Chicago/Far Southwest Side

Travel Guide North America USA Midwestern United States Illinois Chicago Chicago/Far Southwest Side

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Introduction

The Far Southwest Side of Chicago is home to a large Irish-American community, a ton of Irish pubs, and even a replica Irish castle. Chicago's Far Southwest Side is absolutely not one of the city's main tourist attractions, but it does offer an interesting mix of South Side and Irish culture (i.e., the authentic Irish pubs are here). Until 2009, the area was a major international tourist destination on Saint Patrick's Day for its magnificent parade, the largest Saint Patrick's Day neighborhood parade in the world outside of Dublin. Today however, perhaps owing to a desire to avoid greatness and to become yet another boring, middling, mildly suburban area of little distinction, the neighborhood has decided to end the parade because it "had become something too big." There's still an Irish event or two worth seeking out, especially the Irish Film Festival, which runs five days strong in March at the Beverly Arts Center.

Beverly is the most distinctive of the Far Southwest neighborhoods and probably has the most to offer travelers. Here you will find Givens Castle, the Ridge Historical Society of Beverly and Morgan Park, and plenty of Irish pubs. You might want to visit just for a change in topography — Beverly is the only neighborhood in Chicago with hills, lending it the odd-sounding nickname Beverly Hills. Along with Morgan Park to the south, Beverly is one of Chicago's few racially integrated neighborhoods, with a sizable African-American minority living side-by-side with the neighborhood's large Irish-American community.

Mount Greenwood is a large middle class area of Chicago, home to many of the city's Irish-American firefighters and police officers and to St Xavier University. For those in search of an authentic Irish-American neighborhood, look no further. No tourists make it out here and the pubs will transport you straight back to the Emerald Isle.

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Sights and Activities

Givens Irish Castle (Beverly Unitarian Church), 10244 S Longwood Dr, ☏ +1-773-233-7080. Call in advance for hours. Certainly the oddest sight in Chicago's Far Southwest Side, this building is a replica of castle on Ireland's River Dee, built by a nostalgic and wealthy Irish-American for his fiancee in 1885. Today, the castle houses Beverly's Unitarian congregation and offers a yearly Halloween "Haunted Castle." Beyond the deliberate scares, the castle is purportedly haunted by an actual ghost: a young girl who used to live here. She tends to show up, wearing a long dress, during weddings or parties where alcohol is being served.
Ridge Historical Society, 10621 S Seeley Ave, ☏ +1-773-881-1675, ✉ ridgehistory@hotmail.com. Su-Th 2PM-5PM. This historical society focuses on the Beverly and Morgan Park neighborhoods and offers tours, assistance with area research, and small, thoughtful exhibits such as a costume room and a doll house collection.
Saint Xavier University Art Gallery, 3700 W 103rd St, ☏ +1-773-298-3081. M-F 10AM-5PM, Sa 10AM-3PM. A rotating gallery of works by professional artists.

