When we were last in Chicago, we ate at Soul Kitchen and had a great time; the food was inventive and tasty, and the atmosphere was pretty funky.
Any suggestions on similar sorts of places, not necessarily for food type (although good quality would be an asset) but for atmosphere? We're staying on Grand, but we'll be mobile.
I don't have anything that's really similar to Soul Kitchen, but here are two other places near you that are great. La Borsa is two blocks south of Grand just west of Halstead. It is a quiet Italian place that has a great atmosphere, food, and quite the view of the city. Never busy, plenty of parking.
Fishbone, corner of Washington and Morgan, is a southern soul food place that has delicious blackened catfish, the best fried potatoes i've about had, and a custard dessert on certain days (called something vaguely like Sambalaya). Fun, upbeat atmosphere plus outdoor seating. About five blocks west of Halstead. Neither place will disappoint. -Chris
I think Unifer means Wishbone, which is indeed a very good place. I especially like the breakfast dishes: they make a very nice ham and grits, and their southern benedict (with biscuits for english muffins, and sausage gravy for hollandaise) is pretty great. I also enjoy their crawfish cakes. Be forewarned, however, that on the weekends at breakfast time, the lines start to get really long at about 10:00.
Soul Kitchen is pretty nice. Their soulfood inspired dishes however leave something to be desired. If you're in the mood for some nice fried catfish, check out Army and Lous, on 75th st on the South Side. There are a couple of threads about soul food on this board: I'd recommend investigating a little further.
Near where you're staying on grand there is La Scarola: a very small very crowded italian-american joint. They're very good at chicago-style style italian specialties (don't look for tuscan trattoria food here). Think veal chops the size of a platter, atop a pound and a half of incredibly savory fried potatoes. I've also enjoyed their signature escarole and sausage appetizer. The portions are unbelievably large.
You are also close to the Randolph St. Restaurant row: check out this board for reviews of Blackbird, etc on this strip.
Just take a walk around Wicker Park where Soul Kitchen is. It's sort of a funky restaurant row in that area.