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Hungry? This Map Shows Best Ethnic Eats By Neighborhood

By Janet Rausa Fuller | July 13, 2015 6:06am

CHICAGO — How well do you know the ethnic makeup of your neighborhood? And do you like to eat?

If "not well" and "yes," an interactive map on Kendall College's website will whet your appetite.

The map shows the historical ethnicity for 85 neighborhoods in Chicago and the best restaurant — by Yelp standards — in that neighborhood serving the corresponding cuisine.

In Edison Park on the Far Northwest Side, where Irish roots run deep, it's The Curragh Irish Pub, 6705 N. Northwest Hwy. In the historically Polish enclave of Hegewisch on the far Southeast Side, Steve's Lounge, 13200 S. Baltimore Ave., is the place to eat (and drink).

Marketing agency Digital Third Coast made the map for the college using Yelp restaurant review data and the Encyclopedia of Chicago's Ethnic Mosaic, in itself a cool resource.

Janet Fuller says the map is sure to stir up many reactions:

Neighborhoods without a prevailing ethnicity are termed "American melting pot" and matched with the highest-rated "American style" restaurant. For African-American neighborhoods, restaurants serving soul food, Southern, Caribbean, African and American cuisine were considered.

With the legitimacy of Yelp reviews a hot-button issue for chefs and diners alike, the map will likely elicit some grumblings, said Digital Third Coast outreach manager Matt Zajechowski. One might question, for instance, if mini-chain Wildberry Pancakes and Cafe is really tops when it comes to "American" food in the Loop.

Yelp simply had the breadth of data for all of the neighborhoods that other dining review resources such as Zagat did not, he said.

Zajechowski hopes the map also will enlighten people on the city's shifting cultural landscape and alert them to restaurants they might not otherwise have known about.

He found one himself while working on the map — La Palma, 1340 N. Homan Ave., in Humboldt Park.

"It's one I definitely want to try now," said Zajechowski, a fan of Puerto Rican and Cuban food. "I've heard it's a small place but the food is good and it's pretty busy in there."

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