If you want to see where Chicago’s past mayors have called home, there’s no better place than Bridgeport. This near South Side neighborhood has ties to five Chicago mayors— Edward Kelly, Martin Kennelly, Richard J. Daley, Michael Bilandic, and Richard M. Daley. (There’s a reason Bridgeport Coffee offers the “mayors blend.”)
Visit Ling Shen Ching Tze Temple, a Buddhist temple located next to the Monastery of the Holy Cross where Benedictine monks offer Gregorian chants and rent out a guest house to families. On West 35th Street, the Bridgeport Art Center and Zhou B Art Center showcase spectacular art galleries (and events) in large warehouses. Palmisano Park offers winding paths, places to picnic, a stone-filled mound for kids to climb, catch-and-release fishing and views of the city’s skyline.
“Bridgeport is closer to downtown than Logan Square or Wicker Park,” says Kevin Hickey, chef-owner of The Duck Inn and a sixth-generation resident in Bridgeport. “And it’s just as cool.”
Places to eat in Bridgeport
The Duck Inn
- Address: 2701 S. Eleanor St., Chicago
Although it’s known as a dinner destination spot, try the Sunday brunch. This gastro pub offers up a host of sweet and savory options, including delicious sweet potato French toast, an egg mcduckinn made with a duck-infused sausage patty, and a rotisserie duck hash. Make a reservation and go early to avoid the crowd. (And, yes, it has high chairs.)
- Address: 954-960 W. 31st St., Chicago
Get Korean-Polish mashups with this street food-style spot that is connected to Maria’s Packaged Goods and Community Bar and Pizza Fried Chicken Ice Cream. Dine-in inside or sit on the patio while having a drink at Maria’s. Nosh on Korean wings, “Maria’s Standard,” a Polish sausage with kimchi-sauerkraut on a brioche bun, pierogies, poutine, or KoPo BBQ, made from ingredients sourced from local urban farmers.
A Place By Damao
- Address: 2621 S. Halsted St. #1, Chicago
Szechuan-style Chinese, authentic Chengdu food. Try the hand-pulled sweet and spicy noodles, Szechuan sausage, spare ribs and handmade Zhong dumplings. Authentic Chengdu food. You’ll also find things like pork brains, pigs foot soup and duck head or tongue. The menu calls out spicy, vegetarian and gluten-free options.
Gio’s Cafe and Deli
- Address: 2724 S. Lowe Ave., Chicago
This corner grocery store and deli offers the best of classic Italian fare in large portions at this BYOB spot. Grab a meatball sandwich or try the rigatoni vodka or chicken parmesan with calamari and a cannoli. Meat and gluten-free pastas are available.
- Address: 630 W. 26th St., Chicago
Open April through October, this sweet spot is known for its funnel cake sundaes. There’s 12 flavors of ice cream and 30 types of toppings and mix-ins. There’s also homemade Italian ice (lemon, strawberry, mango, blue raspberry and cherry) for non-dairy lovers.
- Address: 605 W. 31st St., Chicago
This Asian-influenced offers a four course $35 prix fixe meal. Entrées range from red snapper, lobster tail with sweet miso sauce to General Tso’s Chicken and Mongolian Beef.
Big Boss Spicy Fried Chicken
- Address: 2520 S. Halsted St. Chicago
Grab a chicken sandwich with choice of spice level from crispy fried without sauce up to burning hot Buffalo wings, popcorn chicken, fried sweet potato and lemonade. For kids, there’s a “little boss meal” with chicken tenders, fries and corn.
- Address: 300 W. 31st St., Chicago
This family-owned features Italian classics such as fried calamari, gnocchi, baked clams, tortellini carbonara, chicken marsala, Caesar salad and tiramisu.
Bridgeport Bakery 2.0
- Address: 2907 S. Archer Ave., Chicago
This Polish bakery is known for its pastries from paczkis to bacon buns, pineapple upside down cake and funnel cake-like fried doughnuts. Check the hours before you go because they are open only certain days 5-10 a.m.
