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Xecul brings Guatemalan food to Albany Park.
Barry Brechiesen/Eater Chicago

Where To Eat and Drink in Albany Park

From Filipino to pho to Persian, the Northwest Side neighborhood has Chicago’s most diverse food scene

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Xecul brings Guatemalan food to Albany Park.
| Barry Brechiesen/Eater Chicago

Albany Park is one of the most diverse neighborhoods not just in the city, but in the entire U.S. Here you’ll find immigrants from Korea, Mexico, Guatemala, Mexico, the Philippines, India, Pakistan, Iran, Syria, and many other countries — and you’ll also find their food. No matter what you happen to be craving, you’re likely to find it on Lawrence Avenue. Here are 16 of the best places to eat and drink in Albany Park.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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Ssyal - Chicago Korean Restaurant

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This family-owned restaurant started up more than 30 years ago when its owners were looking for a way to show off the ginseng they grew on their farm in suburban Woodstock. Now it’s celebrated for its ginseng chicken soup, which contains an entire Cornish hen stuffed with garlic cloves and is guaranteed to cure all that ails you.

Marie's Pizza & Liquors

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This Chicago institution is known for its retro interior — think red vinyl banquettes — as much as for the ultra thin-crust pizza. Lean into the old-school vibe and order a classic cocktail — something Frank Sinatra would approve of — to go with garlic bread and mozzarella sticks. Or pick up a bottle of Chianti from the attached liquor store. It also has live music with no cover on Thursdays and Sundays.

Lawrence Fish Market

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“Inexpensive” does not necessarily mean “cheap.” Case in point: Lawrence Fish Market, which sells a vast selection of sashimi and sushi, both in individual pieces and rolls, all of good quality imported from Japan, but none for more than $10. Party trays are also available. Be warned: it’s cash-only.

Rojo Gusano

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Tacos and margaritas are a winning combination at Rojo Gusano. Among the tacos, the al pastor with pineapple salsa, pork belly with tamarind, and the Korean-inspired barbecue beef with kimchi stand out. The guacamole trio makes a perfect starter for a group. There’s a second location in Ravenswood.

SUBO Filipino Kitchen

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The decor may be minimal at this counter-service Filipino restaurant, but the friendliness of the service and the low prices more than make up for it. Torn between the chicken adobo and the lechon? The owner happily provides samples. SUBO’s regular menu has all the Filipino classics, but many customers prefer to focus on the rotating daily specials posted by the cash register. Don’t leave without trying one of the traditional desserts. 

Nighthawk Chicago

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Coffee all day, beer and cocktails all night — that is the idea behind Nighthawk, an old-fashioned neighborhood tavern complete with exposed brick walls and pressed-tin ceiling. During the day, the friendly baristas offer refills to freelancers and telecommuters working on laptops. At night, locals coming off the Brown Line stop in for a beer or one of the imaginative mixed drinks before heading home.

Great Sea Restaurant

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Great Sea draws fans from all over the city for its famous lollipop chicken wings, which come bathed in a sweet-tangy sauce. The restaurant changed hands in 2016, but fortunately the new owners inherited the recipe for the wings. The rest of the menu is a mix of familiar Chinese-Korean dishes.

BRAZILIAN BOWL - Brazilian Grill

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With samba music blaring and large-screen TVs showing Brazilian soccer matches, Brazilian Bowl wears its national pride on its sleeve. The menu offers a few Brazilian standards (feijoada, pao de queijo) as well as more mundane salads and sandwiches. The real excitement however, comes from the fresh smoothies and acai bowls which feature tropical ingredients such as passion fruit and guarana. 

Kabobi - Persian and Mediterranean Grill

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Generous platters of rice and kabobs — easily enough for two to share — are the stars at this casual Persian eatery. Wash them down with a glass of the refreshing mint yogurt doogh. Among the appetizers, the zaytoon parvardeh, a dip of crushed walnuts and olives, and the eggplant-based kashkeh bodemjan, are also worth trying. Night owls praise the late-night menu as an especially good value. 

Sometimes, eaters just need a big bowl of pho, especially during Chicago’s seemingly endless winter. LD Pho delivers the goods with a rich, flavorful broth with just the right amount of oil. The sliced beef pho comes with thin, tender slices of meat and a generous portion of noodles. 

