The Run Down
This guide takes us to to Chicago's Bridgeport neighborhood where we'll spend the afternoon doing a reverse progressive lunch. We start out with dessert and scarfing down a paczki or two, we then grab some tavern style pizza at an old school neighborhood pizza place, and then we finish things off in a converted industrial space turned brewery.
1. Bridgeport Bakery
There are plenty of places in Chicago to get a good doughnut. There aren’t as many places where you can get this traditional Polish dessert known as a paczki (pronounced like “pownch-key”).
We’re at Bridgeport Bakery which has been making paczkis in this cozy and unassuming storefront for over 30 years. When you walk in, you’ll probably think the place hasn’t been renovated since then either, but that just adds to the charm.
If you haven’t had a paczkis before, it’s basically a Polish doughnut. They make them with a bunch of different fillings. The fruit fillings are similar to what you find in jelly donuts. The custard filling, however, is where it’s at. It’s velvety, creamy, and just a well balanced dessert.
You can really stock up on these too. Everything in here ranges from $0.75 to $1.50. That’s a lot of paczkis for not a whole lot of dough.
2. Phil’s Pizza
We’re having our meal in reverse. After dessert, we’re grabbing pizza at another neighborhood institution. Folks in the neighborhood swear by this place. Although deep dish is what we’re known for in Chicago, Phil’s pizza makes a mean tavern style pizza.
When you visit this place, it feels like they use the same interior designer as Bridgeport Bakery. Come to think of it, my grandma probably uses that same designer too. It’s a legit old school joint that doesn’t need to indulge on any over-the-top antics to make a name for themselves — the pizza does all their talking.
Speaking of pizza, this small-sized pizza with one topping will run you $10. The value to price ratio is pretty damn good if you ask me. If you want to shell out a few more dollars, get this in complete Chicago fashion with sliced beef and giardiniera.
Was it the best pizza in town? Some will argue that, but I’ll let you be the judge. Does it prime our stomachs for maximum beer drinking at our next stop? Yes.
3. Marz Community Brewing
A half century ago, Bridgeport was booming with industry. As you wander around the neighborhood today, you’ll still see remnants from its industrial heyday. If you head west of Phil’s Pizza, you’ll cross the river and find a smattering of industrial parks. Inside one of the those industrial parks is Marz Community Brewing which is where we’re going next.
From the main drag on 35th street, you’ll turn into a long side road that will take you to Marz. There’s nothing much around except for a few empty surface lots enclosed by barbed wire fence, and some unassuming buildings that may or may not be occupied.
Keeping going down the street and you’ll find Marz at the corner of this 4 story brick building. In this picture, all of the parking you see on the side of the road is free.
At this point, you may be asking yourself, “who thinks to build a brewery out here?” Well, it started with a bunch of home brewers and professional brewers from the neighborhood and surrounding area. They’d get together and drink, and they did what everyone does when drinking with friends — come up with grand plans to open a super dope brewery down the street. The difference is that they actually went through with it.
Back to this guide. From the outside, it’s hard to get a sense of the size of this place, but as you walk in, you’ll see that they have lots and lots of room to work with. The main floor is where all the action is at. It’s divided into three rooms. The room pictured above is the main bar area that wraps around an interior window looking down on the production floor.
Below is a view of the production floor from seats in the upstairs bar. While the actual brewing facilities aren’t open to the public, Marz will sometimes host events allowing visitors to wander the production floor in the basement.
Coming back to the main floor, there’s a second room to chill and play free arcade games. Between beer, video games, and good company, there isn’t much more you need.
Well the only additional thing we might want is some good live music. Keep going past the arcade and into their back room where they hold events and music acts. That ends the guide for now but stay as long as you want because the good times don’t have to.