Wentworth Ave, Chinatown's main street
Bridgeport-Chinatown is a district in Chicago's South Side, which includes the Armour Square and Bridgeport community areas. Visitors flock to this area for two reasons: Chinese food and baseball.
Chicago's Chinatown is pleasantly authentic. At the many restaurants in the area, local Chinese customers are joined by Chicagoans from all over the city "going Chinese" for the night. Chicago's Chinatown is the 3rd largest in the United States, the Midwestern business center for Chinese-Americans, and home to large populations of Cantonese and Taiwanese. The main street, Wentworth Ave, is a great place for dining out and rummaging through eccentric stores. US Cellular Field, better known as Comiskey Park, is several blocks south of Chinatown and is home to the South Side's favorite baseball team, the Chicago White Sox.
The main attractions, Chinatown and Comiskey Park, are in the east of the district in Armour Square — a neighborhood with a large Chinese population as well as significant Vietnamese, Croatian, and Italian communities — but the majority of the district is covered by the large working class neighborhood of Bridgeport.
Bridgeport is home to a large Irish-American enclave that has produced some of Chicago's most famous South Side Irish, such as Finley Peter Dunne and the two mayors Daley. Being the birthplace of the city's power brokers has been good to Bridgeport. The first Daley remembered playing in the streets as a child, dodging fetid puddles filled with carcasses from the local slaughterhouses. Bungalows and other single-family homes are more the norm these days. Bridgeport is now seeing a large influx of Mexican immigrants, which means more good food options are springing up left and right, and has even seen a wave of North Siders priced out of hip neighborhoods like Wicker Park and Lincoln Park. The most interesting "immigrants" of late are certainly the Zhou brothers Da Huang and Shan Zuo, who are both internationally acclaimed painters, and who have bought five large buildings along Morgan Street for the ostensible purpose of building a serious artist colony in Bridgeport. Regardless of what brings you to the neighborhood, it is full of gritty character (and characters) and is quite possibly haunted — Bridgeport is always an interesting place for a walk.
The main L stations are on the CTA Red Line at Cermak-Chinatown and Sox-35th for visiting Chinatown and US Cellular Field respectively. Other options include Halsted and Ashland on the Orange Line, which are on the northern and western outskirts of Bridgeport, and 35-Bronzeville-IIT on the Green Line, which is a block and a half east of the Sox-35th station.
The main routes into Bridgeport-Chinatown from the Loop are #62, which runs the length of Archer Ave from State St, and the #24, which runs from Clark St to Wentworth Ave through the center of Chinatown and next to US Cellular Field. Route #8 is also useful, as it runs north-south along Halsted St, which runs through the Near West Side and Near North neighborhoods as well as the middle of Bridgeport.
Parking is always plentiful in Bridgeport, and you can usually find spaces right by your destination, though you should check to make sure you're not on a permit parking only residential street. On game days, however, watch out — though no signs go up, you can be ticketed for parking in the neighborhood. Take the L instead to avoid the bad game day traffic and pricey parking lots. Chinatown is more crowded, but you should still have little trouble finding on-street metered parking around Cermak/Archer on weekdays or on off-hours.
The Dan Ryan and Stevenson Expressway cut across the east and north of the district. From the Dan Ryan, take either of the 31st or 35th Street exits; from the Stevenson, take the Cermak Avenue/Chinatown exit for Chinatown and the Damen Avenue exit via Archer or 35th Street for Bridgeport. The main city streets are Halsted Street (north-south), and 31st St, 35th St, and Pershing Rd (east-west).
The easiest way to get around Bridgeport by public transport is on the two main east-west bus routes #35 and #39, which run along 35th St and Pershing Rd, as well as the aforementioned #8 running north-south on Halsted St. Bus routes are not terribly convenient between the two neighborhoods, but #62 Archer does run along the north of Bridgeport from the Chinatown L stop. Chinatown itself is very compact and easily covered on foot.
You can cover Chinatown's sites easily in an hour or two on foot, but if you are interested in art, set aside some real time to explore the new Bridgeport galleries that fly under the popular radar, but are quite important to the contemporary art world in Chicago.
