Chicago/Southwest Side

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

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Introduction

The Southwest Side of Chicago is far off the beaten path. Plenty of visitors know Midway Airport, but never see anything beyond. Truth be told, there isn't a lot to see. But the Southwest Side does hold some interest as the former home to the infamous Union Stock Yards, and a pretty long list of hidden culinary gems well worth the trek.

The Southwest Side is large enough where you cannot understand it without understanding its neighborhoods — it is united only by its blue-collar character, proximity to the airport, and of course, the White Sox.

The Back of the Yards is a loose term encompassing the community areas of McKinley Park, Brighton Park, and New City, referring to the area's history as the home to the vast hordes of immigrant laborers in the Union Stock Yards of Upton Sinclair's The Jungle. Though the stock yards are long gone, the blue-collar character remains. The actual stock yards were located in the heart of New City between Ashland Ave and Halsted from Pershing Rd (39th St) to 47th St. Today the site is marked by the Union Stock Yard Gate and a large industrial park. The area surrounding the park is comprised of predominantly Mexican-American neighborhoods and has some good food on offer. Canaryville (between Halsted and Wentworth from Pershing to 49th) is an Irish-American neighborhood with a notoriously violent reputation. McKinley Park, on the other hand, is experiencing gentrification as younger Chicagoans are priced out of "hipper" neighborhoods.

The massive meatpacking industry of the Union Stock Yards developed alongside the technological innovation of the refrigerated railway car. Livestock of the agrarian Midwest were brought to the rail hub of Chicago and its stock yards to be processed and shipped off around the country. At its peak, the Union Stock Yards processed about 82% of the meat consumed in the United States!

The stock yards played a huge role in the development of the city. With the enormous wealth they brought in came some of the world's first global companies, capitalizing on the abundance of animal byproducts for use in commercial goods and technological innovations in transport, refrigeration, and the beginnings of the assembly line. Even more important to modern-day Chicago, the yards gave birth to the modern hedging industry needed to manage the inherent risks in agricultural commodities trade, establishing Chicago as a premier world center for finance.

Further technological innovations, however, spelled doom for Chicago's centralized stock yards. The rise of interstate trucking and fast point to point shipping of meat allowed for livestock to be slaughtered where they were raised and then quickly delivered to consumers without the Chicago middleman.

Chicagoans don't lament the loss of the yards, regardless of the number of jobs they provided — the stench of manure and death was suffocating across the greater part of the city. And the environmental degradation cataloged by Upton Sinclair was extreme. The south fork of the Chicago River's South Branch (just west of Racine Ave) became known as Bubbly Creek for the methane and hydrogen sulfide gas, produced by entrails' decomposition, bubbling through the grease, chemicals, blood, and guts. It wasn't pretty.

Centered on one very large and fabulous park, Marquette Park is an ethnically mixed neighborhood divided between mostly African-Americans east of the park and Mexican-Americans immediately west of the park, along with some Polish and Lithuanian-Americans. Further west, the area becomes more ethnically inclusive, with median income playing a more prominent role in residency. Aside from the park (and its golf course), the neighborhood is alluring mostly for its great Mexican food, as well its rare-in-America Lithuanian dining. This neighborhood was once dominated by a big, wealthy, Lithuanian-American community, but its demographics began to shift dramatically following Martin Luther King Jr's anti-segregation marches (which at the time met with violence from residents). Accompanying desegregation in this neighborhood was characteristic "white flight," which put an end to the "Lithuanian Gold Coast" and heralded a more open neighborhood which recently has become a major destination in the United States for Mexican immigrants.

Around Midway, you'll find Chicago's second airport, surrounded by an ethnically diverse collection of neighborhoods. This section of town is home to a large, established Polish community, as well as more recently arrived Mexican communities. The neighborhoods of Archer Heights, Garfield Ridge, and Clearing are important centers of Polish culture in the United States; you are likely to hear as much Polish as English while walking around these neighborhoods. Polish Highlanders, or Górals dominate the local Polish population, with a unique cuisine and culture that is decidedly Balkan. A host of restaurants and cultural institutions visibly display the rustic touch of their Carpathian craft such as the Polish Highlanders Alliance of North America at Archer Ave just northeast of its intersection with Pulaski Rd. Points of interest are pretty spread out, but the food and nightlife sure beats the airport hotels. And you don't have to venture too far to find one-in-a-million pizza, or some Croatian baked goods.

