From a burgeoning food scene to the city's most incredible street art, Pilsen is ready for its close-up—whether the locals like it or not.
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: A Pilsen staple for more than 50 years, restaurant Nuevo Leon was destroyed in a fire last December; the buzzing interior of Dusek’s, symbolic of the neighborhood’s hip new denizens; a variety of murals throughout the enclave; new live music venue Thalia Hall.
Talk about a colorful past: In its 150-year history, the lower west side neighborhood of Pilsen has become renowned as an enclave that’s welcoming to all: first to Czech and then Latino immigrants, then a Bohemian artist community—and now to a rollicking young community of hipster 20- and 30-something foodies. Here’s this wildly eclectic district in a nutshell.
Where the action is: 18th Street between Damen and Halsted will give you a taste of the vibrant Latino culture and flavor of the place—plus its fast-changing landscape thanks to newcomers like Dusek’s and Bow Truss coffee.
Neighborhood treasure: The National Museum of Mexican Art, a true hidden gem that boasts the largest Day of the Dead exhibit in the U S.
Mode of transportation: Divvy bikes and the 18 bus.
Cravings: Carnitas from Don Pedro for old-school flavor; bone marrow with short rib marmalade and jalapeño pesto from Pl-zen to satisfy your inner frou-frou foodie.
Retail therapy: Mid-century modern gorgeousness at Modern Cooperative.
Tipple of choice: Can’t-drink-just-one hibiscus margaritas at neighborhood tavern Del Toro.
Green means: Lounging on the lawn at lovely Harrison Park.
Baby name: Thalia—as in Thalia Hall, the revitalized landmark that’s the new hub of the neighborhood.