- Chinatown Square, 2100 S Wentworth Ave, ☎ +1 312 225-0088. This main square is a Chinatown landmark, with some cheesy pagoda-like structures as well as animal sculptures of the Chinese zodiac. Be sure to check out the Chinatown Mural — a mosaic of painted tiles depicting the migration of Chinese-Americans from China to, ultimately, Chicago's Chinatown. Ultimately, though, the reason to come here is to wander into the surrounding Chinatown Marketplace, full of narrow alleys packed with shops and restaurants, which occasionally threaten to transport you back to Taipei.
- Chinese-American Museum of Chicago, 238 W 23rd St, ☎ +1 312 949-1000 ([email protected], fax: +1 312 949-1001), . F 9:30AM-1:30PM, Sa-Su 10AM-5PM. A museum of Chinese-American culture and history. $1-2.
- Dr Sun Yat Sen Museum, 2245 S Wentworth Ave (3rd floor, above the Chicago Food Market), ☎ +1 312 842-5462. Sa-Su noon-5PM, M-F by appointment only. A one-room museum good for some Kuomintang nostalgia. Free admission.
- Nine Dragon Wall, (just across Wentworth Ave from 200 W Cermak Rd). A smaller semblance of the ancient glazed tile Nine Dragon Wall located in Beijing's Behai Park.
- Ping Tom Memorial Park, 300 W 19th St, ☎ +1, . A riverside park with a Chinese touch, including a riverside Chinese pavilion and a bamboo garden. On a clear day the park has nice southwest side views of the Chicago skyline. The park offers many summertime events from movie screenings to the very popular dragon boat races. Check the Chinatown Chamber of Commerce's website  for details.
- Pui Tak, 2214 S Wentworth Ave, ☎ +1 312 328-1188, . A historical landmark building notable for its traditional Chinese architecture now houses a Christian community center.
- Co-Prosperity Sphere, 3219-21 S Morgan St, ☎ +1 773 837-0145, . Sa noon-5PM & by appointment. Bridgeport's (and possibly Chicago's) most radical and experimental artistic space is huge, full of artists and their art, and is an ever expanding force in the neighborhood — they plan to host live music in the near future. A very interesting place to browse!
- mn Gallery, 3524 S Halsted, ☎ +1 773 847-0573 ([email protected]), . Sa-Su noon-5PM during exhibitions. Run by a local couple, this three-story building houses exhibitions of contemporary art by Chicago and regional-based artists. Be sure to check ahead to make sure that they have an open exhibition.
- Saint Barbara Church, 2859 S Throop St, ☎ +1 312 842-7979. Built in 1914 to house overflow from Saint Mary of Perpetual Help, in the so-called "Polish Cathedral Style." Dominates the Bridgeport skyline along with St Mary's.
- Saint Mary of Perpetual Help, 1039 W 32nd St, ☎ +1 773 927-6646 ([email protected], fax: +1 773 523-4565), . Another massive, opulent church of the Polish Cathedral Style, built in 1882.
- Zhou B Art Center, 1029 W 35th St, ☎ +1 773 523-0200 ([email protected]), . M-Sa 11AM-5PM. A big arts center in the heart of Bridgeport hosting three contemporary painting galleries: Oskar Friedl, 33 Collective, and the Zhou Brothers Art Foundation. The Oskar Friedl Gallery in particular really warrants a visit as it is one of the city's better spots for avant-garde works. The cafe/bar inside is also pretty fantastic — quiet, comfy, and sporting free WiFi. Check ahead to make sure the gallery that interests you is open. 3rd Fridays of the month, the whole huge place is open to wander around.
Good Guys wore red
For baseball, the North Side has the Cubs, and the South Side has the White Sox. But the city used to be split for football as well: the Chicago Bears played up north, at Wrigley Field, and the Chicago Cardinals represented the south side at Comiskey. Both were charter franchises of the NFL; in fact, founded in 1898, the Cardinals were the first professional football club in America.