In the southeast are a couple of far-flung African-American neighborhoods: Auburn Gresham and Washington Heights. Aside from the Obama family's now famous church, they have far less of interest to travelers, but both are nice enough neighborhoods and have some good places to eat if you find yourself in the area.

Englewood also deserves a mention, but mostly as a warning — it is a large, impoverished, and relatively violent neighborhood with just about nothing to offer a traveler. It is generally best to just roll through on one of the main roads (e.g., 55th St) or to avoid the area altogether.

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Sights and Activities

The one big sight on the Southwest Side is the Union Stock Yard Gate, and even that is a pretty small attraction for how out of the way it is. Other sights appeal to narrow sections of society. The Chicago Blues Museum has a magnificent collection for anyone interested in blues history, but it remains to be seen whether it will ever have regular hours. The Balzekas Museum is of obvious interest to Lithuanian-Americans, the Indian Building to Wayne's World fanatics and roadside kitsch-seekers, and the Archives to, well, archivists (and to those who want to trace their roots in the Midwest).

Balzekas Museum of Lithuanian Culture, 6500 S Pulaski Rd, ☏ +1 773-582-6500. 10AM-4PM daily. The Balzekas Museum has a fine collection of Lithuanian antiques, folk art, armor, coins, rare historical maps, amber jewelry, and other items exhibited chronologically. The center also includes a state-of-the-art audio-visual center and an impressive research facility for Lithuanian history and genealogy. And the gift shop is a great shopping spot for Lithuanian items. Adults: $9, seniors/students: $7, children: $3.
Capital Cigar Store Inc (The Indian Building), 6258 S Pulaski Rd. Forget the store, this place is famous for the giant stereotypical-looking Indian statue of Wayne's World fame on the roof. In the movie, his hand is raised in greeting, but he has an arrow through his back. More recently, however, the Midwest Eye Clinic has usurped the cigar sellers, and adopted the Indian as a billboard — the arrow is gone, he now wears large glasses, and bears an odd sign reading "Eye can see now."
La Lotería (4100 S Ashland Ave). The largest mural in the city (500 ft), painted by Hector Duarte and Mariah de Forest, on the south wall of the Swap-O-Rama building. You can't really see it from the street — you'll need to wander deep into the parking lot for a good look.
National Archives & Records Administration, 7358 S Pulaski Rd, ☏ +1 773-948-9050, fax: +1 773-948-9050, ✉ chicago.archives@nara.gov. M-F 8AM-4:15PM. The enormous Midwest branch of the National Archives is hidden away in the middle of nowhere, but its collection of records is enormous. The public has free and instant access to the census records, for those interested in their family genealogy, while historic federal documents are searchable only by researchers who have applied for a pass in advance.
Polish Highlanders Alliance of North America (Dom Podhalan), 4808 S Archer Ave, ☏ +1 773-523-7632, ✉ polishhighlanders1@yahoo.com. Tu-F noon-9PM, Sa-Su 11AM-9PM. This is the seat of Chicago's Polish Highlanders, or Góral community which dominates the Southwest Side's Polish population. The building, which also hosts a restaurant, is styled as a Carpathian chalet in the traditional Zakopane style of architecture, and is undergoing renovation under the eye of famed artist Jerzy Kenar.
Trinity United Church of Christ, 400 W 95th St, ☏ +1 773-962-5650. This large and influential church is a long-time pillar of Chicago's South Side, and the former home to one very famous congregant, Barack Obama, who here found his religion and was baptized. Trinity United, to the dismay of its congregants, rocketed to international infamy in the space of seconds during then Senator Obama's presidential campaign, when news outlets got their hands on a fiery sermon by the then pastor Jeremiah Wright. In the now famous clip, replayed endlessly for weeks across the cable news networks, Rev. Wright cried out, "God damn America!" The ensuing characterization of the church was hardly fair, with the short clip shown out of context, and the context itself being one very much alien to most Americans, who had not had any experience of the often radical social justice traditions of the African-American Church. In part because he was unhappy to see his former congregation harassed by reporters, and in part because his increasingly flamboyant pastor was continuing to embarrass and hurt his campaign, Obama left the church, allowing things to calm down over time, and for the congregation to get back to its purposes of worship and charity.
The Union Stock Yard Gate, 4200 S Peoria St. This limestone structure marks the entrance to the now defunct Union Stock Yards that dominated this section of Chicago (and the meatpacking industry of the country) in the late 19th-early 20th centuries. The current stone gate replaced an original wooden gate, designed by the legendary architect John Root, of Burnham and Root (who you'll know well if you read Devil in the White City). Look on the front of the gate for Sherman, a prize winning bull — the Second City's second most famous bovine, right on the heels of Mrs. O'Leary's Cow.
Stock Yards Firefighter Memorial (right behind the Stockyard Gate). The stock yards produced an awful lot of grease, with a good amount of chemicals added to the mix. Unsurprisingly, the place caught on fire now and then. In 1910, a particularly ferocious blaze took the lives of 21 firefighters on this spot, just behind the gate. The memorial is dedicated to all Chicago firefighters who have lost their lives to fires, 530 at the time of the dedication in 2004; their names are inscribed on the base.

