Best of the South Side 2016 | Chicago Lawn

Best of Chicago Lawn 2016

Luke White

 

Best Reminder

MLK Living Memorial

Visitors can’t help but envision Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. leading a Chicago Freedom Movement march against housing segregation as they walk toward the new MLK Living Memorial in Marquette Park, which was dedicated in early August as a part of a broader project to honor the civil rights leader’s legacy in Chicago.

Fenced off and set back from the street, the three-pillared brick monument is inscribed with quotes and adorned with the faces of the 1966 protesters who marched through the all-white housing in the neighborhood.

It’s a crucial testament to the history of Chicago Lawn, where fifty years ago King was struck with a rock that knocked him to the ground. Bottles and bricks were showered on marchers fighting to make Chicago more racially equitable.

It’s a reverent place. Pause at the plaque and read about how the Olmsted Brothers–designed park was of great significance to America’s Civil Rights Movement. Study the figures carved in the brick. Read all the words, the inscriptions in Yiddish, Arabic, Chinese, and other languages. Ruminate on King’s quote about the “gigantic and tragic” wall in Chicago. Reflect on how it still stands today. (Joseph S. Pete)

MLK Living Memorial, southwest corner of S. Kedzie Ave. and Marquette Rd. in Marquette Park. Daily, 6am–11pm. (312) 747-6469. mlkmemorialchicago.org

Best Prairie

Ashburn Prairie

When in the Midwest, it’s hard not to be attracted to the eerie romanticism of the prairies. Ashburn Prairie has been active since the pre-settlement era and, in the early nineties, the Chicago Park District was able to safely transport large sections of the prairie to Marquette Park. It now hosts nearly one hundred species of native plants with the sort of  names that speak a hardy, down-to-earth poetry: Black-eyed Susan, Compass Plant, Nodding Wild Onion. The park itself is almost like a mirage, standing out from the neighborhood recreational areas surrounding it, which can’t help but look overly manicured and lifeless in comparison. The park lets the bulbous, frayed grasses and flowers of the prairie unravel, even in their containment. The boundary between the walking paths and the plants themselves becomes blurred, creating a lush noiselessness that is temporary but treasured. (Natasha Mijares)

Ashburn Prairie, east of S. Kedzie Ave. between Marquette Rd. and 71st St. in Marquette Park. Daily, 6am–11pm. (312) 747-6469. chicagoparkdistrict.com

Best Taste of Belize

Garifuna Flava

Luke White

Luke White

Named for the Garifuna people, an ethnic group in Central America descended from West Africans and the Carib and Arawak peoples, this restaurant attracts not only neighborhood locals but also Belizean and Garifuna people from the suburbs, nearby states, and sometimes even across the country. According to the owners, it’s one of the only restaurants in the area that serves up Garifuna cuisine, which makes for a steady stream of customers arriving in search of a taste of home. And what exactly does Garifuna cuisine look like? Well, a lot of things: jerk staples and plantain dishes for one, alongside tropical fish in tomato sauces, traditional Belizean stews and soups, and mouth-watering conch fritters. The real can’t-miss items, though, are the panades, corn patties stuffed with buffalo fish, as well as the Belizean Long Island, a very sweet but powerful alcoholic drink that does indeed live up to the menu’s promise—it’ll “have you feeling like you’re on the shores of the Caribbean.” (Jake Bittle)

Garifuna Flava, 2518 W. 63rd St. Tuesday–Thursday, 11:30am–8pm; Friday–Saturday, 11:30am–10pm; Sunday, 11:30am–8pm. (773) 776-7440. garifunaflava.com

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