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Best stretch of street art

Culture & Nightlife, Pilsen No Comments »

16th Street, Halsted to Wood

18th Street, the main artery of Pilsen, has its fair share of street art, from a towering “Declaration of Immigration” to a rendition of Fozzie Bear peeking out from an alley. But the real center of Pilsen street art lies slightly north, on the stretch of 16th Street spanning from Halsted to Wood. The path follows a set of train tracks and the concrete wall that guards them, creating a perfect canvas for murals of every style—detailed portraits next to futuristic scenes next to geometric abstractions next to simple cartoons in a long corridor of vibrant images. 18th has a certain intoxicating bustle, but for a calmer and far more colorful route, take a step north and watch the city’s artistic side unfold.

Best of Chicago 2015

Best new community-service festival

Culture & Nightlife, Pilsen No Comments »

O+ Festival

This art, music and wellness festival migrated from its original location in Kingston, New York, where it was launched in 2010, and this year was spearheaded by local artist/activist Cheryl Casden and festival director Amy Jo Arndt. With a stated goal of offering medical care services in exchange for artwork as a way of bridging the gap “of inaccessible healthcare for the creative community,” the event used locations throughout the Pilsen neighborhood, and drew hundreds of people over the course of its weekend-long event this past September.

opositivefestival.org

Best of Chicago 2015

Best damn muffins ever

Food & Drink, Pilsen No Comments »

La Catrina Cafe

You know the feeling when you trudge home and finally put your sweatpants on after a full day dealing with constrictive denim? That feeling of warmth, comfort, and “Oh, man, that’s just what I needed”? That’s the feeling of a La Catrina muffin. The Pilsen cafe has many things to recommend (decent joe, plenty of corners to tuck into, and art that exponentially surpasses your typical crappy coffee shop slop), but the muffins are one of its underappreciated draws. Roughly the size of a lumberjack’s fist, perfectly sweet, and soft as a pillow, those muffins are guaranteed to be just what you needed.

1011 W. 18th, 312.473.0038, lacatrinacafe.com

Best of Chicago 2015

Best unlicensed street food

Food & Drink, Pilsen No Comments »

West 18th Street, Pilsen

18th Street in Pilsen is a bustling informal marketplace of street food, even deep into Chicago’s swing seasons. Grilled corn, chicharrón, fresh tortillas, ice cream, iced fruit and fresh produce being sold out of the back of pickup trucks dot the streetscape, energizing the neighborhood and driving interaction in a way that seems totally novel in our smartphone-mediated culture.

Best of Chicago 2015

Best Pilsen backyard art/performance spot hidden gem

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Pilsen Art House

Yes, there are a ton of spots in Pilsen precisely for art and performance, but Pilsen Art House, operated by a group of artists and performers who are residents of the building, has cultivated a communitarian ethic of hospitality. Their backyard fire pit nights, complete with evening-long music programming and group exhibits hung through the house, never disappoint.

1756 W. 19th, 708.715.0995, facebook.com/ThePilsenArtHousse

Best of Chicago 2015

Best cultural combination in a neighborhood grocery store

Goods & Services, Pilsen No Comments »

La Casa Del Pueblo
Pilsen is seeing the first signs of the hipster tide—a hookah bar here, a watering hole there, a smattering of vintage shops down 18th Street. Nowhere is this more apparent and humorous than in neighborhood grocery store La Casa Del Pueblo. It’s Pilsen, so there’s chorizo, cactus and pig feet in addition to peanut butter and jelly. There’s also, weirdly and wonderfully, barbecue seitan, veggie chips, Horizon organic milk, Newman’s Own mints. A whole half-aisle devoted to tea. And let’s not leave out green curry paste, Japanese plum vinegar, and rice noodles. Strolling down Casa’s aisles might just lead to the most eclectic, inspired dinner ever.
1810 South Blue Island, (312)421-4640, lacasadelpueblo.com

Best of Chicago 2013

Best new Pilsen vintage store

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Market Supply Co.
Pilsen has become quite the destination for vintage clothing enthusiasts, with the proliferation of first-rate second-hand shops such as Knee Deep, Pilsen Vintage, Modern Cooperative and Comet. Reinforcing the trend is the recently opened Market Supply Co., a mixture of an old-school barbershop and a vintage boutique run by Mustache Mike, a Minneapolis style celebrity who’s been cutting hair since he was nine, plus Karyn Dethrow and Merl Kinzie, two extremely knowledgeable local vintage sellers. Expect to find a well-curated selection of garments in mint condition dating all the way back to the thirties and handmade eco-friendly accessories.
1747 South Halsted, (773)609-2887, marketsupplyco.com

Best of Chicago 2013

Best art beer

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SMaB
As an additional reward for stopping by the thoughtfully curated alternative gallery Slow in Pilsen are the beers brewed by a group of artists associated with the gallery specially for each exhibition. The homebrew is called SMaB. At a recent fall opening, they passed around bottles of a batch made with carrots matched with the works on view by Steve Reber and Kevin Jennings with delicious culinary pep.

2153 West 21st, (773)645-8803, paul-is-slow.info

Best of Chicago 2013

Best under-the-radar Mexican

Food & Drink, Pilsen No Comments »

Del Toro
The Garcia brothers ported their mother’s excellent beef-cheek taco recipe from Pilsen’s La Favorita grocery, and some others, including a nice puerco adobada and threw in an excellent habanero-pepper-studded Mexican hamburger and opened up shop between the Skylark and Nightwood, making south Halsted near Cermak a burgeoning restaurant row to watch.

Del Toro, 2133 South Halsted, (312)733-7144, deltorochicago.com

Best of Chicago 2012

Best bilingual community radio station

City Life, Little Village, Pilsen No Comments »

WRTE Radio Arte 90.5 FM
Radio Arte, serving Pilsen and Little Village, broadcasts a variety of Spanish/English programming. Operated by the National Museum of Mexican Art, it was acquired by Chicago Public Media this June. There are outlets for young adults through a free one-year journalism and digital media program. These WRTE productions create web-based projects that cover topics of health, homelessness and gay rights. Music programming includes a wide variety of Spanish pop, rock and hip-hop. Other day-parts showcase syndicated talk shows like “Latino USA.” Although the reach is confined to these neighborhoods, WRTE is streaming for the city to enjoy.

Best of Chicago 2012