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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 CTA Orange Line runs through the district on its way from the Loop, providing quick and easy access to Midway Airport, as well as some northern areas of the Southwest Side from the Loop, but keep in mind that a bus transfer will likely be necessary to get you from the L station to anywhere other than the airport. Travel time is about 25–30 minutes from the Loop to Midway, but you may wait up to 30 minutes between trains during off peak hours. Check schedules since Orange Line trains do not run 24 hours.

The CTA Red Line (as does the slightly less convenient Green Line) runs along the eastern boundary of the district. While it is fairly far from anything of interest on the Southwest Side, you'll find an east-west bus route picking up right in front of each station (except 69th St!), running the length of that numbered street (e.g., #55 along 55th St, #63 along 63rd St, etc.).

Metra's Rock Island commuter rail line serves the southernmost neighborhoods of the district, and can get you to Auburn-Gresham or Washington Heights. But you will need to take a bus from the station to your destination. Trains depart from the downtown LaSalle Station. A ride to the Gresham station costs just over $2, to Longwood or Washington Heights, just over $3.

The Metra Southwest Service goes straight from Union Station in the Near West Side to the Ashburn neighborhood, where it stops twice at "Wrightwood" and "Ashburn." Only take this train if you are going to Ashburn, not if you are going to the airport, as its stops are on the other end of the district. Saturday service is extremely limited and there is no Sunday service.

By Car

The Dan Ryan Expressway runs down the eastern edge of the district, and heading west on the 55th/Garfield exit will take you directly to the airport. To get to the Union Stock Yard Gate, take the Pershing Rd exit from the Dan Ryan. The Stevenson Expressway lacks exits on the main roads leading into the eastern parts of the area, but the Damen Ave exit will get you on Archer, from which you can easily get onto Western, Ashland, or Halsted. For Midway take Cicero; Pulaski is useful for exploring the areas just east of the airport.

By Bus

CTA bus route #62, which travels along Archer Ave from McCormick Center in the Near South to Midway, is probably the most convenient route into the Southwest Side from downtown Chicago. Other important routes include the city-spanning north south routes along Halsted, Ashland, Western, Pulaski, and Cicero: #8, #9, #49, #54, and #53. The major east west routes are #47, #55, and #63, which as you might expect run the lengths of 47th, 55th, and 63rd streets.

  1. 62 Archer is the one bus that runs directly from downtown to the Midway Area, but it doesn't stop at the airport (except during the overnight hours when the Orange Line 'L' is not running), so if you're coming from that way, the 'L' is a better option. From the West Side, there are convenient and direct routes along Cicero and Pulaski (#53 and #54). Bus route #55 is by far the best way to travel to Midway from the South Side, which leaves from the Museum of Science and Industry in Hyde Park.

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Getting Around

By Car

A car is a handy travel companion in the Southwest Side indeed. Attractions, activities, and restaurants are generally spread apart over long distances, and free on-street parking is available just about everywhere. Taxis are also a good option, but do not expect to be able to hail one off the street — you will need to call and arrange rides in advance.

By Public Transport

Pretty much the only way to get around the Southwest Side by public transport is by bus, but if this is the route you choose, make a point of it to plan your route ahead of time, as distances are fairly long and the bus routes generally only run along the main streets.

