NFT Chicago Wicker Park / Ukrainian Village

Wicker Park / Ukrainian Village

Essentials
Wicker Park/Ukrainian Village play host to a brewing battle between shiny gentrified district and gritty arts enclave. Mammoth Victorian homes and angular new constructions line the leafy and historic streets. Stroller-wielders and tattooed-cyclists share Milwaukee Avenue: each equally comfortable sipping Metropolis Coffee next to the full-size replica of a Delorean time machine at Wormhole. Who will ultimately claim the territory as their own? Just ask Bucktown.

Sundries/Entertainment
The neighborhood's cozy artist community warily eyes the yuppies inching their way westward, and local businesses are beginning to reflect these migratory patterns. Upscale chain retailers and slick sports bars wedge themselves between indie shops and cafés. Find the two populations intermingling over gourmet tacos and tequila on See more.

>Big Star's summer patio. As always, Indie bands and avant-garde jazz wail through the night from Empty Bottle.

Piece serves up New Haven-style pizza with a selection of microbrews crafted in-house. Mana features fine upscale vegetarian, and Carriage House is trendy but good. Satisfy any and all fried chicken cravings at Leghorn Chicken.




         
via @notfortourists - NFT - Chicago - Chicago - Wicker Park / Ukrainian Village Facebook Buzz this delicious Digg Stumble Upon


This Neighborhood Featured in...
Bringing Out Baby

By Nina Williams
Just because you have a new little one in your life, doesn't mean your days of going out on the town are totally over. Join Nina Williams as she brings out the baby all over Chicago.

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Raw Fish Round Up

By Josannah Birman
Sushi: So sexy! Isn't it? That's what Josannah Birman would have us believe. From her intrepid reporting on fresh kill dishes and Mexican chefs, sushi springs forth as the fish-and-rice Oriental aggregation you always wanted but were too afraid to ask for. Have it fresh off a sleek tabletop, a naked woman or dehydrated into edible paper sheets. Sushi: So versatile.

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Beer: English for Beer.

By Jill Jaracz
Beer: It may be the world's most popular alcoholic beverage but that doesn't mean you have to be democratic about it. From cask-conditioned to microbrewed, let Jill Jaracz show you a whole new world of fermented yeast.

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Adventures in Resale & Vintage Shopping

By Keidra Chaney
Clothes other people have worn?! Who buys that? Keidra Chaney does--from hoity toity vintage minidresses to a wide assortment of 90s Japanese tees. Don't forget to check for bed bugs.

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Drinking Guide to Chicago

By Jill Jaracz
Bottle Service? Old Style? But what does it all mean?! Wading through Chicago drinking lingo is a fate no novice NFTer should be subject to, right? Jill Jaracz cuts through the terminology, flies past the red tape and jumps headlong into a metaphorical tankard of beer. Come along!

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Singin' in the Pain: Where to Find True Blue Chicago

By Douglas DuBrin
Ah, the blues. Nothing like the gruff, dejected drawn-out wail of misery. It came from the South. It takes up residence in the fields of the fertile Midwest. Douglas DuBrin callously categorizes his city's jazz joints by geography and calibre. Determine the rightfulness of his delineations in the article which follows.

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On Our Radar:

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Posted By:  Joseph Hernandez
Photo:  Joseph Hernandez

Big Star
Taquerias are a dime a dozen, yet Big Star takes the familiar formula of cheap street fare and classes it up. Like, a lot. Utilizing organic, sustainable ingredients, the former Pontiac space slings some first class tacos, amongst other things. The borrego is a must: braised lamb shoulder, radish, and scallion come in the perfect corn tortilla, not too dry or meal-y. The panza is just as good, with queso fresco, crispy pork belly and guajillo salsa. Both come in at $3, only a little more than the other taquerias. An all-star cast (Donnie Madia, Terry Alexander, Peter Garfield, Paul Kahan and Edward Seitan) transformed the former Pontiac space into a cavernous garage of sorts (think concrete and wood bar). Classic honky tonk is the music of choice, while whiskey and beer specials (and the patio) keep the beautiful people coming. Unlike other bars in the uber-trendy 'hood, there is no air of pretension, just lots of satisfied bellies. Big Star has a tendency to be busy, but the attached walk-up window alleviate most of the traffic, perfect if you decide to walk your pup and get an inexplicable (inevitable?) craving.



