NFT Chicago Edgewater / Andersonville

Edgewater / Andersonville

Essentials
A century ago, Chicago had a robust Swedish population whose epicenter was Andersonville. The Swedish influence remains, dotting the stroll-friendly commercial areas with Swedish businesses and restaurants, but gentrification is slowly creeping in with swelling property taxes and encroaching big chains. Lakefront community Edgewater is a liberal, pretty paradise and features Chicago's gay beach at Hollywood.

Sundries/Entertainment
No other neighborhood rewards a weekend afternoon ramble like Andersonville. Big Jones serves up high falutin' Southern chow and Ann Sather is a Swedish breakfast classic. Follow an indulgent meal with a stroll down Clark Street, populated with independently owned shops with international wares including Pars Persian StoreSee more.




         


This Neighborhood Featured in...
The Cheapskate's Guide to Chicago

By Dana Kaye
Dana Kaye sure said it straight when she declaimed: "You don’t have to be gay to enjoy all the drink specials on Halsted." But you do have to be on a budget. Chicago is no city for the thrifty, but Dana Kaye is not one for following the rules. Take heed as she stealthily discloses the secrets to getting by with no money.

Read More...

On Our Radar:

Posted By:  Brendan Keating
Photo:  Brendan Keating

Jin Ju
For too long, Korean cuisine has been the red-headed stepchild of East Asian cooking. Somewhere between the panoply of Chinese and the austerity of Japanese, Korean is a wholly different animal: a riot of spicy, savory, and soul-pleasing dishes. Although not exactly a mom-and-pop ethnic hole in the wall, Andersonville's Jin Ju dishes out the peninsular fare with an extra helping of savoir faire. Most of Jin Ju's dishes are traditional Korean favorites with a 21st century twist: bi bim bap, pajun, kalbi, bulgogi, and of course, kim chee. True to Korean style, each entree comes with delectable seasonal side dishes with flavors as complex as the loft-like decor is elegant and understated. Unlike its more raucous fire-in-the-table cousins, Jin Ju also offers a flotilla of exotic libations, including specialty cool and crisp shochu martinis that complement the often fiery cuisine. Although ethnic eats purists may scoff at Jin Ju's swankness, attentive service, martini list, and Buddha Bar background music, the proof , as they say, is in the pajun.



Posted By:  Brendan Keating
Photo:  Brendan Keating

In Fine Spirits Wine Lounge
Feeling a little weary of beer? Interested in experimenting with cocktails? Are you vine-curious? Andersonville's In Fine Spirits will slake your thirst for something new. This slightly upscale lounge specializes in unique but affordable wines, classic cocktails, and yes, even a few microbrews (though mostly bottles). The cocktail menu reads like a Smithsonian of spirits: Moscow Mule, Sazerac, Sidecar, Highball, and of course, Old Fashioned. The 21st century twist is that these cocktails are crafted with spirits so fine and local you've probably never heard of them, but after a taste, you'll never forget them. The small-plate offerings are no less innovative. Start your meal with a pickled tea egg and end it with a pork sandwich with whiskey on the side. Stuffed dates, toasted almonds, and curated cheeses taste like heaven alongside your Argentinean malbec. The friendly service and relaxed atmosphere also complement the food and drinks nicely, as does the cute patio in back. Of course, quality like this doesn't come cheap, and though you don't have to be as rich as a shiraz to afford it, your wallet better not be as light as a chardonnay, either.



Posted By:  Brendan Keating
Photo:  Brendan Keating

M. Henry
Every Sunday morning, rain, sleet, or snow, on an obscure stretch of Clark Street north of Andersonville, you'll find a crowd gathered in front of a small storefront. Some will be clutching mugs of coffee. Some will be waiting over an hour. All of them are there for one reason: m.henry. In a brunch-mad 'hood, m.henry takes all comers and leaves them in the powdered-sugar dust. Their seasonally inspired Sunday brunch menu rotates but stays true to a few cornerstone ingredients: crème and berry-soaked "blisscakes," crab benedicts, omelets drizzled with adobo, and perfect house potatoes. The menu runs the gamut from so tasty you forget it's healthy to so indulgent it's worth another hour at the gym. The entrees are so innovative and the offerings so fresh, it feels like fine dining. But the prices are definitely at the breakfast level. m.henry's excellence has not gone unnoticed, and if you come for the Sunday brunch, expect to join the crowd. One bite of key lime French toast, however, and you'll be in breakfast bliss--and making your plans for next Sunday.



Posted By:  Brendan Keating
Photo:  Brendan Keating

Cosina Grill
Attention BYOBers: Cosina Grill deserves to be your next destination. This eatery just west of Andersonville is a culinary adventure deep into the heart of Mexico. The friendly owners, a chef/hostess couple, welcome you not only into their restaurant, but into the culinary legacy of their family. Their mole dona esperanza--grandma's recipe--is based on 19 different ingredients, takes three days to prepare, and tastes like the inside of a volcano. It really puts the ole in mole. The sauce parade doesn't end there. The complimentary nachos come with a salsa spectrum: a trio of tomato, tomatillo-chipotle, and tomatillo-jalapeno that will leave you struggling to pick a favorite. The whole menu is similarly more mex-mex, less tex-mex, and is a nudge upscale. In keeping with Cosina's twist on Mexican favorites, abandon your traditional BYOB vino for a bottle of tequila and the chef will whip you up a pitcher of homemade margaritas. Cosina Grill is no secreto, though, so call ahead for reservations.



Posted By:  Brendan Keating
Photo:  Brendan Keating

Tanoshii
In Japanese, Tanoshii means "happy," and that's just what you'll be at this North Side sushi spot, a favorite of sushi snobs and regulars for years. But to get the full Tanoshii treatment, you've got to play by the rules. First, sit at the sushi bar. It's where all the action is. Second, (and most importantly) don't order off the menu. They don't call him Sushi Mike for nothing. Put yourself in Mike's capable, knife-wielding hands. Tell him your likes and dislikes, and let him do the rest. The next rule is to B your own B. Make sure it's something decent, or you’ll be embarrassed. The last rule is to let your guard down. Offer some of your libations to your neighbors and even to the staff. If you follow the rules, you'll be rewarded with an evening as unique as Sushi Mike's concoctions, which are assembled from a roster of ingredients like toasted oregano, truffle oil, balsamic distillations, discs of mango, and a spectrum of fish. The food is delicious and the camaraderie even better. Dinner at Tanoshii will cost you about $50 per person, but the experience will be priceless.



Posted By:  Brendan Keating
Photo:  Brendan Keating

Great Lake
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to sample America's best pizza without going nuts. Ever since GQ named Great Lake, the miniscule Andersonville eatery, as the best pizza in the country, you don't just get to buy a Great Lake pie, you have to earn it. You can certainly call in a pizza order, then wait two or three hours and just pick it up, but that's lame. For the real deal, show up at their teeny storefront before 5, put your name and number in, and then hit the bars and shops along Clark Street. It'll be awhile. Great Lake might be BYOB, but it's best if you leave your expectations at home. Once they finally call your phone, the owners are essentially inviting you to dine in their kitchen. The restaurant seats a whopping 14 people, and chances are you'll be sharing the big table with neighbors. The menu is eclectic and limited--you can only pick from 3 pizzas. But when you bite into an artisan crafted pie that you've waited 4 hours for, and when you taste that slightly salty crust like no other, you can murmur happily: "Mission Accomplished."



Posted By:  Brendan Keating
Photo:  Brendan Keating

Piatto Pronto
Heaven must surely contain at least one Italian import store. Andersonville's little slice of paradise is Piatto Pronto. But even past the Pearly Gates, sandwiches can't be this cheap and tasty. Sopressa, salami, mortadella, capicola, provolone, prosciutto, mozzarella, just reading the ingredient list makes your mouth water. Most of the sandwiches are heavy on the meat, though they do have some veggie options. Get a foot-long. It's only six or seven bucks for twelve-plus inches of glory. They're so big, they'll make you blush. Plus, this ain't Subway. Piatto Pronto does double duty as a deli, so they don't hold the flavor. Oh, and they have a lot of other food too, gourmet supplies like olive oils, vinegars, pre-prepared sides and salads, fine pastas, and cheeses. What they don't have is seating, except outside in the summer, so you'll have to eat it your sandwich on the go or at home.