Bridgeport Coffee House
- Address: 3101 S. Morgan St., Chicago
Grab smooth artisanal blends like Bubbly Creek, Public School and Mayor’s Blend or single origin varieties. Order breakfast sandwiches, pastries and parfaits like the rich peanut butter explosion cup at the counter and head back to a map-covered room to enjoy.
Jackalope Coffee & Tea House
- Address: 755 W. 32nd St., Chicago
This quirky cafe is covered with bright walls and funky murals. Grab a drip coffee, horchata or green tea citrus with lunch or breakfast fare with paninis, sandwich, wrap, soup or salad.
- Address: 3139 S. Halsted St., Chicago
Get your fix on dumplings at this spot. The northern-style Chinese cuisine offers everything from sticky rice balls to noodle soup. Try the Shanghai style steamed pork soup bao, sweet and sour pork cutlets, vegetable pot stickers and pork green onion dumplings.
- Address: 3409 S. Halsted St., Chicago
This traditional northern Chinese spot has a wide selection. You can get the Americanized options like the orange chicken and General Tso’s, but try the more authentic offerings like the peanut-infused clear noodle salad, scallion pancake and lamb dumplings.
Min’s Noodle House
- Address: 3235 S. Halsted St., Chicago
If you like spicy food, this is the place to come. Min’s Noodle House is known for Chongqing-style. Try the noodle soup with bok choy, braised egg, crushed peanuts and scallions mixed in with beef, pork, tofu, seafood or other interesting options like pork intestines or duck blood curd. (You can choose your level of spice.) There’s also the “wok toss” made with jasmine rice that can be made Szechuan-style as well as Uyghur-style noodles and other slurps.
The Stockyard Coffeehouse
- Address: 558 W. 37th St., Chicago
Grab a Mexican Mocha, Hot Chocolate, or Horchata Latte. There are dairy and non-dairy items, plus kid-friendly options like Nutella-and-banana sandwiches, bagels and croissants. Parents will appreciate the breakfast bagel sandwich, chicken salad and avocado toast or BLT options.
Pancho Pistolas Authentic Mexican Restaurant
- Address: 700 W. 31st St., Chicago
This Tex Mex spot is a favorite among many. Grab a steak and pepper burrito, fajitas, carne asada, chiles rellenos, chimichanga or enchiladas with fried ice cream or a margarita.
Fabulous Freddies Italian Eatery
- Address: 701 W. 31st St., Chicago
At this neighborhood favorite grab a slice of pizza or a breaded Italian steak sandwich with peppers. Finish it off with its beloved Italian ice. Freddies is known for its “Yerminator Burger,” made with two beef patties, grilled tomatoes, pickled red onions, green pepper, provolone, purple slaw and a special sauce.
- Address: 3267 S. Halsted St., Chicago
Grab a Latin-inspired food and traditional American fare from guava stuffed French toast, chilaquiles, ranchero and el jardín-style breakfast bowls, empanadas, fried shrimp po’boy, burritos, burgers, cinnamon sugar donuts or fried chicken and pancakes.
Places to shop in Bridgeport
- Address: 3324 S. Halsted St., Chicago
With more than 50,000 books, this recently opened second-hand book store offers a wealth of resources. It’s run by the former owners of Wicker Park-based Myopic Books, Joe Judd and his wife Lisa. Wind through to the back of the store to a “kids’ room” where children flop on the floor and read after digging through bins of board books and storybooks, or browsing the extensive young adult collection. “We want kids to find it fun to read books,” Judd says. Check out the local authors section, where the owners give 100% of the proceeds to the writers.
- Address: 1200 W. 35th St., Chicago
Find custom furniture made from salvaged-wood inside the Bridgeport Art Center. From coffee tables and bookcases to beds, dressers, shelving and seating, there is a variety of residential furniture as well as commercial options.
Sage and Shea
- Address: 3502 S. Halsted St., Chicago
Find African-inspired clothing, jewelry, accessories, beauty and health products as well as other imports like the Djembe, a handcrafted drum made in Senegal. The collection includes dresses, kaftans, wrap skirts, earrings, necklaces, backpacks and men’s wear.
