Chicago’s Best (and Most Delicious!) Pizza Tour
We all know that Chicago is famous for its pizza, so why not take one of Chicago’s famed pizza tours? We did just that with Chicago Pizza Tours, and it turned out to be both an educational and delicious experience. While they offer a couple of different pizza tours, we opted for The Original Chicago Pizza Tour, which took us to four different pizzerias in four distinct neighborhoods of the city. It was a great way to see the city, learn about the history of pizza in Chicago, and sample a lot of great slices.
If you happen to be visiting Chicago, this is a fun and interesting activity to partake in to help immerse yourself into the local culture of the city.
About Chicago Pizza Tours
Started in 2009 by local pizza enthusiast Jonathan Porter, Chicago Pizza Tours was the first company in Chicago to focus a tour solely around pizza. Since its humble beginnings, the pizza tour has become a hit with locals and visitors looking for a fun and entertaining way to experience the Chicago pizza scene. With a number of guides and a small fleet of buses, it’s a great way to visit some of the small, off-the-beaten-path pizzerias that you would most likely never find on your own.
What to Expect From the Tour
The Original Pizza Tour includes only stand-alone, independently owned pizzerias—no chains—and starts downtown at Pizano’s Pizza and Pasta. They have about ten different places that they frequent, and your tour will include four of them. How they choose which ones to visit will depend on how busy a particular pizzeria is (which determines if they can accommodate the group), what parts of the city the group wants to visit, and the personal whim of your guide. The tour will last anywhere from 3.5 to 4 hours, depending on traffic, group size, etc.
You should plan on being in a famished state prior to the tour as you will have the opportunity to sample upwards of eight different kinds of pizza.
Because the different pizzerias they take you to are located all over Chicago, they have a small fleet of shuttle buses to transport you around the city. And while it was great to sample a variety of Chicago’s best pizza, it was also somewhat of an interesting city tour.
Our guide, Danny, did a wonderful job of commentating to us about the different areas we were passing through as we were moved from one pizzeria to the next. I think this really added to the tour and it’s a great way to get your bearings in the city if you are not familiar with Chicago. Our guide was very open to taking our questions and you can ask them about virtually anything to do with Chicago. And when it comes to pizza, they really are the experts.
The tours offered by Chicago Pizza Tours start at either 11 am or 7 pm. The evening tour includes a variety of local craft beers. Private tours are also available and they will work with you to customize a tour around your event, be it a corporate outing or a large group just looking for a fun night out. We opted for the lunchtime tour.
Having just arrived in Chicago that morning we were ready to try some of the city's famed pizza and this tour did not disappoint. While you may not love every pizza that is offered throughout the tour, there will undoubtedly be at least a few that will appeal to you. The idea is to expose you to some of the many different types of pizza made here, be it the famed deep-dish, pan, stuffed or the thin crust, which is actually the most popular here in Chicago. Yes, contrary to popular belief, the thin crust pizza is the pizza of choice among Windy City locals.
And Our Favorite Pizzeria Was?
For our tour, we visited Pizano’s Pizza & Pasta, Flo & Santo’s, Pequod’s, and Coalfire. They were all unique in their own way and at the end of the day, everyone managed to have a personal favorite. For our group, it was clearly Pizano’s.
I personally found this interesting as Pizano’s was the first stop on our tour. Usually, after 3 to 4 hours everyone has forgotten their first few tastes, so it was impressive that they were the clear choice at the end of the day. At Pizano’s, we sampled both a deep-dish pizza and a thin-crust pizza, which was my personal favorite of the day.
No matter what your favorite winds up being, it’s a great way to spend an afternoon or evening and you will not go home hungry. My vote for the most unusual pizza of the day was definitely the s’mores pizza offered by Flo & Santo’s. Doesn’t that look great?
The pizza craze in Chicago started in 1943 when Ike Sewell and Ric Riccardo opened the first Pizzeria Uno. Today, the chain has over 100 restaurants in the United States and a few foreign countries.
Original Chicago Pizza Tour:
- Starts and ends at Pizano’s Pizza & Pasta at 61 E Madison Street.
- Tour begins at 11:30 am
- Duration: 3.5 hours
- Stops: 4 pizzerias
- Travel by shuttle bus
- Cost: Adults - $60
- Kids - $36
Pizza & Cocktails Tour:
- Starts at Exchequer at 226 S Wabash Ave. The tour ends at the last pizzeria located on the Magnificent Mile.
- Tour begins at 7 pm
- Duration: 3.5 hours
- Stops: 3 pizzerias and includes 1 drink at each restaurant
- Travel by shuttle bus
- Cost: Adults - $80
- Must be 21 or older
If you’re visiting Chicago for the first time, this is a great way to get introduced to the city. Pizza has been an integral part of the culture of Chicago for over 100 years, and what better way to see the city than to be shuttled from one great pizzeria to another. For an entertaining, fun, and educational way to spend an afternoon or evening, and enjoy a good slice of pizza, look no further than Chicago Pizza Tours.
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© 2019 Bill De Giulio