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: Andersonville.
Big Jones [Photo: Barry Brecheisen]
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: 5316 N. Clark
The low-down: Authentic and innovative Italian dishes in a warm, charming atmosphere. The pasta is always a standout, whether you try the carbonara or the chestnut and ricotta ravioli, but the salmon and pork chop are equally satisfying. Start with the grilled octopus – it’s a must have. And try to snag a seat on the hidden backyard patio.
Under the Radar: Sunshine Cafe
Address: 5449 N. Clark
The low-down:This is Japanese comfort food at its best, served by the warmest staff in town. Start with the potato croquettes, then try the more traditional katsu don or sukiyaki.
Coffee: The Coffee Studio
Address: 5628 N. Clark
The low-down: All the things you love in a good coffee shop – Intelligentsia coffee, great design, free wi-fi, delicious pastries and plenty of comfortable seats – with none of what you hate – pretentious baristas.
Brunch: Big Jones
Address: 5347 N. Clark
The low-down: Big Jones serves up Southern fare and charm with a focus on sustainably grown ingredients. Start off with the complimentary warm beignet and a Bloody Mary before moving on to the eggs New Orleans (Ponchartrain blue crab cakes with poached eggs, popovers and béarnaise sauce), the Bayou Teche omelet (with Louisiana crawfish, house andouille, cream cheese and béarnaise sauce) or the gumbo ya-ya.
Lunch: Taste of Lebanon
Address: 1509 W. Foster
The low-down: This hole-in-the-wall serves up some of the most authentic (and generously portioned) Middle Eastern food in town. Everything from the stuffed grape leaves and falafel to the lentil soup and baklava is perfect for lunch on the go (and on a budget).
Pub and Grub: Hopleaf Bar
Address: 5148 N. Clark
The low-down: The seasonal (and seemingly endless) beer selection never disappoints, but the Belgian-style mussels and frites is the real house specialty. This spot is usually packed, but the recent addition of a new room and lunch service gives ample opportunity to get your grub on.
Burgers: The Burger Philosophy
Address: 1541 W. Bryn Mawr
The low-down: The Philosophy delivers high-quality burgers and handcut fries in fast food time. Try the into the bleu (with hickory smoked bacon, bleu cheese and steak sauce) or the devil’s advocate (with jalapeno peppers, onions, pepper jack cheese and spicy mustard) with truffle fries.
Korean: Jin Ju
Address: 5203 N. Clark
The low-down: A contemporary Korean restaurant that’s so good, it got its own category. The atmosphere is sophisticated, the food is spicy, the soju cocktails are cool and the bi bim bap is some of the best in town.
Pizza: Great Lake
Address: 1477 W. Balmoral
The low-down: Primarily a take out spot (due to the limited seating), you’ll likely have to wait for your pizza. It’s worth it. There are only three pizzas to choose from (the menu changes regularly), but they only serve locally sourced ingredients on their perfectly crisp and chewy crust.
Small Plates: Bar Ombra
Address: 5310 N. Clark
The low-down: Ombra offers a selection of $5 to $8 cicchetti (Italian small plates) to whet your appetite. Share the cripsy pig ears, goat cheese truffles or beef meatballs with a bottle of Italy's finest.
Cocktails: Marty’s Martini Bar
Address: 1511 W. Balmoral
The low-down: You can’t go wrong with a martini (or beer or glass of wine, for that matter) from Marty’s. This cozy lounge serves both petite and regular sized drinks, so be prepared for a boozy evening, especially if you land on the cozy side patio.
Address: 1475 W. Balmoral
The low-down: This spot boasts sophisticated food in an unpretentious atmosphere. Start with the foie gras torchon (with pickled prunes, maple-red wine reduction, oatmeal crisp and parsley) and roasted pork belly (with shaved kohlrabi, pickled mustard seed, beet puree and shallot jam) before trying the lamb burger (with swiss cheese, mustard, greens, frites and aioli). If meat isn’t your thing, there are several satisfying mussel options as well.
Sweets: George’s Ice Cream and Sweets
Address: 5306 N. Clark
The low-down: George’s doesn’t mess around. If you’re going for a scoop, try the Fat Elvis (banana ice cream with peanut butter and liquid chocolate chips), Heaps of Love (vanilla ice cream with oreos, brownies, caramel, pecans, chocolate and cookie dough) or the Raspberry Rhapsody (black raspberry ice cream with a raspberry ripple and dark chocolate covered raspberry cups). Try one of their specialty sundaes to really satisfy that sweet tooth (and challenge your lactose tolerance).
Eater intern Alison Kessler contributed this article.