The Pilsen neighborhood is continually changing, but you can count on one thing in the area around this stop: You'll eat well. From stewed pork to fresh-made tortillas, you might not find a better dining destination in the city.
Best of the nightlife
This massive hipster gastropub combines the restaurateur powers of Streetside Cafe and Northside Bar and Grill, with a little hipitude hand from the owner of Danny's. The result is pretty commercialized faux-dive, hodge-podging every kind of found material from seat belts and pinball machines to steel cages and church pews, but the kitchen's nod to Pilsen's Mexican roots, not to mention the top-notch microbrews on tap, makes things mostly worth it.
Good for groups
There isn't a taco combo or enchilada platter anywhere on the Nuevo Leon menu. Instead, you'll have your choice of such delicacies as milanesa (thin breaded steak), costillas de puerco con chile rojo (pork ribs cooked in red ancho sauce), and pollo al horno con papas y zanahorias (baked chicken in batter with potatoes and carrots). Judging by the number of families that flock here regularly, it's all worth a try.
Taqueria el Milagro
If you're looking to get solid Mexican food for pennies on the dollar while knocking out your shopping list at the same time, then this combination restaurant/tortilla factory is a must-visit. The inside holds standard taqueria decor, with simple chairs and tables, vinyl table covers that are easy to wipe clean, and a jukebox loaded with norteno and son montuno music. The place can get crowded on the weeknights and weekends with locals and hipsters, but the cost of the food is worth the wait.
Where to chill
"Mestizo" is a fitting moniker for this eclectic, versatile cafe that moonlights as a showcase for artists. The Gallos opened the corner coffeehouse in spring 2003 on a modest strip of Ashland and have since attracted a flock of jazz musicians and artists from the neighborhood and beyond. The cafe's mission is "to create a place where art, poetry and music could come together over a great cup of coffee," and it shows.
Legend has it that this is the first (and oldest) carnitas restaurant in Chicago. That might have to be taken with the proverbial grain of salt. But if you're looking for authentic Mexican-style stewed pork, few places do it better than Uruapan. Still hungry? The chicharones (pig skins) are impeccably fried and ready for liberal doses of hot sauce and salsa. Be prepared to bump elbows with the other (mostly takeout) customers.
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