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Eat

The Southwest Side excels in three culinary areas: Mexican, Polish/Bohemian, and Chicago-style fast food. Avoid the airport hotel restaurants like the plague — there are far better (and more fairly priced) places to eat nearby. If you have a car, drop whatever you are doing and head down Pulaski Ave to Vito & Nick's for the "best pizza, anywhere." If stuck at the airport, Gold Coast Dogs will give you a bonafide Chicago Hot Dog.

Birriería Zaragoza, 4852 S Pulaski Ave, ☏ +1 773-523-3700. M-F 10AM-7PM, Sa 8AM-7PM, Su 8AM-4PM. This little South Side birriería has found itself featured in just about every major Chicago magazine and newspaper, and while this is surprising, it is not unwarranted. The birria tatemada on order is shredded goat, first steamed for hours and then oven roasted, coated with a mild mole sauce, served in tacos, or "en plato" in a tomato consommé. The owner is an artist first, business owner second, who has studied his narrow trade on a level unique in the city. $5-12.
Harold's Chicken Shack. The great South Side fried chicken chain is cheap, usually a little dirty, and always delicious. Crowded at meal times. $2-5.
La Cecina, 1934 W 47th St, ☏ +1 773-927-9444. 8AM-10PM daily. Come to La Cecina for la cecina — a Guerrero-style salt-dried steak that is rehydrated with a marinade and then grilled. But if you are less in the mood for culinary refinement, and more in the mood for bull testicles, well, you are in the right place. $4-14. edit
Lindy's & Gertie's, 3685 S Archer Ave, ☏ +1 773-927-7807. M-Th 10:30AM-10PM, F 10:30AM-midnight, Sa 11AM-midnight, Su noon-10PM. Who could go wrong with a South Side institution (since 1924) serving chili, ice cream, and beer? The interior is somewhat of a historic landmark, since it's barely been renovated since the roaring 1920s. $2-7.
Nicky's, 5801 S Kedzie Ave, ☏ +1 773-436-6458. M-Sa 10:30AM-12:30AM, Su 11AM-10PM. Nicky's is another one of those legendary South Side fast food institutions rich with local tradition and absent quality controls — for the real deal, you'll want to come to this one, the original. You'll never be starved for Chicago fast food options in this part of the city, but it's worth seeking out a Nicky's for a reliably great gyros or the legendary Big Baby. Whether Chicago came up with this double decker hamburger as a challenge for the invading Big Mac, or for its predecessor the Big Boy is uncertain. Either way the toasted buns, condiments on the bottom, and most crucially, Maxwell Street-style greasy grilled onions all add up to a tasty treat. (Alas, Nicky's hot dogs suffer from rumored estrangement from Vienna Beef.) $1-8.
Paletería Flamingo, 2635 W 51st St, ☏ +1 773-434-3917. 11AM-10PM daily (in theory). Endless (Mexican) flavors of ice cream and Italian ice to choose from — try horchata or maybe cinnamon-apple pie. $1-5.
Pticek & Son Bakery, 5523 S Narragansett Ave, ☏ +1 773-585-5500. Tu-F 4:30AM-6PM, Sa 4:30AM-5PM. A small Croatian bakery with a good range of unfamiliar treats (and some rather familiar, gooey chocolate chip cookies). 25¢-$4.
Racine Bakery, 6216 W Archer Ave, ☏ +1 773-581-2258. M-F 6AM-7PM, Sa 6AM-6PM, Su 6AM-5PM. A nice big crowded Lithuanian bakery, with all sorts of pastries, meat/potato pies, jams, mushrooms, juices, and anything else you are missing from Silesia. 25¢-$8.
