Lincoln Park, River North, Wicker Park, Wrigleyville- these are some of the neighborhoods most people are familiar with when they think of Chicago. One neighborhood that isn’t the most well-known is Bridgeport.
For those of you aren’t familiar with Bridgeport, it is a neighborhood directly west of ICO. My first experience in Bridgeport came when I interviewed at ICO in the fall of 2014. My dad came with me to the interview and took me to the classy establishment of Maxwell Street Depot. Just kidding. It’s really not “classy,” but they do make delicious pork chop sandwiches, burgers, and hot dogs, are open 24/7, and are very inexpensive.
Throughout my first year, I visited this place frequently and discovered a couple more cool places to eat. Another one of my favorite restaurants in Bridgeport is called Bridgeport Restaurant (how fitting). I discovered it on a Saturday morning when the cafeteria at ICO was closed and a classmate and I really needed some food. We went, and decided that they make the best steak and eggs around. I wouldn’t consider myself a regular at this place, but I do eat there frequently.
Besides just restaurants, Bridgeport has a couple of cool coffee shops, too- ideal for studying when you want to get off campus, but not venture off too far. My favorite coffee shop is called Bridgeport Coffeehouse (again, how fitting). It’s a small coffee shop, but they make a good cup of coffee as well as specialty espresso drinks, smoothies, teas, sandwiches, and pastries. Another popular coffee shop in Bridgeport is called Jackalope Coffee & Tea House. I have never been to this one, but I know several of my classmates study there frequently on the weekends.
The opportunity was presented to me to live in Bridgeport for the summer. I can say, after living there for several weeks, that the neighborhood has a lot more than just good restaurants and cafes. Mariano’s is a great grocery store that isn’t as expensive as a Whole Foods, and has more options than a Jewel Osco. The Orange line is the most accessible line for locals. It is very convenient and can get me from my house to the Loop in about 20 minutes. I’ve gotten a hair cut at a place called Velvet Pin Up which offers a student discount. I have also had my bike fixed at Blue City Cycles for a reasonable price. All in all, it’s a quiet neighborhood with a lot to offer.
There are two downsides to Bridgeport. One is that it’s White Sox territory. Being a Detroit Tigers fan, this isn’t ideal for me. The other downside is that there isn’t a convenient way to get to the school other than by bus. For the summer, I can bike back and forth and this is great, but once school starts again, this isn’t something I would want to do. The best way to get around Bridgeport is by car.
My favorite aspect of Bridgeport is that it is away from the business of the city. While I love the wide variety of bars, restaurants, shops, and cafes around South Loop, River North, Lincoln Park etc, they are always so busy and can be quite expensive. Bridgeport might not be the biggest tourist attraction in Chicago, but it wouldn’t have the same appeal if it were.