Lower West Side, Chicago Places

Part of our Chicago travel guide; our list of the best things to see in Lower West Side, including National Museum of Mexican Art, Lawrence's Fisheries and Saint Mary of Perpetual Help.
  • The best place in Lower West Side Chicago: National Museum of Mexican Art

    National Museum of Mexican Art

    1852 W 19th St
    A lovely, small gallery full of vibrant colors and well-curated installations focused on understanding Mexican as well as Mexican-American history and culture through art. The museum serves as the center of the annual Day of the Dead celebration in the fall — this is a great time to visit to see all the brightly painted, skull-filled, and often humorous Ofrendas.
    Lower West Side food nearby
  • Lawrence's Fisheries

    Lawrence's Fisheries

    2120 S Canal St
    It's amazing that this place exists so close to downtown. It's fried fish heaven with frogs legs, $1.45 clam strips, 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.
    Armour Square
  • Saint Mary of Perpetual Help

    Saint Mary of Perpetual Help

    1039 W 32nd St
    Another massive, opulent church of the Polish Cathedral Style, built in 1882.
    Bridgeport restaurants nearby
  • Scoops


    608 W 31st St
    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 cannoli.
    Armour Square
  • Maria's Packaged Goods and Community Bar

    Maria's Packaged Goods and Community Bar

    960 W 31st St
    Su-F 11AM-2AM, Sa 11AM-3AM. Longtime Chicago scenester Ed Marszewski and his brother Mike have re-launched their mother's stalwart bar and liquor store as a community bar. Expect regular performances from 90s no-wave and post-rock bands, electronic artists and performance artists. Ed's connections to the art scene are broad and deep (he's thrown parties at venues ranging from warehouses to the MCA), so the entertainment should be good.
  • Bridgeport Coffee Company

    Bridgeport Coffee Company

    3101 S Morgan St
    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 and some excellent loose-leaf teas. Free wireless, live jazz on Sundays, and live blues on Wednesdays.
  • Gio's Cafe & Deli

    Gio's Cafe & Deli

    2724 S Lowe Ave
    Some of Chicago's best Italian 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.
    Armour Square
  • Nightwood


    2119 S. Halsted St.
    M-Sa 5:30PM-11PM, Su 9:00AM-2:30PM. $9-25. Sister to the popular Lula Cafe (in Logan Square), Nightwood has a seasonal menu featuring many local ingredients and extensive wine list.
    Lower West Side
  • Honky Tonk Barbeque

    Honky Tonk Barbeque

    1213 W. 18th St.
    Tu-F 4PM-2AM, Sa 4PM-3AM, Su 12PM-2AM; kitchen closes at 11PM. $10-16. Exactly what it sounds like — the speakers deliver honky tonk music, while the kitchen serves pulled pork sandwiches, beef briskets, rib tips, and cornbread. There's a full bar as well, with live music on Thursdays and weekends.
    Lower West Side
  • EP Theater

    1820 S Halsted St
    Check website for schedule. Most shows $15. Not easy to reach — the address says Halsted, but the entrance is behind the building, where the ramshackle exterior reveals a lovingly renovated theater space. Alone amid the row of art galleries, the EP Theater is an intimate (fifty seats), risk-taking showcase for new work by Chicago playwrights.
    Lower West Side food nearby
  • Black Cloud Gallery

    1909 S Halsted St
    Though new, this gallery has a talented group of artists behind it, mostly featuring original visions of urban landscapes.
    Lower West Side eat nearby
  • Biblioteca Popular del Barrio

    1921 S Blue Island Ave
    Donations accepted. Biblioteca Popular is an autonomous community operated library and art space. As well as providing access to underground, radical, and self-published literature, it is meant to be a safe space for the young and elderly, families, people of color, womyn, queer and trans folk, undocumented immigrants, and working class peoples.
    Lower West Side restaurants nearby
  • Deliciously Vintage

    1747 S Halsted St
    Great clothes boutique filled with colorful and unique visions of the future as seen from the past.
    Lower West Side
  • Knee Deep Vintage

    1425 W 18th St
    M-Th 11AM-7PM, F-Sa 11AM-9PM, Su 12PM-6PM. Wide selection of vintage apparel spanning several decades for reasonable prices.
    Lower West Side
  • Mole de Mayo

    1800-1820 S Paulina
    An annual mole cook-off and outdoor festival at the beginning of May.
    Lower West Side restaurants nearby
  • Dream Theatre

    556 W 18th St
    Dream Theatre Company presents theatrical productions with a unique style and intensity, providing a multi-layered psychological experience quite unlike any other in Chicago. Voted Best Off-Loop Theatre Company of 2010 by the Chicago Reader.
    Lower West Side food nearby
  • Harrison Park

    1824 S Wood St
    If you have kids in tow and they've been patient through the National Museum of Mexican Art (or they need to burn off some energy before going in), you might reward them with some monkey time right next door at Harrison Park, which has a big playlot with swings, slides, jungle gyms and more.
    Lower West Side eat nearby
  • Chicago Arts District

    1821 S Halsted St
    This information center is located in the midst of things at 18th and Halsted, but it's generally only open to coincide with the 2nd Fridays Art Walk, so a stop to gather event cards at Kristoffer's Cafe (see Cafes) will be more informative on other days.
    Lower West Side restaurants nearby
  • St. Procopius Church

    1641 S Allport St
    This towering stone church was built in 1883 for Czech Catholics in the area. Today, it's impressively weathered and gloomy from the street, but bright and austere if you manage a peek inside. Masses are held in English, Spanish, and Croatian.
    Lower West Side food nearby
  • Antena

    1765 S Laflin St
    By appointment. Free. Showcasing contemporary art, new media and installation projects. Openings every month.
    Lower West Side eat nearby
  • 23rd Atmosphere Group Gallery

    1907 S Halsted St
    It's shame this gallery is only open one day per week, because there's often interesting things to be seen here, from paintings and mixed-media to armadas of miniature sculptures.
    Lower West Side restaurants nearby
  • Under the Wire

    2210 S Halsted St
    W-F 11AM-6PM, Sa 10AM-5PM. Intriguing jewelry and ceramics a couple blocks south of the East Pilsen galleries, worth a browse even if you're not planning to buy anything.
    Lower West Side
  • Efebina's Cafe

    Efebina's Cafe

    1640 S Blue Island Ave
    M-F 9AM-9PM, Sa 9AM-5PM. $2-6. Spacious and well lit coffee shop that offers a nice alternative to the often cramped Cafe Jumping Bean. You can buy a single cup of coffee or homemade soup and sit for hours using their Wi-Fi. They have a wide variety of salads and sandwiches, and plenty of couches to park yourself in. The walls double as exhibition space for local artists.
    Lower West Side
  • Pleasant House Bakery

    Pleasant House Bakery

    964 W 31st St
    Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/PHBakery
  • Cafe Jumping Bean

    Cafe Jumping Bean

    1439 W 18th St
    M-F 6AM-10PM, Sa-Su 7AM-7PM. $2-6. Reputation has it that this is Chicago's warmest and most inviting neighborhood coffee shop. It certainly lives up to the name: tiny, and always jumping with people.
    Lower West Side
  • Ed's Potsticker House

    3139 S Halsted St
    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.
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EDIT THIS ITINERARY Our list of places in Chicago uses some content from Wikipedia and Wikivoyage.