Chicago celebrates National Hispanic Heritage Month September 15-October 15. Here are some neighborhoods — Pilsen, Little Village, and Humboldt Park – filled with exquisite street murals, family-run businesses, and a welcoming spirit:
Rich in Latino culture, Pilsen is a neighborhood that overflows with music, art, culinary tradition, and nightlife. The first thing you may notice about Pilsen is the colorful street art, with buildings covered in massive paintings and mosaics that pay homage to the neighborhood’s Hispanic roots (check out, for example, the 16th Street Murals).
- The neighborhood’s thriving arts scene has become known as the Chicago Arts District, a seven-block stretch filled with artists’ lofts, studios, retail spaces, galleries, and more.
- Don’t miss the free National Museum of Mexican Art with its stunning collection of textiles, folk art, prints, photos, and more, and the Pilsen Arts and Community House, a gallery run by neighborhood locals Pablo Ramirez and Teresa Magaña, which focuses on community and accessibility.
- Pilsen is also home to a diverse dining scene, known for everything from authentic taquerias to acclimated fine dining. At 5 Rabanitos, feast on classic Mexican dishes from Chef Alfonso Sotelo in a colorful space just a block away from the National Museum of Mexican Art.
- While in the neighborhood, don’t neglect to check out some fun local businesses like Angelica Varela’s Pilsen-based plant shop Semillas Plant Studio, which is celebrating its third anniversary this summer.
Known as the “Mexico of the Midwest”, this colorful enclave is overflowing with vibrant culture and cuisine, filled with traditional bakeries, family-owned restaurants packed with locals, a burgeoning arts scene, unique local shops, and a welcoming community of friendly locals who have called the area home for generations.
- Arrive in Little Village (or La Villita) to be greeted by the terracotta arch over 26th Street that reads “Bienvenidos a Little Village”. This is the neighborhood’s main drag and one of the busiest shopping districts in all of Chicago, a two-mile stretch home to almost 500 businesses.
- Admire murals and mosaics at the tiny but evocative Manuel Perez Memorial Plaza, which hosts local events and a marketplace, or stop in at the Open Center for the Arts, a hybrid art center/gallery which encourages and showcases work by emerging and aspiring local artists.
- Try authentic Mexican fare when you stop into one of the many authentic restaurants and taquerias showcasing a delicious array of regional Mexican cuisine; El Milagro Tortilleria is a local favorite, where tortillas are made fresh in house, Nuevo Leon is a family-owned spot serving casual Mexican classics, and Mi Tierra offers over-the-top margaritas in a festive atmosphere. You can enjoy some of the best chilaquiles (a traditional Mexican breakfast dish) in town at La Catedral Café & Restaurant.
- Shop for artisan crafts at Artesanías Elena, stock up on authentic Mexican sweets at Dulcelandia del Sol and end the evening with a visit at Osito’s Tap, a speakeasy-style bar featuring a range of craft spirits with modern Mexican-inspired touches.
Named for its historic park, one of Chicago’s earliest public green spaces, the neighborhood is also a bustling cultural corridor with rich Puerto Rican roots. Monumental Puerto Rican flags along Division Street mark the boundaries of the Paseo Boricua, an area that has transformed over several generations into the cultural heart of Chicago’s Puerto Rican community.
- The Paseo Boricua is lined with one-of-a-kind street art projects, bustling coffee shops, casual Puerto Rican cafes, and more. Don’t miss the Mercado Del Pueblo, a rotating marketplace of local artisans, and La Casita de Don Pedro, which includes a public gallery, garden, and performance space.
- Absorb a local perspective with Paseo Boricua Tour Company, where a lifelong neighborhood resident like Eduardo Arocho will guide you through the area’s unique cultural and commercial corridor.
- Visit the National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture, which celebrates Puerto Rico’s rich arts tradition with three galleries, performance spaces, arts classrooms, and more; their newest exhibit Resistencia y Libertá por Bombazo Wear celebrates the evolution of Bomba Attire from the 17th century to the present.
- Don’t forget to stop for a jibarito, a plantain-based dish that was invented in Humboldt Park, at local eateries like La Bruquena and Papa’sCache Sabroso or pick up a cup of coffee and support local business owners like Antoine and Arianna Scott of Atmos Coffee Shop.