On the last weekend of August, Chicago’s historic Greektown celebrates its Taste of Greece, an annual festival stretching the length of the ethnic enclave – on Halsted Street, from Monroe south to Van Buren. The event features tastings from the area’s restaurants, as well as booths of community organizations and businesses, plus entertainment by local Greek bands and a few of Chicago’s Greek folk dance troupes.
This area, west of Chicago’s Loop, was designated as Greektown in the late 1960s, following the displacement of the original Greektown, known as the Delta – since its borders formed a triangle – for the construction of the University of Illinois at Chicago campus in the early 1960s. Residents of the area spread out all over the Chicagoland area. Greektown serves as a cultural center for area Greeks and others who appreciate Greek culture and cuisine.
Gyros and Flaming Saganaki are said to have been created there. Greektown is among the top tourist destinations in the city, and is also the site of Chicago’s annual Greek Independence Day parade.
Greektown boasts restaurants, stores, bakeries and more. The new 40,000 square foot National Hellenic Museum is under construction at the southeast end. It’s scheduled to open in 2011.
Tens of thousands of Greeks and non-Greeks alike flock to Greektown, in the shadows of Chicago’s iconic skyline, for this annual sampling of Greek cuisine, music, dancing and enjoyment.