Staycations are all the rage these days as families and singles alike still want a fabulous time off, but may not have all the funds (or time) to escape to another city, state or country.
In a metropolitan city like Chicago, seeing double-decker tour buses and a mass of tourists is part of the landscape.
However, just like many locals, people may rarely take advantage of their own city or town’s tourist spots like local landmarks, museums, theaters and in this case a neighborhood like Chinatown.
Every major city the New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco, just to name a few, have neighborhoods like Little Italy, Chinatown, Greek Town and more, where one can come to enjoy the day browsing through shops, restaurants and simply take in the scenery.
On this day, Chicago Food Planet, Chicago’s first “ food and culinary tour company dedicated to helping visitors and Chicago residents enjoy the best Chicago food and cultural experience off the beaten path”, invited me to their Chinatown Food Tasting and Culinary Walking Tour.
Chicago Food Planet also has two other food tours, Near North exploring the fabulous Gold Coast and Old Town neighborhoods sampling seven one-of-a-kind specialty food stores, ethnic delis and local restaurants; and Wicker Park and Bucktown enjoying delectable food and drink samples from six authentic mom-and-pop restaurants and ethnic eateries.
My Chinatown tour had five stops sampling authentic Chinese cuisine from original Green Teas, to Mandarin (Hong Kong) style Dim Sum, deliciously spicy Szechuan style cuisine, Beijing style Peking Duck and a surprisingly French influenced Chinese bakery! I was so incredibly full by the end of the tour, that I can’t even imagine hitting 6-7 stops, like the other tours do!
My group walked through Chinatown stopping a few times on our way to the restaurants to learn about the architecture, history of the immigrants, we even stopped by a Buddhist temple, walked through the neighborhood and passed through a park to see all that Chinatown has to offer.
Being a Chicagoan, I have always come to Chinatown for late night Dim Sum. However, I have never experienced Chinatown this way and I really felt like I was worlds away, learning and eating my way through the culture and neighborhood.
Also, I was pleasantly surprised to find that two “tourists” with me were locals! One couple lived right in the loop and the other from the western suburbs who both has experienced a tour guided by Chicago Food Planet before.
Overall, the tour was amazing! Our tour guide Lisa, was so fun, knowledgeable and really showed us a good time.
Not to mention, the tours are VERY affordable starting at $45 per person and $60 for the Chinatown tour.