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Events and Festivals

Holidays

  • New Year’s Eve - The US celebrates the outgoing of the old year and incoming of the New Year quite dramatically. Every state boasts its own parties to ring in the New Year, but none is more extravagant than New York’s Time Square, which sees people overflowing into the neighboring restaurants, bars, parks, beaches, and neighborhoods.
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day (officially Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. and sometimes referred to as MLK Day) is an American federal holiday marking the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. It is observed on the third Monday of January each year, which is around King's birthday, January 15. The holiday is similar to holidays set under the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. The earliest Monday for this holiday is January 15 and the latest is January 21. King was the chief spokesperson for nonviolent activism in the Civil Rights Movement, which successfully protested racial discrimination in federal and state law.
  • St Patrick’s Day - March 17 celebrates the US’s large Irish population. Many cities around the country boast boisterous parades and Irish-themed parties, especially New York and Chicago, where the river is dyed green. Be wary of the drunkenness that dominates as this is definitely a party-day.
  • Memorial Day - Memorial Day is an important holiday throughout the United States, but not for crazy festivities. Parades commemorating wartime heroes are often held and the day is also the ‘unofficial’ start of summer. Most visitors follow the crowds to parks and beaches, which are capped off with informal BBQs.
  • Independence Day - Also known as the Fourth of July, Independence Day celebrates the US’s break from the British during the 18th century. Barbecues, street parties, beach trips, and weekend getaways are commonplace to appreciate freedom.
  • Labor Day is a public holiday celebrated on the first Monday in September. It honors the American labor movement and the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, laws, and well-being of the country. It is the Monday of the long weekend known as Labor Day Weekend. It is recognized as a federal holiday. Beginning in the late 19th century, as the trade union and labor movements grew, trade unionists proposed that a day be set aside to celebrate labor.
  • Halloween - Halloween is a fun holiday on October 31 for all generations to dress up in costumes and relive their youth. Children walk around the neighborhood trick-or-treating for candy, while adults attend parties. Other seasonal events include haunted houses, pumpkin farms and carving, and corn mazes.
  • Thanksgiving - On the fourth Thursday in November, Thanksgiving is held in almost every home in the US. Tourists will have a hard time finding anything to do as the country essentially shuts down in observation. A typical Thanksgiving meal consists of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie commemorating the original Pilgrim’s feast at Plymouth Rock.
  • Christmas - On December 25, Christians celebrate Christmas as the pinnacle of their calendar by attending church and opening gifts from Santa Claus. Almost everything shuts down to promote family togetherness. The northern regions hope to experience a “white Christmas,” with trees and festive lights blanketed by snow.

Sport

  • Super Bowl Sunday - the world’s most watched sporting event and one of the highest grossing TV days of the year, Superbowl Sunday is a spectacular extravaganza. Held the first Sunday in February, the Superbowl is the final playoff game between the NFL’s top two teams. The venue rotates every year around America, yet the local parties seem to remain. Pubs, bars and restaurants are great places to enjoy the Superbowl or locals throw their own parties with different variations of betting.
  • The World Series is the annual championship series of Major League Baseball (MLB) in North America, contested since 1903 between the American League (AL) champion team and the National League (NL) champion team. The winner of the World Series championship is determined through a best-of-seven playoff, and the winning team is awarded the Commissioner's Trophy. As the series is played during the fall season in North America, it is sometimes referred to as the Fall Classic.

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Getting There

By Train

The Metra Rock Island line to Joliet passes through Beverly and Morgan Park. A one-way trip from downtown LaSalle Station to 103rd St will cost $3.75.

By Car

If you have a car at your disposal, use it. Chicago's Far Southwest Side is not well served by mass transit and parking is plentiful throughout the district. If coming from the north, take Pulaski Rd or Western Ave; both are major roads and will get you there quickly. From I-57, take either the US-1/Halsted Avenue exit south to 103rd St, or the 111th St exit. From I-294, the simplest route is to head north from the Cicero Avenue exit and then to turn right on 115th or 111th St.

By Bus

If taking the bus is an absolute necessity, then the best way to reach this area from the north is via CTA Route 49 (Western), with a transfer to Pace Route 349 (South Western) at 79th St. Route 349 will take you within walking distance of most attractions in the district. Do not take any routes running any east of Western, as they both end short of the district as well as run through some rough neighborhoods. All transit service in this area ends after midnight, so make sure you have enough money to get back via taxi (you will need to call for one) if you plan to spend the night at one of the neighborhood pubs.