Ward Bakery

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This neighborhood bakery, fittingly, sells a mixture of French and Middle Eastern pastry, from petit fours, mousse cakes, and eclairs to baklawa, bukaj, and ma’amoul cookies with different fillings, available by the pound. There are also breads and savory pies for those who were somehow born without a sweet tooth.

A pastry case filled with trays of baked goods. Ward Bakery

Arun's Thai Restaurant

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Renovated in 2017, Arun’s Thai Restaurant is this neighborhood’s fine-dining destination. For a hefty price tag, diners can choose a nine-course prix fixe tasting menu with each plate more beautiful than the last. For a more manageable, and more affordable, dining experience, order off the a la carte menu. The inspired wine pairings belie the common misconception that Thai food and wine do not mix.

Xecul Restaurante. Guatemala and Mexican food

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This restaurant, formerly known as Las Palmas, serves tacos and classic Mexican entrees, but the real reason to stop by is the chance to try Guatemalan specialities like red pepián, a stew thickened with pumpkin seeds, or caldo de gallina criolla, a chicken soup prepared with a freshly-slaughtered free range bird.

Noon O Kabab

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Noon O Kabab has been a presence in Albany Park since 1977, serving, yes, kababs made with halal meat, but also an expansive menu of Persian dishes, made according to old family recipes. Try the tadig, fessenjan (chicken simmered in a pomegranate walnut sauce), or shirin polo (rice sweetened with saffron orange peel marmalade, pistachios, golden raisins, and barberries).

Pupuseria & Restaurant "El Cuscatleco"

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While there are plenty of Mexican restaurants in Albany Park, for a taste of Central American cuisine, stop into this no-frills pupuseria. Pupuseria Cuscatleco’s version of the Salvadoran corn cake stuffed with meat, cheese or beans is outstanding with a crispy exterior and plenty of filling. Go for the cheese and chicharron pupusa and don’t skimp on accompanying curtido — a pickled cabbage salad — and spicy red and green salsas.

La Michoacana Premium

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Expect long lines at this colorful paleteria and neveria, so use the wait to narrow down selections from the enormous menu. Will it be ice cream, one of the many fruit-flavored paletas, or a chamoy-soaked mangoneada? Anything that combines sweet and spicy, like the mango-chile paleta, is a winner. If eaters aren’t ready for dessert, there are plenty of street food snacks, including elotes and tostilocos.

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Ssyal - Chicago Korean Restaurant

This family-owned restaurant started up more than 30 years ago when its owners were looking for a way to show off the ginseng they grew on their farm in suburban Woodstock. Now it’s celebrated for its ginseng chicken soup, which contains an entire Cornish hen stuffed with garlic cloves and is guaranteed to cure all that ails you.

Marie's Pizza & Liquors

This Chicago institution is known for its retro interior — think red vinyl banquettes — as much as for the ultra thin-crust pizza. Lean into the old-school vibe and order a classic cocktail — something Frank Sinatra would approve of — to go with garlic bread and mozzarella sticks. Or pick up a bottle of Chianti from the attached liquor store. It also has live music with no cover on Thursdays and Sundays.

Lawrence Fish Market

“Inexpensive” does not necessarily mean “cheap.” Case in point: Lawrence Fish Market, which sells a vast selection of sashimi and sushi, both in individual pieces and rolls, all of good quality imported from Japan, but none for more than $10. Party trays are also available. Be warned: it’s cash-only.

Rojo Gusano

Tacos and margaritas are a winning combination at Rojo Gusano. Among the tacos, the al pastor with pineapple salsa, pork belly with tamarind, and the Korean-inspired barbecue beef with kimchi stand out. The guacamole trio makes a perfect starter for a group. There’s a second location in Ravenswood.

SUBO Filipino Kitchen

The decor may be minimal at this counter-service Filipino restaurant, but the friendliness of the service and the low prices more than make up for it. Torn between the chicken adobo and the lechon? The owner happily provides samples. SUBO’s regular menu has all the Filipino classics, but many customers prefer to focus on the rotating daily specials posted by the cash register. Don’t leave without trying one of the traditional desserts. 