Posted By:  Brendan Keating
Photo:  Brendan Keating

Moody's Pub
Every city should have a Moody's. As comfortable as an old pair of slippers, Moody's Pub is the place everyone agrees on. A booze and burger joint in Edgewater, every night Moody's plays host to a diverse crowd drawn by the universal desire for cheap pitchers and flowing conversation. An all-weather favorite, Moody's delivers in any season. In the summer, the expansive and leafy beer garden feels like vacation. In the winter, the fireplaces, stained glass and dark wood make you almost happy that it's so cold outside. Your grandfather would love it. In fact, he probably took girls on dates here before he met your grandmother. You already know the menu: grilled burgers, huge plates of fries, and token salads and sandwiches. The beer selection is limited. The locals order the "dark." A free parking lot and the nearby Thorndale Red Line stop make it easy to get to, despite its hinterland location. Gloriously old school, they do not accept credit cards. But don't worry. Not since the Eisenhower administration has a dollar stretched this far.



Posted By:  Euphenia Cheng
Photo:  Euphenia Cheng

Icosium Kafe
Who can really resists a good crepes? To be honest, I never tried any other crepes beside sweet crepes. So when I finally was blunt enough to order a savory one, I was really happy with my decision. I ordered the Chicago crepe, which has avocados, muenster cheese, sundried tomatoes, roasted bell peppers, sunflower seeds, fresh cilantro, scallions, and organic mixed greens. It is indeed savory--I cleaned the plate with no doubt. They also have great coffee. It was a perfect match. The restaurant is cozy and easy to get to. Plus, the ambiance is vibrant yet soothing all at the same time.



Posted By:  Jill Jaracz
Photo:  Jill Jaracz

Great Lake
If you want to get people in an argument quickly, get them talking about pizza. You'll find that everybody has a passionate opinion, and passion about pizza is what you'll find at Great Lake, where their crust has been carefully perfected. It's thin with a puffy, bubbly edge that's delightfully chewy when warm. It's so good, you almost don’t care about the toppings, but you'd be wrong not to. Toppings are regionally sourced, with cheese from Wisconsin and spinach from local growers. Of course, what's available has an impact on the menu, which changes monthly, with only four to five pizzas offered at any given time. A basic cheese usually has a spot, but other options can include mushrooms and spinach. And if that wasn't quirky enough for you, the tiny storefront location only seats fourteen, mostly at a communal table, and has irregular hours, so it's best to call ahead.



Posted By:  Jamie Smith
Photo:  Josh Nathan

Icosium Kafe
If you've walked by the Icosium Kafe once, you've walked by it a dozen times. Perhaps you've filed it away in that area of the brain where you put restaurants that look intriguing but not so interesting as to divert you from your current plans. Or maybe the cheap has signage led you to believe that the meal will be of equal quality. You would be wrong on both counts. The variety on the menu is stunning for a restaurant that specializes in crepes and the food is delicious and satisfying. In addition to the standard drink menu you'll find at every restaurant, they serve North African teas and coffees that are perfect for accompanying your Algerian meal or savoring during an afternoon spent enjoying a little peace and quiet. Icosium has somehow managed to be the best-kept secret in Andersonville, despite being prominently located on one of its busiest intersections. Stop by and check it out before the suckers standing in line at the neighboring restaurants realize what they're missing.




Posted By:  Raf Miastkowski
Photo:  Raf Miastkowski

Tomboy
Editor's Note: RIP Tomboy. It is now closed.
Those wary of hipsters, beware: A trendsetting crowd ventures out to this Andersonville hotspot on a seemingly nightly basis. Also adding to Tomboy's "hip" vibe is a loft-style layout that showcases brick walls and intriguing brushed-metal accents. But it's not just about being seen here; the food is also worth a shot. Diners can't go wrong with eclectic American dishes like filet mignon topped with gorgonzola cream sauce or Cornish game hen served with a sweet chili sauce. Tomboy is a great spot if you're trying to impress your date before catching a concert at the Aragon, or looking for one of the classiest dining options in the neighborhood. 




