The Far Southwest Side of Chicago is home to a large Irish-American community, a ton of Irish pubs, and even a replica Irish castle.
Chicago's Far Southwest Side is absolutely not one of the city's main tourist attractions, but it does offer an interesting mix of South Side and Irish culture (i.e., the authentic Irish pubs are here). Until 2009, the area was a major international tourist destination on Saint Patrick's Day for its magnificent parade, the largest Saint Patrick's Day neighborhood parade in the world outside of Dublin. Today however, perhaps owing to a desire to avoid greatness and to become yet another boring, middling, mildly suburban area of little distinction, the neighborhood has decided to end the parade because it "had become something too big." There's still an Irish event or two worth seeking out, especially the Irish Film Festival, which runs five days strong in March at the Beverly Arts Center.
Beverly is the most distinctive of the Far Southwest neighborhoods and probably has the most to offer travelers. Here you will find Givens Castle, the Ridge Historical Society of Beverly and Morgan Park, and plenty of Irish pubs. You might want to visit just for a change in topography — Beverly is the only neighborhood in Chicago with hills, lending it the odd-sounding nickname Beverly Hills. Along with Morgan Park to the south, Beverly is one of Chicago's few racially integrated neighborhoods, with a sizable African-American minority living side-by-side with the neighborhood's large Irish-American community.
Mount Greenwood is a large middle class area of Chicago, home to many of the city's Irish-American firefighters and police officers and to St Xavier University. For those in search of an authentic Irish-American neighborhood, look no further. No tourists make it out here and the pubs will transport you straight back to the Emerald Isle.
If you have a car at your disposal, use it. Chicago's Far Southwest Side is not well served by mass transit and parking is plentiful throughout the district. If coming from the north, take Pulaski Rd or Western Ave; both are major roads and will get you there quickly. From I-57, take either the US-1/Halsted Avenue exit south to 103rd St, or the 111th St exit. From I-294, the simplest route is to head north from the Cicero Avenue exit and then to turn right on 115th or 111th St.
The Metra Rock Island line to Joliet passes through Beverly and Morgan Park. A one-way trip from downtown LaSalle Station to 103rd St will cost $3.75.
If taking the bus is an absolute necessity, then the best way to reach this area from the north is via CTA Route 49 (Western), with a transfer to Pace Route 349 (South Western) at 79th St. Route 349 will take you within walking distance of most attractions in the district. Do not take any routes running any east of Western, as they both end short of the district as well as run through some rough neighborhoods. All transit service in this area ends after midnight, so make sure you have enough money to get back via taxi (you will need to call for one) if you plan to spend the night at one of the neighborhood pubs.
- 1 Givens Irish Castle (Beverly Unitarian Church), 10244 S Longwood Dr, ☏ . Call in advance for hours. Certainly the oddest sight in Chicago's Far Southwest Side, this building is a replica of castle on Ireland's River Dee, built by a nostalgic and wealthy Irish-American for his fiancee in 1885. Today, the castle houses Beverly's Unitarian congregation and offers a yearly Halloween "Haunted Castle." Beyond the deliberate scares, the castle is purportedly haunted by an actual ghost: a young girl who used to live here. She tends to show up, wearing a long dress, during weddings or parties where alcohol is being served.
- [dead link] Ridge Historical Society, 10621 S Seeley Ave, ☏ , email@example.com. Su-Th 2PM-5PM. This historical society focuses on the Beverly and Morgan Park neighborhoods and offers tours, assistance with area research, and small, thoughtful exhibits such as a costume room and a doll house collection.
- Saint Xavier University Art Gallery, 3700 W 103rd St, ☏ . M-F 10AM-5PM, Sa 10AM-3PM. A rotating gallery of works by professional artists.
- Beverly Arts Center of Chicago, 2407 W 111th St, ☏ . M-Sa 9AM-9PM, Su noon-6PM. The Beverly Arts Center is a community arts center offering film screenings, dance and dramatic performances, and monthly art gallery exhibits. Look for the great five-day Irish Film Festival in March!
- Heritage Gallery, 1907 W 103rd St, ☏ . Tu-F 11AM-5PM, Sa 10AM-3PM. This art gallery features the original works of its owner, Jack Simmerling, who specializes in pen-and-inks of Chicago landmarks and watercolors of Ireland.
- South Side Irish Imports, 3446 W 111th St, ☏ . M-Sa 10AM-5:30PM. This is the South Side Irish store to end all South Side Irish stores. In addition to an extensive selection of legitimate imports — Wexford crystal, tapestries, paintings, knits, Guinness shot glasses, crosses, flags, etc. — this is a great place to buy truly local souvenirs; it is stocked with all sorts of celebratory South Side Irish apparel, and even shirts devoted to the various South Side parishes. Clearly, this is a good place to get stocked for St Patrick's Day, or even a Notre Dame football game.
- Bookie's Paperbacks & More, 10324 S Western Ave, ☏ . 10AM-7PM daily. Here's a used bookstore with a huge selection in just about any genre. If you have some time to spend, you'll probably find something you will like. Comic book fans especially should stop by to browse through the obscure collections of single issues.
- Safari Marketplace, 1403 W 111th St, ☏ . 8AM-6PM daily. An eclectic store offering African-American related items from audio tapes of Louis Farrakhan to African clothing and board games. The store also has a section devoted to world musical instruments.