Nighthawk Chicago

Coffee all day, beer and cocktails all night — that is the idea behind Nighthawk, an old-fashioned neighborhood tavern complete with exposed brick walls and pressed-tin ceiling. During the day, the friendly baristas offer refills to freelancers and telecommuters working on laptops. At night, locals coming off the Brown Line stop in for a beer or one of the imaginative mixed drinks before heading home.

Great Sea Restaurant

Great Sea draws fans from all over the city for its famous lollipop chicken wings, which come bathed in a sweet-tangy sauce. The restaurant changed hands in 2016, but fortunately the new owners inherited the recipe for the wings. The rest of the menu is a mix of familiar Chinese-Korean dishes.

BRAZILIAN BOWL - Brazilian Grill

With samba music blaring and large-screen TVs showing Brazilian soccer matches, Brazilian Bowl wears its national pride on its sleeve. The menu offers a few Brazilian standards (feijoada, pao de queijo) as well as more mundane salads and sandwiches. The real excitement however, comes from the fresh smoothies and acai bowls which feature tropical ingredients such as passion fruit and guarana. 

Kabobi - Persian and Mediterranean Grill

Generous platters of rice and kabobs — easily enough for two to share — are the stars at this casual Persian eatery. Wash them down with a glass of the refreshing mint yogurt doogh. Among the appetizers, the zaytoon parvardeh, a dip of crushed walnuts and olives, and the eggplant-based kashkeh bodemjan, are also worth trying. Night owls praise the late-night menu as an especially good value. 

LD Pho

Sometimes, eaters just need a big bowl of pho, especially during Chicago’s seemingly endless winter. LD Pho delivers the goods with a rich, flavorful broth with just the right amount of oil. The sliced beef pho comes with thin, tender slices of meat and a generous portion of noodles. 

Ward Bakery

A pastry case filled with trays of baked goods. Ward Bakery

This neighborhood bakery, fittingly, sells a mixture of French and Middle Eastern pastry, from petit fours, mousse cakes, and eclairs to baklawa, bukaj, and ma’amoul cookies with different fillings, available by the pound. There are also breads and savory pies for those who were somehow born without a sweet tooth.

A pastry case filled with trays of baked goods. Ward Bakery

Arun's Thai Restaurant

Renovated in 2017, Arun’s Thai Restaurant is this neighborhood’s fine-dining destination. For a hefty price tag, diners can choose a nine-course prix fixe tasting menu with each plate more beautiful than the last. For a more manageable, and more affordable, dining experience, order off the a la carte menu. The inspired wine pairings belie the common misconception that Thai food and wine do not mix.

Xecul Restaurante. Guatemala and Mexican food

This restaurant, formerly known as Las Palmas, serves tacos and classic Mexican entrees, but the real reason to stop by is the chance to try Guatemalan specialities like red pepián, a stew thickened with pumpkin seeds, or caldo de gallina criolla, a chicken soup prepared with a freshly-slaughtered free range bird.

Noon O Kabab

Noon O Kabab has been a presence in Albany Park since 1977, serving, yes, kababs made with halal meat, but also an expansive menu of Persian dishes, made according to old family recipes. Try the tadig, fessenjan (chicken simmered in a pomegranate walnut sauce), or shirin polo (rice sweetened with saffron orange peel marmalade, pistachios, golden raisins, and barberries).

Pupuseria & Restaurant "El Cuscatleco"

While there are plenty of Mexican restaurants in Albany Park, for a taste of Central American cuisine, stop into this no-frills pupuseria. Pupuseria Cuscatleco’s version of the Salvadoran corn cake stuffed with meat, cheese or beans is outstanding with a crispy exterior and plenty of filling. Go for the cheese and chicharron pupusa and don’t skimp on accompanying curtido — a pickled cabbage salad — and spicy red and green salsas.

Related Maps

La Michoacana Premium

Expect long lines at this colorful paleteria and neveria, so use the wait to narrow down selections from the enormous menu. Will it be ice cream, one of the many fruit-flavored paletas, or a chamoy-soaked mangoneada? Anything that combines sweet and spicy, like the mango-chile paleta, is a winner. If eaters aren’t ready for dessert, there are plenty of street food snacks, including elotes and tostilocos.

Related Maps