Disclaimer: I was provided a voucher to attend this tour by Vimbly. I was not paid to go on the tour nor am I being compensated for this post. All opinions are my own. There are links within the post.
Happy Friday everyone! I might have taken yesterday off but I have a doozy of a post for you today. Last week before I went back to the burbs for the holiday, I took a little food tour in Chicago's Old Town and Gold Coast neighborhoods. Let me mention really quick that these are my favorite parts of Chicago. If I could live in Old Town, that would be a dream. Anyway, the tour was led by Chicago Food Planet and we stopped at seven places on a snowy day. It was such a great experience. I'll briefly take you through each.
1. Lou Malnati's
This was what sold me on taking this tour. I love Lou Malnati's pizza. It's potentially my favorite outside the recipe my family makes from the homeland. We started with Lou Malnati's classic salad with their house made dressing which was delicious and then had the classic deep dish pizza with a butter crust and sausage. Some fun facts about Lou Malnati's and Chicago pizza. The first deep dish pizza was made in the 1940's by Pizzeria Uno where Lou Malnati worked as a cook. The first Lou Malnati's restaurant was opened in 1971 in Lincolnwood, Illinois. Their pizza is absolutely delicious. It's not greasy, not sloppy and just perfect. If you are not from Chicago, you must try it when you visit.
Teagschwender was established in 1978. They carry all kinds of tea leaves which, I did not know this, mainly come from the same plant. The Gold Coast shop is the only one in Chicago. They carry both loose leaf and full leaf tea. The difference, loose leaf is what you would find in a lipton tea bag, the grainy stuff. Full leaf tea is exactly how it sounds, full leaves. A fun fact about tea, it has antioxidants in it which allow the caffeine to last longer. I may become an afternoon tea drinker knowing this fact. Teagschwender has a huge assortment of teas that you can buy to just pop in to grab a to-go cup. They will mix blends for you and the staff is extremely nice and helpful. I may have to go back for a fave I tried.
3. Kamehachi Old Town
I was nervous when I saw this restaurant in the plans. For the first stop in Old Town, we went for a little sushi and sake (rice) wine. I'm not a huge sushi person but I also have a rule to try everything once before you kick it. The two rolls I tried were the Shitake Make and the Spicy Tuna Deluxe Roll and let me tell you, I will now go out for sushi knowing there are tasty options. My tour leader let me know that any form of maki mano is the best form of sushi to try when you don't have lots of experience. So now you know what I'll be ordering if you take me for sushi! Some fun facts about Kamehachi, it opened in 1967 as the very first sushi bar in Chicago. Before World War II there were only about 300 Japanese people in Chicago, after there were more than 30,000. Old Town had the first Japanese Cultural Center and Budhust Temple in Chicago. Kamehachi originally was located across from Second City because actors from Hollywood were familiar with sushi. It was able to get their business to take off. The restaurant has been owned by the same family since it's was opened.
4. The Fudge Pot
Let me begin with the fact that I do not have a huge sweet tooth. I'm a salt person. Then I stepped into The Fudge Pot and everything changed. The Fudge Pot is a family owned candy shop that was established in 1963. All the candy and treats in this shop are made in the shop. It has a tradition of being handed down from father to son. They are famous for their fudge and can make molds of anything. They are currently on their fourth generation of candy makers.
5. Old Town Oil
Old Town Oil has a wide variety of olive oil and vinegars. You can mix and match and get bottles specially filled just for you. They have really interesting flavors of both oil and vinegar which make pairing so much fun. Chefs come to this shop all the time for inspiration when coming up with new recipes. It's also surprisingly affordable for their products being primarily customized. I personally love their little bottles of olive oil for wedding favors.
6. The Spice House
The Spice House is exactly what it sounds like, a spice house. They have every spice you could possibly ever need. And at amazing prices as well. They have special mixtures that are delicious like their ___ and ___. I got both of them before I left so I could cook dinner. The staff is extremely pleasant and will help you with any requests you have. A nice little perk about The Spice House is that for every spice or spice mixture, they have recommendations for what foods it will go well with. I love that. Random thought, this is the view outside when we left. It was so pretty outside. I loved the snow.
7. Delightful Pastries
As the last stop on my little food tour, Delightful Pastries was a tasty finish. Established in 1998 by a Polish woman who has traveled the world getting recipes from the countries where foods originated, Delightful Pastries carries everything from perogis to macaroons. While in the little cafe, I tried the Potato and Cheese Perogi and the Mushroom and Saurkraut Perogi. They were so good. I love perogis so they had a pretty high bar for my expectations. I finished off with a Marzapan Macaroon with homemade almond buttercream and a Passionfruit Macaroon. I love love love macaroons. These were incredible. I'll definitely be making my way back here again. They even have some of my favorite Italian cookies plus a full on coffee and espresso menu. It's positively delightful!
I know this was a long post but bare with me people. You know you love talking about food and if you come to Chicago, you just got seven places to visit. I really enjoyed the Gold Coast and Old Town Food Tour. Unfortunately the season just ended but they will be starting up in spring. There is also a Wicker Park Food Tour which I'm interested to try and a Chinatown Food Tour but let's not push it, shall we.
I want to give a HUGE shout out to Vimbly for sending me on my little adventure. Vimbly is a new website for Chicago that has options to do almost anything. Find a food tour, brewery tour, wine tasting, dance class, boxing class, historical tour, and so much more in Chicago on Vimbly. I'm so grateful for them sending me on my trip and I can't wait to go on another. I will definitely be going through them again for a fun thing to do. If you'd like to check out something to do in Chicago, visit vimbly.com/chicago.