Posted By:  Raf Miastkowski
Photo:  Raf Miastkowski

La Cocina de Frida
This Andersonville spot walks a fine line between lively neighborhood restaurant and quirky exhibit of Mexican painter Frieda Kahlo's portraits. There are so many, it's almost an art gallery. Don't be deterred--the staff is friendly and the restaurant offers a relaxing atmosphere. The menu offers several tasty options, including numerous breakfast dishes. Try the Bomba Frida, composed of pork, chorizo, ham, cheese, and peppers in a pineapple and chile de arbol salsa. It's a gooey concoction of meats and cheese that will simultaneously remedy those late-night munchies and make vegetarians squirm. Since Kahlo did paint so many self-portraits, I bet she would have loved dining here amongst them. La Cocina de Frida is a good option for dinner before drinking some brews as nearby Simon's Tavern.




Posted By:  Jill Jaracz
Photo:  Jill Jaracz

In Fine Spirits Wine Lounge
A few months ago, this popular Andersonville wine shop opened up a lounge in the space next door to the store, and in doing so, hit the jackpot on creating a stellar hangout. The space seems small at first, but it also has a patio and an upper level. Each month the lounge has a different focus and highlights wine, beer, and cocktails from that region. As you'd expect, the wine list is varied and includes flights of reds, whites, and bubbly. A small, but formidable list of craft beer is also on the menu, with one selection served via a hand-pumped cask. Food-wise, you can nibble on light snacks, cheeses, and small sandwiches. The real reason to go here, however, is the great list of carefully blended classic cocktails. The classic cocktail has been making a comeback in Chicago, and if you're looking for a great drink, you can't go wrong here.



Posted By:  Jamie Smith
Photo:  Jamie Smith

Edgewater Produce
I'd often seen Edgewater Produce as I'd walked into the giant grocery behemoth next door but I'd never gone in because of a bad experience I'd had with an independent grocery store in my old neighborhood. Everyone I knew used to go on and on about how great this other place was but it sucked. They were enamored with the "independent business" label and it's not that I don't want to support independent businesses; I just don't want to support them if they suck. Edgewater Produce is an independent grocer that does not suck. The fruit and veggies are significantly cheaper and fresher than at the Jewel across the street and they have a lot of great things that you can't even find at their big corporate competitor: horchata mix, Greek yogurt, a much better selection of peppers, and an awesome Mexican frozen foods section. You'll probably still have to make a stop at a large chain store because Edgewater Produce's relatively small storefront doesn't have everything you need, but it does have pig's feet. And they're a steal.



Posted By:  Jill Jaracz
Photo:  Jill Jaracz

Swedish Bakery
Don't let the name "Swedish Bakery" fool you. Although you can get all the toska tortes, marzariners, and limpa bread you want, this is a full-service bakery that has tasty, yet reasonably prices cakes, pastries, cookies, donuts, coffee cakes, muffins, and bread. Swedish Bakery has been around for about eighty years, with the current owners running it for almost thirty of those years, so it's safe to say they've perfected baking goodness. Try the rich triple chocolate cake or the delectable butter cookies. During the Christmas season you can indulge in your favorite Swedish specialties like pepparkakor and stollen. They also make fresh fruitcakes. At Easter, fresh hot cross buns are available. During the weekend, this place is hopping, so either plan your visit during the week or prepare to wait for a little while. Then you simply drop a few bucks and leave with a Swedish cannoli.



Posted By:  Annie Anderson
Photo:  Annie Anderson

Andersonville Galleria
If the words “mall” and “indie” were meant to be mortal enemies, then the idea-makers behind Andersonville’s new Galleria never knew such distinctions. Located on a busy strip of Clark, Andersonville feels like Lincoln Park all grown up, with eclectic taste in European design and artisan goods. Housing more than 90 different independent artists, the Galleria has everything from handmade jewelry to splatter paint silk-screened t-shirts (do we need more ironic t-shirts? The answer is yes). Browsing through the two intimate levels feels more like discovering than shopping. Two helpful shop attendants in the front of the store will assist you with any items of interest. Decorating on the cheap is easier than ever because the Galleria has an excellent photography gallery and a vintage booth with quirky items like crochet antlers that will have your friends Ebay-ing faster than you can say “copycat.”



