Easily accessible via the Pink Line, Pilsen is one of the most exciting neighborhoods in Chicago. Signs of the area’s Mexican heritage can be seen everywhere, from the colorful street art to the sidewalk food carts.
Pilsen boasts a popular art walk on the second Friday of each month, when several neighborhood galleries open their doors for evening viewing sessions. In addition to the free National Museum of Mexican Art, which is a must-see for visitors, you’ll want to consider stopping into these five spots for great dining, shopping, and entertainment.
Built in 1892 as a community meeting place and entertainment venue, historic Thalia Hall re-opened in late 2013 after five decades of closure. Now, the gorgeous, fully restored venue is one of Chicago’s top theater halls—bringing in rock and R&B concerts, stand-up comedy, and movie screenings. Grab a bite to eat before the show at Dusek’s, the attached restaurant that serves modern American food from Michelin-starred chef Jared Wentworth until 1 a.m.
For everything from loveseats to scarves, head to Modern Cooperative. Since 2012, the business has been home to the neighborhood’s broadest collection of home goods, furnishings, jewelry, and accessories. Ideal for both nesting locals and tourists who want to take home a piece of the Windy City, it’s a great place to find unique handmade items created by Chicago-area artists and designers.
The Pilsen area has a number of quality taquerias, but if you’re searching for a more elevated dining experience, stop into the gastropub known as Pl-zen. The juicy Kobe beef burger is the star here, its garlic butter and sunny-side-up egg oozing flavor with every bite. You (and your taste buds) will be impressed with Pl-zen’s consistently intense flavor profiles in offerings like ancho chile-dusted calamari and truffle Parmesan fries, as well as cocktails such as the tamarind margarita.
Knee Deep Vintage
Walking into Knee Deep Vintage is like taking a time machine back to the 1980s—or even the 1960s, depending on which rack you’re looking at. The store is small, but every inch is packed with previously-owned clothing, bags, records, and housewares. Knee Deep is a vintage shop rather than a thrift store, which means its carefully curated selection features high-quality items from around the country. Stop in to find your new favorite sweater or pair of casual shoes.
For an upscale take on authentic Mexican cuisine, visit DeColores and take a seat in the beautiful dining room accented with rotating works from local artists. The food is as vibrant as the surroundings, with dishes like the pineapple al pastor burrito and camarones diabolicos (shrimp in a lemon and habanero marinade). Don’t forget the guacamole: a standout starter with fresh cucumber and serrano peppers blended in with the usual ingredients. Located in the middle of Pilsen’s art district, DeColores is a popular dining spot before and after the monthly art walk.