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A mural on the side of a brick building showing a cathedral, flowers, and folklorico dancers with the words Welcome to Back of the Yards.
Murals throughout Back of the Yards celebrate the neighborhood’s Latinx community.
Aimee Levitt/Eater Chicago

Where to Eat and Drink in Chicago’s Back of the Yards Neighborhood

The South Side community that once housed meatpackers now produces coffee, tortillas, beer, and delicious food

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Murals throughout Back of the Yards celebrate the neighborhood’s Latinx community.
| Aimee Levitt/Eater Chicago

The Union Stock Yard, known as “the Yards,” was once the center of Chicago’s meatpacking industry, immortalized in Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle. Many of the workers in the slaughterhouses and packing plants lived in the neighborhood directly south, which became known as Back of the Yards. The stockyard closed in 1971 and was converted into an industrial park, where today manufacturers churn out tortillas and chicken sausages.

Back of the Yards today resembles many industrial Rust Belt cities that have lost their main industry. Swaths of shopping centers surround a shrinking central business district, and press coverage generally focuses on all the things the neighborhood is not. But many longtime businesses remain, and young people who grew up in the neighborhood have chosen to stay and put down roots in the form of businesses of their own. Sherman Park, in the neighborhood’s southeast corner, is one of the South Side’s prettiest parks. The population of Back of the Yards is mostly Latinx now, and that is reflected in its restaurants, which are mostly concentrated on Ashland Avenue and 47th Street.

As of August 20, the city has mandated that everyone wear facial coverings while indoors. For updated information on coronavirus cases, please visit the city of Chicago’s COVID-19 dashboard. Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; the latest data about the delta variant indicates that it may pose a low-to-moderate risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial transmission. The latest CDC guidance is here; find a COVID-19 vaccination site here.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

Back of the Yards Coffeehouse

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Founded by two entrepreneurs who grew up in the neighborhood, Back of the Yards Coffeehouse was originally intended to be the public face of their coffee roastery, but within a week of opening, it was apparent that it had become a neighborhood hub in its own right: a showcase for local artists and musicians and a popular hangout for students at Back of the Yards College Prep across the street.

A blue two-story building with four windows overlooking the street and the business name directly above them and a little free library in front
Back of the Yards Coffeehouse.
Aimee Levitt/Eater Chicago

Sputnik Coffee Company

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This employee-owned coffee company produces just one roast — medium, with a blend of beans from Brazil and Colombia — and exports it to grocery stores throughout the city, but visitors can also stop by the small cafe inside the roastery and get a cup of fresh brew, in drip, latte, and cold brew form.

Garfield Gyros

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The neighborhood’s source for American-style fast food, Garfield Gyros serves gyros, hot dogs, grilled cheese, and pizza, as well as breakfast sandwiches. The gyros grilled cheese impressed writer Titus Ruscitti.

La Cecina Restaurant Familiar #1

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Cecina is thin-sliced dried beef, and La Cecina Restaurant serves theirs Guerrero-style with a choice of sauces and accompaniments. The menu also includes steak, seafood, and some more unusual dishes, like bull testicles and frog leg soup.

Back of the Yards Energy Drinks

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Also known as Back of the Yards Protein Bar, this smoothie cafe offers customers three separate levels of colorful energy drinks, depending on how much of an extra boost they feel they need, plus waffles, cookies, and protein crepes.

Atotonilco Taqueria

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Atotonilco Taqueria serves tacos made with freshly grilled meat and tortillas from its own factory on the next block, but it’s best known for its milkshake maker, Juan Alberto Chávez, a bona fide neighborhood celebrity known to all as El Señor de los Licuados. (For more, read this profile in South Side Weekly.)

A sign hanging off a building with pictures of tacos and a lit-up arrow pointing to the front door; in the foreground, awnings with the red, white, and green of the Mexican flag
Taqueria Atotonilco.
Aimee Levitt/Eater Chicago

Visita Maravatio Restaurante

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This quiet little spot a few blocks from the Swap-O-Rama Flea Market serves comforting Mexican dishes like tacos, gorditas, and caldos, but the real wonder is its large covered patio.

Stanley's

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The stretch of 43rd Street immediately south of the stockyard was once known as Whiskey Row because it was lined with taverns where workers would stop on their way home to drink away their sorrows after a day on the killing floor. Stanley’s, which opened in 1935, is the last of those. Longtime owner Wanda Kurek, daughter of the original Stanley, died in 2019, but Stanley’s continues to serve lunch on weekdays.

Cafeteria Yesenia

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This bright, cheerful spot hides behind a drab storefront, and serves up delicious Cuban food. There are pressed Cuban sandwiches, crisp empanadas, savory ham croquettes, and sweet and milky cafe con leche.

A storefront in a brick building with signs in the window advertising food and a black awning overhead with the business name in script
Cafeteria Yesenia.
Aimee Levitt/Eater Chicago

Pacos Tacos (Inside La Internacional Supermercado)

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In the back of this supermarket is Paco’s Tacos, a taco stand that has become so celebrated for its carne asada that it’s opened up two more standalone locations. But this is the original and, locals claim, the best. The supermarket also stocks excellent carnitas.

4 Seasons

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It’s easy to walk past this carry-out Vietnamese spot on Ashland, but those who venture inside will find savory and delicious noodles, stir fries, pho, and banh mi sandwiches prepared to order and with their specified degree of spiciness.

A glass storefront with a bright yellow sign overhead and the business name in large green letters
4 Seasons.
Aimee Levitt/Eater Chicago

Ines Restaurant

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Slightly more upscale than the typical taqueria, Ines offers platters of fajitas, steak, and seafood — its specialty — as well as hearty breakfasts, including chilaquiles, everyone’s favorite hangover-buster.