Taquería Atotonilco #2, 1659 W 47th St, ☏ +1 773-247-5870. M-Th 9AM-1AM, F 9AM-3AM, Sa 8AM-4AM, Su 8AM-1AM. A mostly take-out taquería with a reasonably large seating section that cooks the real deal. $2-4.
Three Sons, 6200 S Archer Ave, ☏ +1 773-585-2767. 5AM-11PM daily. An affordable American diner, but since it's in the neighborhood it's in, the best options are in that little Polish section. Full bar. $3-8.
Windy City Hot Dogs, 4205 W 63rd St, ☏ +1 773-581-0332. M-Sa 10AM-10PM, Su 11AM-8PM. The place in the area to get your Chicago-style fast food: hot dogs and Italian Beef. $2-4.
Los Delfines Restaurant, 2750 W 63rd St, ☏ +1 773-737-4900. 10AM-8:30PM daily. Tasty Mexican food focusing on the seafood, with a full bar, open late. $9-14.
Los Gallos #2, 4252 S Archer Ave, ☏ +1 773-254-2081. M-Th 8AM-1:30AM, F Sa 8AM-3:30AM, Su 7AM-1:30AM. Deceptively appearing to be a small nondescript Brighton Park taquería, this place is actually a culinary find of the first order. Breakfast is good, so is the menudo, but the delicious specialty is the Jaliscan-style carne en su juego (roughly: steak soup). The steak is roasted separate from the broth, the boiled meat of which is discarded, and then joins a cornucopia of limes, bacon, beans, cilantro, onions, habanero peppers, and radishes. Unless you are planning to feed a family, get the smallest available portion, and make it clear that you want to eat here, not takeout. $3-12.
Giordano's, 6314 S Cicero Ave, ☏ +1 773-585-6100. Su-Th 11AM-11PM, F Sa 11AM-midnight. At the southeastern corner of Midway Airport, if you have a layover and want to try real Chicago pizza, take any bus south along Cicero Ave, or you could take a good walk, to the best Chicago chain around for stuffed Chicago pizza. $14-25.
Leon's-Bar-B-Que, 4550 S Archer Ave, ☏ +1 773-247-4171. Su-Th 11AM-10PM, F Sa 11AM-midnight. This is one of the city's favorite outposts of Leon's, a local BBQ chain that has fed hungry ribs-lovers since Leon Finney opened the first up in 1940. The links are incredible. $3-15.
Mabenka, 7844 S Cicero Ave (in Burbank), ☏ +1 708-423-7679. This is a good Polish/Lithuanian restaurant across from Ford City Mall. It is always packed, in no small part owing to its tremendously popular pierogies and kugelis. $5-12.
El Patio, 4527 S Ashland Ave, ☏ +1 773-847-2595. 8AM-9:30PM daily. Excellent food and warm, friendly service in this Mexican restaurant. The seafood on offer is especially good. $8-14.
Valentina's, 4506 W 63rd St, ☏ +1 773-284-5529. Su-Th 10AM-10PM, F Sa 10AM-midnight. This place, just a few blocks from Midway, serves wonderful taco platters. And the margaritas are just fine too. The decor is light and cheery, on-street parking is plentiful, and service is friendly, all making this a wonderful place to hang out, relax, and have some top-notch Mexican food. $8-15.
Vito & Nick's, 8433 S Pulaski Rd, ☏ +1 773-735-2050. M-Th 11AM-11PM, F Sa 11AM-1AM, Su noon-11PM. It's a quiet, family-style eatery with a few older patrons chit-chatting at the bar. Widely regarded on the South Side as serving the best thin crust pizza in the city; it bears the slogan "the best pizza... anywhere," and that may well be true — to be clear, this may be the best pizza in the world. The South Side accents are thick, the decor with its shag carpeted walls and Christmas lights is South Side chic in its purest form — this is an experience to be had. The sausage and giardinera is the classic order, it's cash only, and it sometimes closes early if things are slow. $6-15.

