By Bob Glaze
As Hispanic Heritage Month ended yesterday, I wanted to share my recent visit to the Hermosa neighborhood of Chicago, on the northwest side, west of Logan Square, with the boundaries generally south of Belmont, at 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 mainly by Germans, Scandinavians with new groups of Poles, Hungarians and Austrians. Today it has become more than two-thirds Hispanic with immigrants from Puerto Rico, Mexico, Guatemala, Ecuador and Venezuela. The bulk of the residents come from Mexico and Puerto Rico.
This can be seen in the variety of small markets, shops, cafes and restaurants along the main corridor. I loved the vibe of the neighborhood and the friendliness and kindness of everyone I met. 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 several local block parties with activities for local children and large groups of locals dining together in the street.
On my first visit, I focused on W Armitage. I hope to return and explore other spots on W. Fullerton. My recommendations to visit include:
Straight bee cider: At 1830 N. Kostner in the former Schwinn Bicycle factory. They make and distribute their ciders on site, plus there’s a tasting room so you can try their ciders 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 blossoms, lemon myrtle and roof honey. It is operated by Charlie Davis and his wife Katie Morgan.
Central Bakery: This neighborhood bakery offers a large number of pastries, breads, brioches, cookies and sandwiches. You can buy flan and tres leches cake, which are two of my favorite desserts! The staff were lovely. 4348 O.Armitage.
Rica Arepa: Located at 4253 W. Armitage, this popular Venezuelan spot is 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 stuffed with meats, cheeses and other fillings. The most popular ‘Pabellon’ includes shredded beef, black beans, plantains and cheese, but there are plenty of options for vegetarians as well. There are also empanadas and Venezuelan-style burgers. It was my first exposure to Venezuelan food so I had to try the Pabellon. I thought it was excellent. I also loved the Rompe Colchon & Toson made with plantains and shrimp ceviche. There is a lovely outdoor patio for summer dining. I hope to try their Lakeview 2913 N. Lincoln location.
Xurro Churro Factory: I love churros and had to stop by 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, pastries and a selection of sandwiches. I enjoyed the pecan and coconut cookies I purchased. 4014 W.Armitage
Salty Sweet: I went to the Salty Sweet after seeing it on the neighborhood map. Located at 4459 W. Armitage, this is a colorful little cafe. They have a large menu of sandwiches, pancakes, waffles, pancakes, milkshakes and smoothies. I thought the salty sweet latte cafe con leche was a great choice.
Latin More: Owned by the familia Rivera, this is a colorful little shop selling flowers, candies, religious statues, stuffed animals and teddy bears and gifts. 4208 West Armitage
The Michoacana Frutileta #2: This is a newly opened store selling ice cream and paletas. Paletas are Mexican popsicles containing fresh fruit, juices and flavorings. The coconut ice cream was refreshing on a hot August night. They have an outdoor patio on the west side. 4058 West Armitage
Las Delicias of 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 dishes, corn fritters, tostones or fried plantains, and sandwiches.
I hope you enjoy the neighborhood as much as I do!
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