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Where to Eat and Drink in Pilsen

Mexican food, margaritas, and cash-only bars rule

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Pilsen is a neighborhood filled with a diverse batch of restaurants. It’s rich with culture with colorful murals throughout the streets, with museums, art walks, and street carts doling out tamales and paletas. The neighborhood is changing, as it’s caught the eyes of opportunistic developers. That’s angered some residents angry and fearful that they’re being unfairly pushed out. Regardless of the controversies, the neighborhood is among the city’s finest when it comes to food. Here are 18 of the best restaurants to stop in while in Pilsen. Listed from west to east.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. El Nuevo Taconazo Restaurant

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2350 W Cermak Rd
Chicago, IL 60608
(773) 247-2795
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There isn’t a bad taco to pick at El Nuevo Taconazo, an unassuming taqueria in a strip-mall. But pick the al pastor with pineapple. It’s crispy and covered with onions and cilantro. Fill the rest of it up with salsa, served on a platter to pick and choose from whether verde or rojo.

2. Bruna's Ristorante

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2424 S Oakley Ave
Chicago, IL 60608
(773) 254-5550
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This old-school Italian spot boasts white tablecloths and staff decked out in suits. For an especially romantic feel, ask for a table in the back room, with a large mural. Pick a bottle from the wine list and pair it with one of the chef’s selections.

3. 5 Rabanitos Restaurante & Taqueria

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1758 W 18th St
Chicago, IL 60608
(312) 285-2710
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From XOCO alum Alfonso Sotelo, 5 Rabanitos boasts pretty plating with flavorful dishes at this BYOB spot. Pick hearty dishes like green chicken tamal with a creamy poblano sauce and feel free to bring vegetarian friends, there’s a large vegetarian menu at this homey spot.

4. Carnitas Uruapan Restaurant

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1725 W 18th St
Chicago, IL 60608
(312) 226-2654
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Weekends get busy at Carnitas Uruapan, where people line up for trays of carnitas. Tacos are available on the weekends, but go in hard and just take the carnitas to go, to dress them up at home. Plus, weekends bring refried beans, menudo and a salad to complete the meal.

5. Taqueria Los Comales

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1544 W 18th St
Chicago, IL 60608
(312) 666-2251
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Cozy up in one of the booths with the huge container of spicy pickled vegetables at Los Comales to feel right at home. Tacos are the main event here, from a juicy flank steak taco to spicy chorizo. On weekends, hearty bowls of pozole and menudo are available for an extra special treat.

6. Alulu Brewpub

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2011 S Laflin St
Chicago, IL 60608
(312) 600-9865
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This funky brewpub serves up a large menu of beers, where IPAs stand out. Food from Eastern European dishes like pierogis and a Cuban are available. The food makes this eclectic spot a place that is easy to stop by for a beer on a sunny afternoon. Shandies and radlers round out the menu for a refreshing sip.

7. Cafe Jumping Bean

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1439 W 18th St
Chicago, IL 60608
(312) 455-0019
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Cafe Jumping Bean’s colorful interior makes it a cozy but fun spot to sit down and get some work done in Pilsen. Coffee concoctions range from typical to a little more out of the box, plus sandwiches and soup are available for a quick bite to eat. It’s a community beacon.

8. La Michoacana Premium Pilsen

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1855 S Blue Island Ave
Chicago, IL 60608
(312) 226-9600
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La Michoacana is a summer staple. There are plenty of paletas to choose from, whether it’s lime and strawberry or a creamy blackberry. Plus, a bright pink exterior makes this a perfect place to get a gorgeous Instagram.

9. Birrieria Reyes De Ocotlan Restaurant

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1322 W 18th St
Chicago, IL 60608
(312) 733-2613
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Bowls of birria are dished out along with goat and beef tacos. The place is cash-only and no frills, but what beats a warm bowl of birria on a chilly day?

10. Pollo Express

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1315 W 18th St
Chicago, IL 60608
(312) 829-1550
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Pollo al carbon is a delicacy in Mexican neighborhoods, and some of the best comes from Pollo Express, the family-friendly eatery on 18th Street. Perfectly seasoned and charred birds have sensational flavor. The combo meals come with fresh tortillas, rice, and beans — if customers are strategic they can get days of sustenance. Beware, they run out of chicken so don’t expect to get food if arriving late.

Posted by Pollo Express on Tuesday, November 3, 2015

11. Dusek's Board & Beer

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1227 W 18th St
Chicago, IL 60608
(312) 526-3851
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A part of 16 On Center’s Thalia Hall, this space also includes Punch House, a cocktail bar; Tack Room, another cocktail bar; and a music venue. Dusek’s offers a large beer menu, brunch, lunch, and dinner. Think cheffy versions of traditional sandwiches and expertly made duck breast.

