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Guidebook for Chicago

Matt

Guidebook for Chicago

Food Scene
There's a reason they've found their way onto nearly every "Best of Chicago" list. They specialize in Royal Pies (English style potpie), but also make a great burger, brunch, cocktails (their Royal Gibson is my favorite in the city), and also have solid coffee mid-morning. Beautifully designed space as well.
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Pleasant House Pub
2119 S Halsted St
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There's a reason they've found their way onto nearly every "Best of Chicago" list. They specialize in Royal Pies (English style potpie), but also make a great burger, brunch, cocktails (their Royal Gibson is my favorite in the city), and also have solid coffee mid-morning. Beautifully designed space as well.
This humble Northern Chinese restaurant is among our favorites in the city for their hand-stretched noodles and flatbreads. We highly recommend the sweet and spicy hand-stretch noodles, the cold tofu skins, and cumin lamb flatbread and the seaweed flatbread. Also - it's incredibly cheap. BYOB.
Xi'an Cuisine
225 W Cermak Rd
This humble Northern Chinese restaurant is among our favorites in the city for their hand-stretched noodles and flatbreads. We highly recommend the sweet and spicy hand-stretch noodles, the cold tofu skins, and cumin lamb flatbread and the seaweed flatbread. Also - it's incredibly cheap. BYOB.
If you're looking for Dim Sum, this is the spot!
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MingHin Cuisine
2168 South Archer Avenue
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If you're looking for Dim Sum, this is the spot!
We love this family-run neighborhood spot for quick burritos and tortas. Their salsas are also fantastic.
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Mary's Taqueria
1901 South Canalport Avenue
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We love this family-run neighborhood spot for quick burritos and tortas. Their salsas are also fantastic.
Yvolina makes gigantic amazing tamales. She has good veg options, but if you eat meat, I highly recommend the chicken with red mole.
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Yvolina's Tamales
814 W 18th St
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Yvolina makes gigantic amazing tamales. She has good veg options, but if you eat meat, I highly recommend the chicken with red mole.
This brand new restaurant by an award-winning Vietnamese cuisine chef just opened to rave reviews. If you're really going for it, I highly recommend their tasting menu for two. It's not cheap, but the food is incredibly thoughtful and authentic. The space is beautiful and unique, and their cocktail program is fantastic as well.
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HaiSous Vietnamese Kitchen
1800 S Carpenter St
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This brand new restaurant by an award-winning Vietnamese cuisine chef just opened to rave reviews. If you're really going for it, I highly recommend their tasting menu for two. It's not cheap, but the food is incredibly thoughtful and authentic. The space is beautiful and unique, and their cocktail program is fantastic as well.
Home to our favorite mole in Chicago.
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DeColores
1626 S Halsted St
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Home to our favorite mole in Chicago.
This is real-deal authentic Pilsen. Highly recommend a visit to this spot. It's a locals favorite, not too many tourists usually, but some of the best carnitas in the city. Squeeze past the "to go" lines on the weekend to get into the restaurant. You are brought a tray with several toppings to add to your carnitas. The only decision is which cut and kind of meat you want. Portions are family sized, and can be shared with up to 6 people.
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Carnitas Don Pedro
1113 West 18th Street
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This is real-deal authentic Pilsen. Highly recommend a visit to this spot. It's a locals favorite, not too many tourists usually, but some of the best carnitas in the city. Squeeze past the "to go" lines on the weekend to get into the restaurant. You are brought a tray with several toppings to add to your carnitas. The only decision is which cut and kind of meat you want. Portions are family sized, and can be shared with up to 6 people.
Very good Banh Mi and spring rolls on the go!
Lotus Cafe & Banh Mi Sandwich
719 West Maxwell Street
Very good Banh Mi and spring rolls on the go!
Great Thai for take out.
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Bodhi Thai Bistro
1800 S Jefferson St
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Great Thai for take out.
Our favorite panaderia in the neighborhood. Always worth the walk!
Panaderia Nuevo Leon
1634 W 18th St
Our favorite panaderia in the neighborhood. Always worth the walk!
When you need that late late night burrito.
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Coyotes Restaurant
1451 West 18th Street
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When you need that late late night burrito.
Cheap, quick and tasty. We eat here on the go quite often and love the licuado de avena (cinnamon oatmeal shake)
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Taqueria Los Comales
1544 West 18th Street
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Cheap, quick and tasty. We eat here on the go quite often and love the licuado de avena (cinnamon oatmeal shake)
Great for BBQ and live music. Sunday night this is our favorite spot in the neighborhood. A dixie band called Fat Babies performs while Pilsen swing dancers light up the floor.
