On Chicago’s South Side, quintessentially blue-collar Bridgeport is the city’s prime spot for catching a White Sox game, savoring a great taco or taking in the art scene. The Daley family’s storied neighborhood once had an Irish-only, outsiders-unwelcome reputation. Yet the enclave now ranks among the city’s most diverse, with a Buddhist temple alongside a Benedictine monastery, and Mandarin, Spanish and Korean often overheard. Turn-of-the-century buildings are now galleries and art studios, and a zinc-skinned boathouse by the notable architect Jeanne Gang added a buzzy spot for rowing or practicing yoga along the Chicago River in late 2016. These new additions seem only to enhance the area’s workaday character.
The chef Rick Ortiz made his name in hip Wicker Park with the original Antique Taco before returning in July 2016 to his local neighborhood to open this must-stop outpost in a former service station. The garage-style interior features a classic Farrah Fawcett poster and an old Marlboro sign. The patio seats 100-plus at picnic tables serving adult slushies and cocktails like horchata and rum.
1000 W. 35th Street; (773) 823-9410; antiquetaco.com
After refashioning their mother’s longtime tavern into sleek Maria’s Packaged Goods & Community Bar in Bridgeport a few years ago, brothers Mike and Ed Marszewski opened this fusion counter next door last year, slamming Polish and Korean elements from the chef Won Kim together in takeout boats. Foodies stream in for tasty items like krautchi, a kimchi-meets-sauerkraut pickling.
960 W. 31st Street; (773) 823-7336; kimskichicago.com
Bridgeport Art Center
Many one-of-a-kind works of art, such as glass beads by the Croatian artist Dobrila Pintar, can be found in this hulking former Spiegel warehouse. It now hosts 40 creative studios and a gallery, all framed by a dramatic sculpture garden. Last year, the complex added the fascinating Chicago Maritime Museum ($10 admission) abutting a bubbly creek, which flows into the Chicago River.
1200 W. 35th Street; (773) 247-3000; bridgeportart.com
Zhou B Art Center
This warehouse has served as an early neighborhood arts hub. The Chinese contemporary painter brothers ShanZuo and DaHuang Zhou claimed the space for artists in 2004. It features an expansive ground-floor gallery of the brothers’ bold, abstract canvases and studios on upper floors.
1029 W. 35th Street; (773) 523-0200; zhoubartcenter.com
The Polo Inn
This venerable kelly-green-and-white restaurant retains the Victorian molding of the candy shop it once was. Dine on “the Stockyarder” Angus steak under the chalkboard mural of the five Chicago mayors who’ve hailed from Bridgeport. The space also includes a bed-and-breakfast.
3322 S. Morgan Street; (773) 927-7656; thepoloinn.com
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