Chicago is home to 77 defined community areas and more than 200 distinct community neighborhoods. One of these unique neighborhoods is Wicker Park, which is home to approximately 26,000 residents. It sits west of the Kennedy Expressway, east of Humboldt Park, and south of the Bloomingdale Trail. When heading to this neighborhood, make sure to check out its lively nightlife, creative art community, and, of course, its delectable restaurant selections.
2211 W. North Ave.
Run by a trio of siblings, Cebu prides itself on serving modern regional Filipino cuisine. Its menu is adorned with intensely flavorful dishes, including perfectly tender pork barbecue skewers and mouthwatering chicken adobo. Try the beef tapa, which is caramelized meat marinated in a soy and calamansi sauce.
Don’t miss out on the house-made pandesals, which are soft and sweet buns. The marinated lumpia is something to brag to others about eating, with its pork, spring onion, and shiitake mushroom filling. Another popular dish is the pork lechon, which is pork belly roasted for three hours and only available on Friday and Saturday for dinner. Stick around for dessert, including halo-halo and cream puffs with rum ice cream. Prices range from $5 for the sides to $26 for the pork lechon.
1745 W. North Ave.
As one of the few Black-owned restaurants in the area, The Delta provides an ode to food, beverages, and the culture found in the Mississippi Delta region. Owner Eldridge Williams, who is a Mississippi native, grew up eating Mississippi red hot tamales and proudly serves them at this establishment. Filled with savory brisket and soaked in a chile-tinged tomato broth, this trio of soft cornmeal pouches practically melts in your mouth. Another popular dish is the succulent whole grilled catfish. Prices are reasonable and range from $7 to $29.
To help you wash down your meal, order a BTW, which is an old-fashioned with bourbon, beer-and-tea syrup, and angostura. If the inside seating gets a bit crowded, head to the small back patio, where you can enjoy your meal as long as the weather cooperates.
1551 W. North Ave.
You won’t find many rooftop bars in the Wicker Park area, which is what makes the Kennedy Rooftop a big deal in this neighborhood. It sits on the seventh floor of the Hyatt Place Hotel on North and Ashland avenues and gives you panoramic views of the Willis Tower. Its eclectic menu is designed to accentuate the modern and trendy feel of the Wicker Park area. The retractable awning and fire pits enhance the overall ambiance.
Its dishes include sharable choices such as the empanadas a la frita, pulled pork minis, and Tuscan jumbo shrimp. If you prefer to order your own dish, try the Rooftop Burger, which is a 6-ounce grass-fed beef patty served atop a toasted brioche bun along with your choice of cheese, lettuce, roasted onion, and tomato. Another popular option is the four-cheese loaded mac, which is topped with toasted Parmesan pecan crumbs and chopped parsley. Expect to spend around $13 to $35 per dish.
1547 N. Ashland Ave.
When you hear the name of the Phodega eatery, you might imagine enjoying pho in a bodega, which is a correct assumption. Part pho shop and part bodega, Phodega serves exemplary bowls of pho and saves you a trip to Argyle Street, which serves some of the best pho in the city. At Phodega, its hearty cinnamon pho bo has beef brisket, meatballs, and rib eye, while its gingery pho ga with shreds of chicken has springy noodles nestled in thick concentrated broths. You won’t break your budget eating at Phodega, as most dishes cost about $10.
1466 N. Ashland Ave.
Despite its deceivingly drab exterior and 825-square-foot interior, Schwa Restaurant has made headlines for its unconventional approach to food service. Led by chef-owner Michael Carlson, this upscale, eclectic restaurant employs no support staff of any kind, so when you sit at one of the tables, you interact directly with the chefs. Instead of asking to speak with the chef to pay a compliment, you’re already poised to praise the chef.
The intriguing menu is known for unusual ingredients and unique food pairings, such as pad Thai made with jellyfish tentacles instead of noodles. The restaurant’s signature dish is quail egg ravioli. A three-course meal might run about $55, while an eight-course meal might put you back about $110. Note that you might have a difficult time securing a reservation, but you never know if you can get in unless you try.
1746 W. Division St.
A relatively new eatery that opened its doors in 2009, Tortello serves pasta dishes made entirely from scratch. You can even watch the staff make the pasta daily just inside the restaurant’s front window. To ensure its pasta dishes are as authentic as possible, the restaurant uses flour imported from a family mill in Italy. This mill is the last remaining one that washes the wheat before milling the flour. You can also purchase fresh pasta and sauces to bring home with you after you dine.
Try the signature tortelli di burrata, which is topped with butter, sage, toasted hazelnuts, Parmigiano, and a drizzle of balsamic. Its stracci al Ragu Bianco has braised pork, robiola cheese, onions, balsamic, and parsley. The restaurant also serves delicious authentic Italian dessert, including tiramisu and salame al cioccolato, which features chocolate and hazelnut cookies rolled into a cylinder shape, cut into round slices, and sprinkled with powdered sugar. The dishes range in price from $6 to $29.
Of course, we at Pequod’s Pizza are happy to have your business, but we also like to share our favorite places to go for excellent food. What do you think of this list of must-visit Wicker Park restaurants? Did we miss a neighborhood favorite of yours? If so, please let us know so we can add it to our list. We, too, share an affinity to the city and want to highlight as many of the local restaurants as possible.