5 Must-Dos in Pilsen

Here’s a look at where to eat and what to see in this culturally-rich neighborhood.

Hector Duarte's home and studio

Stop 1: Kristoffer’s Café & Bakery

Located on the art-gallery laden stretch of Halsted Street in Pilsen, this Mexican sweets shop and coffee house is known for their tres leches (three milk) cake. It’s so good, in fact, that celebrated chef Rick Bayless named it as his favorite. Award-winning baked good aside, this local spot also brews speciality coffees making it the ideal first stop to fuel up for your Pilsen excursion.

Stop 2: National Museum of Mexican Art

Why? Because it’s the leading national authority on Mexican art. It’s also the only Latino museum accredited by the American Alliance of Museums. This cultural treasure boasts a 7,000-plus piece permanent collection, rotating exhibits, and performing-arts showcases that represents an illustrious Mexican culture. Each fall, it hosts the city’s most-visited Día de Muertos exhibit.

Stop 3: Carnitas Uruapan

A small storefront located across the street from the 18th Street Pink Line stop, this is a must-do if you’re looking for authentic eats. There’s one delicious catch, though. You’ll only find one kind of taco here, and that’s carnitas. Ordered by the pound, the slow-cooked pork comes served to you on a platter with corn tortillas and some salsa verde alongside. You get to concoct your own taco, which is part of fun!

Stop 4: Pilsen Murals

Bounded by 16th Street to the North, the Chicago River to the East, and Western Avenue to the West, take a leisurely stroll after lunch to explore the incredible masterpieces of large-scale, urban public art that dot this colorful neighborhood. From graffiti art to tile mosaics, these inspiring works—many of which depict Mexican icons and culture—only add to this neighbor- hoods rich, colorful, and vibrant history.

Stop 5: Thalia Hall

Originally built as a performance hall in 1892—and modeled after Prague’s Opera House—Thalia Hall sat vacant since the 1960s, but has recently been restored to its original glory. Today, the reimagined space includes a restored performance venue, a beer-centric restaurant with a Michelin-starred chef, and an underground bar that specializes in punch.

Written By Amber Holst

Amber Holst is Vice President & Editorial Director at Concierge Preferred. A native Chicagoan, she’ll happily bend your ear about why Top Notch burgers are a must (as is an Original Rainbow Cone) and can often be found procuring milk candy in Chinatown after dim sum with her partner in crime or rooting on her beloved Green Bay Packers (yes, that’s right) at Will’s Northwoods Inn. Lover of cured meats, prosecco, and good old fashioned “slashies” she considers herself fortunate to be able to promote her hometown for a living. Fun fact? She can play the accordion.

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