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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,

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,

Best of Chicago 2013

Best art beer

Culture & Nightlife, Pilsen No Comments »

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,

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,

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

Best crowd-sourced event in a museum

Culture & Nightlife, Near North, Pilsen No Comments »

Bring Your Own Beamer at the MCA

BYOB is a potluck for video artists, who contribute to this one-night group show by bringing art and a projector (beamer). Although it first debuted in Chicago at Pilsen’s Kunsthalle New in March, the BYOB event at the MCA in October was meaningful because artists chose the art exhibited in the museum, at least temporarily.

Bring Your Own Beamer

Best of Chicago 2011

Best 12×12 solo exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art

Culture & Nightlife, Pilsen, Streeterville No Comments »

Ben Russell

This year marked the MCA’s one-hundredth 12×12 exhibition, the museum’s showcase for emerging artists based in Chicago. These coveted shows grant artists exposure to a broad audience, which is why Ben Russell, who is well liked in experimental film circles and by visitors to his Pilsen apartment gallery, was this year’s best; he is deserving of greater exposure.

Ben Russell
1716 South Morgan

Museum of Contemporary Art
220 East Chicago

Best windowless no-frills neighborhood bar with cheap Cosmopolitans

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Juicy Skylark burgers and crispy tater tots with three sauces complement the inexpensive beer. Indulge in a dirt-cheap cosmo. Slide your chair to the middle of this dive bar, and try to balance evenly on the sloping concrete floor. Pile into the photo booth and splurge on black-and-white candid pictures; they’ll document your time at this vintage hipster joint since the cosmos might leave your memory wanting.

2149 South Halsted

Best of Chicago 2010

Best artist bookstore

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Golden Age

It’s been two years since Golden Age opened up shop in Pilsen, a testament to the neighborhood’s burgeoning art scene and also the sustainability of small-edition artist books. The hands-on medium is affordable and addictively collectible. Golden Age’s proprietors, themselves artists, also have an affinity for independent record labels, so you’ll find underground vinyl and even cassettes alongside the zines and silkscreened books. The inventory sports a healthy supply of local talent but also regularly features work from national and international imprints.

1744 West 18th

Closed November, 2011

Best of Chicago 2009

Best reason to avoid the long lines at Xoco

Food & Drink, Pilsen 1 Comment »

Abuelo’s cochinita pibil taco

Featuring tender shreds of sweet-and-hot-spiced red-sauce-infused pork, creamy black beans, and pickled red onions, this $1.99 taco is one of the tastiest and cheapest regional Mexican eats around.

2007 South Damen

Best of Chicago 2009