Such is the delicious quirkiness of ever-edgy Bucktown and Wicker Park that the battle for the best pizza in those neighborhoods features offerings that are decidedly not Chicago style (and, some might argue, barely pizza at all).
Yet one thing Piece and Dimo’s have in common — and the other bright lights in a lively local dining scene — is that they reward the adventurous.
Without getting in their cars, local diners can tour the culinary world. In fact, a lot of walking is probably a good idea in an area where the meals are so tempting.
Still the Champ
Unquestionably, Schwa reigns as the area’s ultimate eating experience. Holder of a Michelin star since 2011, Schwa was an early proponent of molecular gastronomy, and in its second decade is still crafting intense and delicate dishes. The menu is ever-changing and the restaurant’s chefs work “to re-imagine the possibilities of global, seasonal ingredients.” A bucket-list destination.
Wicker Park and Bucktown have something for everyone, whatever they have a taste for:
- Club Lucky: Old-school Italian, from the fried calamari to the chicken Vesuvio to the cannoli.
- Irazú: Costa Rican. For breakfast or dinner, a BYOB neighborhood favorite since 1990, usually with a side of plantains.
- Fifolet: Cajun without pretense. Jambalaya, po’boys, alligator etouffee — not to mention a weekend brunch that ranks among the area’s best.
- Cumin: The menu is half Indian, and chicken and goat get plenty of attention, but Cumin is known mostly for its variety of Nepalese and vegetarian options.
- Furious Spoon: Get your ramen here. This first of chef Shin Thompson’s noodle joints — now eight in all — mixes hip-hop sounds with a Tokyo-style ramen shop.
All the Goodness
Practically all the eating options in Wicker Park and Bucktown could be called comfort food, if only for a community vibe that, while certainly in tune with quality, is decidedly unfussy. Still, here are some true roll-up-your-sleeves eateries:
- Small Cheval serves hamburgers, cheeseburgers and fries — gorgeous golden fries. That’s it. The drink menu has more variety (think beer and cocktails), but you can stop at the chocolate shake.
- Big Star has 10 kinds of tacos and a huge, dog-friendly outdoor patio. Need we say more?
- Handlebar isn’t quite a neighborhood secret, but it feels like it is. Small and casual — open for breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week — it describes its menu as “made-from-scratch vegetarian and vegan comfort food.” Plus, it has a lovely outdoor dining area.
Oh Yeah, Pizza!
Dimo’s sells slices, until all hours of the night, frequently to music fans on their way home from nearby Subterranean. Macaroni and cheese, pulled pork on barbecue sauce, and chicken and waffles are just some of the nontraditional offerings.
Piece got famous behind its New Haven-style pizza (red sauce, no mozzarella, topped with garlic, parmesan and olive oil) and the fact that it is co-owned by Cheap Trick guitarist Rick Nielsen.
There are dozens more dining experiences to discover in Wicker Park and Bucktown. Mo2 Properties can help you find a home base in either neighborhood. See our available rentals here.