Greektown

Overview

  • Vibe: A Real Community/Strong Traditions
  • Nightlife: Great
  • Dining: Excellent
  • Convenience: Great

Pros:
  • Expansive dining and nightlife options
  • Authentic neighborhood and community feel
  • Proximity to Loop
Cons:
  • Well-known area means it’s usually highly populated
  • Expensive parking
  • Higher rent prices

Chicago’s Greektown, like the Greeks that originally inhabited the area, has a rich and diverse history. The first Greeks arrived in Chicago in the 1840s, starting out as food peddlers and progressing naturally into restaurant owners. The neighborhood is unique in that its boundaries have shifted since its inception; known as “The Delta,” Greektown originally existed near the Harrison/Blue Island/Halsted area, but it was displaced to its current location by both the Eisenhower Expressway and the University of Illinois at Chicago.

While other ethnic neighborhoods in the city have lost some of their character, Greektown remains essentially Greek; the Walgreens at 111 S. Halsted even has its usual “1-Hr Photo” sign emblazoned on its walls in Greek. The language can be heard in almost every business in the area, and the Greek community, having originated in the neighborhood.

Although it's been dispersed over time across Chicago and its suburbs, the culture comes out in full force to celebrate events like Greek Easter and, perhaps most importantly, Greek Independence Day. The March 25th holiday marks the victory of Greece in a war that ended the almost 400-year long occupation of Greece by the Ottoman Empire, and the celebration in Greektown each year is an experience like no other. From the parade to the food, the pride of the Greeks is tangible.

Speaking of food, the neighborhood boasts some of the most delicious and authentic restaurants in Chicago. Many of them have been around since the neighborhood moved from its old location. Greek Islands, one of the best restaurants in Greektown, celebrated its 45th anniversary this year. Other incredible spots include Artopolis, a Greek-style cafe with a loft, Santorini, which is known for its fish and seafood, and the Pan-Hellenic Pastry Shop, whose expansive baked goods selection has been around since 1974. A little known fact is that saganaki and gyros, two of the most well-known Greek dishes, originated in the U.S. in Chicago’s very own Greektown!

Perhaps what makes Greektown most unique, however, is its preservation of Greek tradition. Some examples include the parade, the Taste of Greece summer festival, and the large Greek temples and pavilions that dot the neighborhood’s corners. One particular point of interest is the Athenian Candle Company. Located at 300 S. Halsted, it was opened in 1922 by Themistocles and Efthimia Godelas, and has remained in the family ever since. It is an essential hub for all components of Greek culture; from komboloi, traditional Greek worry beads, to stefana, the crowns worn in wedding ceremonies, this store is the embodiment of Greek tradition.

All in all, this neighborhood, near the Loop and conveniently accessible by CTA, is a true Chicago gem!

Where do Greektown residents live?

As with many downtown neighborhoods, Greektown is mostly populated by condo and apartment dwellers.