What do you know about Bridgeport? Hopefully a lot, and, if not, it's time to change that. The near South Side neighborhood has a lot of history and tradition, evident in some excellent old school restaurants, particularly hot dog stands. But there are also some new and exciting spots that have come to the neighborhood and are just as good as anywhere else in the city.
Here's where to eat in Bridgeport.
Brigeport might not be the most likely spot for authentic Mediterranean, yet here we are. You don't expect to find Michael Jordan in Looneyville either but sometimes you get sucked underground after making a hole-in-one and just go with the flow. Pop into Zaytune for takeout or a casual meal, and stick to the classics like schwarma sandwiches or plates, hummus, and falafel.
An Italian restaurant inside a small market. As in there are literally checkered tables in the middle of the room surrounded by groceries. Pop in and grab some groceries and a sandwich from the deli, or take a seat and order a more substantive meal. Stick to the Italian classics for a lot of simple Italian food at a reasonable price.
Morrie O'Malley's is one of the more family-friendly hot dog stands you'll find around town. That's mainly because there are a few tables to sit at outside and because they serve soft serve ice cream. The kids love the ice cream. We also love ice cream, which might explain why we're basically large children.
Calling your restaurant Nana comes with added expectations - it has to be a friendly, family-oriented, feel-good place that makes you think of grandma serving cookies. And Nana's in Bridgeport has all of those things covered. It's typical American food with elements of Latin American and Mexican cuisine sprinkled throughout it, just like the family who runs the place. Try the Nanadict at brunch, which uses pupusas instead of English muffins and is topped with chorizo and poblano cream.
Han 202 is a Chinese fusion restaurant, but it's a unique one. At Han, you'll get a four course prix-fixe menu for $35, but there are plenty of interesting options and combinations that are all beautifully plated. Try entrees like a more typical general tso's chicken, or something a little different like a rack of lamb with bonito plum sauce.
If you’re unfamiliar with Maria’s, it’s been the neighborhood favorite liquor store and tavern hybrid in Bridgeport for a long time. But they recently bought out the space next door and turned it into Kimski, a Korean-Polish restaurant and bar that’s much more modern-industrial looking with a nice little patio out back. Sound like a lot going on? It is. But trust us this is the perfect place to have some cheap eats and drinks, particularly the kimchi poutine.
A typical, casual Italian restaurant that's been around for a while in Bridgeport. It's gone through a redesign, though, to make it a little bit nicer and modern inside. You could argue that might have messed with the nostalgia factor, but they did a good job keeping the overall feeling. The menu is full of familiar dishes and you'll get a lot of food for a relatively cheap price.
The Duck Inn is cool, interesting, and serves excellent food. It isn't the kind of restaurant most people would open on this block, but most people didn't grow up on the same street like The Duck Inn owner and chef. Go here for a nicer dinner with friends, family, or someone you're trying to impress. Split the duck and sit outside if you're smart.
Ricobene's is a solid cheap eats spot that serves pizza, wings, hot dogs, and burgers. But there's one thing in particular that has made it famous - the breaded steak sandwich. It's a behemoth of a sandwich with breaded steak, red gravy, and cheese. You need this sandwich, and some Tums to go with it.
The hot dog stand closest to U.S. Cell is one of the most important restaurants in Bridgeport specifically because of its location near the stadium. They serve a depression-style dog with nothing by onions and mustard wrapped up in paper with fries. It's also acceptable to eat the fried shrimp here, and yes, we're serious.
Baseball, booze, politics - that's Schaller's. The place has been around since 1881, it's close to the White Sox stadium, and it's been a favorite hangout of a few Chicago mayors over the years. The food is very old-school comfort, like meatloaf, pork chops, chicken, and their signature butt steak sandwich. It's the kind of place you want to be a fly on the wall, except odds are you would have gone to fly prison or been an alcoholic fly if you caught all the conversations that have happened here over the years. It's an awesome place, especially during baseball season.
Fast food - homegrown Chicago Style. George's is the friendly neighborhood spot to grab a burger, dog, gyro, fries, or anything else you want along those lines you want. George's has been around for over 35 years and it's not going anywhere any time soon.
Johnny O's looks like it might blow over at any second, but that's part of the charm at this other Bridgeport hot dog staple. There's a more robust menu than just hot dogs, so consider getting an Italian sausage, breaded steak sandwich, or mother-in-law aka tamale on a hot dog bun. The irony of the "dining room open" sign is there's no dining room, but there are a few tables on a cute patio around the side.
Maxwell Street Depot didn't create the original Polish sausage, but they do a damn good version. And despite the fact they serve other things, the Polish sausage with mustard and a pile of caramelized onions is what you want.