See (And Eat) Treasures of Chicago During the Architecture Foundation’s Open House This Weekend

The swimming pool hidden in the Park Castle Apartments in Rogers Park.
The swimming pool hidden in the Park Castle Apartments in Rogers Park. Photo: Sky Full of Bacon

The Chicago Architecture Foundation’s Open House Chicago is one of those cool things that makes you glad you live here. In its second year, they’ve convinced over 150 buildings that the public doesn’t usually get to see inside to open their doors; some give tours, others just let you poke around. It’s an amazing list, from the Louis Sullivan-designed Auditorium Theater to black South Side churches, from 19th century mansions to art deco swimming pools hidden in the basements of apartment buildings. Of course, if you’re going to visit cool buildings in interesting parts of town, you want to have somewhere interesting in the area to eat, too, right? We’ve updated our somewhat randomly chosen list from last year and expanded it to cover 11 of the neighborhoods featured (we figure you probably know where to eat in the Loop or Gold Coast), moving roughly north to south. Find out more and pick the sites you want to see here, then get ready to eat, too.


Check out the Art Deco swimming pool inside the Tudor Park Castle apartment building overlooking Indian Boundary Park, go backstage at the lavishly restored 1912 Mayne Stage on Morse, and discover a dazzling monastic chapel hidden inside St. Scholastica Monastery. Then try:

Roman pizzas at Gruppo di Amici
Pakistani grilled meats at Khan B.B.Q., or Indian vegetarian food at Udupi Palace
Persian food at Masouleh
Homey Mexican from a nice couple at Taqueria Mi Guadalupe


No, the Uptown Theater isn’t on the list, but the Aragon and the Riviera are, along with the Green Mill, the Preston Bradley Center, the lavish Bridgeview Bank and the Agudas Achim North Shore Congregation. Then try:

Thai food at Thai Pastry
Ethiopian food at Demera
Vietnamese sandwiches at Ba Le
Breakfast with a Latin tinge at Tiztal Cafe


Apart from the Humboldt Park fieldhouses, there aren’t a lot of spectacular sights here, but some culturally significant buildings to the west side Latino community. And, of course, plenty of Latino places to eat.

Cafe Colao (2638 W. Division) is an actual Open House Chicago stop as well as a place to eat, with a vintage century-old bakery interior
Grandma J’s is a cute neighborhood cafe
Feed is a funky southern-flavored spot
Puerto Rican favorites are at Papa’s Cache Sabroso


See the vast renaissance-style Our Lady of Sorrows Basilica, the dazzling new Henry Ford Academy located inside the former powerhouse for the original Sears Roebuck complex, or the gold-domed Garfield Park Field House. Restaurants are kind of scarce nearby but head a little ways east or west and you’ll soon find:

A Depression era diner, Moon’s Sandwich Shop
One of the oldest soul food places in town, Macarthur’s
Sicilian sheet pizza at Italian Superior Bakery


Go inside several post-fire mansions plus the imposing Romanesque Second Presbyterian Church.

There’s little food in the immediate area but Chinatown isn’t far, and neither are two of the city’s best delis, Manny’s and Eleven City Diner.


Tour the onetime Tong headquarters now known as the Pui Tak Center, a Chinese Catholic church or Engine Company No. 8.

Really, do we even have to say that Chinatown is nothing but great places to eat? Take your pick— Lao Sze Chuan or Lao Yunnan or Cai for dim sum or hey, just pick one and check it out.


See grand churches like St. Adalbert, the studio of artist Hector Duarte, or the 1896 building now lavishly painted as Casa Aztlan.

Another neighborhood where you can hardly not walk straight into a good Mexican restaurant like Nuevo Leon, La Condesa or La Cebollita; or check out the barbecue at Honky Tonk BBQ.


Go inside the 1917 Apollo’s 2000 (formerly Marshall Square) theater, a preserved historic courtroom in the Cook County Jail, and the workshop of a master stone carver in a former industrial building. Then check out:

Las Islas Marias for Mexican seafood
One of the city’s oldest shrimp shacks, Troha’s
Home Run Inn, a pizza place and an actual stop on the tour


See the hardware store that was once the Sunset Cafe owned by Louis Armstrong himself, the Sutherland Hotel (now the Chicago Blues Museum), the Tiffany dome and windows at Grant Memorial AME Church, and the lavish Swift Mansion. Then head for:

Soul food at Pearl’s Place or Miss Lee’s Good Food
Cajun and Creole at C’est si Bon
A hearty breakfast of chicken and waffles at Chicago’s Home of Chicken & Waffles


See the spectacular art deco Powhatan Apartments, Gothic buildings at U of C like Bartlett Hall, and the Romanesque United Church of Hyde Park.

Deli food and more at Zaleski & Horvath
Coffee and baked goods at Bonjour Bakery
Middle eastern food at Cedars


Check out Louis Farrakhan’s Mosque Maryam, the posh South Shore Cultural Center or the enormous St. Philip Neri church.

Vegetarian soul food at Yah’s
Handmade cheeseburgers at That’s-a-Burger
Fried Chicken at Harold’s

See (And Eat) Treasures of Chicago During the Architecture Foundation’s Open