Greektown is a ethnic enclave, located west of the Loop, between Van Buren and Madison Streets and along Halsted Street. Easy to reach via taxi or CTA (take the Blue Line to UIC Halsted and follow Halsted North), it’s a wonderful place to explore the culture of Greece with your kids.
My kids and I just recently spent a morning exploring Greektown. We started our journey at the brand-new National Hellenic Museum (333 South Halsted Street; 312/655.1234; nationalhellenicmuseum.org), the star of Greektown. This unique cultural gem aims to connect visitors to the history of the Greek immigrant while also showcasing Greek culture and Greek-American artists. The kid-geared Gods, Myths, and Mortals exhibit gives children the chance to explore ancient Greece with their own eyes and hands. Kids will get up close and personal with the Greek Gods and experience daily life in Ancient Greece via interactive exhibits. My 10-year-old, a huge Percy Jackson fan, had a blast climbing into the 12 foot tall Trojan horse. My daughter, age 2, battled Cyclops and learned to work a loom a la Penelope. The museum’s glass-paned windows bring in the sunshine, making winter days just a bit brighter.
Having worked up an appetite at the museum, we headed over to our favorite kid-friendly Greektown restaurant: Greek Islands (200 South Halsted; 312/782.9855; greekislands.net). Every kid will enjoy the flaming Saganaki cheese appetizer: be sure to lean back when the waiter shouts “Opa!” so you don’t get burned! The small plates section of the menu is perfect for families and gives everyone a chance to try and share a new dish or two. The fried zucchini chips, Keftedakia meatballs, and spinach cheese pie will be appreciated by kids and adults alike and are all priced under $6 each.
No trip to Greektown is complete without a visit to Pan Hellenic Pastries (322 S. Halsted; Tel. 312/454.1886, panhellenicpastryshop.com). My favorite here is the Galaktoboureko, a milk custard with a hint of lemon, encased in a buttery phyllo shell. The honey and walnut baklava is always a hit. Milk cartons are available as is strong Greek coffee and tea. Your kids will love the colorful selection of almond, butter, orange, and anise cookies. I always let my children fill a small box of cookies of their choice to take home.