Although they had a good run in the 1920s, by then resident at Comiskey Park, and although the "Million-Dollar Backfield" of 1947 brought a championship to the South Side, the Cardinals couldn't defend their territory against the more successful Bears, and the Bidwill family moved them to St. Louis in 1960 (and later to Arizona). Still, if you're talking sports with an older crowd in Bridgeport, don't be shy about sneering at the Pottsville Maroons and their foiled claim to the South Siders' rightful 1925 title, and Ernie Nevers' obvious superiority to that overhyped Red Grange.
Comiskey Park, home of the White Sox
- Armour Square Park, 3309 S Shields Ave, ☎ +1 312 747-6012, . M-F 9AM-10PM, Sa-Su 9AM-5PM. A good place to play some baseball, soccer, volleyball, basketball, or take a dip in the pool. Occasional events include outdoor movie screenings.
- Chicago Chinese Cultural Institute, 2145 S China Pl, ☎ +1 312 842-1988 ([email protected], fax: +1 312 275-7133), . Offers an assortment of services and events, such as: neighborhood tours, film screenings, language instruction, and cooking classes.
- U.S. Cellular Field (Comiskey Park), (Sox-35th Red Line), . Formerly known as New Comiskey Park, this is the home of the White Sox — or, as the name is properly phrased in the company of Cubs fans, The 2005 World Champion White Sox. The stadium itself was a notorious dud when it opened in 1991, but recent renovations have helped tremendously. If you just want to see a Chicago ball game and don't care who is playing, the stately charm of Wrigley Field might be the better option. But Sox tickets are easier to get, the fans are no less loyal, and the fireworks shows after Saturday night home games (win or lose) are worth the price of admission by themselves. For a nifty ballpark treat not offered at Wrigley, try the elotes, corn-off-the-cob with your choice of salt, butter, cheese, lime, and/or red pepper.
The Chinatown shops can be fun, but if you tire of knicknacks and knockoffs, Bridgeport has a handful of very eccentric and interesting offerings.
- Chinatown Bazaar, 2221 S Wentworth Ave, ☎ +1 312 225-1088. 10AM-10PM daily. An odd gift shop with just about anything you could expect to be at a "Chinatown bazaar." It has a particularly good collection of cloth posters.
- CW Mei's Gift & Jewelry Co., 2219 S Wentworth Ave, ☎ +1 312 225-1933. 10AM-9PM daily. Kung fu outfitters: swords, knives, outfits.
- Evergreen Jewelry, 2263 S Wentworth Ave, ☎ +1 312 808-0730. 10AM-5:30PM daily. Just what the name would suggest, the store sells jewelry.
- Golden Dragon Fortune Cookies, 2323 S Archer Ave, ☎ +1 312 842-8199. Yes, the man who writes the fortunes is in this factory. Buy fortune cookies fresh out of the oven, or get them in bulk until you can't carry any more.
- Hoypoloi Gallery, 2235 S Wentworth Ave, ☎ +1 312 225-6477 (fax: +1 312 225-6467), . Su-Th 11AM-8PM, F-Sa 11AM-9PM. Probably Chicago's strangest upscale boutique with all sorts of interesting artwork and furnishings for interior decorators and gift shoppers.
- Mei Wah Co. Inc., 2401 S Wentworth Ave, ☎ +1 312 225-9090. 11AM-7PM. Really worth a visit, even if not to buy anything. This is the biggest store in Chinatown and is full of groceries ranging from noodles to live turtles (for eating).
- Ten Ren Tea and Ginseng Co of Chicago Ltd, 2247 S Wentworth Ave, ☎ +1 312 842-1171. 9:30AM-7PM daily. Wide selection of teas and tea accessories in a store for serious tea drinkers (if you use bags, that doesn't include you). Worth a visit just for the free samples! $2-50.
- Augustine's Eternal Gifts, 3327 S Halsted St, ☎ +1 773 843-1933. M-F 11AM-7PM, Sa 11AM-6PM. A store full of everything spiritual: from a rosary and cross collection to occult tomes and voodoo powders. Knowledgeable and helpful staff.
- Grandstand, 600 W 35th St, ☎ +1 312 927-1984, . M-F noon-7PM, Sa 10AM-6PM, Su 11AM-5PM. A store with extensive inventory of sports memorabilia. A good place to pick up a reproduction Negro League jersey or rare baseball cards.