12. La Vaca Margarita Bar

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1160 W 18th St
Chicago, IL 60608
(312) 829-1147
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If picking from a long list of margaritas sounds like a dream come true, head to La Vaca. Choices like the popular cucumber margarita rimmed with tajin and classics with a variety of tequilas abound. Grab a snack to go with whichever margarita and call it a night.

13. HaiSous Vietnamese Kitchen

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1800 S Carpenter St
Chicago, IL 60608
(312) 702-1303
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From chef Thai and Danielle Dang, HaiSous serves up traditional Vietnamese dishes with an upscale feel. Fried chicken wings, roasted duck stuffed with kaffir lime leaves, and whole dorade are just a few samplings from the menu.

14. Simone's

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960 W 18th St
Chicago, IL 60608
(312) 666-8601
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Simone’s is a quirky bar in the heart of Pilsen. The interior is made with reclaimed materials, including the bar that’s made from a bowling lane. There’s a variety of pub grub to go along with beer or a cocktail, whichever wets your whistle.

15. Moody Tongue Brewing Company

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2136 S Peoria St
Chicago, IL 60608
(312) 600-5111
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As far as breweries are concerned, Moody Tongue is one of the fanciest. A white marble bar is the focal point of the brewery, which serves both flagships and rotating seasonal beers alongside a small menu with only oysters and chocolate cake. But, there isn’t much else needed, when you have beer, oysters, and chocolate cake.

Marc Much

16. Kristoffer's Cafe & Bakery

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1733 S Halsted St
Chicago, IL 60608
(312) 829-4150
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Kristoffer’s Bakery is well-known throughout the city, with pastries showing up on dessert menus in all parts of the city. Stop in for eggy breakfast dishes like breakfast burritos and a coffee, but stay for the sweets. Taste possibly the best tres leches cake in the city.

17. Pleasant House Pub

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2119 S Halsted St #1
Chicago, IL 60608
(773) 523-7437
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This popular pie shop took up residence in the old Nightwood space, transforming the restaurant into a haven for people to drink beer and eat English royal pies. There isn’t a bad choice on the menu, plus a long list of beer makes it an easy place to hang out for a while.

18. Skylark

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2149 S Halsted St
Chicago, IL 60608
(312) 948-5275
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Skylark may not be too much to look at from the outside, but cheap beer and food make this place a staple for Pilsen. On any given night, a smattering of local artists fill up the bar, making it a solid place to get a feel for the neighborhood.

1. El Nuevo Taconazo Restaurant

2350 W Cermak Rd, Chicago, IL 60608

There isn’t a bad taco to pick at El Nuevo Taconazo, an unassuming taqueria in a strip-mall. But pick the al pastor with pineapple. It’s crispy and covered with onions and cilantro. Fill the rest of it up with salsa, served on a platter to pick and choose from whether verde or rojo.

2350 W Cermak Rd
Chicago, IL 60608

2. Bruna's Ristorante

2424 S Oakley Ave, Chicago, IL 60608

This old-school Italian spot boasts white tablecloths and staff decked out in suits. For an especially romantic feel, ask for a table in the back room, with a large mural. Pick a bottle from the wine list and pair it with one of the chef’s selections.

2424 S Oakley Ave
Chicago, IL 60608

3. 5 Rabanitos Restaurante & Taqueria

1758 W 18th St, Chicago, IL 60608

From XOCO alum Alfonso Sotelo, 5 Rabanitos boasts pretty plating with flavorful dishes at this BYOB spot. Pick hearty dishes like green chicken tamal with a creamy poblano sauce and feel free to bring vegetarian friends, there’s a large vegetarian menu at this homey spot.

1758 W 18th St
Chicago, IL 60608

4. Carnitas Uruapan Restaurant

1725 W 18th St, Chicago, IL 60608

Weekends get busy at Carnitas Uruapan, where people line up for trays of carnitas. Tacos are available on the weekends, but go in hard and just take the carnitas to go, to dress them up at home. Plus, weekends bring refried beans, menudo and a salad to complete the meal.

1725 W 18th St
Chicago, IL 60608

5. Taqueria Los Comales

1544 W 18th St, Chicago, IL 60608

Cozy up in one of the booths with the huge container of spicy pickled vegetables at Los Comales to feel right at home. Tacos are the main event here, from a juicy flank steak taco to spicy chorizo. On weekends, hearty bowls of pozole and menudo are available for an extra special treat.

1544 W 18th St
Chicago, IL 60608

6. Alulu Brewpub

2011 S Laflin St, Chicago, IL 60608

This funky brewpub serves up a large menu of beers, where IPAs stand out. Food from Eastern European dishes like pierogis and a Cuban are available. The food makes this eclectic spot a place that is easy to stop by for a beer on a sunny afternoon. Shandies and radlers round out the menu for a refreshing sip.

