Most corn muffins accompany a hearty southern meal, but at Xtra Good Corn Muffins, they are the meal. Whipped up according to an old family recipe, each muffin is then stuffed with mouth-watering combinations including jerk tilapia with red beans and rice, Vienna beef hot dogs and cheddar cheese, or macaroni and cheese with battered crispy chicken. Sweet options such as peach- and blueberry-stuffed cornbread muffins and red velvet pancake minis also dot the menu, as do lemonades flavored with strawberries, kiwis, and peaches.
“If you have a Mexican grocery store near you, the taquería that’s inside is really a good bet” noted Rick Bayless on a Time Out Chicago tour of his favorite Mexican spots in Pilsen. The taqueria in question was Restaurant La Casa Del Pueblo––located across from the grocery that shares its name––, a place Bayless praised for it’s “super homey” eats. TimeOut seems to agree, calling the eatery’s tamales “incredible” and “tender” in a separate review. All of the authentic northern Mexican recipes served here—tacos, tortas, burritos, twice-baked piñata—have been perfected by the owners, a family that has run the restaurant since 1962. To accompany the spicy menu, patrons can bring their own beverages or keep the authentic tastes coming with a cup or horchata or Mexican hot chocolate.
An integral spoke in the wheel that is Pilsen’s art scene, Café Jumping Bean is much more than a coffee shop. It’s a collaborative effort that unites the local community through strong coffee drinks and compelling artworks. One part café and one part gallery, Jumping Bean hosts an eclectic crowd of regulars who come to fill up on focaccia pizzas and garden burgers or admire the rotating exhibits displayed on the brightly colored walls. No matter where one looks, one is confronted with a wealth of sensory stimuli—from tables hand-painted by local visionaries such as Guillermo Delgado to a mural of shaving cream left over from the space’s previous life as a barbershop.
At Chimichurri, chefs marinate succulent cuts of steak and chicken and grill them in the traditional Argentinian churrasco style. Diners can get their steak topped with green and red peppers or a pair of eggs, sunnyside up. The restaurant also serves up pizzas, fresh salads, and entrees made with homemade flat noodle pasta and flavored with pancetta, bacon, and red peppers. Handheld snacks include the milanesa sandwich, which is stuffed with breaded steak and onions, or the choripon??Argentinian sausage seasoned with chimichurri sauce and served on a warm roll. After a spicy meal, you can cool your tastebuds with a scoop of the eatery's housemade gelato.
Tucked within the Pilsen neighborhood, Efebina's Café inhabits a historic building that was recently rehabbed both inside and out. The now welcoming storefront makes way to a cozy and modern interior displaying local art on its walls and tasty treats on its tables. Their drink menu boasts hot and cold coffees, as well as sodas, juices, and smoothies. The food menu keeps hunger at bay with breakfast items, sandwiches, and pastries. The café is gathering place for study groups, music nights, and other events, accommodating up to 150 people or 150 adult-sized mannequins.
Ciao Amore's chefs pile its menu with house-made pastas soaking in italian sauces. The gnocchi ripieno envelops a gooey mélange of asiago, pesto, and ricotta and swims, like ancient Italian Olympians, in a creamy spinach and parmigiano sauce ($17.95). In the petti di pollo porcini, chicken breast sautés in a porcini mushroom wine sauce before sharing a plate with cheese ravioli ($18.95). Chefs prepare the ossobuco authentico beef shanks in ragú with tomatoes imported from Bacchus's victory garden, and accompany it with a side of pasta ($22.95). Desserts, including spumoni and tiramisu, add fluffy sweetness to saucy meals ($5.50).