NFT Chicago Bridgeport (East)

Bridgeport (East)

Bridgeport exemplifies how the "City That Works" actually works. The stomping grounds of the Daley family and de facto political center of the city, Bridgeport is also the quintessential Chicago neighborhood with its close-knit residents, legions of patronage workers, and distinctive "dese, dem, and dose" vernacular.

The South Side proves that you don't have to be glitzy to get the job done. Ditto for the much-maligned US Cellular Field, where pure baseball and terrific sight lines trump drunken revelry at crosstown Wrigley. Aside from ballpark fare, Schaller's Pump serves the best steak sandwich and hash browns in town.


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Posted By:  David Macey
Photo:  David Macey

All Star Stand
While the North Siders can brag about location and the endless stream of crappy bars outside their stadium, there is one very important thing they can never hold above their South Side counterparts: the food. Paying respect to the various ethnic groups which make up their fan base, The Cell is filled with Polish Sausage, Italian Beef, every type of Mexican food available (and even an ice cream parlor). All this variety has most people scrambling around between innings trying to taste the world in less than five minutes, but that leaves my favorite spot free and clear at all times. Nestled between sections 121 and 122, Minnie Minoso's All Star Stand sells just the essentials: jumbo kosher hot dogs fresh off the grill and Leinenkugel's Honey Weiss straight from the tap. While the rest of the 41,000 fans packed in the concrete mass that is U.S. Cellular Field meander through the cigarette butts and spilled MGD's you will be nestled safe in your seat, marking your scorecard and tasting the delicious brew that could only come from the Northwoods of Wisconsin.

Posted By:  Paul Barile
Photo:  Paul Barile

Pancho Pistolas
Eggs and beans. Need I say more? The combination of eggs and beans can strike fear into the heart of even the heartiest of eaters. That is unless that eater gets their eggs and beans from Bridgeport’s Pancho Pistolas. The casual little eatery serves up a variety of Mexican food including traditionally prepared steaks and other authentic specialties. While other restaurants (more famous—less quality) are trading your dinner dollar for the promise of an attractive waitress in a “hip” setting (and often falling short), Pancho Pistolas delivers on both promises with no pretense at all. The atmosphere is totally relaxed. Unlike many “hip” restaurants where you are barraged with images and sounds that clash with the food—Pancho Pistolas muted earth tones and Mexican art round out the meal perfectly. When the meal is eggs and beans—the place doesn’t have to be that fancy. Pancho Pistolas maintains a welcome level of causal and upscale, with reasonable prices.

Posted By:  Tina Fakhrid-Deen
Photo:  Tina Fakhrid-Deen

The artsy Mexican grill, Carbón, is the funky-fresh face of Bridgeport. Remember those sloppy, smelly, but delish elote (corn hash) from the little Mexican cart man? Well, here they serve elote in a classy little bowl and the taste is superb! The majority of the menu is pricey tacos ($2.25 w/o cheese) and gigantic burritos. Try the fish taco, a tortilla encrusted tilapia with a sweet lime sauce, and be sure to ask for extra sauce because they’re stingy with it. For a spin on a boring burrito, try a burrito bowl. This is the salad version of a burrito served with elote, beans, and your choice of meat in a flour tortilla bowl. Wash the meal down with Jarritos, a yummy fruit-flavored soda, or some refreshing Horchata, sweet rice water. For dessert, skip the flan and go straight for the chocolate quesadilla instead. This decadent treat is comparable to a gooey Nutella crepe. While the food is great, the place is a matchbox, seating only about 30 inside, so be sure to get there early. For those of you that like the echo of Dan Ryan traffic overhead, outside seating is also available. Screw the folks who complain that Carbón uses a gas grill instead of charcoal, like their namesake. Who needs charcoal if the food is good?

Posted By:  Paul Barile
Photo:  Paul Barile

Freddie’s is an enigma wrapped in Italian bread. On one hand—you probably won’t find a better pepper and egg sandwich within the city limits (unless your grandmother is cooking). On the other hand—the experience itself is kind of strange. The price on the printed menu doesn’t match the price on the light-up menu board. No matter, though, because they are going to charge you an all together different price at the register. To eat at Freddie’s is a lot like eating in the basement while your big brother and his friends are over. By that I mean you will be surrounded by a dozen or so Chicago police officers who are deeply engrossed in “Ugly Betty” and holding forth on all things Hayek. Having said that—the fries alone are worth the trip. The well-done French Fry is the Holy Grail of side dishes and there are few more crispy that Freddie’s. So, the good with the bad? Get that pepper and egg sandwich—and the well done fries and carry it home. At least you’ll be able to control the remote control.

Posted By:  Josannah Birman
Photo:  Josannah Birman

Tom Petty’s voice pours out of the jukebox while sports-crazed guys scope the play-by-play on their laptops. The smell of fresh tortillas permeates the air and Humberto Camacho, or H.C. for the gringos, hangs with regulars. You would never guess that when H.C. and his father Nicolas bought Gio’s in 1996 it was a dive bar with two tiny windows. H.C. pictured a typical American sports theme with the usual burger-based menu, but Nicolas opted for an authentic taquería to showcase family recipes. Both agreed the bar needed a make over so they put in huge windows, dug out the basement, added an outdoor patio, and installed free Wi-Fi for customers. The generations compromised on a cozy neighborhood spot with Mexican flair that serves everything from chicken wraps to tacos. Nicolas was right about the food so wait for the cook, Marcelino, to pump out quality Mexican staples like fajitas and flautas. H.C. runs the show on weekends and between shots of Patrón you can catch him dancing with his wife Gloria. If you’re around enough they might even divulge what makes the homemade salsa so irresistible besides being gratis.

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