Living in Pilsen, Chicago is a dream. Located in Chicago’s lower west side, the neighborhood allows you to make the most out of the greater city and, at the same time, feel part of the diverse, tight-knit community. There’s so much to love about the neighborhood, but here are just a few of our favorite things about Pilsen.
The youthful spirit of Pilsen residents
The people really do make the place in Pilsen. For much of its history, the neighborhood was predominantly occupied by immigrants. First, a large influx of Eastern Europeans and bohemians were drawn here, leaving lots of Czech influences, and later, Mexican immigrants settled in this area of the city. As a result, Pilsen has one of the most vibrant cultural scenes in Chicago. The diversity among residents — bringing with it the food, traditions, and art — in this neighborhood makes the place that much more exciting.
Pilsen is known for its beautiful collection and appreciation of art. For one, the neighborhood has some of the city’s most impressive street art. You can find extensive Mexican-themed murals dating back to the ’70s along West 18th Street and West 16th between Wood and Halsted streets. The artwork in this area speaks to the culture and socio-political history of the area.
Not only is the street art jaw-dropping, but Pilsen is also home to the National Museum of Mexican Art, a highly-regarded cultural institution. The museum offers free admission and showcases masterpieces of Chicago, Southwestern U.S, and Mexico artists.
On the second Friday of each month, the Chicago Arts District hosts a Gallery Night where local galleries and artists’ studios showcase their works for free. There’s an information center on Halsted Street, but you can just walk around the neighborhood to discover these unique creative spaces.
Community hangout spots
One of the best parts about Pilsen is how community-centered the neighborhood is. The residents are friendly and every store inviting. The Pilsen Community Books sells new and used books, but its main mission is to give high quality, high-interest books to every student in Pilsen. This program, called “Pilsen Reads!”, allows teachers to hand-select these books for their classrooms.
Thalia Hall, on 18th and Allport, is a historic landmark in Pilsen. Originally designed in the likes of an opera house in Prague, the concert hall is now a popular performance venue and community gathering spot.
There are also a ton of vintage shops in this neighborhood — Knee Deep Vintage, Very Best Vintage, the SHUDIO, Shady Rest Vintage — as well as independent coffee houses, bodegas, panaderias (bakeries), mom and pop establishments, and multigenerational restaurants that are perfect for meeting up with friends.
Restaurants and cafes
Speaking of restaurants, Pilsen is a hotspot for legit eateries. Cafe Jumping Bean always gathers a bustling crowd for its sandwiches, desserts, and coffee. Cà Phê Dá is a must-visit for Vietnamese coffee and banh mi sandwiches whereas Honky Tonk BBQ makes some killer pulled pork sandwiches and brisket.
Of course, you can’t go wrong with Mexican food in this neighborhood. Mexican-native chef Rick Bayless puts his own twist on traditional Mexican dishes at 5 Rabanitos. Cantón Regio works with the authentic flavors of northern Mexico by importing cooking wood from Nuevo Leon and hosting a live mariachi band on the weekends.
Common Racine in Pilsen
What if I told you that you could live right by all these neighborhood institutions? Common Racine in Pilsen is the most convenient way to live in the city.
The home comes fully furnished, so all you have to do is move in with your suitcase. Rent at Common Racine starts at $950 a month, and your rent includes free laundry, free weekly cleanings, free household essentials, and utilities. Plus, you can take advantage of all the amenities that Common Racine has to offer, from the fitness center to the home theater.
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