast Location at 1120 North State Street (at State & Rush), Chicago, IL 60610.

Lou Malnatis on the Food Walking Tour Chicago
Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria

I recommend that you order the Deep Dish Malnati Chicago Classic™. It is made with sausage, mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce on a buttery crust. It’s authentic Chicago!

chicago classic pizza
Deep Dish Malnati Chicago Classic Pizza

For a vegetarian option, order the Deep Dish The Lou. It has spinach, mushrooms and Roma tomatoes covered with three cheeses, on a garlic, buttery crust.

The Lou Pizza
Deep Dish The Lou Pizza

They also have gluten-free pizza crust options as well for all of their pizzas.

Chicago Hot Dogs

After you are finished with your deep dish Chicago pizza, it is time for a little walk to taste a true Chicago-style Hot Dog or Chicago Dog at Portillo’s Hot Dogs.

Portillo's Hot Dogs
Portillo’s Hot Dogs

To get there, start walking South on State Street, take a right on W. Walton St. and when you get to the corner of W. Walton St. and Dearborn St. take a diagonal short cut through Washington Square Park – you will exit the part at W. Delaware Pl. and N. Clark St. Continue South down N. Clark St and you will find Portillo’s Hot Dogs on the Northwest Corner of N. Clark St. and W. Ontario St. This will be a 0.8 mile walk that will take about 15 minutes.

Chicago Hot Dog Ingredients

Do you know why Chicago Dogs are so good?

Because it takes nine ingredients to make one! The Chicago hot dog is said to be “dragged through the garden” because of so many toppings!

Here are the nine ingredients for a Chicago Dog:

  • It starts with an all-beef frankfurter
  • on a steamed poppy seed bun
  • topped with yellow mustard,
  • chopped white onions,
  • bright green sweet pickle relish,
  • a dill pickle spear,
  • tomato slices or wedges,
  • pickled sport peppers
  • and a dash of celery salt

The method for cooking the hot dog itself varies depending on the vendor, but most often they are steamed or, water-simmered. Less often they are grilled over charcoal and referred to as “char-dogs”.

Chicago Hot Dog on the Food Tours Chicago
Chicago Hot Dog

Chicago Food Tour: Optional Navy Pier

To get to the Navy Pier, head South on N Clark St and cross W Ontario St, keep going on N Clark St until you get to W Grand Ave. Then turn left onto W Grand Ave and it will take you straight to the Navy Pier.

What is the Navy Pier?

Navy Pier is a long pier on the shoreline of Lake Michigan and includes parks, gardens, shops, restaurants, family attractions and exhibition facilities. You can also book sightseeing boat tours that leave from the Navy Pier. It is one of Chicago’s most visited tourist attractions. Click this link to learn more about what is available at the Navy Pier.

Navy Pier
Navy Pier Beer Garden

Navy Pier Ferris Wheel

You can get a cool beverage from any of the restaurants on the pier. Also, you can take a ride in the Ferris Wheel to get a nice view of the lake and the city.

Navy Pier
Navy Pier Ferris Wheel

Chicago Children’s Museum

If your kiddos are along for this tour, consider making a stop in the Chicago Children’s Museum. It has fun, hands on activities for toddlers to ages 9 and over. Click this link to check out the current activities available.

Navy Pier
Chicago Children’s Museum

The Navy Pier Photo Spots

There are a couple of cool spots to take a photo. One is by this giant anchor at the end of the pier, with Lake Michigan and a lighthouse in the background.

Navy Pier
Anchor on Navy Pier

Another good spot is at the north side of the end of the pier, where you can see the length of the Navy Pier on the left side, with the city in the background.

Navy Pier
Chicago Skyline Photo from Navy Pier

The Billy Goat Tavern

The Original Billy Goat Tavern is a must see on this Chicago Food Tour!

Billy Goat Tavern
The Original Billy Goat Tavern

To get to the Tavern from the Navy Pier: Head north on Park Dr/N Streeter Dr toward E Grand Ave, then turn left onto E Grand Ave. Next, turn left onto N Rush St, then cross E Hubbard St and then turn left onto E Hubbard St. Take the stairs down to the Billy Goat Tavern.