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Honky Tonk BBQ
1800 South Racine Avenue
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Great for BBQ and live music. Sunday night this is our favorite spot in the neighborhood. A dixie band called Fat Babies performs while Pilsen swing dancers light up the floor.
Don't forget to swing by and get a paleta sometime during your stay. Our favorite flavors are piñon, mamey, and oreo.
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La Michoacana Premium
1855 S Blue Island Ave
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Don't forget to swing by and get a paleta sometime during your stay. Our favorite flavors are piñon, mamey, and oreo.
This spot has quickly become one of our favorites. They walk a great line between traditional tacos and more adventurous new combinations of flavors. Head here on Tuesday and Wednesday for $2 tacos. Great cocktails too.
Twisted Cantina
1640 S Blue Island Ave
This spot has quickly become one of our favorites. They walk a great line between traditional tacos and more adventurous new combinations of flavors. Head here on Tuesday and Wednesday for $2 tacos. Great cocktails too.
Neighborhood born and raised chef, worked under culinary world super-star, Rick Bayless, before returning to Pilsen to open this unassuming but fantastic restaurant. The pazole verde is my favorite in the city. BYOB.
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5 Rabanitos Restaurante & Taqueria
1758 W 18th St
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Neighborhood born and raised chef, worked under culinary world super-star, Rick Bayless, before returning to Pilsen to open this unassuming but fantastic restaurant. The pazole verde is my favorite in the city. BYOB.
Go for the patio, stay for the $2 Tuesday tacos (especially the "big boss").
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La Vaca Margarita Bar
1160 West 18th Street
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Go for the patio, stay for the $2 Tuesday tacos (especially the "big boss").
Greasy spoon diner run by some of the kindest people in the neighborhood. We love this spot.
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Parkview Restaurant Grill
2000 West 19th Street
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Greasy spoon diner run by some of the kindest people in the neighborhood. We love this spot.
Great for an easy breakfast.
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Azul 18
1236 W 18th St
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Great for an easy breakfast.
Great for an on the go breakfast burrito. Also love their veggie juice.
Ken-Tone's Drive-In
551 West 18th Street
Great for an on the go breakfast burrito. Also love their veggie juice.
Our favorite Chinese soup dumplings in the city.
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Qing Xiang Yuan Dumplings
2002 S Wentworth Ave
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Our favorite Chinese soup dumplings in the city.
Japanese candy shop. Definitely a fun stop.
Aji Ichiban
2117 S China Pl
Japanese candy shop. Definitely a fun stop.
If you're looking for a slice of za or an Italian Beef, Ricobene's in Bridgeport is a pretty good spot. It's been around for ages and is a working-class institution.
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Ricobene's
252 West 26th Street
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If you're looking for a slice of za or an Italian Beef, Ricobene's in Bridgeport is a pretty good spot. It's been around for ages and is a working-class institution.
Michelin-starred restaurant in the heart of Pilsen. A little on the spendy side, but good for brunch or dinner. We love their gin & tonic with local Letherbee gin and house-made hops-tonic.
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Dusek's Board & Beer
1227 West 18th Street
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Michelin-starred restaurant in the heart of Pilsen. A little on the spendy side, but good for brunch or dinner. We love their gin & tonic with local Letherbee gin and house-made hops-tonic.
Fun vibe with a nice patio, great food and drinks. A little on the pricey side, but worth it... especially the fish tacos. Great margaritas.
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Antique Taco
1000 W 35th St
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Fun vibe with a nice patio, great food and drinks. A little on the pricey side, but worth it... especially the fish tacos. Great margaritas.
Iconic Jewish cafeteria-style deli. A favorite of many politicians (including President Obama). Great for lunch.
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Manny's Coffee Shop & Deli
1141 South Jefferson Street
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Iconic Jewish cafeteria-style deli. A favorite of many politicians (including President Obama). Great for lunch.
This place is great for Banh Mi, Vietnamese coffee, cocktails, pho, and pastries. It's all slightly elevated and fresh, but still accessible and affordable.
Cà Phê Dá
1800 S Carpenter St
This place is great for Banh Mi, Vietnamese coffee, cocktails, pho, and pastries. It's all slightly elevated and fresh, but still accessible and affordable.
