Part one of this post covered where to stay and my favorite (lesser-known) things to do in Lincoln Park and Old Town for visitors and locals alike. This post: where to eat and drink in the neighborhoods.
Full disclosure: I have not solicited every restaurant and bar in Lincoln Park and Old Town – I’m probably overlooking some worthy inclusions.
FAVORITE SHOPS, BARS AND RESTAURANTS IN LINCOLN PARK AND OLD TOWN
Starbucks at North & Wells: The horror! Recommending the capitalistic, ubiquitous, mega-chain Starbucks!?! Yes, I am. Sure, the coffee is not that great (if you want decent coffee and, for that matter, decent service, go north to Julius Meinle — but this isn’t a Lakeview post, it’s a Lincoln Park/Old Town post…) however this outlet is located on the friendliest corner you’ll find in the city. I like to sit outside on a Sunday and linger over the New York Times, pet the parade of puppies and watch Sam the Streetwise Man work his magic with the crowd. Everyone in Old Town knows and loves Sam. 210 W. North Avenue
“Fun” fact for people over 40: The Walgreen’s across the street sold a box of Tylenol leading to one of the deaths in the unsolved 1982 Tylenol Murders.
Chicago Bagel Authority: I cherish this quirky neighborhood joint with its weirdly-named bagels, collection of sticky hot sauce bottles and insider jokes tacked to the walls. Don’t be shy when you go: just belly-up to the counter with the bed-headed, hungover DePaul co-eds and choose from over 60 steamed (not toasted!) exotic bagel combinations. Cozy in the winter, open and airy in the summer (there’s outdoor seating in back). 953 W. Armitage Avenue
Glazed and Infused Doughnuts: If you’re ruled by your sweet tooth, go instead to Glazed and Infused Doughnuts, the area carbo rage for awhile now (doughnuts are the new cupcake in Lincoln Park). 939 W. Armitage Avenue
Behold, below: the Red Velvet (cocoa buttermilk cake with vanilla bean glaze, cream cheese frosting and red velvet crumbles).
Toast: Toast has had them lining-up outside the door for nearly 20 years now. I recommend the traditional eggs benedict with a monster (wasabi) bloody mary. Or, the traditional eggs benedict with two monster (wasabi) bloody marys. 746 W. Wesbster Avenue
Floriole Cafe and Bakery: The word that comes to mind whenever I enter Floriole is civilized. This is my Saturday morning go-to spot for the lightest, fluffiest bacon and cheddar quiche in Chicago, maybe the world. Outdoor seating is available for a lucky few. 1220 W. Webster Avenue
Blue Door Farm Stand: BDFS is leading the way as Armitage Avenue finally seems to be finding its identity — as a foodie destination. Yay! This unpretentious (it could have turned-out pretentious) newcomer features fresh, seasonal food and drink from local farms and farmers’ markets. I especially like the easy take-out option. 843 Armitage Avenue
Below: Their best-seller, brussels sprouts, kale and bacon salad.
Amato’s Pizzeria: Sausage thin-crust. Best slice in Chicago. Period. 953 W. Willow Street
The J. Parker: This restaurant/bar atop the Hotel Lincoln boasts the best views in Lincoln Park and perhaps Chicago. Indoor and outdoor seating is available. 1816 N. Clark Street
Twin Anchors Restaurant & Tavern: I walked past this Old Town neighborhood joint that looks like a hundred other Chicago neighborhood joints for years and never paid attention to it until I met two people in one week — neither of whom even live in Chicago — who both claimed it as their favorite Windy City eats. Boy am I an idiot. The ribs are great, but I fell for the character this place oozes. Great photos of Sinatra and other famous guests line the walls. 1655 N. Sedgwick Street
North Pond: Guys: if you want to impress your date, take her here. Between the Frank-Lloyd-Wright-esque architecture, history (it was originally built in 1912 as a warming shelter for ice skaters) and location (in the actual Lincoln Park with a view of Lake Michigan), this is the most romantic dining spot in the city. I’m not waiting for a date, however, to return for their foodie favorite brunch. 2610 N. Cannon Drive
Alinea: This is the place to go when someone else is paying. Brace yourself for a very long, very expensive, very spectacular molecular gastronomical experience. A once-in-a-lifetime (or more, if you’re lucky) must-do. Alinea is rated three Michelin stars and has often been heralded as the best restaurant in the U.S. on the The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. 1723 N. Halsted Street
Mon Ami Gabi: Awwww, I saved my absolute favorite for last. Maybe I’m just nostalgic for MAG because it’s where I picked nervously at my dinner and gulped wine 10 years ago after submitting an offer (for much more than I intended to spend) on my current condo (and I haven’t missed a mortgage payment yet). Nope, I think I’m so fond of it for the frisée (with warm bacon and a poached egg) salad and the hand-cut fries. Or maybe it’s because I can sit outside with a view of the park in the summer or perch at the intimate bar with the other regulars in the winter. Or possibly it’s because no other restaurant in the city attracts the same randomly mixed crowd: famous Chicagoans, suburbanites out on a tear, wealthy dowagers and their heirs, bespectacled literary-types, flamboyant twosomes and just average josies like me. 2300 N. Lincoln Park West
Below: The signature steak frites.
Part one of this post: where to stay and my favorite (lesser-known) things to do Lincoln Park and Old Town.