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Sunday, November 9, 2014

Dia de Los Muertos Celebration in Pilsen

Even though I lived in Chicago for seven years, I never attended a Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebration in Pilsen. I was itching to be part of the commemoration, and decided 2014 was the year to do it.

Pilsen is a Mexican-American neighborhood alive with culture, and Dia de Los Muertos was an exceptional representation of that. Upon arriving at the Elevarte Community Studio, where the festivities were being held, I immediately spied some incredible art. The talented artist who decorated the stairs introduced himself, and Fernando has a new fan.

Meet Fernando Andrade

I couldn't contain my excitement as I made my way around the building, trying to take in all that was in front of me. It was amazing to watch all the beautiful faces getting ready for the big event. Everyone was extremely friendly, and I have never felt so welcome. I had intended to get my face painted; however, the overwhelming desire to take photos made that a memory.

Then something astounding happened - a woman asked if I wanted to be in the parade. I looked around. Who me? Yes, me!  She handed me a prop and said I was going to be a spirit, walking next to the coffin in the front of the parade. Could things get any better?! They could have been better if I had gotten my face painted, but there was no time now (insert a momentary sad face here).

I wanted to make the most of my day trip since I love the Pilsen neighborhood; therefore, I planned other activities around the celebration. I read about a new cafe and had to check it out. La Catrina Cafe is so marvelous that it will be my go-to coffee shop when traveling to Chicago. I had scrumptious eats in a relaxed, ethnic setting.

The entire cafe front is a gorgeous mural
Mexican hot chocolate and sweet potato empanada

In my humble opinion, Pilsen is the best place in Chicago for unparalleled street art and murals. A good number of paintings are located along 16th St., beginning at Halsted. The following photos are my favorites from this street:

What a unique twist this red bull car added (good timing)

The next few shots are random 
18th near La Catrina

Someone's amazing garage door

In between buildings on 18th St. not far from La Catrina

I think this was on W. 19th near Carpenter

A spectacular collection of art at Bonys Grocery Store - 1942 S. Carpenter

Across the street from Bonys

My final destination was Simone's, one of my best-loved restaurants. I succeeded in feeding my face to the fullest. This venue has outstanding food and craft beer/cocktails in a funky atmosphere. It was a tough decision, but I ordered the Quinoa Pizza with toasted quinoa, mozzarella, caramelized red onions, and avocado accompanied by Founder's Dirty Bastard. Highly delectable!

Don't you wish you could dig right in?

Beautiful art adorns both sides of Simone's

The Dia de Los Muertos celebration was one of the most memorable experiences of my life. I'm already looking forward to 2015. Thank you for an unbelievable day Pilsen!

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