Month: August 2019

Pilsen Murals

Mini Tour Before Dinner:

Pilsen has always been a neighborhood of immigrants. The Irish arrived in the 1840s to do the back breaking work of building canals, roads and railroad tracks. They were followed by waves of immigrants from Germany, Czechoslovakia, Poland, and Italy, among other places. The Czech population dominated, as thousands fled the Austrian Empire seeking political and religious freedom. A popular, nostalgic Czech Bohemian hangout, a restaurant named At the City of Plzeň, gave the neighborhood its name.

Pilsen’s current dominant immigrant culture is Mexican and this influence is what gives the area its charm. Colorful Murals are everywhere. Our highlight to tour before dinner is the wall of Murals along the railroad embankment between Halsted and Ashland called the 16th Street Murals.

This is a memorial to Marlen Ochoa-Lopez and her baby son who were brutally murdered earlier this year.

This is a one mile stretch to meander. You can drive, stop and look closer as different paintings catch your eye. It is easy to pull over and park along the side of the road as you drive down it. If you are really organized, you can Google “16th Street Murals Pilsen” or “Pilsen Murals” and find an abundance of articles and videos about the murals, their history and information about the artists. I included the location of some of our favorites on the map. 


Some are whimsical. Love the feet hanging out of the books!
These must be the ghosts of the Eastland Disaster, where 844 people died when a boat tipped over on the Chicago River in 1915.

The murals and sights around the community reflect the culture of its Mexican residents, but our dinner choice is clearly a symbol of the encroaching gentrification in the neighborhood. We chose Monnie Burke’s (1163 W. 18th Street) for its large outdoor patio. We should mention the food is fabulous, always well prepared and lives up to its description on the website:

“Monnie Burke’s serves New American plates and inventive craft cocktails in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago. The elegant and spacious interior is accompanied by one of the largest patios in Chicago, which is privately tucked between buildings. The menu utilizes seasonal ingredients to create bold and unexpected flavors, and the cuisine is complemented by a thoughtfully curated and ever-rotating craft beer, wine and cocktail list.”

But when it’s warm in Chicago…. it’s all about the patio.