In a new weekly series, Summer in Chicago, Eater is highlighting places to eat and drink—sometimes lesser-known spots—in different neighborhoods for when your out-of-town friends come to visit. This week: Roscoe Village and North Center.
[Photo: Tiny Lounge]
Summer in Chicago – the season that makes all those awful winters worth it. Also the season that out-of-towners pounce on our metropolis, eager for all the deep dish and hot dogs they can stomach. But not this time, tourists. Every week, Eater will provide a list of the different places throughout each neighborhood and break it down into categories—the famous, the hidden gems and more—to guide your summer culinary journeys and arm you against the typical tourist traps.
Address: 3868 N. Lincoln
The low-down: Local ingredients and exotic flavors are blended to bring you the best of both worlds. Every dish is inspired by Hawaiian flavors, but try the kalua pork (with banana bread, barbecue sauce and crispy shallots), the tuna (with hoisin-mustrard panko, bamboo rice, avocado and soy-wasabi beurre blanc) or the duck breast (with lemongrass risotto, baby bok choy, curry syrup and coconut butter) for a true taste of the islands.
Pub and Grub: Fountainhead
Address: 1970 W. Montrose
The low-down: With an extensive bourbon and whiskey menu and over 200 beers, it’s easy to waste away an afternoon here. Pun intended. Good thing there’s also plenty of sophisticated pub food – like monkey bread with gorgonzola-bacon and a side of sausage gravy – to soak up the booze.
Under the Radar: Snappy’s Shrimp House
Address: 1901 W. Irving Park
The low-down: Fresh wild shrimp in a thick, crispy fried batter are the ultimate in artery-clogging goodness. The hush puppies and honey butter make it all worthwhile.
Coffee: Nohea Café
Address: 2142 W. Roscoe
The low-down: This warm café serves Julius Meinl coffee, fresh sandwiches and, thanks to the recent addition of Suckers Candy in the shop, any sweet you’re craving.
Brunch: Orange on Roscoe
Address: 2011 W. Roscoe
The low-down: Orange offers a twist on traditional brunch, from the weekly themed pancake flight and the pumpkin, pecan and ginger cakes to orange-rosemary or chai tea French toast.
Hangover Brunch: Kitsch’n on Roscoe
Address: 2005 W. Roscoe
The low-down: Its '70’s “funk-ploitation” theme means all the lava lamps, vintage lunchboxes and beer can collections you can handle on a hangover. Plenty of cocktails (like the tequila tang sunrise) accompany a menu chock-full of rich, unique brunch options. The fried chicken and waffles have been known to cure the worst of headaches.
Lunch: 90 Miles Cuban Café
Address: 3101 N. Clybourn
The low-down: For authentic Cuban fare, look no further. The traditional Cubano sandwich is a house specialty, but the ropa vieja (with shredded beef, peppers, onions and Creole sauce) is a close second.
Cocktails: Tiny Lounge
Address: 4352 N. Leavitt
The low-down: This neighborhood spot offers the relaxed atmosphere of a local joint with the chic hand-mixed cocktails of any downtown bar. Classic cocktails are a staple but the seasonal drinks are the real specialty.
Wine Bar: Volo Restaurant Wine Bar
Address: 2008 W. Roscoe
The low-down: Although there are over 30 wines available by the glass, Volo’s specialty is wine flights. Sample a trio of boutique wines before choosing a bottle to pair with your mussels, steak tartare or cheese plate.
Vegetarian: Victory’s Banner
Address: 2100 W. Roscoe
The low-down: Finally, a delicious brunch spot both your vedge and non-vedge friends can agree on. The satisfaction-promise (eggs scrambled with spinach, pesto, sundried tomatoes and feta) and banana walnut pancakes leave no meat to be desired.
Address: 4111 N. Lincoln
The low-down: Sustainable foods are the specialty at this cozy restaurant, which blends a casual atmosphere and fine-dining dishes seamlessly. Though most ingredients are sourced locally, the seafood – like wild Maine mussels or pan-seared Makinaw trout – is the real standout.
Sweets: Scooter’s Frozen Custard
Address: 1658 W. Belmont
The low-down: Okay okay, so this sweet shop may be more Lakeview than Roscoe Village, but it’s so dang delicious, its worth the extra walk. You can build your own concrete – frozen custard combined with your choice of mix-ins – but the Elvis (vanilla custard with Reese’s peanut butter cups and bananas) is pretty much unbeatable.
Wine Shop: Lush Wine and Spirits
Address: 2232 W. Roscoe
The low-down: The name says it all: an extensive array of wine, beer and spirits, knowledgeable, unpretentious staff and wine tastings on Sunday make it the ultimate booze shop.
Late night: Tony’s Burrito Mex
Address: 1957 W. Belmont
The low-down: Guacamole, tacos, burritos, and? cheese fries. Your late-night dreams just came true. Even better, the food is actually good – the meat is always tender and juicy, so you don’t have to be liquored up to enjoy it.
Eater intern Alison Kessler contributed this article.