Yay! Yollocalli represented!
Chicago, Illinois, USA: Pilsen
Pilsen, and neighborhing Little Village (which, unfortunately, I did not have time to see during my visit) are majority-Mexican neighborhoods in Chicago. Stepping off the Pink Line at the 18th Street Station is akin to entering another country. Spanish is spoken freely and abundantly here, and Mexican culture steeps through the streets. This was my experience:
- Right after getting off the train at the 18th Street Pink Line subway stop, you cant miss the gorgeous and bright-colored steps and murals. The station is almost a work of art more than a subway stop.
- At the corner of 18th and Blue Island, you’ll find a youth-painted mural declaring support for immigrants, both legal and illegal.
- A few paces down the street is Knee Deep Vintage. This locally-run thrift store has it all, from dresses of the flapper era to simple t-shirts from the ’90s. Their prices aren’t too bad, either. I’m also told that on the second Friday of every month, the store has a sale during the Pilsen Gallery walk, in which everything in the store is 25-50% off, and they provide snacks and drinks. 1425 W 18th St @ Bishop
- Keep wandering down 18th, and you’ll find El Mezcal. You want cheap, local eats? Look no further- I got two (huge) tacos, filled with rice, beans, cheese, tomatoes, green onions, guac, and salsa, for a grand total of $4.00. With tip, that’s less than a bit over a $5 lunch that will fill you up, trust me. 1454 W 18th St @ Laflin
- Finally, after you eat, you might want to grab a cup of java at Cafe Jumping Bean. Completely fair-trade and locally owned and operated, those in the know say this is the best cafe in the city. The free wifi is quite the perk too.
All in all, Pilsen was probably my favourite neighborhood visit in Chicago. This is a place that has “real Chicago” written all over it. There are little, if any national chains to speak of, creating a strong local presence in the business sector.
For more, read the Wikitravel article on Pilsen by clicking here.