- Best Bar-B-Q, 1648 W 115th St, ☏ . Tu-Su 11AM-2AM, M 11AM-10PM. Friendly South Side carryout ribs and chicken joint. $3-6.
- Beverly Bakery & Cafe, 10528 S Western Ave, ☏ . Tu-F 5:30AM-4PM, Sa 7AM-5PM, Su 8AM-1PM; breakfast & lunch served until 3PM daily. This family-owned bakery is always a tasty place to stop by, but is an especially good stop around St Patrick's Day, when it offers various Irish treats.
- South Side Shrimp, 10410 S Kedzie Ave, ☏ . Su-Th 10:30AM-10PM, F-Sa 10:30AM-Midnight. A small hole-in-the wall with that has been serving Chicago-style shrimp, mostly for take-out, for decades.
- Grant's Wonderburger Grill, 3333 W 111th St B, ☏ . Tu-Su 11AM-9PM. A family-owned local landmark serving burgers and curly fries since 1959. $2-5.
- Janson's Drive-In, 9900 S Western Ave, ☏ . M-F 10AM-10PM, Sa 11AM-10PM, Su 11AM-6PM. A classic, neon-adorned, drive-in fast food joint with great Chicago hot dogs. $2-5.
- Nicky's of Beverly, 10500 S Western Ave, ☏ . Daily 10AM-9PM. Beverly's top Chicago style grilled fast food option, with an extra dose of frozen yogurt and ice cream. It's a beloved shop, and it's almost always crowded. $2-5.
- The Original Rainbow Cone, 9233 S Western Ave, ☏ . Daily 11:30AM-10PM. For over 80 years South Side families have enjoyed the rainbow cone, a five-flavored ice cream treat of chocolate, pistachio, strawberry, Palmer House, and orange sherbet. Open only March–Oct.
- Top Notch Beefburger Shop, 2116 W 95th St, ☏ . M-Th 8AM-8PM, F-Sa 7:30AM-8:30PM, Su closed. A south side burger institution since the 1950s with seriously juicy burgers made from quality beef. $2-8.
- Fox's Beverly Pub, 9956 S Western Ave, ☏ . M-Th 11AM-10PM, F-Sa 11AM-12:30AM, Su noon-10PM. A neighborhood Irish pub that is more of a restaurant than a bar, offering Irish and Italian food, as well as superb Chicago thin-crust pizza. $8-13.
- Franconello's Italian Restaurant, 10222 S Western Ave, ☏ . M-Th 11AM-10PM, F 11AM-10:30PM, Sa 3PM-10:30PM. An Italian restaurant serving hearty portions of solid (if a bit overpriced) food. $9-14.
- Waldo Cooney's, 2410 W 111th St, ☏ . noon-10PM daily. A quality pizzeria serving thin crust and stuffed Chicago pies. $7-18.
A pint may be the number one reason to make the trek out to the Far Southwest Side. Chicago is a city full of fake Irish pubs, but the only ones where the clientèle and servers speak with a brogue are down here, mostly along Western Avenue.
- Cork & Kerry, 10614 S Western Ave, ☏ . M-F 2PM-2AM, Sa 2PM-3AM, Su noon-2AM. An unpretentious neighborhood Irish pub that doesn't serve food and has a great beer garden for the summer months.
- Gilhooley's Grande Saloon, 3901 W 103rd St, ☏ . M-W 3PM-11PM, Th-Sa 3PM-midnight, Su noon-8PM. A rather upscale, stylish, and attractive pub across the street from St Xavier's, offering a small selection of sandwiches and burgers to accompany a very large selection of drinks. Live bands perform F-Sa, while the neighborhood performs on open-mic Wednesdays. $5-8.
- Jeremy Lanigan's Irish Pub, 3119 W 111th St, ☏ . Su-F noon-2AM, Sa noon-3AM. Come here to drink and reminisce about the old country. This pub is frequented by Irish nationals and puts on amateur live Irish music F-Su.
- Barney Callaghan's Pub, 10618 S Western Ave, ☏ . M-F 2PM-2AM, Sa noon-3AM, Su noon-2AM. A friendly neighborhood pub that may well serve the best pint of Guinness in Chicago. It's also right next door to Cork & Kerry, so you can switch between the two if you're unsatisfied with the one.
Chicago's Far Southwest Side is a black hole as far as travel accommodations are concerned; if you are planning to stay in the area, you should try the Hilton just across the city boundaries in Oak Lawn, one of the Midway Airport-serving hotels in Bedford Park, or one of the many hotels by the Tri-State Tollway in Alsip.
- Hilton Oak Lawn, 9333 S Cicero Ave, ☏ . A fairly standard Hilton, which offers a free shuttle to Midway Airport. $141.
- Beverly Library, 2121 W 95th St, ☏ . M,W noon-8PM, Tu,Th 10AM-6PM, F-Sa 9AM-5PM. A big, modern facility with free public internet access as well as a very large selection of books. Its 3,500-item "Irish Collection" is especially noteworthy.
- Mount Greenwood Library, 11010 S Kedzie Ave, ☏ . M,W 10AM-6PM, Tu,Th noon-8PM, F-Sa 9AM-5PM. Free public internet access.
- Walker Library, 11071 S Hoyne Ave, ☏ . M,W 10AM-6PM, Tu,Th noon-8PM, F-Sa 9AM-5PM. Free public internet access.
- The Far Southwest Side has the city's largest Irish-American population, but the more famous (and politically-connected) one is in Bridgeport, home of the Daleys.