New American fine dining. We haven't been yet, but have heard great things from friends.
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S.K.Y.
1239 W 18th St
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New American fine dining. We haven't been yet, but have heard great things from friends.
Chengdu street food at its finest. I highly recommend a stop at Damao for adventurous foodies. The hand-pulled noodles are amazing in addition to the dumplings. The real highlight, however, is the pigs feet. The heavy use of Szechuan peppercorn gives a tingly sensation to the dish without overwhelming you with spicy. It's a kind of heat that pairs well with the perfectly prepared meat.
A Place BY DAMAO
2621 S Halsted St
Chengdu street food at its finest. I highly recommend a stop at Damao for adventurous foodies. The hand-pulled noodles are amazing in addition to the dumplings. The real highlight, however, is the pigs feet. The heavy use of Szechuan peppercorn gives a tingly sensation to the dish without overwhelming you with spicy. It's a kind of heat that pairs well with the perfectly prepared meat.
A brewery owned by our good friends. It also happens to be one of the best in Chicago (and I'm not just saying that haha, critics agree). This place is worth the cab ride to a kind of obscure part of Bridgeport. You'll see a side of the city that isn't on everyone's "must do" list. I have a lot of love for their "Ruby's Tears" and "Jungle Boogie" brews.
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Marz Community Brewing Company
3630 S Iron St
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A brewery owned by our good friends. It also happens to be one of the best in Chicago (and I'm not just saying that haha, critics agree). This place is worth the cab ride to a kind of obscure part of Bridgeport. You'll see a side of the city that isn't on everyone's "must do" list. I have a lot of love for their "Ruby's Tears" and "Jungle Boogie" brews.
Great for a hearty and casual breakfast or lunch. Mostly Mexican style food. Fun little spot.
Casa Índígō
1314 W 18th St
Great for a hearty and casual breakfast or lunch. Mostly Mexican style food. Fun little spot.
A newcomer to the neighborhood, La Mejikana offers a modern take on Mexican cuisine, but don't worry, it's not gringo-ified. You'll also notice that all the blue tortillas for the tacos are made from scratch, using fresh masa from Los Comanches, a local tortilleria. Highly recommend!
La Mejikana
1820 S Ashland Ave
A newcomer to the neighborhood, La Mejikana offers a modern take on Mexican cuisine, but don't worry, it's not gringo-ified. You'll also notice that all the blue tortillas for the tacos are made from scratch, using fresh masa from Los Comanches, a local tortilleria. Highly recommend!
Drinks & Nightlife
If you're looking for a real neighborhood institution trafficked by people from every walk of life, Skylark is the spot. They have a good beer list, fantastic bar food & a great friday night fish fry, but be sure to check out the specials board because it's usually where it's at! Cash only.
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Skylark
2149 South Halsted Street
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If you're looking for a real neighborhood institution trafficked by people from every walk of life, Skylark is the spot. They have a good beer list, fantastic bar food & a great friday night fish fry, but be sure to check out the specials board because it's usually where it's at! Cash only.
In the basement of Dusek's/Thalia Hall is a 70s themed punch bar. Their DJs never disappoint and neither do the drinks.
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Punch House
1227 West 18th Street
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In the basement of Dusek's/Thalia Hall is a 70s themed punch bar. Their DJs never disappoint and neither do the drinks.
This popular karaoke bar can get fun and rowdy. Good selection of tequila and fair prices.
Caminos de Michoacan
1659 W Cullerton St
This popular karaoke bar can get fun and rowdy. Good selection of tequila and fair prices.
Cash and carry liquor store with great beer selection, but walk past the matron of the house (Maria) and enter the back bar. The family brews their own great beer (Marz Brewery) and the scene in this Bridgeport haunt is always fun.
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Maria's Packaged Goods and Community Bar
960 West 31st Street
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Cash and carry liquor store with great beer selection, but walk past the matron of the house (Maria) and enter the back bar. The family brews their own great beer (Marz Brewery) and the scene in this Bridgeport haunt is always fun.
This brewery probably doesn't need an introduction, but be sure to check out their recently opened West Pilsen midwest headquarters!
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Lagunitas Brewing Company Chicago
2607 West 17th Street
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This brewery probably doesn't need an introduction, but be sure to check out their recently opened West Pilsen midwest headquarters!
Shopping
This new and used bookstore is incredibly quaint with a great selection. A very fun stop in Pilsen.
