Located just minutes from the bustling Midway International Airport (Chicago's south side hub for air travel), the neighborhood of Brighton Park is also considered a south side hub – for Latin-American culture and community life, that is. A growing Hispanic population in Brighton Park has influenced the businesses, restaurants and social events here, creating a thriving neighborhood with strong heritage, an extensive housing market and easy access to the downtown Loop.
Residents who have vehicles of their own will find the bordering Stevenson Expressway (I-55) a convenient route for getting to and from the neighborhood in a jiffy. But if you prefer to leave the car at home, a quick hop on the CTA Orange Line train takes you straight to the Loop (roughly seven miles northeast) or to its terminus at Midway (just a couple stops southwest).
Being able to commute downtown without a hassle is certainly a bonus, but many Brighton Park residents are more delighted by the perks right here in their own backyard. Like having a couple of public parks to take the children to, just minutes from your front door. Brighton Park Playlot on Richmond Street is a kid-friendly spot, packed with swing-sets, jungle gyms and slides to entertain the little ones while you take a load off on a nearby grassy patch. Situated in the middle of the neighborhood at 41st Street and California Avenue, Kelly Park offers outdoor enthusiasts much more open space than the playlot and there's even a community center here, used for events and neighborhood meetings. Kelly Park didn't really take shape until the 1950s when the Chicago Park District and the Board of Education made a cooperative effort to bring more outdoor activity to the Brighton Park area. The crew behind this construction obviously knew what the locals wanted because today Kelly Park offers baseball fields, basketball courts and plenty of fitness equipment.
Thanks to the neighborhood's large population of Latin-Americans, Brighton Park is home to some of Chicago's most authentic south-of-the-border cuisine. Tio Luis is a Mexican fare hotspot (literally, the dishes here are spicy!). The place doesn't look like much from the outside, but inside it's packed with regional flavor, including house-made nachos, fresh pico de gallo, and Chicago's best tacos (at least according to the Chicago Tribune in 2005). While you're in the area, you should also swing by El Campestre, where you can get glazed and grilled chicken with a heaping plate of rice and beans, prepared from an age-old family recipe. El Salvador Restaurante is a favorite for noshing on delicious made-from-scratch corn tortillas topped with your choice of cheese, chicken, refried beans or even fried pork rind. And don't even get us started on the restaurant's addictive empanadas. Knowing a little Spanish helps in this place, as the crew here doesn't cater to the English-speaking crowd. But in any case, you can always use the trusty old finger-pointing method.
If the incredible dining scene hasn't swayed you to make the move to Brighton Park, the early 20th century architecture just might do the trick. One element that attracts buyers to this Chicago neighborhood is its accommodating range of housing. One and two story dwellings, classic brick bungalows and simple ranch-style homes are found in abundance along the sidewalk-lined blocks of Brighton Park. And, sweetening the deal, most detached homes here come complete with modest front and back yards, plus the ever-useful, always-appreciated private garage! The average home sale price for a one or two bedroom property in this Chicago neighborhood is about $175,000, but many start in the low $100,000s. A single-family home with three bedrooms ups the ante to around $220,000 and most residential real estate in Brighton Park maxes out at $350,000.