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Eat

Best Bar-B-Q, 1648 W 115th St, ☏ +1-773-239-1522. Tu-Su 11AM-2AM, M 11AM-10PM. Friendly South Side carryout ribs and chicken joint. $3-6. edit
Beverly Bakery & Cafe, 10528 S Western Ave, ☏ +1-773-238-5580. Tu-F 5:30AM-4PM, Sa 7AM-5PM, Su 8AM-1PM; breakfast & lunch served until 3PM daily. This family-owned bakery is always a tasty place to stop by, but is an especially good stop around St Patrick's Day, when it offers various Irish treats.
Frank's Chicago Shrimp, 10410 S Kedzie Ave, ☏ +1-773-445-3100. Su-Th 11AM-9PM, W-Sa 11AM-10PM. A small hole-in-the wall with that has been serving Chicago-style shrimp, mostly for take-out, for decades. $3-5.
Grant's Wonderburger Grill, 11045 S Kedzie Ave, ☏ +1-773-238-7200. M-Sa 10:30AM-8PM. A family-owned local landmark serving burgers and curly fries since 1959. $2-5.
Harold's Chicken Shack #65, 11857 S Western Ave, ☏ +1-773-779-9911. Su-Th 11AM-2AM, F-Sa 11AM-4AM. The great South Side fried chicken chain is cheap, usually a little dirty, and always delicious. $2-5.
Janson's Drive-In, 9900 S Western Ave, ☏ +1-773-238-3612. M-F 10AM-10PM, Sa 11AM-10PM, Su 11AM-6PM. A classic, neon-adorned, drive-in fast food joint with great Chicago hot dogs. $2-5.
Lindy's Chili & Gertie's Ice Cream, 11009 S Kedzie Ave, ☏ +1-773-779-7236. M-Th 10:30AM-10PM. A chili and burgers joint sharing the space with a traditional ice cream parlor. $2-6.
Nicky's Yogurt Oasis, 10255 S Western Ave, ☏ +1-773-233-3072. M-F 10AM-10PM, Sa 10AM-9PM, Su 11AM-9PM. Beverly's top Chicago style grilled fast food option, with an extra dose of frozen yogurt and ice cream. It's a beloved shop, and it's almost always crowded. $2-5.
The Original Rainbow Cone, 9233 S Western Ave, ☏ +1-773-238-7075. usually 11AM-10:30PM daily. For over 80 years South Side families have enjoyed the rainbow cone, a five-flavored ice cream treat of chocolate, pistachio, strawberry, Palmer House, and orange sherbet. Open only March–Oct.
S & E Diner, 11117 S Halsted St, ☏ +1-773-785-5923. Su-Th 6:30AM-9:30PM, F-Sa 6:30AM-11:30PM. A tasty family diner serving southern/soul food amid Civil Rights era memorabilia. $3-7.
Top Notch Beefburger Shop, 2116 W 95th St, ☏ +1-773-445-7218. M-Th 8AM-8PM, F-Sa 7:30AM-8:30PM, Su closed. A south side burger institution since the 1950s with seriously juicy burgers made from quality beef. $2-8.
Fox's Beverly Pub, 9956 S Western Ave, ☏ +1-773-239-3212. M-Th 11AM-10PM, F-Sa 11AM-12:30AM, Su noon-10PM. A neighborhood Irish pub that is more of a restaurant than a bar, offering Irish and Italian food, as well as superb Chicago thin-crust pizza. $8-13.
Franconello's Italian Restaurant, 10222 S Western Ave, ☏ +1-773-881-4100. M-Th 11AM-10PM, F 11AM-10:30PM, Sa 3PM-10:30PM. An Italian restaurant serving hearty portions of solid (if a bit overpriced) food. $9-14.
Waldo Cooney's, 2410 W 111th St, ☏ +1-773-233-9781. noon-10PM daily. A quality pizzeria serving thin crust and stuffed Chicago pies. $7-18.

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Drink

A pint may be the number one reason to make the trek out to the Far Southwest Side. Chicago is a city full of fake Irish pubs, but the only ones where the clientèle and servers speak with a brogue are down here, mostly along Western Avenue.

