If you’re like us, you always think of Ravenswood as that cute neighborhood you might one day be able to afford a house in. It’s the best way to stay in the city semi-affordably and even have a backyard. But Ravenswood also has great food. In fact, Ravenswood has some of our favorite restaurants, and that’s not even considering Lincoln Square proper, which has its own guide.
These are the best restaurants in Ravenswood.
Bayan Ko is a BYOB SCRPRTCUWAFF that we’d recommend to just about anyone. It’s small (but not cramped), and the staff is always incredibly friendly and helpful. Plus the Filipino and Cuban food is excellent, with dishes like ropa vieja and oxtail kare kare. Make sure you get the delicious croqueta tots to share - at least one order every time you open a new bottle of wine.
Spacca Napoli is one reason we’re jealous if you live in Ravenswood. Not only does it serve outstanding Neapolitan pizza, but it also has a fantastic patio that’s perfect for hanging out during warmer months. If you’re eating inside, though, you’ll get to see the wood-burning oven in action. It’s this oven that’s responsible for the pizzas, with their bubbled, puffy edges and perfectly thin crust. This place is a compelling reason to consider moving to the neighborhood.
Spoken Cafe is right under the Montrose Brown Line stop and serves breakfast food like bagels, and fantastic sandwiches like the Señora Huerta, a pizza bialy with ham, cheese, pesto, and banana peppers. It’s a great place for a coffee date, or to grab something before work when you can’t stand the thought of the Chobani that’s waiting in the office fridge.
When a place is “good for everyone,” that can be code for “boring”. But that’s not the case with Bienmesabe, a Venezuelan restaurant with a long menu that pretty much guarantees everyone will find something they’ll like. This upbeat BYOB specializes in arepas (like roasted pork with gouda, or sweet plantains with avocado), along with steak and seafood dishes. Plus the patio lets you enjoy a tree-lined street without having to move out to the suburbs.
Taqueria El Asadero is a counter-service, cash-only spot that has some of our favorite carne asada tacos in Chicago. There are a few tables here, but during the summer this place gets crowded with kids. So if you like tacos (but hate sweaty little leaguers) you might want to plan on getting your order to go.
Taqueria 5 De Mayo
Taqueria 5 De Mayo is owned by the same people as El Asadero, and everything we said above applies here too. In fact, the only real difference is that it’s right down the street. So when El Asadero is overrun with 4’10" baseball players and you’d don’t feel like taking your food to go, just take a five-minute walk west for the same outstanding tacos.
River Valley Farmer’s Table is a specialty store selling things like salsa, cheese, and wine, so you might not even realize it’s also a brunch spot serving dishes like caramel apple beignets, potato pancakes, and benedicts. Consider hitting the grocery section before you sit down, though, because you’ll probably be too full to think about food after you’re finished eating here.
There are approximately 6,899 hot dog stands in Chicago, and Budacki’s is a classic. But the main reason it’s on this list is that along with dogs, shakes, and pizza puffs, you can also get Crisp wings here. That means you can order Seoul Sassy wings with a chocolate milkshake, combining two great but previously unrelated things - like Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan in Rush Hour.
You might know Glenn’s as “that cereal place where you can get Apple Jacks in a chilled bowl of milk.” But it’s so much more than that. Glenn’s is also a great casual seafood restaurant, with crab legs and daily fish specials. If having cereal and seafood on the same table somewhere other than a Vegas buffet sounds weird to you, you’re totally right - but welcome to Glenn’s.
Urban Vegan is a casual vegan Thai spot. It used to mainly do carryout, but it’s expanded and is now a full sit-down restaurant. You’ll find things like tofu satay, soy chicken with peanut sauce, and a number of curry dishes. This is a must-know spot for vegetarians and vegans in the neighborhood, and perfect for a midweek dinner.
Band of Bohemia is a restaurant and brewery that feels a lot like someone’s living room - the space is full of upholstered furniture and lamps that look like they belong on tables next to your couch. The food is upscale and expensive: you can opt for an $85 tasting menu, or order things like carrot lasagna or a foie gras baked Alaska a la carte. They brew five or six beers, and the menu is designed to complement them. Come for a neighborhood date night, or plan on taking your mom when she visits. Just make sure she doesn’t steal any lamps.
Aroy Thai is the type of comforting and reliable spot everyone wants in their neighborhood. The food here - like papaya salad, sour and spicy sausage, and plenty of curries - is excellent, and you can BYOB. It’s a great, casual option for relaxing after a busy day at work, or for catching up with friends in a quiet environment.
This small spot has things like ‘Biscuits and Groovy’ on the menu, and light fixtures made out of cheese graters and colanders. In other words, Sweet Virginia’s could have come from someone’s Pinterest board, which might be annoying if the food wasn’t so good. But things like French toast, garlic maple sausage, and housemade cinnamon sugar donuts are all delicious. Come here for a casual breakfast with a friend, and hope it won’t give them any ideas for their next kitchen renovation.
If you want Korean BBQ, the answer is Cho Sun OK - even if you need to travel from another neighborhood to get here. The food is great, but Cho Sun OK is also just an excellent place to hang. It’s exactly the kind of neighborhood spot that will impress your friends for a fun group dinner (and the fact that it’s BYOB doesn’t hurt). In addition to the BBQ, we really like the seafood pancake and pan-fried dumplings.
The Bad Apple
Looking for a local spot to grab a burger and a beer with friends? If you’re in Ravenswood, go to The Bad Apple. Keep things simple with their regular Bad Apple burger, or try something more creative like a Chupacabra with goat chile or a Grizzly Adams topped with braised short rib and jalapeño. This place is consistently busy, so prepare to wait (there’s a large bar area where you can do that).
Bang Bang Pie & Biscuits
Bang Bang Pie & Biscuits’ original location is in Logan Square, but they opened up a second place in Ravenswood, where you can find the same great pies and biscuit sandwiches. This location is bigger and has more of a coffee shop feel than the original. It’s the perfect place to justify having key lime pie for breakfast.