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The Grid: Bronzeville filled with rich history, mouthwatering food

Bronzeville has a vibrant cultural scene strengthened by the lasting legacy of the “Chicago Black Renaissance.” Once deemed “Black Metropolis,” the South Side neighborhood was home to many African American history makers, including Louis Armstrong, Dinah Washington, Nat King Cole, Richard Wright and Gwendolyn Brooks.

Detail of a mural in Bronzeville. | Max Herman/For the Sun-Times

Some of the notable historic sites in Bronzeville include the Chicago Bee Building, The Chicago Defender, the Supreme Life insurance building, the Overton Hygienic Building and Unity Hall. The Rosenwald Court Apartments were once home to Jesse Owens, Lorraine Hansberry, Joe Louis, Duke Ellington and Quincy Jones. Journalist and abolitionist Ida B. Wells also lived in the neighborhood, and the home she shared with her husband is at 3624 S. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr.

The Ida B. Wells-Barnett House on South King Drive in Bronzeville. | Max Herman/For the Sun-Times

Some of the more recent must-sees are the Gallery Guichard for art, Bronzeville Children’s Museum and the South Side Community Art Center.

Here’s my picks for spots to fuel up while on a visit:

Abundance Bakery

105 E. 47th St.

Since 1990, this bakery has been winning over sweet-toothed customers with its famous upside-down caramel cake, donuts, brownies, cobblers … and charismatic owner William Ball.

Caramel cake at Abundance Bakery in Bronzeville. | Brian Rich/Sun-Times

Shawn Michelle’s Homemade Ice Cream

46 E. 47th St.

Located in the historic Rosenwald Courts Apartments, husband-and-wife team Yahya and Nataki Muhammad’s shop delights with ice cream made from scratch. Favorites include the Jamaican rum raisin, strawberry cheesecake and honey cinnamon graham.

Shawn Michelle’s Homemade Ice Cream co-owner Nataki Muhammad with her oldest daughter Emani Muhammad, who works as a manager at the shop. | Ji Suk Yi/Sun-Times

Peach’s Restaurant

4652 S. King Dr.

Cliff Rome’s restaurant is a favorite for Southern comfort food. Open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. everyday, it serves favorites including peach bourbon French toast and shrimp and grits. Check out Rome’s other local businesses: the Blanc Art Gallery and the Parkway Ballroom.

Peach’s Restaurant is located at 4652 S. King Dr. in Bronzeville. | Brian Rich/Sun-Times

Pearl’s Place Restaurant

3901 S. Michigan

Pearl’s famous dinner and breakfast buffet has been satisfying diners’ cravings for Southern cuisine for the last three decades. Owner Darrell Green believes excellent customer service sets Pearl’s apart from nearby competition.

Pearl’s Place restaurant on South Michigan Avenue in Bronzeville. | Max Herman/For the Sun-Times

Chicago’s Home of Chicken and Waffles

3947 S. King Dr.

You can get both your savory and sweet fix here. In addition to waffles and fried chicken, owner Tonya Johnson makes sure the breakfast skillets and smothered chicken-fried catfish dinners mirror her grandmother’s versions.

The specialty of the house at Chicago’s Home of Chicken and Waffles in Bronzeville. / Ji Suk Yi/Sun-Times

Ain’t She Sweet Cafe

526 E. 43rd St.

Owner Margot Strotter’s cafe serves sandwiches, wraps, salads, smoothies and desserts. The Caribbean jerk wrap is a best seller and can be ordered with either chicken or salmon.

Two Fish Crab Shack

641 E. 47th St.

Owner Yasmin Curtis serves up seafood boils everyday except on Mondays. Shrimp, crab, crawfish and lobster are tossed in a bag with an option of homemade sauces. Messy but delicious.

Honey 1 BBQ

746 E. 43rd St.

Pitmaster Robert Adams and his son, Robert Jr., use a method of slow-cooking over wood in an aquarium-style smoker. Despite location changes, Honey 1 BBQ is a consistent critic’s favorite for its rib tips and links.

Honey 1 BBQ on 43rd Street in Bronzeville. | Max Herman/For the Sun-Times

Another pick for smoked meats is Alice’s Bar-B-Que, 65 E. 43rd St.

Sip & Savor

528 E. 43rd St. and 78 E. 47th St.

You can enjoy certified fair trade coffee while working, reading or meeting up with friends at two Bronzeville locations.

Truth Italian Restaurant

56 E. Pershing Rd.

Favorites include the spicy grilled chicken Alfredo pasta and lobster arrabbiata.

Truth Italian Restaurant on East Pershing Road in Bronzeville. | Max Herman/For the Sun-Times

Yassa African Restaurant

3511 S. King Dr.

Owners Madieye and Awa Gueye specialize in Senegalese cuisine. The Yassa chicken is marinated in lemon and spices and served over rice. Another popular dish, maffe, features cubed lamb cooked in a peanut butter and tomato sauce and is served with carrots and potatoes.

Yassa Restaurant is located at 3511 S. King Dr. in Bronzeville. | Brian Rich/Sun-Times