Cork & Kerry, 10614 S Western Ave, ☏ +1-773-445-2675. M-F 2PM-2AM, Sa 2PM-3AM, Su noon-2AM. An unpretentious neighborhood Irish pub that doesn't serve food and has a great beer garden for the summer months.
Gilhooley's Grande Saloon, 3901 W 103rd St, ☏ +1-773-233-2200. M-W 3PM-11PM, Th-Sa 3PM-midnight, Su noon-8PM. A rather upscale, stylish, and attractive pub across the street from St Xavier's, offering a small selection of sandwiches and burgers to accompany a very large selection of drinks. Live bands perform F-Sa, while the neighborhood performs on open-mic Wednesdays. $5-8.
Jeremy Lanigan's Irish Pub, 3119 W 111th St, ☏ +1-773-233-4004. Su-F noon-2AM, Sa noon-3AM. Come here to drink and reminisce about the old country. This pub is frequented by Irish nationals and puts on amateur live Irish music F-Su.
Keegan's Pub, 10618 S Western Ave, ☏ +1-773-233-6829. M-F 2PM-2AM, Sa noon-3AM, Su noon-2AM. A friendly neighborhood pub that may well serve the best pint of Guinness in Chicago. It's also right next door to Cork & Kerry, so you can switch between the two if you're unsatisfied with the one.
Dubliner, 10910 S Western Ave, ☏ +1-773-238-0784. Su-F noon-2AM, Sa noon-3AM. Well, the name probably gives away that this is an Irish pub. It is very low-key and very popular with Irish immigrants. It's arguably the most authentic pub in the area, and is most certainly a dive.
Sean's Rhino Bar & Grill, 10330 S Western Ave, ☏ +1-773-238-2060. M-F 1PM-2AM, Sa noon-3AM, Su noon-2AM. More of a sports bar than the rest, but in this neighborhood everything pretty much winds up being an Irish pub. Live bands perform on Saturday nights.

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Sleep

Chicago's Far Southwest Side is a black hole as far as travel accommodations are concerned; if you are planning to stay in the area, you should try the Hilton just across the city boundaries in Oak Lawn, one of the Midway Airport-serving hotels in Bedford Park, or one of the many hotels by the Tri-State Tollway in Alsip.

Hilton Oak Lawn, 9333 S Cicero Ave, ☏ +1-708-425-7800. A fairly standard Hilton, which offers a free shuttle to Midway Airport. $141.

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Keep Connected

Internet

There is a very small internet bar/cafe culture in the USA. Even then most of the internet bars/cafes tend be located in major urban centers. Accessible WiFi networks, however, are common. The most generally useful WiFi spots are in coffee shops, fast-food chains, and bookshops, but also restaurants and hotels more and more have a network to connect on. Some of them might require you to buy something and you might need a password too, especially in hotels.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

The general emergency phone number is 911. The USA has a great landline phone system that is easy to use. The country code for the U.S. is +1. The rest of the telephone number consists of 10 digits: a 3-digit area code, and a 7-digit number. Any small grocery store or pharmacy has pre paid domestic or international phone cards. These phone cards are very cheap and offer good rates. The once ubiquitous pay phone is now much harder to find. Likely locations include in or near stores and restaurants, and near bus stops. The cellphone network in the states is slowly getting better but is still not as good when compared to other western countries. Cell phones tend to operate using different frequencies (850 MHz and 1900 MHz) from those used elsewhere in the world (2100 MHz). This used to prevent most foreign phones from working in America. Phones must be tri- or quad-band to work in the U.S. Fortunately, technology has meant that most phones should now be able to pick up one of the U.S. networks. Prepaid phones and top-up cards can be purchased at mobile phone boutiques and at many discount, electronics, office supply and convenience stores. A very basic handset with some credit can be had for under $40.

Post

The US Postal Service is a very good and well priced mail system. There are post offices in every small and large town for sending packages internationally or domestically. Although some might keep longer hours, most are open at least between 9:00am and 5:00pm. If wanting to send a letter or postcard it is best just to leave it in a blue mail box with the proper postage. First-class international airmail postcards and letters (up 28.5 grams) cost $1.10. There are also private postal services like FedEx, UPS, TNT and DHL, which might be better value sometimes and are generally very quick and reliable too.

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This is version 3. Last edited at 9:40 on Sep 24, 19 by Utrecht. 1 article links to this page.

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