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A Celebration of Mexican Culture in Pilsen

Explore Mexican art, food and culture in this vibrant neighborhood
Rating: 4 out of 5 by EveryTrail members
Difficulty: Easy
Length: 1.1 miles
Duration: 1-3 hours
Family Friendly

Overview :  Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood has seen plenty of immigrant groups come and go. The first to arrive were Irish and Germans, followed by... more »

Tips:  October is a great time to visit, when Pilsen Open Studios, an artist-run art walk, takes over cafes, galleries and even real estate... more »

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Points of Interest

1. Damen Avenue Pink Line Station

When you exit the station, turn right and walk north to 19th Street, then turn right and walk east to the building in the middle of Harrison Park—that's the museum.

2010 S. Damen St.

The National Museum of Mexican Art, the largest Latino cultural institution in the United States, holds one of the largest collections of Mexican art in the United States.

The museum is known for cutting-edge exhibitions like "The African Presence in Mexico: from Yanga to the Present," its commitment to local youth and education, and its annual ... More

3. Wood Street Murals

Art isn't confined to the inside of a museum in Pilsen. Rather, it adorns the streets, buildings, even garage doors.

This two-block stretch of Wood Street will give you a feel for the diversity of murals in Pilsen.

First, you’ll see urban graffiti-style murals, then as you walk north you’ll see more traditional portraits of Mexican music and... More

4. Café Mestizo

By now you might be ready for a bite or a jolt of caffeine. This café has a relaxed vibe and frequently features local artists’ work.

If you're eating, try the tamales Oaxaqueños, large steamed banana leaves full of cornmeal mush with spicy chicken inside. If you’re drinking coffee, don’t miss the signature Café Azteca.

And check the bulletin ... More

5. St. Adalbert’s Church

The church was designed by architect Henry Schlacks, a disciple of Adler & Sullivan, who went on to found the architecture department at the University of Notre Dame. Built in 1874 to serve the Polish community, it was modeled after St. Paul’s Basilica in Rome. Its twin Renaissance-style towers dominate the neighborhood skyline.

To see the... More

6. Oxala

From the outside, Oxala looks like a stylish place to buy jewelry and artwork, and it is. But it’s more than that—it is also a botanica shop, selling herbs and spiritual items. You can even get your fortune told.

1651 W. 18th St.
Monday-Saturday 11am-8pm
Sunday 11am-2pm

7. Artesanias D'Mexico

This is a small, well-stocked store with a fascinating selection of handmade Mexican folk art and crafts at excellent prices. The friendly proprietors have lived in Pilsen for decades and are a great source of information about the neighborhood and upcoming events.

1644 W. 18th St.
Monday-Saturday 10am-7pm
Sunday Closed

You can’t beat this Pilsen landmark for a taste of northern Mexico. There’s plenty of meat and beans on the menu, served up by men in black and women in frilly blouses and skirts. Be sure to order the delicious flour tortillas, made in-house and a staple of northern Mexican cooking. The corn tortillas served here are factory-made and nothing... More

9. Cooper Dual Language Academy

Longtime Cooper art teacher and local artist Francisco G. Mendoza created the gorgeous Venetian tile mosaic murals that adorn the school's walls and entrances. Many depict figures from Mexican art, music and literature.

1624 W. 19th St.

10. 18th Street Pink Line Station

If you came to Pilsen via the Pink Line, don’t walk all the way back to Damen—just jump on at the 18th Street station and get an artistic bonus. The stairwell from the street to the platforms is covered in glorious colors, the work of local youth using traditional motifs.

1710 W. 18th