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Pilsen Community Books
1102 W 18th St
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This new and used bookstore is incredibly quaint with a great selection. A very fun stop in Pilsen.
Vinyl nerds, beware. This is the best record store in the city for finding deep cuts. The owners are great and VERY knowledgable.
606 Records
1808 S Allport St
Vinyl nerds, beware. This is the best record store in the city for finding deep cuts. The owners are great and VERY knowledgable.
Sunday market with a few small local farms and vendors, usually from 9AM to 12PM.
Pilsen Farmers Market
Sunday market with a few small local farms and vendors, usually from 9AM to 12PM.
Our local liquor and beer shop. Pretty great selection of local and national stuff.
F & R Liquors Inc.
2129 South Halsted Street
Our local liquor and beer shop. Pretty great selection of local and national stuff.
Massive wine, beer and liquor depot.
Binny's Beverage Depot
1132 South Jefferson Street
Massive wine, beer and liquor depot.
This new shop carries modern objects and clothing showcasing the best of Mexican design. All made in Mexico.
Comercio Popular
953 W 18th St
This new shop carries modern objects and clothing showcasing the best of Mexican design. All made in Mexico.
Essentials
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Trader Joe's
1147 South Wabash Avenue
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Mariano's
1615 South Clark Street
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This is our favorite local grocery store.
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La Casa Del Pueblo Inc.
1810 South Blue Island Avenue
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This is our favorite local grocery store.
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Whole Foods Market
1101 Canal Street
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United States Postal Service
1859 South Ashland Avenue
Arts & Culture
Incredible institution that features Mexican, Latino, and Chicano art and culture. The museum is the only Latino museum accredited by the American Alliance of Museums. The mission of the museum is to display Mexican culture as one sin fronteras (without borders).
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National Museum of Mexican Art
1852 West 19th Street
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Incredible institution that features Mexican, Latino, and Chicano art and culture. The museum is the only Latino museum accredited by the American Alliance of Museums. The mission of the museum is to display Mexican culture as one sin fronteras (without borders).
Parks & Nature
Beautiful little river park. 15 min walk from the house. This is also where the Chinatown Water Taxi picks up. Highly recommended way to get downtown. You can also rent kayaks in this park.
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Ping Tom Memorial Park
1700 South Wentworth Avenue
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Beautiful little river park. 15 min walk from the house. This is also where the Chinatown Water Taxi picks up. Highly recommended way to get downtown. You can also rent kayaks in this park.
We love this place. Clean and nice neighborhood pubic pool, a short walk from the house. Check online for current hours (always changing) and note to leave bags at the house because they're not allowed in the pool area.
Dvorak Park Pool (Outdoor)
1119 West Cullerton Street
We love this place. Clean and nice neighborhood pubic pool, a short walk from the house. Check online for current hours (always changing) and note to leave bags at the house because they're not allowed in the pool area.
Getting Around
This is a credit card-based bike rental company. Highly recommended way to get around the city.
Divvy
735 W 18th St
This is a credit card-based bike rental company. Highly recommended way to get around the city.
The Halsted Bus picks up very close to the house and will take you south to the Orange Line (if you're flying in and out of Midway) and North to the West Loop and the Blue Line Grand Stop (which will take you west to fun neighborhoods like Wicker Park (Blue Line Damen Stop) and Logan Square (Blue Line - Logan Stop).
UIC-Halsted Blue Line Station
498 S Halsted St
The Halsted Bus picks up very close to the house and will take you south to the Orange Line (if you're flying in and out of Midway) and North to the West Loop and the Blue Line Grand Stop (which will take you west to fun neighborhoods like Wicker Park (Blue Line Damen Stop) and Logan Square (Blue Line - Logan Stop).
The Red Line train essentially follows the lake shore and heads all the way south and all the way north in the city.
Cermak-Chinatown
The Red Line train essentially follows the lake shore and heads all the way south and all the way north in the city.
The Pink Line picks up on west 18th St and is another great way to get downtown if you want to talk a walk through Pilsen on the way.
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18th
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The Pink Line picks up on west 18th St and is another great way to get downtown if you want to talk a walk through Pilsen on the way.
The water taxi picks up at the river pagoda in Ping Tom park and travels round trip to a few different stops downtown. This is my preferred method of transit — consider it a freestyle architecture tour.
Chinatown Water Taxi Stop
The water taxi picks up at the river pagoda in Ping Tom park and travels round trip to a few different stops downtown. This is my preferred method of transit — consider it a freestyle architecture tour.