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Chow neighborhoods in Chicago

This summer my soon to be fiance and myself will be coming to Chicago both to eat again and to begin to look at houses. I'm trying to get a better feel for the chow neighborhoods in chicago. I know one of the areas we will be looking will be the Wicker Park/Bucktown area (ok, kill me, but I know it's trendy). I know we want to stay away from wrigleyville. We both make pretty nice livings and can afford something nice, so if you had your druthers where would you be to be closest to the chow?

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  1. Not sure what's wrong with Wrigleyville other than the crowds, but personally I am a fan of Lakeview. The homes are beautiful and the food in the neighborhood ranges from Ethiopian to nouveau American. Old Town and Lincoln Park are also great choices for proximity to terrific restaurants and fine shopping.

    2 Replies
    1. re: JungMann

      I agree with all of those areas. And basically, all those north side neighborhoods are so close to each other that anywhere you live, you can easily take advantage of dining opportunities in ALL of them. (Including Lincoln Square, Ravenswood, and Logan Square, which weren't mentioned but are also quite close.)

      1. re: JungMann

        The crowds are kind of what is driving us away from wrigley- other than that it's a great location, especially since her dad used to play for the Cubs :)

      2. I lived in Wicker Park/Bucktown for a few years & you can eat at a different restaurant every night for a month and never have to eat at the same place twice. I also agree with the others that everything is relatively close & there are a lot of great restaurant neighborhoods in Chicago.

        1. Yes, there are a *few* great fine, cheap and/or ethnic dining options in Lakeview, Lincoln Park, and Wrigleyville, but these neighbourhoods are otherwise chow wastelands.

          If you are interested in a wide array of fine dining options, with a plethora of cheap and/or ethnic dining options within easy driving distance, I would encourage you to consider the following:

          Gold Coast
          Old Town
          South Loop
          West Loop
          West Town

          If you are instead interested in a wide array of cheap and/or ethnic dining options, with several fine dining options within easy driving distance, I would encourage you to consider the following:

          Lincoln Square
          Albany Park
          Rogers Park

          I live in Ukie Village, but as someone who adores Asian & Middle Eastern cuisines of all stripes I mainly eat in Chinatown, Lincoln Square, Albany Park, and Uptown.

          Erik M.

          1. I straddle the border of Uptown and Andersonville and I love the area. It's close to public transporation, grocery stores (both chain and independent), Argyle street and Clark Street. Tons of restaurants within walking distance. I don't drive and I have never had a problem without a car. Chicago is great that way.

            1. As Erik notes, some neighborhoods tend to have primarily fine dining places, others tend to have cheap/ethnic options, and still others have a blend of both. So what kinds of places you prefer may have an influence on where would be best for you.

              In addition, I think you need to look, not only at exactly where you live (restaurants in your immediate neighborhood), but also where you will be traveling to. For example, Evanston (just north of the Chicago city limits) has a wonderful and varied restaurant scene, with a huge concentration of excellent restaurants of all kinds right in town - IMHO, with quality and variety the equal of any specific neighborhood in the city. But if you want to try other places in city neighborhoods, you may be driving 5-25 minutes to get to them, because they are all south at various distances. Whereas, if you're in Lakeview, Lincoln Park, or Wrigleyville, these neighborhoods are centrally located, so that you're only about ten minutes drive of ALL of the north side neighborhoods mentioned in this topic, and fifteen from Evanston and the South Loop (both of which have destination-worthy restaurants). So you may want to consider not only an area with lots of good places in the immediate vicinity (again, there are lots of those) but also how easy it will be to travel to lots of other neighborhoods.

              Some other cities have specific neighborhoods where the highest quality and variety of food is located, and elsewhere you are in a wasteland. Not here in Chicago. You can live in pretty much any of the areas mentioned here (so far, anyway) and have lots of choices in your own neighborhood and be close enough to have an endless selection of places in other neighborhoods not too far away. I'm sure you'll be happy wherever you decide to live.

              1. I live near the Ravenswood/Andersonville border and it has a great mix of restaurants excluding very high end choices. I agree with others that you will end up travelling all over town to eat though. I do think Wicker Park/Bucktown is a great area though. Lots of trendy, good quality spots and you'll be located near the expressways which make for pretty easy travel around the city.

                1. I wouldn't worry too much about the local food options. As long as you find the right place in the right neighborhood there will be a lot of nearby choices - and even more if you hop on the train or grab a cab. Plus, you never know what will open up, or close down, in the next couple of years. I'd put other things on the top of my priority list - an indoor garage spot comes to mind now that its sub-zero and snowing... I've lived in Old Town, the Gold Coast, and Near North and have never been more than a 5 minute walk from a great meal.

                  Good luck and welcome (back?) to Chicago.

                  1. I'd suggest looking at your transportation options, then we can help figure out food in the 'hood. Some people swear they have to be along the Red line, others on the Blue, close to the Kennedy, Metra, etc. Depending on where you are working, and what you like to do for fun (theater, sports, museums) there's going to be a good fit and lots of good chow to be found. I live in Bucktown and there are non-trendy parts of this neighborhood too (though where I am seems to be a delivery black hole - Armitage seems to be the upper limit for things south of us, and Fullerton seems to be the lower limit for things north...

                    1. "Some other cities have specific neighborhoods where the highest quality and variety of food is located, and elsewhere you are in a wasteland. Not here in Chicago."

                      Agreed. Great food (especially ethnic food) is scattered across the area. A non-exhaustive selection:
                      - Indian on Devon
                      - Vietnamese on Argyle
                      - Korean on Lawrence
                      - Greek on Halsted
                      - Chinese on Wentworth
                      - Mexican in Pilsen & Little Village
                      - Puerto Rican in Humboldt Park
                      - Italian in 3 different parts of the near West Side
                      - BBQ / Soul across the South Side
                      - Lithuanian in Bridgeport
                      - Bohemian in the near west 'burbs
                      - Hungarian in Arlington Hts.