As a Latina, born and raised in Chicago, Pilsen is a neighborhood that allowed me and my family to connect to our culture. My immigrant parents went there on the weekends to find ingredients, table cloths, the essential tortillas warmers they couldn’t find anywhere else. It gave us a community comprised of others who’d also made the long journey to a better life in Chicago. We went there to be inspired and to be comforted all at once. It was and continues to be a home for newcomers, both near and far.
Pilsen is a neighborhood that defines what it means to be a Chicagoan. With its working-class roots, it’s been the home of a wide variety of immigrants spanning across the globe. From the Irish and Czech, who gave this neighborhood its name, to the most recent wave of Mexican and Central American populations. There are many ways to be mindful when moving here and appreciating this vibrant part of the city begins with supporting local small businesses and learning about its rich history. While the effects of gentrification are real, becoming a new member of a community means supporting our neighborhoods in the hopes of making Chicago that much better.
Below are some of my favorite places in Pilsen!
1454 W 18th St, Chicago, IL 60608
For an amazing blend of Mexican and American breakfast and lunch food.
Carnitas Don Pedro
1113 W 18th St, Chicago, IL 60608
I’m that kid who’d only eat carnitas every Sunday after Church, so I know when it’s good and Pedro does good.
1523 W 18th St, Chicago, IL 60608
An eclectic and charming shop of Mexican-American art and gift items made by local artists and vendors. Entering here is reaffirming, as someone who is from both here and there.
Pilsen Community Books
1102 W 18th St, Chicago, IL 60608
Just about the most beautiful bookstore I’ve ever been to. I love this place so much I went in the middle of a Chicago winter despite living on the northwest side. But above all they support local Pilsen schools and literacy programs.
National Museum of Mexican Art
1852 W 19th St, Chicago, IL 60608
Go, please go. It is an incredible, well curated, humbling space. And their free, with events and new exhibitions happening all the time.