I had an amazing time in Chicago last week, and during my visit I took three food tours, plus other kinds of tours. You know any time I visit a new place I always seek out the food tours, and they are the very best experiences. While they were all so good and enjoyable, probably the most fun was the Pilsen Tacos and Tequila Tour by Chicago Food Planet. Combine authentic family owned Hispanic businesses in a colorful, vibrant Mexican neighborhood (not to mention some really fun tour guests) and you have an actual movable fiesta.
An easy ride on the Pink Line to the 18th Street stop found me plunked right in the middle of an amazing Mexican neighborhood. Our meeting place was just a couple doors down from the station, and I met up with our group outside of 5 Rabanitos. We were met and greeted by Chef Alfonso Sotelo, who trained under Rick Bayless. He came bearing a tray full of incredible margaritas for the first tasting of our tour. As a self proclaimed margarita expert, these were excellent.
Our next stop on the Pilsen Tacos and Tequila food tour by Chicago Food Planet was just a few steps away at Carnitas Uruapan which is a nose-to-tail restaurant specializing in carnitas from the Michoacan, Mexico region. We got a baggie for takeaway containing samples of Tacos Dorados–in the Sesos flavor which is none other than Crispy Tacos with spicy pork brain, onion and jalapeño. Well, I ate it and I have to say it was delicious. You gotta just try it!
A Lesson in Tamale Making
Just a few steps down from 5 Rabanitos, we were again met by Chef Alfonso at one of his other restaurants called Fiesta Tamaleria el Barrio which makes homemade tamales! We had a demonstration by a lovely lady who showed us how they are made by hand, adding the thick masa and chicken or pork, then bundled up in a soft maize husk. Several people in our group also got to try their hand at making tamales.
Then we got to try one of these delicious treats, and were offered red or green salsa. I tried both!
Moving on down 18th Street, we passed by so many lovely murals and pops of color in the neighborhood. We stopped in to a bakery called Panaderia Nuevo Leon where our tour guide picked up some Churros for a bit later. We got to look around the shop for a bit and admire all the baked goodies.
Walking around the Pilsen neighborhood was a treat in itself. It’s a feast for the eyes as well as the stomach. So many fun storefronts, and there are of course murals everywhere you look.
The Colorful Murals of Pilsen
Our next stop brought us to Los Comales where we enjoyed diner-style food. We were served an amazing steak taco along with a big cup of iced horchata. Absolutely delicious! There were also chips served on the side and the salsas were spicy!
Moving right along towards our final stop, we paused at a little park and enjoyed our Churros.
Our last stop was waaaaaaay down 18th Street at Senoritas Cantina: Tacos & Tequila Margarita Bar. This was a really fun place that I’d like to spend more time at. We had a great spot on the patio out back and we were served a beautiful Tres Leches cake along with a huge coconut margarita! I loved it all.
This was such an incredible tour filled with great food, strong drinks, and a vibrant textured neighborhood. Definitely check out Chicago Food Planet, as well as all the other tours that they offer.
Possibly the only drawback to the itinerary is that the last stop on the tour ends 1 mile from the nearest L station which was back at the very beginning of the tour, so if you’re traveling alone like I was and it’s getting dark you should probably figure out what you’re going to do about that ahead of time. Luckily some of the ladies on the tour gave me a ride back to the train station and saved me a very long walk!
New Hampshire Food Photography
Erika Follansbee is a published Goffstown, NH food photographer whose job is to make food look amazing. She is available for hire to help small restaurants and cafes to create beautiful images of their dishes to use for marketing, websites, and social media. Magazine-quality food images are the best form of advertisement.
Erika is also a wedding photographer. Visit www.erikafollansbee.com for more information.