Bohemian Boom: A guide to Pilsen

Planning a trip to Pilsen? If so, use this guide


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New spots and old favorites

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The historic neighborhood of Pilsen, originally home to Germans, then Bohemians (hence the name), is one of the culturally richest in the city. Artists’ studios and galleries dot Halsted Street, while a well-established Mexican American community flourishes to the west. North of 16th Street, the University of Illinois at Chicago looms large; squeaky-clean townhouses, restaurants, and shops gleam where the old Maxwell Street Market once stood. And Pilsen and its environs continue to surprise, with a passel of new spots worth checking out.

ART | BAR | RESTAURANT | SHOPPING

NEW PLACES

SOULTRY SHOES
Even the most casual shoes for women are pretty darned sexy at Yvette Dudley’s airy, well-designed shop. 1706 S. Halsted St.; 312-243-0544

KRISTOFFER’S CAFE AND BAKERY
Locals love the mellow vibe, free Wi-Fi, well-made organic fair-trade coffee drinks, and—oh, yes—chocoflan and tres leches cake that made Mexican-food guru Rick Bayless swoon publicly. The Mayan tamales aren’t bad, either. 1733 S. Halsted St.; 312-829-4150

CHOCOLATE FOR YOUR BODY
Not nearly as cocoa-centric as its name implies (though a signature facial does involve organic chocolate and pomegranate), this day spa offers massage, skin care, waxing, and nail treatments for men and women. 1743 S. Halsted St.; 312-226-0777

DELICIOUSLY VINTAGE
This shop aims for chic rather than comprehensive; big-name labels are tucked in among more obscure ones on the racks of other-era women’s wear. In-house stylists will help you put a look together. 1747 S. Halsted St.; 312-733-0407

ARTPENTRY AND SOUTH HALSTED GALLERY
Both newcomers to the Pilsen art scene, these galleries share a wall but not a worldview. On the south side, the artist and carpenter Floyd A. David IV sells urban art, prints, and the winning Gentlemen Boombox collection (vintage luggage repurposed into iPod-ready speakers). Next door, husband-and-wife artists Scott Multer and Bridget Bolger display a charming collection of paintings and drawings. 1825 and 1827 S. Halsted St.; South Halsted Gallery: 312-804-8962; Artpentry: 312-624-8687

NIGHTWOOD
Such glamour! Such buzz! Smart, seasonally astute cuisine (the menu changes daily) from the team behind Logan Square’s Lula Cafe is dished up in a crisply designed space that’s both luxe and hip. 2119 S. Halsted St.; 312-526-3385

ABUELO’S MEXICAN GRILL
Well-priced tortas, sopes, tacos, and burritos go beyond the call of duty at brothers Angel and Hugo Gomez’s spiffy BYO. (See Budget Beat) 2007 S. Damen Ave.; 312-733-0329

WORKSHOP
Annie Novotny, a School of the Art Institute of Chicago fashion grad, has a small shop in front and a workshop in back in this sunny corner space. Open Friday through Sunday and by appointment. (See Style) 818 W. 18th St.; 312-226-9000

SIMONE’S
High-school chemistry lab glassware and tabletops (graffitied), bowling lanes, and pinball machines are repurposed as furnishings in this bar’s imaginative interior. A rooftop garden provides organic vegetation for food and drinks; a more-than-competent kitchen keeps things hopping. 960 W. 18th St.; 312-666-8601

HONKY TONK BARBEQUE
Willie Wagner turned his portable barbecue business into a stationary enterprise in 2007; last year his pork shoulder placed third in a national competition in Memphis. At presstime, an expansion of space and hours (full bar, music, food until 1 a.m.) was in the works. 1213 W. 18th St.; 312-226-7427

MUNDIAL COCINA MESTIZA
The executive chef, Hector Marcial, a Oaxaca native, offers global spins on Mexican classics in a warmly welcoming dining room that feels far from the hubbub outside. Inventive dishes include everything from peach-and-plum hummus with chipotle peppers to paella with alligator sausage. 1640 W. 18th St.; 312-491-9908

KNEE DEEP
Shops that sell vintage fashion, jewelry, ironic eyeglasses, shoes, and more aren’t rare around here, but this one is particularly well stocked; find some funky furniture, too. 1425 W. 18th St.; 312-850-2510

 

OLD FAVORITES

NATIONAL MUSEUM OF MEXICAN ART
1852 W. 19th St.; 312-738-9740
Exhibitions, events, and a superb shop

LIBRERIA GIRON
1443 W. 18th St.; 312-226-2086
Literary and popular titles in Spanish for kids and adults

2ND FRIDAYS GALLERY NIGHTS
At the moment, there’s not as much to see as there has been. But art lovers can still drop in on studios and galleries in the Chicago Arts District from 6 p.m. till 10 p.m. on the second Friday of every month; free. Pick up a map at 1821 S. Halsted St.; 312-738-8000, ext. 108.

TAQUERIA EL MILAGRO
1923 S. Blue Island Ave.; 312-433-7620
Cafeteria-style casual dining, grilled steak tacos, tamales; tortilla factory store next door

EL PARAISO BAKERY
1156 W. 18th St.; 312-733-8166
One of several self-serve bakeries in the neighborhood; grab a tray and tongs and load up.

CAFE JUMPING BEAN
1439 W. 18th St.; 312-455-0019
Tiny, upbeat coffeehouse with soups, sandwiches, desserts, and a convivial atmosphere

NUEVO LEON
1515 W. 18th St.; 312-421-1517
Straightforward Mexican fare, open daily from 7 a.m.

SKYLARK
2149 S. Halsted St.; 312-948-5275
Hipster-heaven corner tap with cheap beer and not-bad filling food—the un-Nightwood

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comments
2 years ago
Posted by LuNi

How can so many others that have a business in Pilsen submit their information to be on this list?

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