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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 17 of the best restaurants to stop in while in Pilsen.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

Simone's

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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.

Simone’s “Burnt Orange Spritz” with sparkling wine and Tatersall orange liqueur
Simone’s [Official Photo]

La Vaca Margarita Bar

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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.

Taco Tuesday is the best day of the week! @chicagofoodcoop

Posted by La Vaca Margarita BAR on Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Kristoffer's Cafe & Bakery

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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.

A coconut-covered cake from Kristoffer’s Cafe & Bakery
Kristoffer’s Cafe & Bakery [Official Photo]

Birrieria Reyes De Ocotlan Restaurant

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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?

Taqueria Los Comales

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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.

5 Rabanitos Restaurante & Taqueria

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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.

HaiSous Vietnamese Kitchen

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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.

A blue and white ceramic bowl holds a dish of octopus and radish
Gỏi Bạch Tuộc with octopus, confit eggplant, coconut cream, roasted peanuts, and shaved radish
HaiSous Vietnamese Kitchen [Official Photo]

Dusek's Board & Beer

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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.

Pollo Express

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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.

Pollo Express is waiting for you!

Posted by Pollo Express on Thursday, January 26, 2017

Cafe Jumping Bean

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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.

“Voy a guardar intacto el recuerdo de este instante porque todo lo que existe ahora mismo nunca volverá a ser igual.” ~José Emilio Pacheco, Las batallas en el desierto

Posted by Cafe Jumping Bean on Sunday, June 23, 2019

Carnitas Uruapan Restaurant

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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.

Carnitas Uruapan’s popular carnitas and chicharrones
Carnitas Uruapan Restaurant [Official Photo]

La Michoacana Premium Pilsen

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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.

View this post on Instagram

Cheers!!! #LaMichoacanaPremiumPilsen

A post shared by La Michoacana Premium Pilsen (@lamichoacanapremiumpilsen) on

Alulu Brewpub

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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.

Life is too short to drink cheap beer. Come see why our craft brews are so famous! An extraordinary weekend will ensue.

Posted by ALULU Brewery and Pub on Friday, June 14, 2019

Pleasant House Pub

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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.

Skylark

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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.

View this post on Instagram

This place

A post shared by mikkellerbeer (@mikkellerbeer) on

El Nuevo Taconazo Restaurant

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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.

Bruna's Ristorante

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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.

Simone's

Simone’s “Burnt Orange Spritz” with sparkling wine and Tatersall orange liqueur
Simone’s [Official Photo]

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.

Simone’s “Burnt Orange Spritz” with sparkling wine and Tatersall orange liqueur
Simone’s [Official Photo]

La Vaca Margarita Bar

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.

Taco Tuesday is the best day of the week! @chicagofoodcoop

Posted by La Vaca Margarita BAR on Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Kristoffer's Cafe & Bakery

A coconut-covered cake from Kristoffer’s Cafe & Bakery
Kristoffer’s Cafe & Bakery [Official Photo]

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.

A coconut-covered cake from Kristoffer’s Cafe & Bakery
Kristoffer’s Cafe & Bakery [Official Photo]

Birrieria Reyes De Ocotlan Restaurant

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?

Taqueria Los Comales

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.

5 Rabanitos Restaurante & Taqueria

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.

HaiSous Vietnamese Kitchen

A blue and white ceramic bowl holds a dish of octopus and radish
Gỏi Bạch Tuộc with octopus, confit eggplant, coconut cream, roasted peanuts, and shaved radish
HaiSous Vietnamese Kitchen [Official Photo]

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.

A blue and white ceramic bowl holds a dish of octopus and radish
Gỏi Bạch Tuộc with octopus, confit eggplant, coconut cream, roasted peanuts, and shaved radish
HaiSous Vietnamese Kitchen [Official Photo]

Dusek's Board & Beer

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.

Pollo Express

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.

Pollo Express is waiting for you!

Posted by Pollo Express on Thursday, January 26, 2017

Cafe Jumping Bean

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.

“Voy a guardar intacto el recuerdo de este instante porque todo lo que existe ahora mismo nunca volverá a ser igual.” ~José Emilio Pacheco, Las batallas en el desierto

Posted by Cafe Jumping Bean on Sunday, June 23, 2019

Carnitas Uruapan Restaurant

Carnitas Uruapan’s popular carnitas and chicharrones
Carnitas Uruapan Restaurant [Official Photo]

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.

Carnitas Uruapan’s popular carnitas and chicharrones
Carnitas Uruapan Restaurant [Official Photo]

La Michoacana Premium Pilsen

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.

View this post on Instagram

Cheers!!! #LaMichoacanaPremiumPilsen

A post shared by La Michoacana Premium Pilsen (@lamichoacanapremiumpilsen) on

Alulu Brewpub

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.

Life is too short to drink cheap beer. Come see why our craft brews are so famous! An extraordinary weekend will ensue.

Posted by ALULU Brewery and Pub on Friday, June 14, 2019

Pleasant House Pub

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.

Skylark

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.

View this post on Instagram

This place

A post shared by mikkellerbeer (@mikkellerbeer) on

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El Nuevo Taconazo Restaurant

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.

Bruna's Ristorante

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.

Related Maps