2011 S Laflin St
Chicago, IL 60608

7. Cafe Jumping Bean

1439 W 18th St, Chicago, IL 60608

Cafe Jumping Bean’s colorful interior makes it a cozy but fun spot to sit down and get some work done in Pilsen. Coffee concoctions range from typical to a little more out of the box, plus sandwiches and soup are available for a quick bite to eat. It’s a community beacon.

1439 W 18th St
Chicago, IL 60608

8. La Michoacana Premium Pilsen

1855 S Blue Island Ave, Chicago, IL 60608

La Michoacana is a summer staple. There are plenty of paletas to choose from, whether it’s lime and strawberry or a creamy blackberry. Plus, a bright pink exterior makes this a perfect place to get a gorgeous Instagram.

1855 S Blue Island Ave
Chicago, IL 60608

9. Birrieria Reyes De Ocotlan Restaurant

1322 W 18th St, Chicago, IL 60608

Bowls of birria are dished out along with goat and beef tacos. The place is cash-only and no frills, but what beats a warm bowl of birria on a chilly day?

1322 W 18th St
Chicago, IL 60608

10. Pollo Express

1315 W 18th St, Chicago, IL 60608

Pollo al carbon is a delicacy in Mexican neighborhoods, and some of the best comes from Pollo Express, the family-friendly eatery on 18th Street. Perfectly seasoned and charred birds have sensational flavor. The combo meals come with fresh tortillas, rice, and beans — if customers are strategic they can get days of sustenance. Beware, they run out of chicken so don’t expect to get food if arriving late.

1315 W 18th St
Chicago, IL 60608

11. Dusek's Board & Beer

1227 W 18th St, Chicago, IL 60608

A part of 16 On Center’s Thalia Hall, this space also includes Punch House, a cocktail bar; Tack Room, another cocktail bar; and a music venue. Dusek’s offers a large beer menu, brunch, lunch, and dinner. Think cheffy versions of traditional sandwiches and expertly made duck breast.

1227 W 18th St
Chicago, IL 60608

12. La Vaca Margarita Bar

1160 W 18th St, Chicago, IL 60608

If picking from a long list of margaritas sounds like a dream come true, head to La Vaca. Choices like the popular cucumber margarita rimmed with tajin and classics with a variety of tequilas abound. Grab a snack to go with whichever margarita and call it a night.

1160 W 18th St
Chicago, IL 60608

13. HaiSous Vietnamese Kitchen

1800 S Carpenter St, Chicago, IL 60608

From chef Thai and Danielle Dang, HaiSous serves up traditional Vietnamese dishes with an upscale feel. Fried chicken wings, roasted duck stuffed with kaffir lime leaves, and whole dorade are just a few samplings from the menu.

1800 S Carpenter St
Chicago, IL 60608

14. Simone's

960 W 18th St, Chicago, IL 60608

Simone’s is a quirky bar in the heart of Pilsen. The interior is made with reclaimed materials, including the bar that’s made from a bowling lane. There’s a variety of pub grub to go along with beer or a cocktail, whichever wets your whistle.

960 W 18th St
Chicago, IL 60608

15. Moody Tongue Brewing Company

2136 S Peoria St, Chicago, IL 60608
Marc Much

As far as breweries are concerned, Moody Tongue is one of the fanciest. A white marble bar is the focal point of the brewery, which serves both flagships and rotating seasonal beers alongside a small menu with only oysters and chocolate cake. But, there isn’t much else needed, when you have beer, oysters, and chocolate cake.

2136 S Peoria St
Chicago, IL 60608

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16. Kristoffer's Cafe & Bakery

1733 S Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60608

Kristoffer’s Bakery is well-known throughout the city, with pastries showing up on dessert menus in all parts of the city. Stop in for eggy breakfast dishes like breakfast burritos and a coffee, but stay for the sweets. Taste possibly the best tres leches cake in the city.

1733 S Halsted St
Chicago, IL 60608

17. Pleasant House Pub

2119 S Halsted St #1, Chicago, IL 60608

This popular pie shop took up residence in the old Nightwood space, transforming the restaurant into a haven for people to drink beer and eat English royal pies. There isn’t a bad choice on the menu, plus a long list of beer makes it an easy place to hang out for a while.

2119 S Halsted St #1
Chicago, IL 60608

18. Skylark

2149 S Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60608

Skylark may not be too much to look at from the outside, but cheap beer and food make this place a staple for Pilsen. On any given night, a smattering of local artists fill up the bar, making it a solid place to get a feel for the neighborhood.

2149 S Halsted St
Chicago, IL 60608

Related Maps