Wicker Park is a young, cool neighborhood which has exploded with restaurants and bars over the last 10 years. Sure, it’s known as “that grungy, hipster ‘hood” but don’t let that stop you from sampling some of the truly tasty eats and fun vibes there. Take it from me. I comb my hair. My clothes are clean and ironed (But, I do like some vintage threads!). I have nothing pierced below my ears. Yet, I manage to wander around Division Street, Damen and Milwaukee Avenues, supporting indie coffeehouses and artisanal bites. You can, too.
Here are my picks for the Top 7 Wicker Park Restaurants, in no particular order:
*Click on restaurant names for more information and directions.
- Mana Food Bar – It’s great that a meat-heavy town like Chicago has some really delicious vegan/vegetarian restaurants. This tiny, Division St. spot has a gally layout. Sit at the bare-bones bar or one of the booths. I love the cold sesame noodles and Ma Po tofu here. Dishes are nicely spiced and ingredients are very fresh. The cocktails are pretty tasty, too.
2. Pub Royale – I stopped by this place last June and I have been itching to get back ever since. I love a traditional-style British pub. This one is focused on bringing us the type of Indian fare generally found in such pubs. The menu is inventive with really lovely dumplings, samosas, curries and more. Their beer menu is has both traditional and non-traditional options. The potent cocktails, include a few takes on the traditional Pimm’s Cup which don’t suck either.
3. Antique Taco – This chabby-chic spot made my list of Chicago’s 11 Best Tacos. Just trust me when I say you need to get the garlic shrimp with cauliflower elote, escabeche, crispy kale and avocado-basil crema. Sooo lovely!
4. Jerry’s Cosmic Sandwiches – There is something for everyone here. Burgers, sliced meats, chicken, seafood and veggie options. I had a great blackend salmon sandwich here. Not in the mood for sandwiches? No problem. Jerry’s offers, soups, salads and appetizers. Full bar and occasional live bands make this place a party.
5. Furious Spoon – Chef Shin Thompson is the “ramen-whisperer” who shipped a massive noodle machine over here from Osaka, Japan. His ramen is among the top 5 in Chicago. I love the signature “Furious Spoon” ramen with pork belly, poached egg, chicken, garlic relish and more. The bowls are mammoth and one of the very best deals in town.
6. Oiistar – Yeah, ramen is popping up all over Chicago. But, Oiistar is another place that made my top 5 list. Their broth has great depth of flavor, as well. While their straight noodles are made on-site, the wavy noodles and gluten-free noodles are sourced locally, off-site. They also make some really nice, savory buns and a yummy bao donut for dessert.
7. Trenchermen – Located around the corner from the Damen ‘L’ stop, along the CTA Blue Line, in an historic bathhouse, this hip spot is serving up American cuisine. There is an elegant main dining room but the Trenchermen Bar is where the cool kids hang. It’s a huge bar with great vibe and bartenders. Bonus! On Wednesdays, they offer a $10 Burger & Beer Special. The burger rotates weekly and is paired with different craft beers.
In keeping with the spirit of Feeding Off The Rails, I encourage you to leave your car at home and take the CTA Blue LIne, #50 Damen and #70 Division buses to get to these “7 Top Wicker Park Restaurants.” Save on gas. Avoid traffic, road rage and parking. Reduce pollution. Don’t drink and drive!