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Guide To: Family Fun In Pilsen

July 8, 2011 6:00 AM

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(credit: Tim Boyle/Getty Images)

(credit: Tim Boyle/Getty Images)

Chicago’s lower West side community of Pilsen has a strong Hispanic and artistic presence and is known as an affordable place to raise a family. It’s a great neighborhood to wander around and explore, with loads of public art and storefront galleries. Early Slavic settlers named it Pilsen after a city in the Czech Republic, renowned as the origin of Pilsner beer. Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood became a National Historic Register District in 2006 and has plenty to do for all ages. Here are some of the fun things families can enjoy.

Local Favorites

Most of the best food and funky thrift shopping are all along 18th street. Get the authentic flavor of the neighborhood by buying mango or coconut bars right from the paleta (ice cream) salesmen. Or try elotes (corn on the cob) with chili and lime.

locations 07 Guide To: Family Fun In Pilsen

(credit: El-Milagro.com)

Food

Taqueria El Milagro

1923 S. Blue Island
Open 8 a.m. – 9 p.m. daily
(312) 433-7620
www.el-milagro.com

Try this cafeteria-style restaurant for some of the best authentic Mexican food in Chicago with something for everyone’s taste, and a comfortable, kid-friendly space. Taqueria El Milagro seats up to 60 people and serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.

57515705 Guide To: Family Fun In Pilsen

(credit: Tim Boyle/Getty Images)

Fogata Village

1820 S. Ashland Ave.
Sun. – Wed.: 8 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Thu. – Sat.: 8 a.m. – 10 p.m.
(312) 850-1702
www.fogatavillage.com

Just like the Pilsen neighborhood combines people of many cultures, Fogata combines some of the best Mexican and Italian dishes.

nightwood diningroom3 004 Guide To: Family Fun In Pilsen

(credit: Jason Little/Nightwood Restaurant)

Nightwood

2119 S. Halsted Ave.
Mon.-Sat.: 5:30 p.m. – 11 p.m.
Sun brunch: 9 a.m.- 2:30 p.m.
(312) 526-3385
www.nightwoodrestaurant.com

This upscale eatery has been winning rave reviews for their excellent food, but they’re still casual enough for an early dinner with kids, or for a special celebration. They’re also much cheaper and completely family friendly for brunch.

Nuevo Leon

1515 W. 18th Street
Sun. – Sat.: 7 a.m. – midnight
(312) 421-1517
www.nuevoleonrestaurant.com

This colorful, reasonably priced restaurant has been a meeting and eating place for the Pilsen community since 1962. It’s a great place to stop and grab a nice meal when the kids are tired of taking in the sights and want to refuel.

kristoffers pilsen bonnie kenaz mara Guide To: Family Fun In Pilsen

(credit: Bonnie Kenaz-Mara)

Coffee

Kristoffer’s

1733 S. Halsted Street
Mon.: 7:30 p.m. – 3 p.m.
Tue. – Fri.: 7:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Sat. – Sun.: 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.
(312) 829-4150
www.kristofferscafe.com

Kristoffer’s has a comfortable atmosphere where families can play games like checkers and chess, check out fun art, and eat some of their famous tres leches cakes (traditional Mexican cakes with a creamy sweet center) and flan.

img 51624 Guide To: Family Fun In Pilsen

(credit: cafejumpingbean.org)

Cafe Jumping Bean

1439 W. 18th Street
Mon. – Fri.: 6 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Sat. – Sun.: 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.
(312) 455-0019
www.cafejumpingbean.org

This architecturally unique coffee house/gallery space is a great, kid friendly, artsy, gathering space.

77833608 Guide To: Family Fun In Pilsen

(credit: Noel Vasquez/Getty Images)

Sweets

Churro Factory

2214 S. Wolcott Ave.
Mon. – Fri.: 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Sat. – Sun.: 10 a.m. – 6p.m.
(773) 823-9571
www.churrofactory.com

These guys have made-to-order, fresh churros that locals rave about. Don’t settle for stale ones elsewhere, because the fresh ones are really good! They also have a truck at the Maxwell Street Market on Sundays.

bombon pilsen kenaz mara1 Guide To: Family Fun In Pilsen

(credit: Bonnie Kenaz-Mara)

BomBon Bakery

1508 W. 18th Street
Mon. – Sat.: 7 a.m.-7 p.m.
Sun: 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.
(312) 733-7788
www.chicagobestcakes.com

BomBon has traditional Mexican sweets like pan dulce and tres leches cakes and an impressive window display of fancy occasion cakes.

the national museum of mexican art pilsen kenaz mara Guide To: Family Fun In Pilsen

(credit: Bonnie Kenaz-Mara)

Art Appreciation

Take a mural walk along 16th street near Blue Island. Both Slavs and Mexicans worked together, as the neighborhood became integrated, to create its renowned murals. The East side of the neighborhood along Halsted Street is one of Chicago’s largest art districts. Galleries stay open late the 2nd Friday of every month, year round, for a casual, family friendly, arts walk.

National Museum of Mexican Art
1852 W. 19th Street
Tue. – Sun.: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Free admission
(312) 738-1503
www.nationalmuseumofmexicanart.org

The National Museum of Mexican Art is a great place to bring the little ones to give them an introduction into Mexican culture. There are plenty of exhibits to keep people of all ages busy and there are interactive stops along the way to keep them involved.

harrison park pilsen kenaz mara Guide To: Family Fun In Pilsen

(credit: Bonnie Kenaz-Mara)

Pilsen Play Places

Jefferson Playlot
1640 S. Jefferson

Harrison Park
1824 S. Wood
Monday-Friday 9 a.m.-9 p.m.
Saturday 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Sunday 9 a.m.-4 p.m.

This beautiful facility, right next door to the National Museum of Mexican Art, has great classes.

Fiesta del Sol, the largest Latino Festival in the Midwest
1400 W. Cermak Road (Between Loomis and Morgan Streets), Chicago
Thursday, July 28th: 5 p.m. – 10 p.m.

Friday, July 29th – Saturday, July 30th: 11 a.m. – 11 p.m.
Sunday, July 31st: 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Free
www.fiestadelsol.org

Vendors, entertainment and art merge in an alcohol and tobacco free, family-friendly environment. The fest is expected to draw over 1 million visitors this year. Come explore 39 Years of Mexican Culture at this excellent Family-Friendly Latino fest in Chicago’s Cultural District of Pilsen.

Bonnie Kenaz-Mara explores adventures in urban-odd ball-off the wall-alternative-eco-punk parenting in Chi, IL. at ChiILMama.com.
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