- Let's Boogie, 3321 S Halsted St, ☎ +1 773 254-0139. M-Sa 11AM-6PM, Su 11AM-3PM. A big vinyl store specializing in dance music from house to hip hop. No used records around, only new. A popular shop with Chicago DJs.
Chinatown is a wonderful and popular place for foodies, with lots of options, great authentic food, and reasonable prices. The flip side is the curt "Chinatown service," but if you've got a good attitude about it, that merely adds to the authenticity. The two most acclaimed restaurants here are Ken Kee and Lao Sze Chuan, but there are plenty of less known gems to seek out as well. For dim sum, the great rivalry is between heavyweights Shui Wah, Little Three Happiness, and The Phoenix.
Bridgeport is far further off the beaten foodie path, but it's a quirky neighborhood with some excellent options. Ed's Potstickers and Healthy Food Lithuanian are the standout destination restaurants that really warrant a trip.
- Captain Cafe & Bakery, 2161 S China Pl, ☎ +1 312 225-8883. 7AM-9PM daily, Dim Sum offered 7AM-noon daily. A delightful, small bakery offering the cheapest dim sum you'll ever find in Chinatown (before noon). The baked goods can warm your stomach for less than a dollar. Seating in the back. $1-8.
- Ken-Kee Restaurant, 2129 S China Pl, ☎ +1 312 326-2088. 11AM-1AM daily. One of the best bets in the Chinatown Marketplace with an extraordinarily long menu offering different preparations of virtually any creature or vegetable you've ever heard of. $4-8.
- Mandarin Kitchen, 2143 S Archer St, ☎ +1 312 328-0228 (fax: +1 312 328-9628). M W Th 11AM-10:30PM, T 3AM-10:30PM, F-Su 9AM-11PM. Very good spot for authentic Chinese hot pots. $7-12.
- The Noodle Vietnamese Cuisine, 2336 S Wentworth Ave, ☎ +1 312 674-1168. Su-Th 10AM-10PM, F-Sa 10AM-11PM. A solid Vietnamese pho (noodle soup with beef) joint. If you haven't already, try Vietnamese coffee. $3-6.
- Saint's Alp Teahouse, 2131 S Archer Ave, ☎ +1 312 842-1886. 11AM-midnight daily. A Hong Kong teahouse chain with a very long beverage list also serves entrees. Young crowd. $5-12.
- Seven Treasures, 2312 S Wentworth Ave, ☎ +1 312 225-2668, . Su-Th 11AM-2AM, F-Sa 11AM-2:30AM. Seven Treasures has a huge, if uninteresting, interior, and late hours, but the reason to come here is for Cantonese noodle soup. Anyone who's spent time in China, and hankers for the noodle soup they had there will not be disappointed. The barbecue menu is also very well done. $6-15.
- Spring World Restaurant, 2109 S China Pl, ☎ +1 312 326-9966. 10:30AM-10PM daily. Yunannese cuisine in the Midwest is Spring World — a specialty quite rare this side of the Pacific, so foodies should take note. Food-wise, this is one of the best options in Chinatown (try the tea smoked duck, cold noodles, or any of the lamb or mushroom dishes), and it's very cheap to boot: 4$ lunch and $5 appetizer bar! $4-10.
- Kevin's Hamburger Heaven, 554 W Pershing Rd, ☎ +1 773 924-5771. 24 hours daily. Chicago, for all that it takes fast food so seriously, tends to fail in the hamburger category. Not here. Kevin's serves what is likely the best hamburger in the city, as well as classic malts, shakes, and floats. As far as atmosphere goes, think industrial wasteland truck stop. $3-6.
- Lawrence's Fisheries, 2120 S Canal St, ☎ +1 312 225-2113, . 24 hours. It's amazing that this place exists so close to downtown. It's fried fish heaven, ranging from frogs legs, to $1.45 clam strips, to fried oysters, scallops, and boiled shrimp. All that with views of the skyline, intriguing industrial and river bridge panoramas, and of a good sized hanging shark. $2-12.
