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Chicago Ethnic Food Tours Focus in Uptown and Andersonville

EthnicFoodTours1Having lived in Edgewater for several years and dining in both Uptown and Andersonville, I thought I knew a lot about our local eateries, bars, ethnic grocery gems, neighborhood symbols and historical roots. But on my recent trip with Phyllis Petrilli of the Chicago Ethnic Food Tours, I realized I knew very little of my neighborhood and how some of our staple spots began.

Phyllis began doing these ethnic food tours in the last few years, and the tour has continued to evolve in ways she could only dream of. Having managed a local gourmet deli in Chicago for many years, Phyllis is a food connoisseur and has a wealth of knowledge about our city’s smaller grocers. Along the tour you get to experience and visit small stores that have some of the most authentic offerings exported from around the world. The tour is about 3 hours long and begins in Uptown at Argyle and Broadway, then west towards Andersonville and north along Clark. With seven different stops representing seven different parts of the world, your mouth and mind take quite an adventure. On my tour I was able to have a bahn mi sandwich, an iced Vietnamese coffee, some freshly made hummus and spices, Swedish pancakes and baked goods from a few bakeries  … we might have even had a shot of aquavit to top it off!

While creating her business planning, Phyllis did a great deal of research on the history of Chicago’s neighborhoods and how different areas came to be the ethnic centers that they currently are. She walked us along a designated path and pointed out places where famous icons such as Charlie Chaplin came to Chicago for brief stints. She explained the history of how each north side neighborhood on the tour came to be, and where the go-to’s are for building a worldly kitchen and palette. All of the owners of the local stops that we stopped in at knew her well and clearly adored her.

The highlight of the trip is Simon’s Tavern, one of the last Swedish owned and run establishments in Andersonville. Having been to Simon’s Tavern many times, I was familiar with some of the stories about the original owner. But what I was missing was the stories of the mural on the wall, and of all the characters that have frequented the establishment. While I have spent all too much time selecting a soundtrack from their jukebox (which has been voted Chicago’s best Jukebox, several years in a row), being able to sit down and hear the history of the bar was another experience all together.

 

 


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