To get to the Tavern from Portillo’s: Head east on W Ontario St toward N Clark St, then turn right onto N State St. Next, cross E Hubbard St and then turn left onto E Hubbard St. Take the stairs down to the Billy Goat Tavern.

You will find the original Billy Goat Tavern under the street level, so you have to walk down this flight of steps to get there, but there is a nice sign letting you know you are on the right track!

Billy Goat Tavern
Stairs Down to the Billy Goat Tavern

The Billy Goat Tavern was made famous by the Curse of the Billy Goat and Saturday Night Live in The Olympia Restaurant skit.

The Curse of the Billy Goat

The Curse of the Billy Goat was a sports curse that was supposedly placed on the Chicago Cubs Baseball franchise in 1945, by Billy Goat Tavern owner William Sianis. The curse lasted 71 years, from 1945 to 2016. During game 4 of the 1945 World Series at Wrigley Field, Sianis’s pet goat, named Murphy, was bothering other fans, and so the pair were asked to leave the stadium. Sianis was outraged and allegedly declared, “Them Cubs, they ain’t gonna win no more,” which had been interpreted to mean that the Cubs would never win another National League pennant, at least for the remainder of Sianis’s life. The Cubs lost the 1945 World Series to the Detroit Tigers, and did not win a World Series championship again until 2016. See William “Billy” Sianis and his Billy goat in the photo below.

Billy Goat
Billy Goat Tavern Owner William Sianis

Billy Goat SNL Skit

Saturday Night Live cast members John Belushi and Bill Murray knew the Billy Goat from their days doing stand up comedy at the Second City comedy club in Chicago. Click the Play button below to see The Olympia Restaurant Skit.

Billy Goat Tavern Inspired Saturday Night Live Skit

Cheeseborger

This is a fun, historical place to grab a “cheeseborger”. The cheeseburgers here are good, but you are stopping here for the history and to see this special place.

Billy Goat Tavern Cheeseburger on the Chicago Food Tour
Billy Goat Tavern Cheeseburger

The current owner of the Billy Goat Tavern, Sam Sianis, is the nephew of the original owner William. As of this writing, he is in his 80s and can sometimes be seen working or visiting with patrons. We found him cutting up some onions when were were there as you can see in the photo below.

Billy Goat Tavern
Sam Sianis

We had the pleasure of meeting Sam Sianis while he was working there, he definitely loves his customers!

Billy Goat Tavern
Meeting Sam Sianis

Fannie May

Now it is time for a short sightseeing walk on the way to Fannie May’s for a chocolate, ice cream or coffee.

Fanny May Chocolates on the Chicago Food Tour
Fannie May Chocolates

When you get up to the top of the stairs, take a look across N. Michigan Ave. at the Tribune Tower.

Chicago Tribune Tower
Chicago’s Tribune Tower

The Tribune Tower is a 36-floor neo-Gothic skyscraper built between 1923 and 1925. The tower was the home of the Chicago Tribune, Tribune Media, and Tribune Publishing until moving out in June 2018. Now it has been turned into condominiums.

If you take a right and start walking South down Michigan Ave. you will be right next to the Wrigley Building with it’s famous clock tower.

Wrigley Building
Chicago’s Wrigley Building

The Wrigley Building is a skyscraper that was built to house the corporate headquarters of the Wrigley Chewing Gum Company. It was Chicago’s first air-conditioned office building.

Now, let’s walk to Fannie May. Keep going South on Michigan Ave. and cross the Chicago River walking on the bridge. Enjoy the beautiful view of the river and city skyline.

Chicago River

When you get across the river, Fannie May will be diagonally across from you, so cross over both Michigan Ave. and E Wacker Dr. and you will be there.

Wrigley Building in Chicago
Chicago’s Wrigley Building and Tribune Tower

The first Fannie May shop was opened in 1920 in Chicago and it become an instant success.

The Fannie May chocolates are so good and they have a large variety to choose from! Enjoy this iconic Chicago chocolatier.