- Maxwell St Depot, 411 W 31st St, ☎ +1 312 326-3514. 24 hours daily. Insomniacs take note! Chicago fare is the whole menu: Maxwell Street Polishes, pork chop sandwiches, hot dogs, and hamburgers. This spot serves what might be the world's fastest food — served usually before you can complete your order — but it's magically piping hot fresh of the grill. The crowd can get pretty weird around F-Sa 4AM, and the food is of extraordinarily low quality, but at that hour (after drinks) few things are more satisfying than a hot off the grill pork chop sandwich with a heaped mass of grilled onions and mustard. $2-5.
- Morrie O'Malley's Hot Dogs, 3501 S Union Ave, ☎ +1 773 247-2700. M-F 10:30AM-8PM, closed Jan-Feb. Since US Cellular Field can't seem to do them right, get your real Chicago hot dogs here. Also, if you want any good insider information about the neighborhood, ask Morrie — he's helpful, friendly, and knows the area as well as anybody. If Morrie's is closed and you need a hot dog, you can get a fine one up 35th closer to the stadium. $2-4.
- Ramova Grill, 3510 S Halsted St, ☎ +1 773 847-9058. 5AM-8PM daily. A diner that's been around forever, serving breakfast all day and locally renowned chili. It is the quintessential dirt cheap greasy spoon and easily one of Chicago's best diners. $3-5.
- Scoops, 608 W 31st St, ☎ +1 312 842-3300. 11AM-11PM daily. A deceptively old fashioned neighborhood ice cream parlor offering homemade ice cream in a non-old fashioned variety of flavors. They also happen to have free WiFi and homemade cannolis. $2-5.
- Bertucci's Corner, 300 W 24th St, ☎ +1 312 225-2848. M-Th 11AM-10PM, F-Sa 11AM-11PM, Su 3PM-9PM. This family-run Italian joint exudes so much Chicago character, you will feel like you just stepped off the Chinatown street into a 1930s gangster movie. Scruffy, no-nonsense Italian-American food. The fact that it's in Chinatown only attests to its hidden gem status. Full bar. $6-12.
- Cantonesia, 204 W Cermak Rd, ☎ +1 312 225-0100 (fax: +1 312 225-2833), . Su-Th 11:30AM-11PM, F-Su 11:30AM-midnight. An established 60-year-old offering serving Cantonese cuisine and much trumpeted Mai Tais. Go for the noodle dishes and the hot and sour soup. $8-15.
- Dragon King Restaurant, 2128 S Archer Ave, ☎ +1 312 881-0168 (fax: +1 312 881-0169). Su-Th 11AM-10PM, F-Sa 11AM-11:30PM. Northeast Chinese regional cuisine. Try the sesame oil pig ear on for size. $10-16.
- Lao Sze Chuan, 2172 S Archer Ave, ☎ +1 312 326-5040, . 11:30AM-midnight daily. Often considered the best Chinese food in the Chicagoland area, Lao Sze Chuan serves up fiery Szechuan cuisine. Don't be shy with the exotic entries on the menu—try something just beyond your comfort range and you will likely not regret it. $10-17.
- ''Little'' Three Happiness, 209 W Cermak Rd, ☎ 842-1964. 9AM-2AM daily. There are two "Three Happinesses" right across the street from each other, and as you might guess, the small dingy looking one on the south side of the street is far superior. It's hard to go wrong with the menu, because the (friendly!) owners take their food seriously. By far the ugliest of Chinatown's top dim sum restaurants, but likely the best — and the non-dim sum menu is heads and shoulders above the competitors'. $10-25.
- Shui Wah, 2162 S Archer Ave, ☎ +1 312 225-8811. Dim Sum: 8AM-3PM daily, Dinner 5PM-2AM daily. Skip dinner, served by a different management and staff — you can do better. But the dim sum, always great, is quite possibly the best in the city when it's really on. $8-20.
- Yee Heung Seafood House, 225 W Cermak Rd, ☎ +1 312 326-3171 (fax: +1 312 326-3838). M-Th 5PM-4AM, F-Sa 5PM-5AM, Su 5PM-11PM. Feeling peckish for authentic food in the wee hours of the morning? This is the place, and may be the best place after most close. $8-16.
