So Good It Tastes Like Home

By Alina Panek

Alina Panek

Nuevo Leon Pastry Shop located near 18th and Ashland

Pilsen is a place not only to find colorful art but also vibrant Hispanic food.

The community members feel like the art inspires the food that the surrounding restaurants provide.

Yasmin Alvarez, 17, a lifelong resident of Pilsen, finds the art the most special aspect of the community

“[The art translates into the food by] the way the art expresses [itself], like the artist,” said Alvarez, a clerk at a family-owned Meztisoy Food Market.

She describes the local food as authentic but also addictive. Alvarez is a taco lover who cannot get enough.

“[My favorite food from Nuevo Leon is] the flautas. It’s good and it has chicken, and they’re wrapped in a tortilla then deep-fried,” Marrero said. “[The food is my favorite] because it’s homemade.”

There are dozens of authentic Mexican restaurants within the boundaries of Pilsen which are from 16th Street to the north, Cermak Road to the south, Halsted Street to the east and Western Avenue to the west. The neighborhood also has about a 43,000 population.

But not all believe that the restaurants are authentic in Pilsen. Gaby Rodriguez, 24, a receptionist at the National Museum of Mexican Art believes that some are Americanized.

For example, in some of the local restaurants like Taqueria Los Comales, the menus are written in both English and Spanish.

But immediately, the first example that came to mind for authenticity was Nuevo Leon. It is also her favorite restaurant with her favorite dish also being flautas de pollo.

The food also has the special ability of bringing people back home. Abel Sirngua, 57, a local ice cream vendor, agrees that the food around Pilsen is authentic.

“With all the food being made by hand,” Sirngua said, “it’s as if my mother is here.”

Alina Panek

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