Posted By:  Darwyn Jones
Photo:  Darwyn Jones

Have you finished those tin-foiled covered chocolates from your Halloween basket yet? Good. Now, time for some grown up treats. Pasticceria Natalina just opened up in Andersonville and, I can attest, the food is “Ahhhhhhhhh…” (Translation: With the very first taste, the heavens open up, sunbeams spotlight you and an A cappella choir sings the joys of discovery.) The small space looks to be 80% cooking space, 15% customer space and 5% display cases. You’ll want to focus on the display cases. We’re talking rose water- or pistachio-rice pudding, honeydew gel, almond paste cookies (with almond paste imported from Sicily), fig cookies, fruit tarts, anise-flavored pizzelles, and made-from-scratch, filled-when-ordered cannolis. Yum. Of course, I don’t know the name for my favorite item. I just point to the pastry-boat-filled-with-custard-and-topped-with-strawberries-thingee, lick my lips and try to keep the drool off the glass. (I’ve been warned.) Besides the food, the place offers a real small village shop charm. The owners are a husband and wife team (Natalie and Nick) that can be found cooking, creating, baking, filling cannolis…and smiling all the way. Stop in and say hi—and, while you’re there, would you grab me one of those pastry-boat-filled-with-custard-and-topped-with-strawberries-thingees?



Posted By:  Darwyn Jones
Photo:  Darwyn Jones

You work hard and need a vacation. Imagine yourself in Marrakech. The snow-capped Atlas Mountains serve as a backdrop to the Moroccan city. You stroll through the Djemaa el-Fna, an open-air market in Marrakech’s old city. Sample the wares of the orange juice sellers, pose for photos with a snake charmer and weave yourself between magicians and acrobats entertaining the crowd. Later, visit the souk and take in the mouth-watering aromas of the delicious foods. Settle yourself beneath a Henna lamp and sample slow-cooked meats and vegetables pulled from tagines. Push away from the wooden table and shop for vases, antiques, urns, wrought-iron screens… Wait! You can’t be traipsing to Morocco right now! What are you thinking? You’ve got mouths to feed, trash to take out, dogs to walk. Responsibilities, man! Responsibilities! Have no fear. You can still get that Moroccan shopping fix, just visit Marrakech Treasures. As you enter, Moroccan-born owner Nadia Rahmani will call out a hearty hello, and common colors like blue, red and yellow will lose all meaning. Suddenly azure, vermilion, and saffron make sense to you. Congratulations–you just found the gateway to Morocco. Who knew it was just a step off an Andersonville sidewalk?



Posted By:  Annie Anderson
Photo:  Annie Anderson

Cruising along Clark Street at the border of Andersonville and Edgewater, it’s impossible to miss the colorful block-long spectacle of foliage on the east side of the street. Azaleas, geraniums, orchids, hydrangeas, lilies, pepper plants, poinsettias, perennials—Gethsemane Garden Center has just about every flora your heart could desire. On weekends at Gethsemane, the human traffic rivals the teeming plant life, and it can be quite an adventure navigating around the flower beds and herb trays. Better to go on a weekday, when the helpful staff can attend to you without distraction, where you won’t have to dodge and duck to find a planter or potting soil, and where you can park yourself in the middle of a sea of brilliant colors and experience a quasi-pastoral moment. How rare are those in urban environments? Gethsemane seems to recognize the tenuous nature of such an experience in a citified setting, and they’re prepared to arm you with all the accoutrements of building a better urban garden—or at least a better apartment window ledge display. The gift shop, attached to the greenhouse, is stocked with yard and garden goods, from wind chimes to weatherproof furniture to bird baths and beyond.




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Restaurants (37)
Nightlife (12)
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