The Plant

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A former meatpacking plant, the Plant was converted in 2010 into a vertical farm that houses a number of small food businesses and farms, including Whiner Beer, the Great American Cheese Collection, Arize Kombucha, Urban Canopy, and Tuanis Chocolate. Check the website for more information about farmer’s markets and curbside pickup.

Whiner Beer Company

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Located in the Plant, a food business incubator, Whiner specializes in barrel-aged beer and kombucha, and plans to use its spent grain to feed the anaerobic digester that powers the building. The taproom serves pizza Thursday through Sundays.

Back of the Yards Coffeehouse

A blue two-story building with four windows overlooking the street and the business name directly above them and a little free library in front
Back of the Yards Coffeehouse.
Aimee Levitt/Eater Chicago

Founded by two entrepreneurs who grew up in the neighborhood, Back of the Yards Coffeehouse was originally intended to be the public face of their coffee roastery, but within a week of opening, it was apparent that it had become a neighborhood hub in its own right: a showcase for local artists and musicians and a popular hangout for students at Back of the Yards College Prep across the street.

A blue two-story building with four windows overlooking the street and the business name directly above them and a little free library in front
Back of the Yards Coffeehouse.
Aimee Levitt/Eater Chicago

Sputnik Coffee Company

This employee-owned coffee company produces just one roast — medium, with a blend of beans from Brazil and Colombia — and exports it to grocery stores throughout the city, but visitors can also stop by the small cafe inside the roastery and get a cup of fresh brew, in drip, latte, and cold brew form.

Garfield Gyros

The neighborhood’s source for American-style fast food, Garfield Gyros serves gyros, hot dogs, grilled cheese, and pizza, as well as breakfast sandwiches. The gyros grilled cheese impressed writer Titus Ruscitti.

La Cecina Restaurant Familiar #1

Cecina is thin-sliced dried beef, and La Cecina Restaurant serves theirs Guerrero-style with a choice of sauces and accompaniments. The menu also includes steak, seafood, and some more unusual dishes, like bull testicles and frog leg soup.

Back of the Yards Energy Drinks

Also known as Back of the Yards Protein Bar, this smoothie cafe offers customers three separate levels of colorful energy drinks, depending on how much of an extra boost they feel they need, plus waffles, cookies, and protein crepes.

Atotonilco Taqueria

A sign hanging off a building with pictures of tacos and a lit-up arrow pointing to the front door; in the foreground, awnings with the red, white, and green of the Mexican flag
Taqueria Atotonilco.
Aimee Levitt/Eater Chicago

Atotonilco Taqueria serves tacos made with freshly grilled meat and tortillas from its own factory on the next block, but it’s best known for its milkshake maker, Juan Alberto Chávez, a bona fide neighborhood celebrity known to all as El Señor de los Licuados. (For more, read this profile in South Side Weekly.)

A sign hanging off a building with pictures of tacos and a lit-up arrow pointing to the front door; in the foreground, awnings with the red, white, and green of the Mexican flag
Taqueria Atotonilco.
Aimee Levitt/Eater Chicago

Visita Maravatio Restaurante

This quiet little spot a few blocks from the Swap-O-Rama Flea Market serves comforting Mexican dishes like tacos, gorditas, and caldos, but the real wonder is its large covered patio.

Stanley's

The stretch of 43rd Street immediately south of the stockyard was once known as Whiskey Row because it was lined with taverns where workers would stop on their way home to drink away their sorrows after a day on the killing floor. Stanley’s, which opened in 1935, is the last of those. Longtime owner Wanda Kurek, daughter of the original Stanley, died in 2019, but Stanley’s continues to serve lunch on weekdays.

Cafeteria Yesenia

A storefront in a brick building with signs in the window advertising food and a black awning overhead with the business name in script
Cafeteria Yesenia.
Aimee Levitt/Eater Chicago

This bright, cheerful spot hides behind a drab storefront, and serves up delicious Cuban food. There are pressed Cuban sandwiches, crisp empanadas, savory ham croquettes, and sweet and milky cafe con leche.

A storefront in a brick building with signs in the window advertising food and a black awning overhead with the business name in script
Cafeteria Yesenia.
Aimee Levitt/Eater Chicago

Pacos Tacos (Inside La Internacional Supermercado)

In the back of this supermarket is Paco’s Tacos, a taco stand that has become so celebrated for its carne asada that it’s opened up two more standalone locations. But this is the original and, locals claim, the best. The supermarket also stocks excellent carnitas.

4 Seasons

A glass storefront with a bright yellow sign overhead and the business name in large green letters
4 Seasons.
Aimee Levitt/Eater Chicago

It’s easy to walk past this carry-out Vietnamese spot on Ashland, but those who venture inside will find savory and delicious noodles, stir fries, pho, and banh mi sandwiches prepared to order and with their specified degree of spiciness.

A glass storefront with a bright yellow sign overhead and the business name in large green letters
4 Seasons.
Aimee Levitt/Eater Chicago

Ines Restaurant

Slightly more upscale than the typical taqueria, Ines offers platters of fajitas, steak, and seafood — its specialty — as well as hearty breakfasts, including chilaquiles, everyone’s favorite hangover-buster.

The Plant

A former meatpacking plant, the Plant was converted in 2010 into a vertical farm that houses a number of small food businesses and farms, including Whiner Beer, the Great American Cheese Collection, Arize Kombucha, Urban Canopy, and Tuanis Chocolate. Check the website for more information about farmer’s markets and curbside pickup.

Whiner Beer Company

Located in the Plant, a food business incubator, Whiner specializes in barrel-aged beer and kombucha, and plans to use its spent grain to feed the anaerobic digester that powers the building. The taproom serves pizza Thursday through Sundays.

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