If you’ve visited Chicago before, odds are you stayed mostly in the Loop and maybe even ventured to River North by accident. While worth a visit, the neighborhoods are the true Chicago and I can tell that from living here less than a year.
I’ve decided to write a series about some of the Chicago neighborhoods I have explored or plan to explore to find the best of the best for you to visit when you’re in town and need a break from the crowds! I’ll be featuring neighborhoods I think are worth at least an afternoon. I’ll tell you where to find the best coffee, shopping, and dinner without spending a fortune!
Wicker Park is up first since it’s my neighborhood! Here’s some of the best places to stop into if you’re nearby.
Best Coffee Shop: Scone City
Scone city is a newbie to Wicker Park, only opening in April 2015, but they’ve already made an impact on the coffee shop lovers of the neighborhood, including me. Two things set them apart from other coffee options around the area: their scones (my favorites are the blackberry orange and the triple chocolate) and their decor. Gluten free options available and iced coffee is on tap! The decor is not your average moody coffee shop with dark wood and leather. Scone City is bright, airy, and has the coolest neon light chandeliers that ever existed.
Best Date Night: Carriage House
Earning itself a Bib Gourmand this year is already a mark of quality for this restaurant, but pretentiousness is not its thing. Good old fashioned comfort food with high quality ingredients and amazing flavor in a homey atmosphere make this a unique dining restaurant. It won’t break the bank either. For only about $100, two people can share an appetizer, two entrees, one dessert, and 4 drinks!
UPDATE: As of 12/9/2015, Carriage House is now called Buck’s. Same ownership and staff, rebooted menu.
Best Doughnut: Stan’s Donuts and Coffee
A well known staple of the 6-Corner regulars, Stan’s offers doughnuts (and gelato) that make my mouth water even thinking about them. Each doughnut is fantastic, from the classics to just plain genius creations. My husband’s favorite is the Peanut Butter Pocket – why no one thought to put peanut butter inside of a doughnut before is beyond me. Be ready for a line Sunday morning (well, every morning).
Best Bookstore: Myopic Books
(Above photo courtesy of Alyssa McElheny Photography)
Myopic does not allow photos in their interior, but a picture wouldn’t do this place justice anyway. This used bookstore is FILLED to the brim with books. The shelves have been placed to create hallways and every nook makes you want to sit and read for hours. With 3 (and a half) stories of stories, you may be in here a while, so budget a rainy afternoon and enjoy!
Best Tacos (and Margaritas): Big Star
Like tacos? This place is your new heaven. Don’t like tacos? This place will change your mind. Always busy, but always fantastic, Big Star does tacos best. Recently they opened a large B.Y.O.B patio with a take-out window, so if you need a taco fix but can’t wait for a table, you’re good. The patio is also dog friendly. Get the Al Pastor taco and try a margarita and you’ve got a great summer night here. (Note: entire restaurant is cash only)
There are lots of places you should visit around Wicker Park, but these are some of the must-sees!
Have a Chicago neighborhood you want me to feature? I’d love to have you show me around! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Looking for another neighborhood? Lincoln Park
In a nutshell: