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Dinner for 6 in Wicker Park/Bucktown?

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Looking at doing dinner next saturday for 6 in Wicker Park/Bucktown (we want to explore the neighborhood to see if when we move to town it might be a good place for us to live). We are up for just about any cuisine, but prefer to keep the entrees in the $25 or less range- so moderately priced to nice.

Any help?

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  1. Not sure what type of meal you are looking for, but I'd go to Forno at the corner of North/Damen/Milwaukee. It is remarkable how many places are right at this intersection or within 10 storefronts. Anyway, Forno is a small plates Italian restaurant with pretty simple, rustic preparations. It is a very fun, lively place and should give you a good feel for what WP/Bucktown is all about. It's run by the group that owns several restaurants in Chicago under the "Francesca" franchise including Mia Francesca, Francesca's on Taylor, etc. However, all of their restaurants feel original and non-chainy. Plus, you are right at the main intersection with tons of places to explore after dinner.

    2 Replies
    1. re: NDJ

      Thanks! I'm not sure what we want either, that's part of the reason this is so open. If I had to guess, knowing the women of this group, we'll end up at Moonshine afterwards, but maybe I can convince them to go to Goldstar or Rainbow Room (Goldstar is a long shot with this crowd I think).

      Where's the closest Applebees? (just kidding)

      1. re: jpschust

        One other suggestion on the Division strip would be Enoteca Roma at Division and Leavitt. It is connected to Letitzia's Bakery, owned by the same people. It is a low-key wine bar with awesome food. This place is tiny, very Euro, and they have outdoor seating if it happens to be nice out. That will put you closer to Moonshine/Goldstar/Rainbow Room.

    2. I like two places:

      Cafe Matou on Milwaukee, between Armitage/Western and Damen/North. Excellent food with a French flair. Unlike all the new places that have opened in the neighborhood the past few years, Cafe Matou is a long-time favorite and is as good as ever. I ate there the other night and really enjoyed it. www.cafematou.com

      Scylla on Damen just south of Armitage. Also excellent food, seafood and, well, just a lot of contemporary type foods. www.scyllarestaurant.com

      Both of these places are in your target price range (actually, slightly below, with most entrees around $18 at both places). Both are very nice, great food and are two of the best restaurants in the neighborhood.

      1. Other suggestions:
        Le Bouchon (French bistro)
        Scylla (contemporary seafood)
        Hot Chocolate (casual cafe with awesome desserts)
        Coast (Sushi -- byo)
        All on Damen.

        Cafe LeGuardia (bustling Cuban) on Armitage

        Jane's (homey gourmet) on Courtland

        1. Bin Wine Cafe. (1559 N. Milwaukee) Have been there multiple times and have always had a great meal. Very nice space, numerous tables for larger parties. The wine pairings are fun and cheap and most of the mains are in the teens.

          Went to hot chocloate and the food was very dissapointing, go just for dessert, but I found that a little dissapointing as well. Coast is great (and a great deal) as well.

          1. I think Feast is good, I've been there with groups and we've always had a great time.

            1. I strongly suggest you look at Bin Wine Cafe and Hot Chocolate, if you're talking the North+Damen intersection. I'm not particularly impressed with many of the other restaurants near that intersection, including Feast and Francesca's Forno, which just don't seem to be particularly distinctive.

              Further away from that intersection: Bob San, Mirai, Adobo Grill, Scylla, Cafe Matou, Le Bouchon, Baccala. I can't vouch for all of those, though.

              1 Reply
              1. re: gleam

                I went to Baccala about two weeks after it opened and really liked it. Eating there will give the OP a good feel for the neighborhood. Also, the price is right, especially because most of the menu items can be ordered in half portions. The food is billed as Piemontese, although I would describe it more as generally Italian (I don't remember much dried cod in Piemonte). The short ribs were terrific as were the artichoke ravioli.

              2. Why not Club Lucky on Wabansia? I really like it, especially for such a large group. Don't be scared if the bar looks too crowded, usually the restaurant itself is not as crowded. I like Forno, but it is TOO loud in there and I am always feeling cramped, they put the talbes too close together. I have never had a bad meal at Club Lucky, moderlety priced, good italian food, which can be family style too (not as family as Buco Di Bepo but good sizes). I like it too, because it is in the middle of the bucktown neighborhood and will give you a good idea of housing and the neighborhood.

                Aren't the restaurants on Division considered Ukranian Village more than Wicker Park/Bucktown?

                6 Replies
                1. re: Francis

                  A couple other ideas a little further out:
                  Think at 2235 N. Western, contemporary american
                  Buona Terra at 2535 N. California, italian (really in Logan Square)
                  Both have good food, small places with a nice atmosphere

                  1. re: marciab

                    I want to be in the heart of Wicker park if at all possible- we are evaluating the area to see if it's a potential place we wish to live.

                    1. re: jpschust

                      When I think of the heart of Bucktown/Wicker Park, I think of the half mile square formed by Damen, Armitage, Western, and North, and the stretch of Milwaukee Avenue which is the diagonal on that square, along with the Damen and Western stops on the el's Blue Line at opposite corners of that square. Most of the more prominent restaurants (including most of those mentioned here) lie along these streets.

                      Of course, Bucktown/Wicker Park is larger than that, with the area generally considered to extend east to the river, north to Fullerton, and south to Division. Bucktown is the northern half of this area, and Wicker Park is the southern half, but most folks consider it all one neighborhood. It's a nice area, and a particularly good place for food lovers to live.

                      1. re: nsxtasy

                        That definition misses the entire stretch of Milwaukee southeast of that intersection, and all of the Division St. restaurants. I'd say it's everything within about 3/4 mile of the North/Damen/Milwaukee intersection, for better or for worse.

                        Also, I've found the food at Club Lucky to be remarkably average italian-american fare. Definitely not unique to the neighborhood, and definitely not worth wasting a meal on for an out-of-towner.

                        1. re: gleam

                          Name one place SE of the 6 corners on Milwaukee that is worth it. I believe a few have been mentioned, but the others are average at best
                          Division St. is technically considered Ukranian Village, but there are great places in there too - which again have been mentioned.
                          To the OP, you'll learn that neighborhoods kind of blur together and there are not any specific boundries, there is a lot of cross over.

                          1. re: Francis

                            Baccala and Bin Wine Cafe, both of which I'd rather go to than anything on Milwaukee on the other side of the six corners. Milwaukee as a whole is a pretty poor stretch, but that doesn't mean the northwest bit is better than the southeast bit.

                            And nothing is "technically considered Ukrainian Village". Just like Wicker Park and Bucktown, Ukrainian Village isn't an official community area in Chicago. That stretch of Division is West Town, just like the 6 corners.

                2. I would suggest Rios 'd Sudamerica - great for bigger groups. Its South American cuisine, pretty affordable and BYOB. They'll make mojios or other cocktails for you if you supply the liquor. Armitage & Damen.
                  http://www.riosdesudamerica.com/