The very first Greek people came to Chicago in the 1840’s, originally food peddlers and consequently, restaurant owners. Today the area in which they flocked to originally, around Halsted, Van Buren, and Monroe Streets, is known as the best sampling of Greek heritage outside of Athens, a true world-renowned attraction. This neighborhood is comprised of residences, authentic eateries, street art, genuine cultural structures, and even the National Hellenic Museum. The Hellenic Museum helps guests learn about the Greek immigrant experience in America by allowing them to view vignettes from their permanent collection of over 6,000 objects, photos, century-old books, and textiles from the culture. This museum also contains recordings and visual testimonies that capture the culture, from the homeland wars and famine to the new generation of success apparent in its culture.
This community is highly popular and well-known for it’s authentic eateries, beginning around 1868 when gyros and saganaki (flaming cheese) were brought to Chicago. This began an annual tradition known as the Annual Taste of Greece, a summer festival that contains open air vendors, entertainers, authentic music, Greek belly dancers, and the Jesse White Tumbling Team. More importantly, perhaps, it brought about all the beloved and authentic restaurants within the community, including such iconic places as Artopolis, Athena Greek, Mr. Greek Gyros, Zeus Restaurant, and the Parthenon. After eating all that you can of these delicious Greek dishes you can stroll around and admire the art and architecture of the community or you can hop on board the Greek Trolley, a great way to get around Greektown or downtown Chicago!