Summertime Chi - Humbolt & Wicker~
Humbolt Park and Wicker Park have some of the most amazing eateries in the city. From breakfast to dessert, these spots just may make you a regular in their booths! Park yourself in these "Parks" for the summer treats you deserve.
As always, thanks to Anne Szkatulski, Emily DeYoe, and Cathy Yu --fellow legislative attorneys and Chicago enthusiasts-- for their cool contributions to this series.
California Clipper. 1002 North California Avenue.
Live music, teeny tiny, very hipster-y but not in your face or aggressive.
Flying Saucer. 1123 N. California Ave.
Standard, but really great roll out of bed low-key brunch. Small dining area, but not too long of a wait.
Bongo Room. 1470 N Milwaukee Ave (between Evergreen Ave & Honore St).
Great for sweet brunches. The eggs are great too, but this place is best for yummy waffles and pancakes. It’s impossible to get in after they open, but if you wait in line maybe 10 or 15 minutes beforehand, you should definitely get a seat.
Rodan. 1530 N Milwaukee Ave (between Damen Ave & North Ave).
Super sleek Asian-fusion (I hate that phrase but it applies here). I’ve only been here once kind of a long time ago, but have been meaning to go back ever since. I believe they have DJs spinning on Fri and Sat nights, but it really adds to the atmosphere rather than getting in the way. It started out as a conceptual art space that sort of morphed into a bar/restaurant, and you definitely get that vibe here.
Crocodile. 1540 N Milwaukee Ave (between Damen Ave & North Ave).
I have only been here once, right after it opened, and for dinner instead of the bar. It was a good mix of chill dining but still somewhat trendy and cool. Best part – free personal pizza with every beer. Can’t beat that.
Papajin. 1551 N Milwaukee Ave (between Damen Ave & North Ave).
You guys would definitely make fun of me for liking this place. Totally average sushi, BUT, it’s clean and fresh and consistent. If you get a table right in front in the summer, they open up all their doors and it has great people-watching along Milwaukee.
People Lounge. 1560 N Milwaukee Ave (between Damen Ave & North Ave).
The best place for medium-to-slightly fancy dining. You could come here in jeans or dressed up, it’s up to you. Always has a somewhat diverse crowd. It’s mostly tapas, and I have never been disappointed with the food (best scallops I’ve ever had). The service is a bit of a crapshoot, I’ve had awesome and I’ve had not-so-great, but the general ambiance is worth it. It is a good go-to when you want to have a nice but chill time.
Cipollina. 1543 N Damen Ave (at Pierce Ave).
No-fuss Italian coffee and deli. Teeny-tiny (I think like 8 chairs total) so I would suggest going on off-hours if you plan to hang out. Pretty sleek design too.
Sultan’s Market. 2057 W. North Ave.
The falafel sandwich might be my last meal on earth choice.
Jerry’s Sandwiches. 1938 W. Division.
Just really delicious sandwiches.
Big Star. 1531 N. Damen.
Taught me to like Mexican food – especially the fish tacos, excellent whiskey, almost too hip for words.
Milk and Honey. 1920 W. Division.
Starting to lose popularity, which is fine with me, because less wait, same delicious breakfast sandwich.
Thai Lagoon. 2322 W. North Ave.
Enormous portions, dirt cheap, byob.
Birchwood Kitchen. 2211 W. North Ave.
Great quality food, free coffee while you wait, very nice service.
Red Hen. 1623 N. Milwaukee.
Taxim. 1558 N. Milwaukee.
A bit sterile – but I’ve only been once, right when they opened, and the food was excellent.
Piece. 1927 W. North Ave.
Great pizza, better beer, best live band karaoke.
Bake. 2246 W. North Ave.
Alliance Bakery. 1736 W Division St.
Love their cupcakes.
Lovely. 1130 N Milwaukee Ave.
Favorite café in the city to do work.
Earwax. 1561 N Milwaukee Ave.
I think I like the ambiance better than the food but I do really love it overall.
Estelle’s. 2013 W North Ave (between Damen Ave & Milwaukee Ave).
My all-time favorite. I heard they recently renovated though, since I’ve been in Springfield, so we’ll have to see if it still holds that title. Very diverse and super fun crowd, I would argue best late night scene in town.
Easy Bar. 1944 W Division St (between Winchester Ave & Damen Ave).
So relaxed in here. It always ends up being my fallback bar for some reason, probably because “easy” is the best way to describe it. They always play good music and have a calm but fun crowd. They also oddly play really good movies on mute on TVs behind the bar. I can’t really explain that one, but it comes in handy when you’re in a boring conversation.
The Hideout. 1354 W Wabansia Ave.
Great live music – bluegrass on Tuesdays (shut up Anne), soup and bread on some Thursdays in the winter, has a really nice community feel – plus a ton of dudes with beards in flannel, so basically my dream bar
Penelope’s. 1913 W. Division St.
My fave boutique in the city. A little pricey but interesting, unique, fun clothing selection and cute gifts as well.
Renegade Handmade. 1924 W. Division St.
Great card and gift shop. Excellent poster selection.
Trim. 1629 N Milwaukee Ave.
Best waxing in Chicago. Probably even better than cokey smurf’s. Just saying.
Pinky Nails. 1508 N Damen Ave (between Pierce Ave & Wicker Park Ave).
My go-to for a quick, professional, and inexpensive manicure. They have a punch card a la Twist-n-Swirlz for a free manicure after every ten. They have other locations in Lincoln Park and the West Loop, but this one is my favorite.