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Drink

The Southwest Side does not rank prominently in the minds of Chicagoans when they think of city nightlife, but there are a handful of worthwhile spots, with good live music.

Groucho's, 8355 S Pulaski Ave, ☏ +1 773-767-4838. M-F 2PM-4AM, Sa noon-5AM, Su noon-4AM; Kitchen open until 3AM. A decent South Side rock club featuring better-known local and regional acts. As an added bonus, the kitchen serves bar food all night. Admission: $5, entrees: $5-11.
InnExile, 5758 W 65th St, ☏ +1-773-582-3510. 8PM-2AM daily. Gay nightclub that attracts all sorts of people passing through next-door Midway with occasional live performances.
Linda's Lounge (Linda's Place), 1044 W 51st St, ☏ +1 773-373-2351. Blues: M 9PM-late. A small, cozy neighborhood dive bar offering live blues and soul on Mondays with L'Roy and Linda. The immediate area is a little rough, so make sure you have transportation lined up in advance. Trust in the address — there is no signage.
Natasha's Rome, 2441 W 69th St, ☏ +1 773-842-9816. M-F 5PM-2AM, Sa 5PM-3AM, Su 3PM-2AM. This is the nicest club in the Marquette Park neighborhood, with a laid-back bar on each of its two floors. Willie T performs live blues on Fridays, Sundays feature spoken word night, and the rest of the time there is a DJ spinning R&B and other pop music. Locals usually dominate the crowd, except on Fridays and Sundays.
Reese's Lounge (Burnside Lounge), 1827 W 87th St, ☏ +1 773-238-1993. 11AM-2AM daily. Live DJs W-Su, Sunday nights are all-jazz. Dress nicely, it's a swanky place. Dinners $5-6.
Tina's, 5440 S Narragansett Ave, ☏ +1 773-586-8767. M-Th 4PM-10PM, F Sa 11AM-11PM, Su 2PM-10PM. A divey neighborhood sports bar that rises above the crowd for its thin-crust and stuffed Chicago style pizzas. Otherwise, cheap drinks and free pool are the draws.
Tony O's Studio 31, 5147 S Archer Ave, ☏ +1 773-585-7512. Su-F 8PM-2AM, Sa 8PM-3AM. A bar/nightclub that is plenty friendly, packed on weekends, and miles away from the too-cool-to-sweat clubs downtown. No cover.
Touch of Class, 6058 W 63rd St, ☏ +1 773-586-8177. Su-F 9AM-4AM. A neighborhood pub just west of Midway that takes pride in turning off the ear-splitting music that kills conversation in bars across the city. The atmosphere is extremely friendly and laid-back (although Notre Dame games can enliven the place up a bit).

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Sleep

As it is an airport neighborhood, the Midway Area has a ton of hotels, which mostly fall in to two categories: bland, mid-range, three star business/airport hotels and cheap, but not seedy, motels.

Crossroads Hotel, 5300 S Pulaski Rd, ☏ +1 773-581-1188. Tattered but cheap. Just a couple blocks south of the Pulaski Orange Line station. Rooms from $50.
Mainway Midway Motel, 4849 S Cicero Ave, ☏ +1-773-735-0550. Another "tattered" budget option about a half mile north from Midway, an easy bus ride. Rooms from $52 Su-Th, $67 F Sa.
Skylark Motel, 5435 S Archer Ave, ☏ +1 773-582-2100. Slightly more expensive than the other budget motels, but the extra cost may be worth it — it is a step up. Rooms from $75.
Carlton Inn Midway, 4944 S Archer Ave, ☏ +1 773-582-0900, toll-free: +1-877-722-7586. A short walk (1.5 blocks) from the Pulaski L stop. Free airport shuttle, free parking, free internet, and free breakfast. Clean, comfortable rooms. $92-159.
Chicago Marriott Midway, 6520 S Cicero Ave, ☏ +1 708-594-5500, toll-free: +1-800-228-9292. A fine business hotel, albeit a small step down from the usual Marriot standards. $140-220.
Courtyard Chicago Midway Airport, 6610 S Cicero Ave, ☏ +1 708-563-0200. Renovated, but not quite as nice as the Marriott. $110-220.
Fairfield Inn & Suites Chicago Midway Airport, 6630 S Cicero Ave, ☏ +1-708-594-0090. This location is notably nicer than most Fairfield Inns, probably closer to a three-star than a two-star. Free wireless. $110-210.
Hampton Inn Chicago Midway Airport, 6540 S Cicero Ave, ☏ +1 708-496-1900. Renovated, bland three-star hotel. $130-240.
Hilton Garden Inn Midway Airport, 6530 S Cicero Ave, ☏ +1 708-496-2700. Three star hotel with free high speed wireless. $110-200.
Holiday Inn Express, 6500 S Cicero Ave, ☏ +1 708-458-0202. Probably the best option of the seven (although the differences between them are pretty slight), and has a curious New Orleans theme. $140-210.
Sleep Inn, 6650 S Cicero Ave, ☏ +1 708-594-0001. The most price competitive option in the hotel center has a few less frills, and like the others is a bit overpriced, but perfectly sufficient. And the continental breakfast is actually good (waffles!). $85-180.

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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.

Chicago/Southwest Side Travel Helpers

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This is version 5. Last edited at 12:15 on Sep 23, 19 by Utrecht. 1 article links to this page.

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