Thursday, September 2, 2010

Posted By:  Joseph Hernandez
Photo:  Joseph Hernandez

Café Ballou
Found at the border of sleepy Ukrainian Village, Cafe Ballou is a throw-back to the bohemian coffeehouses of bygone years. Miss-matched tables and chairs dot the cozy space, which boasts a melange of local art on its walls. During a recent visit, Bob Dylan warbled from the speakers while a fresh batch of ever-popular Intelligensia coffee filled the air with its delicious aromas. In true boheme fashion, Ballou's calendar of events is chock-a-block full of readings, visiting singer/song-writers, and open mics. The window seats are stacked with pillows, enticing you to sit-down and stay awhile. Enjoy baked goods (the chocolate chunk cookies are insanely good) as well as the various breakfast and lunch sandwiches. After five o'clock, the cafe allows you to BYOB; as the sun goes down, Cafe Ballou feels like your thrift-furnished living room. Stop by for one of the cafe's events, pop open a bottle and imagine yourself at a Parisian beat cafe; it's just that comfortable.



Friday, July 23, 2010

Posted By:  Joseph Hernandez
Photo:  Joseph Hernandez

Filichia's Food and Imports
If your idea of Italian is wrapped up in the romance of a trattoria--or prosciutto--don't come to Filichia's. If you like good, honest food at affordable prices, though, this corner deli counter is sure to satisfy your tomato sauce-cravings. There's a smattering of side options (orzo, pasta salads, various soups) as well as pizza by the slice, but the real draws are the hot and cold sandwiches. From eggplant parm to hefty sliced cold cuts, they've got a literal corner on the 'hood's sandwich market. If you have a legion-sized appetite, order one of the freshly made, limited (read: coveted) calzones, which change daily. And while the food is well-worth even the shortest visit, don't expect frills walking into the door. The humble storefront is friendly enough, and though touting themselves as importers, Filichia's walls are just short of bare. That's because they use the same imports in their foodstuffs; call it product confidence, if nothing else. If you want to sit and eat, there are four checkered-cloth tables next to the wall of windows, opened onto busy Western Avenue. Whether or not you're Italian, Filichia's simple fare will remind you of Nonna, wherever she is.



Monday, January 4, 2010

Posted By:  Tatyana Zaprudskaya
Photo:  Tatyana Zaprudskaya

Jam
Following the logical progression of its predecessors, Toast and Yolk, Jam is the sweet new condiment of Wicker Park. While this new breakfast spot does not look like much from the outside, it elevates the first meal of the day to an entirely new foodie status. The decor is an elegant yet simple color palate of silver and yellow, and typical breakfast picks have been remixed. French toast is mundane no longer: accessorized with lime leaf cream and fruit compote--fluffy and light. The Eggs Benedict is revamped with soft pork belly instead of plain old ham. The S'more pancakes are not your ordinary campfire dessert: chocolate pancakes, topped with melted marshmallow cream, with a side of crushed graham crackers, caramel, and syrup. If you like huge, simple, cheap breakfast fare, Jam is not the place to go. If you decide to venture out, it is definitely worth the risk, and service is brisk. Leave the plastic at home, this place is cash only. Oh, and impatient beware; there is no getting around the wait on weekends.