- Ed's Potsticker House (Potsticker House), 3139 S Halsted St, ☎ +1 312 326-6898. Su-Th 10AM-10PM, F-Sa 10AM-11PM. One of Chicago's great neighborhood restaurants, though you would never know it from the inauthentic sounding name. Chicago's Chinese community more and more bleeds across neighborhood boundaries into Bridgeport proper, and this restaurant is the showcase of the culinary possibilities this creates for the area. It's a mom and pop run Chinese restaurant specializing in Northern Chinese cuisine. There are a lot of great dishes on the menu (hint, not the ones you've heard of before) — aim for the lamb cumin, soup dumplings, or the whole Szechuan style tilapia.
- Gio's Cafe & Deli, 2724 S Lowe Ave, ☎ +1 312 225-6368, . M-Sa 8AM-9PM. One of Chicago's best restaurants is hidden in a tiny checkerboard tablecloth deli, more resembling a grocery store than a restaurant, hidden further still in the residential streets of Bridgeport. It's also, as you might expect, a steal of a bargain. Delicious Italian pastas, chicken, and panini. $5-25.
- Healthy Food Lithuanian, 3236 S Halsted St, ☎ +1 312 326-2724 ([email protected]), . T W 7AM-4PM, Th-Sa 7AM-8PM, Su 8AM-5PM. Where else are you going to go for Lithuanian? Fortunately, the one option is a very good one and has been serving grandma's Lithuanian favorites since 1938. As a matter of fact, this is probably the best restaurant in down-to-earth Bridgeport. Don't miss the blynai (Lithuanian crepes). The "healthy" name comes from the fact that this restaurant only uses organic ingredients and serves a fair amount of breakfast foods made from buckwheat. It does not come from the monster portions. It's also an intriguing option for souvenirs, with Baltic amber jewelry and t-shirts boasting kugelis as the "breakfast of champions." $8-14.
- Lina's Pizza, 3132 S Morgan St, ☎ +1 773 247-7778. Chicagoans regularly disparage Bridgport's pizza options, but this is unfair to Lina's. Lina's serves a fine Chicago style thin-crust pie, that's surprisingly the least greasy pizza in town, has a delicious semi-sweet sauce, loads up on garlic when asked for, spiced cheese, and the uncanny ability to remain tasty in the fridge. Seating is extremely limited, but most of their orders are for take-out/delivery, so you'll probably get that table if you want it. $13-18.
- Pancho Pistola's, 700 W 31st St, ☎ +1 312 225-8808, . M-Th 11AM-11PM, F-Sa 11AM-midnight, Su 11AM-10PM. Authentic and very solid food in a family owned Mexican restaurant perhaps most notable for its great margaritas. $8-15.
- Phoenix, 2131 S Archer Ave, ☎ +1 312 328-0848, . Dim Sum: M-F 9AM-3PM, Sa-Su 8AM-3PM; Dinner Su-Th 5PM-9:30PM, Sa-Su 5PM-10:30PM. The Phoenix is the gold standard in Chicago dim sum, and with good reason. It's the one of the three top dim sum establishments that actually has nice decor, which, naturally, you pay for. The one downside to Phoenix is that it is better known, and therefore a good deal more crowded than most Chinatown restaurants — it pays to arrive either early or late (early afternoon) to avoid the crowd. $18-30.
- Polo Cafe & Catering Bridgeport USA, 3322 S Morgan St, ☎ +1 773 927-7656, . lunch: M-F 11AM-3PM, dinner: W 6PM-8PM, F-Sa 5PM-9PM, brunch: Sa 9AM-2PM. A fine Bridgeport steakhouse decked with Mayor Daley-worship decor. Show up early on Saturday for the "Bloody Mary Brunch" and try "The Mayor's Steak and Eggs." $15-40.
As you might expect from such an Irish neighborhood, drinking is an established tradition in Bridgeport. If Chicago machine politics and general intrigue are your cup of tea, finish a tour of Bridgeport with a cold beer at the birthplace of many a corrupt scheme, Schaller's Pump. In Chinatown, some of the nicer sit-down restaurants serve alcohol, and the bar at nearby Bertucci's Corner is very pleasant.
