City Cast

Get to Know Pilsen

Sidney Madden
Sidney Madden
Posted on May 24   |   Updated on June 5
Three people dance outside in a park

Tanya Lozano, center, at the 2021 Black & Brown Unity Fest in Pilsen’s Dvorak Park. (Jacoby Cochran / City Cast Chicago)

Street fest season is upon us, and you might find yourself in Pilsen for a few fests this summer, including Mole de Mayo this weekend.

A couple miles southwest of downtown, Pilsen has long been home to working-class immigrants. Mexican families settled in the area in the ‘50s and ‘60s, some of whom were displaced from nearby neighborhoods to make room for the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Today, as the area is being gentrified, activist Tanya Lozano is looking out for longtime residents. The Healthy Hood founder showed the City Cast Chicago podcast her fav spots.

Something to eat: “My favorite restaurant of all time in Pilsen is La Casa del Pueblo. It's cafeteria style and it's these older, middle-aged Mexican women who serve you. If you go enough, they'll know you by name. Feels like home. Smells like home. Sky is a fine dining restaurant. If you wanna go on a fancy date, you’d find anything from short ribs to calamari.”

Something to see: “Murals everywhere you go in Pilsen are absolutely beautiful. There are murals that have been here since before I was born. Some have been retouched, but they tell the history of organizing.”

Something to do: “Obviously Healthy Hood because we have a ton of programming: open mics, pop-ups, a recording studio, dance classes, nutrition classes, and family karate. There's never a moment where it’s empty.”

Map of Pilsen

Boundaries of Lower West Side (Google Maps)

Other Pilsen fests you might attend this summer? Miche Fest in June, Tacos y Tamales in July, and Fiesta del Sol in August.

Hey Chicago

Want to know what's happening in Chicago? Sign up for our free newsletter, Hey Chicago. Packed with local news, curated event recs, local life hacks, and more, it's your daily toolkit for getting the most out of the city you love.