Old Town is a small neighborhood with a lot packed into it. It’s home to Second City, a bunch of sports bars that all seem the same, and a few great restaurants and bars hiding in the mix. As always, the key is to know what’s good, and that’s why we’re here.
This is our guide to getting the best food out of Old Town.
Steakbar is Bavette’s meets Benchmark. And we mean that literally, because it’s a collaboration project between the owners of both spots. That means quality food reminiscent of a steakhouse similar to Bavette’s, and serious Big Ten bar vibes like Benchmark. The food is good, but you’ll either love or hate the atmosphere depending how you feel about a typical Old Town sports bar.
The old standby Italian spot in the neighborhood. We love eating at Topo Gigio any day of the week and getting lost in a big bowl of pasta and a few bottles of wine. This is the ideal place to escape the rest of the shenanigans happening on Wells St., or it’s a good place to have dinner and then get into the shenanigans yourself.
Of course we wouldn’t leave out Orso’s in the classic Italian category of Old Town either. Orso’s is similar to Topo Gigio in style and ambience. The kicker at Orso’s is the back-enclosed patio with the Garden Of Eden canopy. It’s a great spot for a laid-back summer dinner.
Twin Anchors has been helping make dad bods since 1932. The old school spot is famous for being a favorite Chicago hangout of Frank Sinatra and for serving some excellent ribs. Get a little messy and feel free to wear your finest and most slimming Hawaiian shirt.
Looking for a cheap, easy, but still quality meal in these parts? Old Jerusalem is the move for either a carry-out situation or a quick sit-down meal. Stick to the Mediterranean classics like hummus, schwarma, and a kebab or two and you’ll be just fine.
On the spectrum of sushi restaurants, Kamehachi fits into the “pretty good, a little pricy but that’s just Chicago, casual enough to pick up, but nice enough to go out to on a Saturday night” category. It’s a succinctly-named category, we know, but facts are facts.
An Old Town diner staple for a casual breakfast, lunch, or dinner since 1973. Nookies has the familiar diner options not so concisely laid out on a menu with approximately 700 pages. You can eat everything from eggs and potatoes, to a club sandwich, to meatloaf, to a beef stroganoff. That said, we prefer Nookies for brunch, and the beef stroganoff wouldn’t be our first choice.
We can’t do anything but salute the Happy Camper crew for their ability to create a fun, casual atmosphere with solid pizzas and beers. If you’re looking to gather the crew and kick it indoors, there’s no better place to do it than here. And if you’re looking to do the same thing outdoors, just head to their sister restaurant Homeslice in Lincoln Park, which is literally the same thing plus a great patio.
Kanela is trying to take over the breakfast and lunch game one Greek infused diner at a time. There may be five of them now, but that doesn’t mean the Old Town spot isn’t good for breakfast, brunch, or lunch seven days a week from 7am-3pm. That makes Kanela a serious utility player, kind of like that time Will Farrell played all nine baseball positions in one day.
Sono sits on the weird intersection of Clybourn, North, and Halsted that’s not really Old Town but not exactly Lincoln Park either. But for purposes of proximity, we’re putting it on the radar here. Besides, we shouldn’t need an excuse to tell you about a great and casual spot to get Neapolitan style pizzas, and Sono Wood Fired is a great spot for Neapolitan style pizzas.
Burger Bar is the casual meat counterpart to Sono Wood Fired and it’s literally right next door. If you’re a restaurant group and you want to be good at two things, pizza and burger specialty shops next to one another is a good idea.
Ever notice a Mexican restaurant that seems a bit upscale and a little out of place on Wells St.? That’s Salpicón. The owner and chef used to work for Rick Bayless back in the day, and ventured off to start her own upscale Mexican spot in 1995. The concept of Salpicón is the same as Frontera, but with more of an Old Town style to it.
We’re not telling you to eat a normal meal at Lan’s - do that at your own risk. We’re just putting out a friendly Lan’s reminder in case you’re looking for an excuse to get absolutely blasted at a BYOB dinner with your friends over some Chinese food you’ll be forced to order. Hopefully Jimmy (the owner) will be there and he’s looking to party with you.