Sol de Mexico neighborhood—ok to walk?
After LOTS of research on this board, one place I really want to try is Sol de Mexico. I'm new to Chicago, will be staying downtown, and have no idea what neighborhoods are like. If I take public transportation to SdM, is it safe for a single woman in the evening? One poster somewhere referred to the neighborhood as "gritty." I'm fine with that, have hung out in the Mission in SF for years. Just want to be sure I don't walk somewhere I shouldn't. And thanks to everyone who has posted about all the Mexican options—I'm really looking forward to maximizing my too brief time thanks to you all!
Sol de Mexico is located on Cicero Avenue, which is a very busy, well-lit commercial street, so there should be no problems walking on it. If you arrange your route so that you are taking the bus on Cicero Avenue, it will let you off within a block of the restaurant. www.transitchicago.com
Incidentally, just to comment on the neighborhoods of a few alternatives to Sol de Mexico (see the topic at www.chowhound.com/topics/463572 for additional information including public transit directions):
Frontera Grill, Topolobampo, Salpicon, and Adobo Grill (both locations) are located in neighborhoods near downtown Chicago with a lot of nightlife, very upscale and visitor-friendly.
Flamingo's Seafood is located in an area that is primarily commercial and industrial, rather than residential. It is a couple doors from a main intersection of two well-lit busy commercial streets, with a suburban bus route (#606) running between that intersection and the Rosemont CTA stop on the Blue Line, which is also well-lit, busy, and safe.
Fonda del Mar is located on a very busy, well-lit commercial street (Fullerton) in a primarily Hispanic neighborhood, and requires a transfer from the el to a bus.
Fuego in Arlington Heights is located in a new commercial development in the central business district of that upscale suburb with a fair amount of activity at night. You can take the commuter train from downtown Chicago to within a block or so of the restaurant.
If I had to rank these in terms of neighborhood safety and transit accessibility, I would rank them (1) Frontera/Topo, Salpicon, Adobo, and Fuego, (2) Flamingo's, and (3) Fonda del Mar and Sol de Mexico.
If I had to rank them in terms of food, I would rank them (1) Flamingo's, (2) Frontera/Topo, Salpicon, and Fonda del Mar, (3) Fuego and Adobo, (4) Sol de Mexico.
I agree. If you stay to the main streets, you shouldn't have any problem. It's located on a very busy street. If you feel uncomfortable waiting after dinner, I'm sure the friendly staff would call a taxi for you. That said, it is definitely worth the trip. The food is outstanding. Try some of the mole dishes.
In case of trouble, have some stale chicken flautas ready...they make great projectile's...weapons of masa y pollo :)! That'll teach em!
The area off Cicero around Sol de Mexico is quintessential bungalow belt, mostly single-family houses. The area has been and still is mostly blue-collar, more Hispanic to the south and more Polish-American, Polish-Polish and other Eastern European to the north. Cicero was a major automobile row not too many years ago but has lost most of the new-car dealers while keeping a fair number of used car lots.
The neighborhood around the Lake and Cicero Green Line station is rather sketchy, so I would not recommend a single woman transferring to the Cicero bus there. Using the Blue Line to Belmont (3200 north) and Kimball (Belmont bus west to Cicero), Logan Square (2600 north, connect to Diversey bus running west at 2800 north) or Montrose (4400 north) walking west over expressway and under two railroad underpasses plus some industrial buildings to Cicero. The Belmont bus goes past a lot of Polish places while there are more Mexican places along Diversey. Sol de Mexico at 3018 north is very slightly closer to Belmont than Diversey, so you are talking about two standard blocks or 1/4 mile from the east-west streets.
I'll agree with everyone else. It's "gritty" sure, but it's a busy street that is very well lit right there.
Right across the street is a decent sized car lot that is very well lit at all times. I wouldn't worry too much about it, but I would also not walk down the street counting 100 dollar bills, either. You should be fine. Enjoy your meal. I would highly suggest the ostrich if you enjoy red meat served rare to med rare. If it is served past med rare, and it is tough, send it back. I'd bet my life that Carlos and La Dona Bahena would NEVER want it served that way, and would gladly do it over.
great choice picking Sol De Mexico, easily one of the top one or two places in Chicago. The neighborhood is not the best, but be alert, and you will be fine. If you enjoy mole dishes there are none better than Sol De Mexico.
enjoy your visit, and meal.
I am so pleased to hear Sol De Mexico getting it's due here. It is a wonderful choice, and I would say the "safer" alternatives that have been mentioned can't compare with the friendly, warm atmosphere, not to mention the glorious moles. And it is absolutely safe. I live in what might be termed an even "grittier" area to the west of Cicero, and even there I walk my dog by myself at night (and I am a small-ish girl). It is ethnically diverse, largely Polish and Hispanic, and many signs in the area are not in English, which may contribute to some people's reservations about it (hence "gritty"). But I would feel safer here then in the loop after dark, to be honest. I agree with Eldon Kreider's recommendation, I would take the blue line to Belmont, take the very regular and all-night running Belmont bus (the Diversey bus stops at 10pm I believe), get off on Cicero, and walk the few blocks south. Have a great meal!