- Bernice & John's, 3238 S Halsted St. A laid back and particularly friendly Bridgeport bar with Thursday open mic nights that have caught on well with local artists.
- Bridgeport Coffeehouse, 3101 S Morgan St, ☎ +1 773 247-9950 ([email protected], fax: +1 773 247-9969), . M-F 6AM-9PM, Sa 7AM-9PM, Su 8AM-7PM. Starbucks doesn't exist in Bridgeport and in this coffeehouse, the staff knows their customers by name. Features original blends roasted in house. The place is really everything you would want a coffeehouse to be. Free wireless, live jazz on Sundays, and live blues on Wednesdays.
- First Base, 3201 S Normal Ave, ☎ +1 312 791-1239. 11AM-2AM daily. A lively bar with some good Irish stout on tap. It gets raucous when the Sox are playing.
- Mitchell's Tap, 3356 S Halsted St, ☎ +1 773 927-6073, . Su-F 11AM-2AM, Sa 11AM-3AM. Lots of different kinds of beer, bowling, golf machines, and frequent live music. cover on Sa only: $3-5.
- Schaller's Pump, 3714 S Halsted St, ☎ +1 773 376-6332. M-F 11AM-2AM, Sa 4PM-3AM, Su 3PM-9PM. This family-owned Irish-American bar is the oldest in the city — founded in 1881. The former speakeasy gets really crowded during and after Sox games, but it's always a good place to spot local power-brokers — it's just across the street from the Democratic Ward office. Regardless of whether you're here after a Sox game or you're just hatching political plots, you can enjoy a mighty fine corned beef and cabbage sandwich.
Only two places to stay in the district, but being a stone's throw away from downtown, they are both excellent and affordable options.
- Chinatown Hotel, 214 W 22nd Pl (located at Cermak/Chinatown on the Red Line), ☎ +1 312 225-8888, . checkin: 3PM; checkout: noon. Free wired internet and computers. One of the best budget options anywhere near downtown Chicago. And to top it off, its right by all sorts of delicious and cheap Chinese restaurants. But do remember that it is a budget spot — staff speaks limited English and accommodations are pretty spare (might remind backpackers of China travels). from $67.
- Benedictine Bed & Breakfast, 3111 S Aberdeen St, ☎ +1 773 927-7424 (fax: +1 773 927-5734), . Cozy spacious rooms within an urban Benedictine monastery. The price is way lower than what you would spend in a downtown hotel, but the accommodations actually blow those hotels out of the water (multiple rooms, private gardens!), and the monastery and the surrounding neighborhood have much more character. The monks are quite good cooks, and very quiet hosts — you won't even see them leave you a different breakfast each morning. Definitely make your reservations well in advance, as the two apartments often are booked solid as far as three months. $165 for 1-2 adults.
The most pleasant spots to check your email have got to be the Bridgeport Coffeehouse, Scoops, and the cafe/bar inside the Zhou B Art Center (See above for details). But for those without a laptop, there is also free internet access also at the following two public libraries:
- Chinatown Public Library, 2353 S Wentworth Ave, ☎ +1 312 747-8013. M-Th 9AM-9PM, F-Sa 9AM-5PM. Free public internet access. Also, the library manages to be a bit of an attraction in and of itself for its indoor koi pond, China-related displays, and collection of books in Chinese.
- Richard J Daley Public Library, 3400 S Halsted St, ☎ +1 312 747-8990. M-Th 9AM-9PM, F-Sa 9AM-5PM. WiFi in the house of his honor.
- Chicago's Southeast Asian Strip is located in Uptown around Argyle Street, at the CTA Red Line stop of the same name. It is a better bet for Thai, Vietnamese, Laotian, and other Southeast Asian regional cuisines. It is also far less touristed than Chinatown.
- If you came here after reading Upton Sinclair's The Jungle and are feeling disappointed in the general lack of hog butchery, head due southwest to visit the few remaining monuments to the once vast Chicago meatpacking district, around the Union Stockyard gate in Chicago's Southwest Side.
- For those in search of the perfect Irish pub in Chicago, you may have better luck in the Far Southwest Side.
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