Friday, December 11, 2009

Posted By:  Tatyana Zaprudskaya
Photo:  Tatyana Zaprudskaya

Taxim
Bucktown's innovative take on Greek is all Greek to me. The restaurant's most talked about dish, the duck gyro, is not so much a gyro. More like duck rolled in a pita with some yogurt sauce, definitely on the bland side. Making a bunch of appetizers your meal is the prudent choice. Stellar dishes include the beet and heirloom tomato salads, hummus, house-made phyllo with feta, and baby zucchini and eggplant. The Moroccan-esque ambience is exotically chic yet simple with luxe chandeliers, rich jewel tones, and dim lighting. Two perks: rarely a wait, it seems perpetually empty, and organic ingredients with locally grown meat. Final verdict: only for the foodies and open-minded, otherwise plain old Saganaki and Gyros are best when found in Greektown.



Thursday, August 13, 2009

Posted By:  Nina Williams
Photo:  Nina Williams

iCream
It took forever for this wicker park shop to open, but I'm glad it finally did. There are lots of ice cream shops in the area, but what makes this one unique is the way they make the ice cream. They use these crazy hydrogen robo-machines to freeze the base substance and flavor. Then they add in whatever ingredient your tiny heart desires. Although the lines might frighten you away, the servers behind the counter work diligently to get the icream--which is made right in front of you--to your lips in no time. And even if you don't live in the hood, it's definitely worth the trek there because the icream is oh so good.



Monday, July 20, 2009

Posted By:  Nina Williams
Photo:  Nina Williams

Cipollina
This spot is tiny and when I say tiny I mean anything over six people would seriously crowd the place. This is definitely one of those grab it and go cafes. When you're about to jump on the Blue Line, you can stop in here for something to eat or drink. It’s also a good spot to meet friends. They have a variety of coffee drinks, Italian sodas, pastries, and Paninis in addition to Milk & Honey's awesome granola. Although they don't have a ton of items to choose from, what they do have is excellent.



Friday, July 17, 2009

Posted By:  Nina Williams
Photo:  Nina Williams

Angels & Mariachis
This is a beautifully decorated space. The masks, big bull head on the wall and tables and chairs are reminiscent of an old Mexican watering hole. This place is always packed. Whenever you pass by there are people hanging out the window drinking, laughing, and smiling, but it's probably because there is an extra shot of Tequila in every margarita glass. It's definitely not because of the food. The salsa tastes store-bought and the plates of food are rather small. It leaves a lot to be desired especially if you are accustomed to eating the other fabulous Mexican food available throughout the city. Skip the food, go for the drinks.



Thursday, June 4, 2009

Posted By:  Nina Williams
Photo:  Nina Williams

Alliance Bakery
There is no shortage of cafes in Wicker Park, but this teensy bakery with interesting pastries sits quietly on Division Street minding its own business. The thing about it is that it has the most hilarious and amazing cakes sitting in the window drawing you inside like Homer to a doughnut. They have every kid's dream cake--an enormous hamburger that looks oh-so-real. It's rather spectacular and it doesn't come cheap, but cool things rarely are. They also have a variety of delicious pastries. And of course, no cafe would be complete without coffee. Next door there is a larger space with free Wi-Fi in case you need to get some work done. This is an awesome place to visit frequently.



Friday, March 6, 2009

Posted By:  Jamie Smith
Photo:  Jamie Smith

The Bongo Room
Over the years I've become somewhat cynical about brunch, preferring the greasy dependability of the Golden Nugget to an hours-long wait at a trendy spot where the food’s occasionally not worth the 20 minutes you have to wolf it down before they give your table away to the next wave of customers. My hater hackles were raised as soon as I entered the Bongo Room. Seizure-inducing color scheme? Check. Loud music designed to drown out meal-extending conversation? Check. Amazing food that’s worth standing around for 45 minutes? Check plus. An hour after I arrived, the Bongo Room won me over by serving some of the most delicious potatoes I've ever eaten before noon--not shredded, not mashed, but thickly chopped and lightly spiced. My friend had the tower of chocolate-banana French toast and I can tell you I would wait two hours in a neon green room while the Chemical Brothers shatter my eardrums to eat this again. While the Bongo Room's ambience is par for the fashionable restaurant course, the food definitely exceeds expectations.



