Going through my drafts, I realized that I never posted this!!! One of our favorite experiences in Chicago was this food tour, led by Chicago Planet Food Tours. Even though this was a few months ago, the memory is still fresh in our hearts and the craving for Lou Malnati’s pizza is still in our bellies! Continue reading and you’ll see where we stopped during the tour! 
Our experience with Chicago Planet Food Tours, a local business that let’s you see the city through a foodie’s eyes. Our walking tour was 3 hours long and provided enough food to stuff us for the afternoon! Check below for a listing of the sites we explored and the food we at.

Our first stop was Ashkenaz Deli on East Cedar Street. We met our group of 10-14 other food lovers here, where out tour guide, Chris, introduced us to each other, as well as to our future stops on the three-hour walking tour.


When we walk into the deli, there is a table set up with the makings of a Reuben sandwich, one of my favorite! Fresh Marble Rye bread, Swiss Cheese, Sauerkraut were set up and Chris (our tour guide) passed out the warm, thinly sliced Pastrami (not corned beef!).

What made this Reuben extra special? Ashkenaz’s Thousand Island Dressing is a unique one, made with the following ingredients (beets!):

  • Ketchup
  • Mayonnaise
  • Relish
  • Hard Boiled Eggs
  • Cooked Beets

Our next stop was Lou Malnati’s on North State Street, and one of Chicago’s best pizzas! Rivaling to Giardono’s and Gino’s (which I tried both!), Lou Malnati’s was my favorite of the three. Scroll to the picture below to see why! But first, a little history: In 1943, Ike (a pizza-loving Texan) created Pizzeria Uno, in which the Malnati family worked in for 20 years. The Malnati’s realized they needed their own pizzeria and in 1971, Lou Malnati’s was born!

From bottom to top:
  • Butter crust, meaning they fold butter into the pizza crust, resulting in a flaky, but sturdy crust
  • Sliced Mozzarellaa, not shredded, keeps the moisture of the sausage and tomatoes from soaking into the butter crust
  • Sausage patty, which crazy enough, out sales Pepperoni pizza sales in Chicago!
  • Hand picked tomatoes, which are picked and canned at their ripest in a retreat they do every year to California.
Our third stop was Tea Gschwendner, nirvana for any tea lover! Our tour guide was aided in this presentation by one of the managers at the shop, who took the time to explain to us the varieties of tea and how each became a separate entity. One of the most interesting things we learned that day was that all tea came from the same plant, and depending on the level of oxidation, it turns into White tea (barely withered tea leaves) or Black tea (fully dried and oxidized tea leaves).

Fourth stop, The Spice House! A fantastic, local shop that has every spice that your heart will EVER desire! Not only do they have more than 5 varieties of cardamom, but each spice has a taster that you sprinkle in your hand and lick off! With the excess, you just slap your hands and it falls on the floor of the store, which slowly but surely, creates some amazing aromas when you walk in.

Spices are ground weekly, and here you can see one of the spice lovers scaling spices

The picture below is of Sweet Freeze Dried Corn, which tasted AMAZING, but I didn’t buy because I thought I’d be going back to this shop, which I didn’t. As life would have it, next week I’m making a recipe that calls for Freeze Dried Corn Powder, what…are…the….odds?!


At the Spice House, Chris sits us down for a few minutes and explains a few spices in particular, such as peppers and cinnamon variations, stopping to answer questions from the group, as well as recounting spice history.


Stop #5 was Old Town Oil, a specialty oils and vinegars shop. They focus on 100% Extra Virgin Olive Oil and here are a few criteria of what makes it EVOO:

  • From the “first pressing” of fresh olives
  • Free accidity of .8% or less. The lower the acidity, the better the oil
  • No heat, steam or water is used to extract the oil from the olives (cold press is preferable)
  • Evaluated by experts

We got to pair oils and vinegars, such as Strawberry Balsamic Vinegar with a Basil Olive Oil. One of the best pairings of the house!

Old Town Oil

Our almost last stop, The Fudge Spot, hit “the spot”! After tasting so many savory items, my palate was ready for something sweet and what better than fudge? This family owned fudge shop is a small stop in Chicago and they make some of the best toffee I’ve ever had! Their secret? 6 pounds of butter to 6 pounds of sugar!


Our last stop, another sweet adventure, was “Delightful Pastries”, a bakery shop located on North Wells Street. Since the bakery has Polish influences, we tried Pierogies and Kolaskies, both a true statement of how delicious and varied Polish cuisine is! The pierogies were filled with potato and cheese and the Kolaskies, a tender cookie dough of cream cheese and butter filled with either cream cheese or apricot preserves. The perfect end to a delicious tour!


Disclaimer: We were invited by Chicago Food Planet  as guests to their Near North tour, but were not under any obligation to share our delicious experience.

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  1. I took this tour about a year ago. I found the spice stop one of the most interesting ones as I have never done “spice” tasting. I also enjoyed the Polish bites and have been told they were pretty much authentic as I was traveling with someone from Poland!