Chicago's Bridgeport neighborhood, an industrial working-class area, is known as the home of the Chicago White Sox and the birthplace or residence of five of the city's mayors. However, it might not be the first area of the city to come to mind for good places to eat. That’s an unfortunate mistake. Foodie options range from fresh organic breakfasts to neighborhood pub food to some of the best pizza, pasta and sandwiches in the city.
Bridgeport’s food scene might not stick out as being particularly trendy, edgy or upscale in comparison to some other Chicago neighborhoods, but there’s no shortage of spots to quench your thirst or fill your belly with hearty Midwestern favorites.
Start your day with a stop at the hip Jackalope Coffee & Tea House, 755 W. 32nd St., with a cup of Joe, tea or a smoothie and a breakfast sandwich or pastry (baked goods — like maple bacon doughnuts — are delivered daily from Bridgeport Bakery) while taking in some of the funky surroundings and fun art.
Or just stick to your beverage at Jackalope and move on to Nana, 3267 S. Halsted St., for a meal at this family-owned, eco-friendly, mostly locally sourced, anti-artificial, beacon of organic wonder that gets most of its ingredients from a network of 30 partner farms. The inviting rustic space will pull you in and allow you to escape the hustle and bustle for a comforting meal featuring meats smoked in-house, olives and pickles brined in-house and from-scratch pastries and preserves. It was named as one of just 54 eateries to make the 2018 Michelin Bib Gourmand Guide — and it was Nana’s seventh appearance on the list.
Also having the honor of being a Bib Gourmand restaurant is Bridgeport’s The Duck Inn, 2701 S. Eleanor St., where you can experience a five-course tasting menu and you can down a Duck Fat Dog, served Chicago-style, of course, or a rotisserie duck. Dinner entrees include such delicacies as fois gras, escargot and Spanish octopus. But, if you want to fit in some more of what the neighborhood has to offer, you might stick to bar bites, like the cheese plate or duck wings to leave a little more room.
One other Bridgeport spot to have the Bib Gourmand designation is modern Asian favorite Han 202, 605 W. 31st St. If you want to stop in there, though, for the four-course prix-fixe menu, reservations are strongly recommended — and at $35, it’s quite a bargain.
More in the mood for some grub at a neighborhood pub? Hit The Ballpark Pub, 514 W. Pershing Road, which is fairly new to the area, open less than 18 months. It’s run by two buddies whose families have been running beer and food booths and catering inside the Sox ballpark since they were babies and the team was playing in the original Comiskey Park, so they know their food. Rotating specials includes pastas, sandwiches, entrees, pizza, salads and more, and wings are just 40 cents each. The cozy bar features about two dozen charging stations for phones and laptops along the counter, where you’ll find 16 beers on tap. Brisket and pork is smoked in-house, and they’re known for their signature pub burger. And of course, being in the shadow of Guaranteed Rate Field (it’s just three blocks away), it’s filled with several screens for watching baseball and other sports.
Another bar just a wee bit farther is Shinnick’s Pub, 3758 S. Union Ave. It's been in business since 1938 and located in a building constructed in the 1880s where you can relax with a pint before thinking about where to go for dinner. Also, take a little time between meals to peruse the gallery exhibits in the Bridgeport Art Center, 1200 W. 35th St.
Hungry again? Good. But you’ll have a hard time narrowing down where to go. A notable spot for Mexican cuisine is Pancho Pistolas, 700 W. 31st St. This contemporary eatery has been recognized by "190 North" and "Good Day Chicago" and named one of Chicago’s Best Mexican Restaurants by CLTV.
And one place you must hit, even if you are beyond full, is Ricobene’s, 252 W. 26th St. The breaded steak sandwich has been declared by a USA Today writer as the “Best Sandwich in the World,” and digging into one is life-changing. The restaurant has a lot of other items on the menu, including pizza, but having a breaded steak at Ricobene’s should be on everyone’s bucket list.
Speaking of pizza, you’ll find lots of it in Bridgeport. Indulge at Phil’s Pizza, 1102 W. 35th St., a mainstay in the area that has been serving classic thin crust since 1950, or at another longtime Italian eatery, Freddie’s, 701 W. 31st St., where you can count on not just good pizza but some pretty awesome sausage and beef, too.
Around since 1963, Connie’s Pizza, 2373 S. Archer Ave., offers pizza in several styles — thin, deep dish, original pan, stuffed, Sicilian pan and gluten-free. The menu also is full of Italian specialties, like chicken parmesan, Italian beef, chicken Vesuvio and its signature Tortellini alla Connie’s, served in a scrumptious Alfredo sauce that will leave you wanting to lick every last drop off your plate.
On your way out of the neighborhood, swing by Ferro’s, 200 W. 31st St., for some of its all-natural Italian ice made with fresh fruit for dessert. It offers some delightful seasonal flavors in the summer months that include watermelon, cantaloupe and mango.