An Introduction To Chicago's Greektown

National Hellenic Museum in Chicago
National Hellenic Museum in Chicago | © GreekDude1/WikiCommons
Elizabeth Newhart

Chicago’s Greektown, though small, packs a mighty punch when it comes to world-class food and nightlife just West of the Loop.
The Greek delegation in Chicago came into being following the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. They helped rebuild the city and settled into the West Loop, originally occupying a much larger area than today. After the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) had taken hold of the West Side scene in the 1960s, the Greeks were forced to downsize and relocate. Many moved to other neighborhoods such as Ravenswood, Lincoln Square, and even nearby suburbs. But their strongest representation remains in a five-by-two-block area along Halsted Street, just West of the Kennedy Expressway. Sometimes overlooked, it’s just a short walk from major Chicago landmarks such as the Willis Tower and Union Station.

Halsted Street in Greektown

The neighborhood’s tiny size has created a close-knit community, and it is packed full of history and culture. After all, Chicago’s old Greektown was the main attraction for Greeks on American soil. At the turn of the 20th century, it was the original Greektown neighborhood in the United States. Today, the community maintains that proud past with the National Hellenic Museum, which opened its doors on Halsted Street in 2011, with over 17,000 artifacts detailing thousands of years of Greek history. Visit through September 30th 2016 to feed your Olympic fever with a look at their current exhibit, Olympic Revival: The 1896 Olympic Games. The museum offers free tours of exhibitions with regular admission and consistently hosts educational programs for members and the public alike.

Don’t let the neighborhood’s size worry you about a shortage of Greek food in the area. This drag of Halsted Street is jam-packed with authentic Greek cuisine, ranging from all-night gyros to five-course dining experiences. Working from north to south, your options include:

Pegasus Restaurant and Taverna
Santorini
Greek Islands
Athena Greek Restaurant
Roditys
Spectrum Bar and Grill
Mr. Greek Gyros
Artopolis
The Parthenon
Pan Hellenic Pastry Shop

Gyro with Greek salad

And if all that food doesn’t quite satisfy your Greek culture craving, join the neighborhood in its annual Taste of Greektown, coming up on August 26-28, 2016. During the weekend, visitors can enjoy 50 percent off admission to the National Hellenic Museum and all the food you can eat. Participating neighborhood restaurants will offer special dishes and deals on their fare, and the festival will also include plenty of live Greek music and family activities for all.

landscape with balloons floating in the air

KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?

Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Edit article