Fanny May Chocolates on the Chicago Food Walking Tour
Fannie May Chocolates

If chocolate is not your favorite treat, no need to worry as they also serve ice cream and coffee.

Fanny May Chocolates

After you get your fill of chocolate, ice cream and/or caffeine it is time for our last food stop on this tour.

Garrett Popcorn

Garrett Popcorn
Garrett Popcorn Shop

Garrett Popcorn Shops is an American chain of gourmet popcorn stores founded in 1949 in Chicago, Illinois. Today, it has shops in nine countries, but the majority of its brick and mortar stores are still in Chicago. As such, it is regarded as part of classic Chicago cuisine. So, we are going to go there next!

To get there from Fannie May, head south on N Michigan Ave and walk 2 ½ blocks (about 5 minutes) and it will be on the same side of the street as Fannie May.

What should you order when you get there?

Garrett Popcorn on the Chicago Food Tour
Garrett Mix

While they serve lots of flavors, to get the authentic Chicago Pop Corn, you have to order the Garrett Mix!!! It is the best mix of sweet (Caramel Corn) and savory (Cheese Corn) and it is what made Garrett Popcorn famous! Feel free to order any other flavors you like in addition to the Garrett Mix. The good news is that you can sample a little out of the bag and then take the rest to eat later, since you are probably stuffed by now!

Garrett Popcorn
Garrett Mix Pop Corn

Chicago Cultural Center’s Tiffany Dome

Since you are fueled up, we have two more fun stops on the tour! The first is to see the Tiffany Dome inside the Chicago Cultural Center. To get there, head South on Michigan Ave. when you get to E Randolph St, the center will be diagonally across from you, so cross both E Randolph St. and Michigan Ave. and enter the center.

The Chicago Cultural Center opened in 1897 and it is a Chicago Landmark. Inside, it has a reception area where the Mayor of Chicago has welcomed Presidents and royalty, diplomats and community leaders. It is located across Michigan Avenue from Millennium Park. Originally the central library building, it was converted in 1977 to an arts and culture center.

Chicago Cultural Center Tiffany Dome
Tiffany Dome

Once you are inside the center, go into the Preston Bradley Hall. There you can see a large, ornate room that is capped with a 38-foot Tiffany glass dome. This is the largest Tiffany dome in the world!

The Tiffany Dome is absolutely beautiful and worth a quick side trip into this building to see it and snap a few photos!

Chicago Food Tour Cultural Center Tiffany Dome
Chicago Cultural Center’s Tiffany Dome

The Cloud Gate (AkA The Bean) in Millennium Park

Millennium Park is a top attraction to see in Chicago. You can see and take photos of the Cloud Gate, also known as the “Bean” for its shape.

Chicago Food Tour Cloud Gate Chicago
Cloud Gate in Millennium Park

Cloud Gate is a public sculpture that is the centerpiece of Millennium Park. The sculpture is nicknamed “the Bean” because of its shape. Made up of 168 stainless steel plates welded together, its highly polished exterior has no visible seams.

The design was inspired by liquid mercury and the sculpture’s surface reflects and distorts the city’s skyline.

Cloud Gate Chicago

You can walk around and under Cloud Gate’s 12-foot high arch. On the underside is the “omphalos” (Greek for “navel”), a concave chamber that warps and multiplies reflections.

Cloud Gate Chicago

In the summer and fall, there are plenty of beautiful plants and flowers to view in Millennium Park.

Chicago Food Tour Millennium Park Chicago
Millennium Park Chicago

If you are looking for Chicago souvenirs, there are a few shops right across the Michigan Ave. from Millennium Park.

Chicago Food Tour Feedback

We hope you loved your tour, if so, please leave a comment below and tell us all about it!

About the Author

Linda

Hi, I'm Linda! Welcome to The Wanderlust Kitchen, where I share recipes and travel adventures from all around the world. Here you'll find a world of recipes you can have confidence in. These recipes celebrate authentic food heritage as well as modern techniques and ingredients. Be adventurous and try a new recipe and travel somewhere you have never been before.  Bon Appétit! Bon Voyage!  

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