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: Ukrainian Village (and a couple of nearby extras).
Arami [Photo: Barry Breischen]
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: 1829 W. Chicago
The low-down: Named one of America’s best new sushi restaurants by Bon Appetit, everything from the always-fresh sashimi, the uni shooters, togarashi-seared tuna, hamachi maguro ebi maki and newly expanded robata grill and tsukemono (Japanese pickles) has earned this sushi haven its well-deserved acclaim.
Under the radar: A Tavola
Address: 2148 W. Chicago
The low-down: A simple and elegant regionally inspired Italian restaurant, A Tavola is perfect for a special occasion or to satisfy that everyday pasta craving. The gnocchi with browned sage butter and parmesan is a must-have.
Coffee: Alliance Bakery & Café
Address: 1736 W. Division
The low-down: Your Intelligentsia coffee served alongside a near-endless selection of breakfast pastries (not to mention the cakes, cupcakes and cookies you can buy and “save for later”). Throw in some macarons – they’re a neighborhood favorite.
Brunch: Milk & Honey Café
Address: 1920 W. Division
The low-down: The kind of brunch food you’ll crave all day – orange brioche French toast with toasted almonds and maple syrup, huevos rancheros “casserole-style,” or grilled panini with scrambled eggs, bacon, cheddar and tomato.
Lunch: Bite Café
Address: 1035 N. Western
The low-down: A small, bright café with a reputation for catering to hipsters, Bite is actually welcoming to all – and offers enough sweet or savory options to appeal to anyone in the group. Try the eggs Duncan (house biscuits topped with creamed spinach and peas, parmesan, fresh herbs and two poached eggs) or the pulled pork sandwich (with Dark Matter barbecue sauce, cole slaw and fries).
On the Go: Pizza Metro
Address: 1707 W. Division
The low down: Grab a slice without sacrificing the toppings. Metro serves their pizza (like potato rosemary or garbage, with seven Metro-selected toppings) by the slice or the pie, so pick one up for a great snack to go.
Pub and Grub: The Old Oak Tap
Address: 2109 W. Chicago
The low-down: An impressive beer list (including a featured brewery of the month) accompanied by a menu of bar favorites with a sophisticated twist. Try the “Baja” style fish tacos (with spicy aioli, marinated cabbage and pico de gallo), macaroni and cheese (with aged cheddar, gruyere, applewood smoked bacon and sautéed mushrooms) or the bison meatloaf sliders (served on pretzel rolls with chipotle orange juniper glaze) with an $8 on-tap beer flight.
Mexican: Tecalitlan Restaurant
Address: 1814 W. Chicago
The low-down: Traditional Mexican décor, relaxed atmosphere, giant burritos and delicious (read: strong) margaritas. Feel free to bring the kiddies.
Middle Eastern: Chickpea
Address: 2018 W. Chicago
The low-down: Traditional Middle Eastern fare with a casual, on-the-go vibe, Chickpea serves some of the city’s best falafel sandwiches, lentil soup, hummus and baba ghanooj. If you’re open to trying something new, you can’t go wrong: the lamb, chicken and beef tenderloin are always tender, so go for one of “Mama’s Specials.”
Pizza: Roots Handmade Pizza
Address: 1924 W. Chicago
The low-down: While the taco or sausage pizza is what it’s known for, some of the best dishes at Roots are those without the hand-tossed crust: mozzerella sticks, half sausage on a stick and salads keep the locals coming back.
Seafood: Mariscos El Veneno
Address: 1024 N. Ashland
The low-down: This hole-in-the-wall dishes out some of the tastiest, spiciest seafood in the city, and everything from the fried red snapper filet to the chapuzon del mar (with shrimp, oysters and octopus) satisfies. Whatever you do, don’t miss the crabs Nayarit.
Al Fresco Dinner: Homestead on the Roof
Address: 1924 W. Chicago
The low-down: When Homestead says it’s farm-to-table, you better believe it. The rooftop restaurant features a 1,000-square-foot organic garden where it draws much of its inspiration (and ingredients). A super charming outdoor dining space, get there early for a special night out (it doesn’t take reservations).
Dinner (BYOB): Briciola
Address: 937 N. Damen
The low-down: Chef Mario serves traditional Italian cuisine—fried calamari, gnocchi, risotto, pork Milanese—in his cozy, intimate restaurant. Try to sit in the sparkly side patio, but have no fear, wherever you sit, Mario will be sure to stop by and say hello.
Sweets: Black Dog Gelato
Address: 859 N. Damen
The low-down: “Unusual” doesn’t accurately describe this gourmet gelato and sorbet. Good luck choosing between the goat cheese-cashew caramel, sesame fig chocolate chip, Mexican hot chocolate or the whiskey gelato bar. The creamy, whiskey-spiked gelato dipped in milk chocolate is unlike any dessert you’ve ever had.
Eater intern Alison Kessler contributed this article.