We’ve been living on the Near West Side for just over 10 months. We’re close enough to Pilsen that it feels like we live just as much in that ‘hood as we do in University Village. (Plz don’t stalk me, K?) And to be honest, Pilsen has a bit more personality (and, uh, hipness, I’m not going to pretend it’s not hot / trendy / hipster / up-and-coming). This is basically my confession that I don’t actually live in Pilsen, even though I like to pretend that I do. I’m 500 feet from the neigborhood border.

However! These are some of my PIlsen favorites. Granted, we still have a lot of exploring to do! My Yelp bookmark list is quite long. But if you find yourself in or near Pilsen, you should check out …

Pilsen Yoga Tribe90 minutes of free yoga, Sundays at 10:30am in the recently restored Thalia Hall, led by the awesome Mariel. She leads a really great yoga practice. If you’re even remotely close to Pilsen and enjoy yoga, I highly encourage you to check it out! BYOM. (And let’s get brunch afterward at Dusek’s!)

pilsen-yoga-tribe-thalia-hall

Honky Tonk BBQThe food is delicious. The cocktails are strong and tasty. The decor … reminds me of my sister-in-law’s father’s house. He’s in his 70s and grew up in Texas. So … basically, it’s kind of hipster. But who cares, the food is great, and there is free entertainment Wednesdays – Sundays. Mostly live music, and on the 4th Saturday of the month, the live music accompanies burlesque.

Chocolat Uzma SharifThis is the most amazing chocolate I have ever consumed in my life. It’s pricey but so worth it if you like quality chocolate. Makes great gifts, or just eat it yourself.

Dvorak Park PoolI’m excited for summer because that means I can swim laps outdoors in an Olympic-length pool that has a view of the Sears Tower. AND the pool is in a park named for a great composer, so I can feel slightly fancy. Who cares if the pool house hasn’t been updated since … well, let’s just say you shouldn’t expect much privacy if you need to change pre- or post-swim.

dvorak-park-pool

Tamales: Before there were food trucks, there were street vendors. (And ice cream trucks, can’t forget the original food trucks.) If you see a lady in Pilsen selling tamales on the street, buy them, you won’t be disappointed. Likewise, if you go to the Pilsen Community Market, buy some tamales on the way out. I’m dreaming about them right now. I can’t wait for summer.

I realize that there are some glaring omission on this list. Because like I said, we still have exploring to do. We have yet to make it to the National Museum of Mexican Art, Second Fridays, or Redmoon. Also, my fave Mexican restaurant seems to be closed (not sure if it’s due to remodeling or permanent) and I have yet to find a new fave. And I think I have a favorite mural, but I haven’t seen them all. And I’ve been to a couple coffee shops, but not all of them. And there were other places that I really like but didn’t make this list. So stay tuned for Pilsen Faves, Part Two! It’s a great ‘hood, with lots to offer!

Have you been to Pilsen? What’s your favorite restaurant/shop/thing to do?