Monday, January 5, 2009

Posted By:  Jamie Smith
Photo:  Jamie Smith

Bin Wine Cafe
Bin Wine Cafe may be the smallest restaurant in the Bin 36 empire, but it is now my favorite because of one thing: their pizza crust. Sure, the wine is great and sold at a good price. They're not at all snobby, it's everything you could want in a wine cafe, etc., etc. But this pizza crust! It's divine and doughy and tastes like a freshly baked loaf of bread. It's soft enough to be chewy, but crunchy enough that you can hold your slice aloft without anything sliding off. Even some of the fancy pizza places that regularly top the "Best Of" lists can't hold a candle to what I had here. For Pete's sake, there were flecks of freshly ground sea salt! It may seem counterintuitive to come to a place like this for pizza, but Bin has mastered the art of the wine & not-so-fine dine.




Friday, December 5, 2008

Posted By:  Nina Williams
Photo:  Nina Williams

Coco Rouge
Here is a superior chocolate lounge located in the heart of Wicker Park disguised as a super sexy club. Its burgundy interior is filled with stainless steel elements giving this space a mysterious and possibly intimidating vibe, but it's not. The staff is incredibly nice and knowledgeable about each truffle and hot chocolate drink they offer and they will give you the good, bad, and ugly without sugarcoating the truth. Try the Cassius truffle which is a combination of caramel, scotch, and bittersweet chocolate or the Sirena truffle which is a blend of orange blossom, kumquat, ginger, and Jamaican all spice. Then top it off with a cherry blossom hot chocolate. You will be pleased.



Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Posted By:  Nina Williams
Photo:  Nina Williams

Veggie Bite
Finally, a veggie fast food restaurant opens in Wicker Park to pacify vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike. Picture walking into a clean, sunny spot decked out in bright blue and green furniture often filled by neighborhood patrons. The menu sports classically bad fast food favorites like meatless nuggets, gyros, and Philly cheese steak sandwiches among other things. Okay, so it's not nutritious, but it's plenty tasty and conveniently located on Milwaukee Avenue between Damen and Ashland. They also have a south side location, but it's closed for renovations, so right now this is the only Veggie Bite in town where you can get your veggie on.



Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Posted By:  Alan Snider
Photo:  Alan Snider

W Crossings Grocer
Corner stores make their money by setting up convenient locations, shuffling you to the back of the store, and forcing you to bend over. W Crossings has taken a different approach. You can go in and buy some ice cream or a frozen pizza, choose from an impressive selection of fresh produce, and leave without that trademark corner store limp. They actually have an expansive selection of groceries and other stuff you might have forgotten to get from Dominick's--you have a choice of at least three varieties of toilet paper. But don't be fooled, you have a choice because two of them are reasonable but the third costs your firstborn and your grandmother's wedding dress. It's sort of like playing Minesweeper with your groceries. A word to the wise: resist the temptations of the $5 organic chocolate bars. Once you taste something so delicious, you can't be bothered with trivial things like paying the rent.



Monday, November 10, 2008

Posted By:  Alan Snider
Photo:  Alan Snider

Subterranean
The Subterranean runs a bar downstairs and a music venue on the upper two floors. The downstairs bar is pretty mediocre compared to the other, nearby offerings. It doesn't help that it's full of rounder people than you'll find in an episode of South Park. Still, it's usually good for a free beer on a Friday night, and there's no complaining about that. The music venue itself is excellent. There's a solid mix of rock, indie, and pop acts that frequent the place. The drinks are reasonably priced, and if the crowd can get uncomfortably young at times (they're not averse to hosting dance parties for 17-year-olds during the week), the sound system and unique balcony views more than make up for it. You're more likely to drop in here at random and catch a quality show than you are next door at the more venerable Double Door--at least, less likely to have to sit through the same metal band that played your high school talent show.



Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Posted By:  Alan Snider
Photo:  Alan Snider

Estelle's Café & Lounge
Rational people spend most of their adult lives doing everything they can to avoid thinking of those hours they were locked in their uncle's closet (...); drunks in Wicker Park will gladly wait 45 minutes in subzero weather for the chance to relive the experience. Maybe it's a way of taking control of the situation--at least this time they're the creeps drunk off of PBR. This bar can be a good hang before 1AM, though. The bottled beer is cheap, it's a more relaxed crowd than the other bars nearby, and the music is happily eclectic. But unlike that certain someone staring at you from across the room, this place gets uglier the later you stay. If you're not in before the mush-rush from Tavern and Debonair, good luck. Your feet will probably freeze to the pavement before they find a place to shoehorn you.



Friday, October 17, 2008

Posted By:  Alan Snider
Photo:  Alan Snider

The Flat Iron
Residents of Wicker Park should rejoice. Two in the morning used to present the most terrible of questions: Estelle's or Evil Olive? You could either wait in line for too long to spend an hour paying too much for drinks in someone's sweaty closet, or you could pay just as much to run the risk of "accidentally" picking up a 16-year-old and getting stabbed. The Flatiron offers no waiting, cheap(er) drinks, and entirely average times. That may sound like a dig, but think about your recent trips to bars that stay open till four; I'm willing to bet that average sounds like fingering the captain of the cheerleading squad in comparison.



Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Posted By:  Kristen Orser
Photo:  Kristen Orser

Cooking Fools
When I don't want to cook but want to entertain, I've been known to call Cooking Fools and have them cater the whole party. I don't usually tell my guests and I think they are utterly impressed thinking I've done so much work. I knew Cooking Fools had good catering. I knew I could pick up a pretty inexpensive catfish sandwich for lunch, and I knew I could rely on them for fancy chocolate and tea from their small retail store, but I didn't know how awesome their cooking classes are. Cooking Fools isn't content to just cook for you party after party and day after day, they actually want to teach you how to do it yourself. Most of the teaching classes have a complimentary drink and, after you finish that one, you can by beer by the bottle and wine by the glass. By the time you finish drinking, you won't think even your cooking's that bad.



Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Posted By:  Kristen Orser
Photo:  Kristen Orser

A Vision Chicago
I want to hate this place. Really. The people who work here make wine so unappealing--snobbish and trendy. The employees have been to Napa Valley too many times and haven't spent enough time around the Finger Lake, Italian, or French wineries where the wine is made (and sold) on the farm alongside pigs and goats and there's nothing to stick your nose in the air about. All that aside, the selection is amazing and stays aware of seasonality. I avoid asking for suggestions, but whoever writes the description cards is dead on about flavor notes. Careful not to spend too much money, it is easy to be fooled by the way the store is arranged. If you are willing to look around the whole store instead of listening to recommendations and falling for the "easy to see" wines in the middle of the store, you can find deals on Tempranillos and impressive Rhone Viogniers. As much as this place eats at my paycheck and the employees make me miserable, the selection of import wines is great and the wine sampling is generous. Then again, Trader Joe's does a good job at both of those things for less money and with a lot less attitude.



Thursday, July 3, 2008

Posted By:  Craig Nelson
Photo:  Courtesy of Something to Read

Wicker Park
Beginning July 5th, a most curious bicycle hits Chicago streets and parks: The Book Bike. The only bicycle built for books will visit random Chicago parks every Saturday (weather-permitting) and open its doors to reveal a treasure-trove of books for the taking which have been generously donated by publishers all over the country: from Not For Tourists to McSweeney's to Akashic to Fantagraphics, this oddity is packed to the brim with free books. The Book Bike is a part of Something to Read, a literary initiative founded by writer and editor G.M. Levinson (reviews editor of Make: A Chicago Literary Magazine and an associate editor for the online journal Is Greater Than) to promote and support all things literature in Chicago. The Book Bike will make its inaugural journey to the heart of Wicker Park at noon. Don't miss out. The books are free to anyone in the park on a first-see, first-take basis!




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