A Guide to Bridgeport: Where to Eat, Shop, and Play

INSIDER’S GUIDE: From contemporary art to craft beer to upscale Chinese food, this Near South Side neighborhood offers plenty of local color


Clockwise from top left: Zhou B Art Center, Ramova Grill, Nana, and Maria’s Packaged Goods & Community Bar. For more photos, launch the gallery »
 

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Once upon a time, the only Bridgeport addresses a Chicagoan needed to know—besides Comiskey, of course—were the 11th Ward headquarters and, directly across Halsted Street, the century-old pol hangout Schaller’s Pump. While elements of its past still haunt the neighborhood (ask to see the speakeasy peephole at Schaller’s), today Bridgeport presents a welcoming indie vibe. We grilled residents and hit the pavement to pinpoint classic and little-known finds well worth a visit, no matter where you live.

[1] MARIA’S PACKAGED GOODS & COMMUNITY BAR
Up front: a craft-beer bottle shop. In back: a list of 400 brews for sit-down drinkers. In a word: heaven. 960 W. 31st St.; 773-890-0588, community-bar.com

[2] PLEASANT HOUSE BAKERY
The only thing that can make one of this year-old spot’s savory pies more scrumptious? Carrying it next door to Maria’s and washing it down with a stout. 964 W. 31st St.; 773-523-7437, pleasanthousebakery.com

[3] BRIDGEPORT COFFEE COMPANY
This outfit roasts for the likes of Bistronomic, but you can pick up a pound of single-origin beans to take home. 3101 S. Morgan St.; 773-247-9950, bridgeportcoffeecompany.com

[4] CO-PROSPERITY SPHERE
The antithesis of the River North scene, this indie art gallery recently mounted a show inspired by Dungeons and Dragons. 3219–21 S. Morgan St.; 773-837-0145, coprosperity.org

Small Bridgeport mapClick to view the full map.

[5] NANA
They already had us with their organic breakfasts, and then they added mouthwatering dinners (fried quail with buttermilk gravy). 3267 S. Halsted St.; 312-929-2486, nanaorganic.com

[6] LET’S BOOGIE RECORDS & TAPES
An honest-to-goodness record store, where the 35-years- and-counting inventory ranges from Willie Nelson to the Pixies. 3321 S. Halsted St.; 773-254-0139

[7] AUGUSTINE’S
Where to go for potions with names like Fire of Love, Follow Me Boy, and XXX Strength. 3327 S. Halsted St.; 773-843-1933, authenticspiritualgoods.com

[8] MONSTER ISLAND TOYS
We spotted a Thriller-era Michael Jackson doll, but the real star here is Godzilla, in the form of movie posters, DVDs, and action figures. 3335 S. Halsted St.; 773-247-5733, monsterislandtoys.com

[9] BRUNO’S BAKERY
Locals stalk this inconspicuous storefront for its rye bread, but we recommend the hearty Hunza, a Tibetan-style wheat reputed to increase longevity. 3341 S. Lituanica Ave.; 773-254-6376

[10] RAMOVA GRILL
Red vinyl booths hug the south wall; red vinyl stools line the north. All are filled with diners salivating for the house chili. 3510 S. Halsted St.; 773-847-9058, ramovagrill.com

[11] ZHOU B ART CENTER
Bridgeport is rife with artists’ live/work studios and window-front installations, but this former factory houses one of the neighborhood’s few public galleries. 1029 W. 35th St.; 773-523-0200, zbcenter.org

[12] HAN 202
Proof Bridgeport is swanking up: The five-course prix fixe at this Chinese BYO has gone from $20 to $25. It’s still a bargain. 605 W. 31st St.; 312-949-1314, han202.com

[13] PALMISANO PARK (A.K.A. STEARNS QUARRY PARK)
Opened in 2010 on the site of an old limestone quarry, this 27-acre urban prairie offers skyline views from its apex 33 feet above street level and fishing, in season, from a lagoon below stocked with bluegill and crappie. 2700 S. Halsted St.; 312-742-7529, chicagoparkdistrict.com

ON THE HORIZON
Blue & White Porcelain, an upscale Chinese restaurant from the team behind Han 202, planned for May (742 W. 31st St.) . . . Bridge Art Gallery, from School of the Art Institute professor Qigu Jiang, who is aiming for a winter opening . . . a to-be-named brewery next door to Maria’s (see “Looking to Move? Ed Marszewski Suggests Bridgeport.”).

 

Photography: Travis Roozée

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