- Address: 600 W. 35th St., Chicago
Sports fans can get their Chicago gear here, White Sox, Bears, Blackhawks, Bulls, and even (gasp) Cubs merchandise. There’s also a “Chicago Style” apparel with exclusives like the White Sox “Chicago Style” Dog New Era 59Fifty hat as well as hoodies, hats and other gear with the city of Chicago flag.
Places to play and explore in Bridgeport
(Henry) Palmisano Park
- Address: 2700 S. Halsted St., Chicago
Better known as “Mount Bridgeport” or Stearns Quarry, this once privately-owned limestone quarry turned nature park offers 26.5 acres to roam. There’s a pier for catch-and-release fishing, a 380-foot hole formed by mining more than 130 years ago. Climb up winding hills by stepping on gigantic stones or wander around on metal pathways that offer breathtaking views of the city skyline. It’s filled with prairie grasses and wetlands. Kids will love “climbing the mound” and the places to picnic.
- Address: 3044 S. Bonfield St., Chicago
This small 2.38-acre park has an outdoor basketball court, soccer field as well as a playground and a fieldhouse. It’s located near Bridgeport Coffeehouse, Pizza Fried Chicken Ice Cream, Maria’s Packaged Goods and Kimski as well as the Ling Shen Ching Tze Temple.
Ling Shen Ching Tze Temple
- Address: 1035 W. 31st St., Chicago
This former Presbyterian church turned Buddhist temple is filled with golden statues and spots to meditate. Be prepared to remove your shoes and keep voices low. Wander past bodhisattvas and Buddhas altars with offerings dedicated to the teachings of Taoism, Sutrayana and Tantric philosophies.
Chicago Maritime Museum
- Address: 1200 W. 35th St., Chicago
Learn about the shipping and naval history of Chicago at this hidden gem. Located at the river level of the Bridgeport Art Center, this 10,000-square-foot museum walks visitors through the French fur traders, and steam and sail-powered vessels and frigates.
Bridgeport Art Center
- Address: 1200 W. 35th St., Chicago
This massive, 500,000-square-foot building, once home to the Spiegel Catalog Warehouse, houses three distinct art galleries and two event spaces. Families can take art classes — both the adult oriented “paint and sip” variety as well as kid-friendly parties via Wet Paint Chicago. Or learn how to throw clay at the Chicago Ceramic Center, take a printmaking workshop or one of the other classes. Every third Friday of the month, the center hosts a 7-10 p.m. open studios event to meet painters, sculptors, woodworkers, fashion designers and photographers.
Zhou B Art Center
- Address: 1029 W. 35th St., Chicago
World-renowned contemporary artists Zhou Brothers, ShanZuo and DaHuang Zhoushi, who were given their own day (Oct. 16) in Illinois, own this art gallery and events space housed in an industrial space. Like the Bridgeport Art Center, Zhou B Art Center is open to the public every third Friday of the month with an evening reception from 7-10 p.m. hosted by resident artists and galleries. Expansive floors of eclectic artwork, including multimedia installations, and sculptures make this a popular spot.
Monastery of the Holy Cross
- Address: 3111 S. Aberdeen St., Chicago
This Gothic Revival style Catholic church was completed in 1909 as an early work of ecclesial German-born, American architect Hermann J. Gaul who designed several places on the National Register of Historic Places after apprenticing with Louis Sullivan. Benedictine monks run it now as a monastery open to visitors. Listen to the monastery’s choral group, Schola Laudis, perform Gregorian chants from centuries ago during its solemn vespers. (There’s no admission fee.) Or download their music from Amazon. Families and groups can stay overnight via the Guesthouse, which offers several types of accommodations including an entire apartment with off-street parking.
- Address: 3219 S. Morgan St., Chicago
This “experimental cultural center, visual arts and performance space” hosts screenings, festivals, exhibitions and presentations and performances inside its 2,600-square-foot gallery.
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