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USA: Chicago Neighbourhoods

Exploring Chicago’s Hermosa Neighbourhood

by Bob Glaze

Hermosa is a Chicago neighborhood on the northwest side, west of Logan Square, with the boundaries generally south of Belmont, east of Kenton, north of Courtland and west of Pulaski.

The area includes the birthplace of Walt Disney and is the former headquarters of the Schwinn Bicycle Company. The area was originally populated primarily by Germans, Scandinavians with newer groups of Poles, Hungarians, and Austrians. Today it has grown to be more than two thirds Hispanic with immigrants from Puerto Rico, Mexico, Guatemala, Ecuador and Venezuela. The bulk of the residents are from Mexico and Puerto Rico.

This can be seen in the diverse mix of the small markets, shops, cafes and restaurants along the main corridors. I loved the feel of the neighborhood and the friendliness and kindness of everyone I met. It made me feel like I was back in San Miguel Allende, MX. When I was exploring on a hot Saturday afternoon and evening in August, there were a number of local block parties happening with activities for local children and large groups of locals dining on the street together.

On my first visit I focused on West Armitage. I hope to go back and explore other spots on West Fullerton. My recommendations to visit include:

Right Bee Cider: At 1830 N. Kostner in the former Schwinn Bicycle factory. They make and distribute their ciders onsite, and in addition, there is a tasting room so you can try their ciders along with cocktails, using their products, and with guest beers. Currently they make eight ciders. I particularly liked the Blossom 6% which was light and refreshing on a hot night. It is made with cherry blossom, lemon myrtle and rooftop honey. It is operated by Charlie Davis and his wife Katie Morgan.

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Right Bee Cider
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Right Bee Cider

Central Bakery: This local bakery has a large number of pastries, breads, sweet breads, cookies and sandwiches. You can buy flan and tres leches cake, which are two of my favorite desserts! The flan was very tasty and the staff was delightful. Remember, in a Mexican bakery you grab a metal tray and a set of tongs and help yourself. 4348 W. Armitage.

Rica Arepa: Located at 4253 W. Armitage is this popular Venezuelan spot operated by husband-and-wife owners Kharim Rincon and Maria Uzcategui. The menu is extensive. You can feast on more than two dozen varieties of arepas or light corn cakes that they crisp on the griddle and stuff with meats, cheeses, and other fillings. The most popular “Pabellon” features shredded beef, black beans, plantains, and cheese, but there are plenty of options for vegetarians too. There are also empanadas and Venezuelan-style burgers. This was my first exposure to Venezuelan food, so I had to try the Pabellon. I thought it was really excellent. I also loved the Rompe Colchon & Toson made with plantains and shrimp ceviche. There is a lovely outside patio for summer dining. I hope to try their Lakeview location 2913 N. Lincoln.

Xurro Churro Factory: I love churros, fried dough, and had to stop in at their location at 3755 W. Armitage. In addition to churros, they have coffee, Mexican hot chocolate, horchata, funnel cakes, ice cream and milkshakes. I loved the traditional churro rolled in cinnamon sugar.

Guadalajara Bakery:  This is a small Mexican bakery offering bread, sweet pastries plus a selection of sandwiches. I enjoyed the pecan and coconut cookies that I bought. 4014 W. Armitage

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Guadalajara Bakery

Salty Sweet: I went to Salty Sweet after seeing it on the neighborhood map. Located at  4459 W. Armitage, this is a small, colorful cafe. They have a large menu of sandwiches, crepes, waffles, pancakes, milkshakes and smoothies. I thought the cafe con leche salty sweet latte was a great choice.

Latino Plus: Owned by the familia Rivera, this is a small, colorful shop selling flowers, sweets, religious statues, stuffed animals and teddy bears and gifts; 4208 W. Armitage

La Michoacana Frutileta #2: This is a recently opened shop selling ice cream and paletas. Paletas are Mexican ice pops containing fresh fruit, juices and flavorings. The coconut ice cream was refreshing on a hot August night. They have an outside patio on the west side. 4058 W. Armitage.

Las Delicias de Puerto Rico. Recommended by the staff at Salty Sweet, this is a casual Puerto Rican restaurant west of Salty Sweet at 4821 W. Armitage. The menu features traditional Puerto Rican meat and seafood entrees, corn fritters, tostones or fried plantains and sandwiches.

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