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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2 years ago
Posted by scamble

Fact-check, please: there are *no* red vinyl booths at Ramova. There are, however, gorgeous wood booths original to the restaurant. And ideally, the wooden booths will remain the same as they were when my grandfather was a mid-century regular.

2 years ago
Posted by Elizabeth Riley (Chicago magazine)

Hi Scamble,

Thanks for the comments. We've updated the article with that correction! Let us know if we can do anything else.

Best,

Elizabeth

2 years ago
Posted by zelad12

f.y.i. the owner of "let's boogie" is kind of a jerk. about 5 years ago, he ridiculed me in front of my girlfriend a la jack black's barry in "high fidelity." haven't gone back since. not to mention, store is shuttered more than it keeps working hours.

2 years ago
Posted by furytrader

What? No Polo Cafe? It's only one of the best steakhouses in the city, and skillfully hidden on the 3300 block of South Morgan Street.

2 years ago
Posted by humanstructions

fYi ... zelad12 ... Neal is not a jerk ... Whaddaya ... a kid ... longevity speaks for itself ... grow up ... you probably ARE a wuss!

2 years ago
Posted by Youllneverguesswho

OMG: Punky's has the BEST fire-grilled sausage.
and Gios is the best little Italian Restaurant in the City.

2 years ago
Posted by The-Professional-Amateur

Even thought we now live in Beverly, we make a trip once or twice a month back to Bridgeport.

There is more in Bridgeport if you take a moment to ask around and explore a bit. It's a bit farther south on Halsted Street, but what about Amelia's at 46th Street? To call this place a Mexican Joint is an understatement! (If you want a simple burrito and waitresses in tight white t-shirts go to Pancho Pistolas on 31st and Union) But I guess Amelia's is considered lacated in Canaryville and is disqualified.

How about Cobblestone's on 39th Street between Parnell and Normal?

Or Parnell Foods at 3642 S. Parnell - which makes one of the BEST Italian Beef sandwiches in the city. Just ask any Streets and Sans worker!!!

I agree with the other posters above - Polo, Gio's, but what about Bernice's Tavern at 3238 S. Halsted?

BTW, Beverly could really use a GREAT mexican restaurant like Amelia's - if anyone is paying attention! Actually, any great restaurant will do since Wishbone decided not to open on 95th Street!

2 years ago
Posted by Just-my-opinion

Let's not forget Tacos Erendira located at 3207 S. Halsted St.,(Btwn W 32nd & W 33rd St. A family owned Mexican restaurant that I've been going to since I was a kid and it was located on 35th, btw Halsted and Emerald. In my opinion, the have the best chicken quesadilla tacos and love their beans and rice.

2 years ago
Posted by 12345

Boogie Records? Please. Should be named Boogie Bongs, because that is about all he sells. Did you actually go into Boogie Records our did you just make a phone call from your office? If you did happen to ask neighborhood people you know they would have said that's where I bought my first pipe from. "Honest-to-goodness record store"? I don't think you know anything about honest or goodness. What a joke.

2 years ago
Posted by Foodie in Bridgeport

Worth a mention, Buffalo Wings & Rings (3434 S. Halsted St.) has been around for almost 4 years and has the BEST wings in Bridgeport! Check them out on Facebook (www.Facebook.com/buffalowingsandrings). BW&R is also owned by 2 guys from the neighborhood, so they have great ties to the community.

10 months ago
Posted by imlovingit

What about Lina's Pizza? They have some of the best pizza in the city, ranging from stuffed to thin crust. Great garlic, spinach, tomato pie. Their burgers are out of this world too. Great deal during football too.

1 month ago
Posted by ARosenberg

I agree with some of the comments, Bernice's should be on this list, and now, for an updated version, so should Jackalope Coffee and Tea House. Best staff around and the owners are awesome people.
And the late-night San Jose for your midnight tacos.

1 month ago
Posted by ARosenberg

Oh, and I almost forgot, Hardscrabble is a great store for locally made products and Freddie's Italian! Greasy and good.

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