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Jan 15, 2009 05:00 PM

great stuff in or near Andersonville

My mom will be in Chi. next week, staying in Andersonville with my sister, and I am looking for some stuff that she should check out that is fairly close.
So far: I have plans for her to eat at Blackbird, which isnt close but does anyone have an opinion?
also, looking for a good place to eat at before going to the Oriental. I have checked the posts of restaurants near the theatre, most seem expensive due to location...
so what would be good in Andersonville,? It should be cheap and exciting....
the Sunshine Cafe seems like a good choice.
Also....any opinions regarding great Chinese near Andersonville?
Anything else that's nearby?

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  1. M. Henry is great for breakfast. Don't miss the "blisscakes"! Big Jones is very good for Cajun and Southern cooking. And, of course, Hopleaf for mussels and frites and a bazillion kinds of beer - probably about as close to "cheap and exciting" as you'll find in Andersonville.

    The food at Blackbird is outstanding, but the atmosphere is noisy and cramped. I'm not a big fan of sitting cheek-by-jowl in a line of tables, which is the way much of the dining room is set up. Did I mention that the food is excellent, though? In the downtown area, I like Aigre Doux ( ) as a more civilized alternative with great food. If you're looking for excellent upscale contemporary American restaurants that are a bit closer to Andersonville, consider Magnolia Cafe in Uptown ( ), Sola in North Center ( ), and Chef's Station in Evanston ( ).

    I haven't found any really great Chinese restaurants on the north side or the near north suburbs; I still go down to Chinatown to Lao Sze Chuan ( ) when I want great Chinese food.

    For inexpensive ethnic food, there are several types quite close to, but not actually within, Andersonville. These include all the Indian restaurants along Devon Avenue between Western and Sacramento (e.g. Viceroy of India, ), the Mexican restaurants in Rogers Park (e.g. Jesse's Mexican Grill on Western Avenue), and the Vietnamese restaurants on Argyle around the CTA Red Line stop (e.g. Tank Noodle, ).

    If you enjoy breads and pastries, Swedish Bakery ( ) has a great selection of Swedish-oriented ones. A few blocks north of Swedish Bakery is Pasticceria Natalina, which features Sicilian pastries - somewhat on the pricey side, but excellent.

    1. So what if Blackbird's not close . . . it's excellent . . . one of my favorite restaurants in Chicago. But if you insist on staying closer to home, I'm a big fan of Anteprima on Clark St. just south of Balmoral. It's more upscale than most Andersonville options and the Northern Italian menu offers everything but run-of-the-mill Italian food. Other options closer to Andersonville for a good upscale meal include Talullah in Lincoln Square and Sola in North Center. La Tache, on Balmoral just east of Clark, is also decent enough for French bistro food.

      There are two very nice Mexican restaurants (nice but casual and not too expensive) pretty close to Andersonville. Mixteco Grill at Montrose and Ashland and Dorado on Foster a couple blocks east of Western Avenue.

      For more of a bar-type scene, Hopleaf is a Belgian pub on Clark just south of Foster. I love it, particularly the mussels and frites and the Montreal smoked meat sandwich. The array of Belgian beers on tap is impressive. But don't get me wrong, they offer many tables for dining (not just drinking) and the food is excellent.

      Sunshine Cafe is excellent. It's very, very casual and very homey . . . the perfect spot on a cold night. I love the green tea, the sukiyaki, the fabulous udon noodles, the crispy and non-greasy tempura, the mackerel, you name it. It's all excellent. Just don't expect to find anything in the way of decor and you'll be thrilled.

      As for Chinese, Sun Wah is great for Hong Kong-style bbq. Order the thin pan fried noodles extra crispy (with pork) for a real treat. The Hong Kong duck should be ordered 1/2 hour in advance (akin to Peking duck) but it's excellent and cheap. Roast pork is also great here. I'm not sure there's anything on Sun Wah's menu I don't love. It's on Argyle on the north side of the street, just a few doors east of Broadway (very close to Andersonville). By the way, if you like Chinese pastries, the ones at Patisserie P on Argyle (a block east of Sun Wah) are great . . . I love the green bean paste buns.

      Mei Shung on Broadway (5500 block) and Silver Seafood on Broadway (around 4900) are good Chinese food options close to Andersonville. Sun Wah would be my first choice without question, but Mei Shung does offer a menu with more variety.

      If you prefer Vietnamese, there are certainly a number of options on Argyle (near Sun Wah). Tank Noodle (at the corner of Broadway and Argyle) is excellent and has quite the diverse and inexpensive menu.

      And if you are a fan of Thai food, Chicago offers some of the best Thai food you will find anywhere in the US. In particular, Spoon Thai in Lincoln Square (Western near Wilson) and TAC Quick (Sheridan just south of Irving Park) are close to Andersonville and both are great. Make sure to ask for the translated Thai menus where the real gems lie. And both are very inexpensive.

      As long as you're in Andersonville, don't miss the Sicilian treats at Pasticceria Natalina, maybe my favorite bakery in Chicago (west side of Clark just north of Balmoral).

      For brunch in the neighborhood, M. Henry is very good. I prefer Uncommon Ground but it's about a mile north of Andersonville, at Clark and Devon. M. Henry offers more sweet options for brunch.