Wicker Park has something for everyone these days, which is particularly true when it comes to restaurants. From fancy fine dining, to ethnic eats, to a particular taco restaurant you most likely have strong opinions about, there's a lot going on.
The hardest part about breaking down the Wicker Park dining scene is deciding where exactly the neighborhood begins and ends. There's no perfect answer, so for clarity sake, we're considering the square area between Ashland and Western, and Division and the Bloomingdale Trail (thanks Google Maps). These are the best restaurants in Wicker Park.
Schwa is not only one of the best restaurants in Wicker Park, it's one of the best and most interesting restaurants anywhere. Jump on a reservation if you manage to get them to pick up the phone, which they don't like to do. Schwa serves a fine dining caliber tasting menu except for the rap and rock music is loud and the crazy *ss staff has been known to light off a firework or two with customers out back. It's also BYOB, and nothing goes together better than fireworks and booze.
Here's the problem with sushi: you want great sushi, but you don't want to pay great sushi prices. We know this because we experience it all of the time. That's where Mirai comes in. We're not saying this is cheap eats, but you don't have to break the bank for a quality raw fish product.
A pizza party for adults, that's the short way to sum up Piece. Their specialty is New Haven style pizza, which means a lot of red sauce with extra olive oil and parmesan, but no mozzarella cheese. That's what you should order. Gather your crew and head to Piece for pizza and beer.
We love Greek food, but we don't always want to eat mediocre heaping portions of it. Taxim serves the traditional flavors of Greek food in an upscale and interesting way, and that's what makes it good. Come for a date night or even a big group dinner knowing you'll still be able to hit the town when you leave.
We're basically the leaders of the Furious Spoon fan club at this point, and we're not ashamed. Both the ramen and space have their own flare with thick broth and loud music. It's a cool place, but still approachable, which is everything we want a ramen restaurant to be.
Mindy's is no doubt a staple in the neighborhood, and for good reason. The space is cool and the food is good, plus the specialty hot chocolates and desserts put it over the edge. Mindy has now gotten into the weed edibles game, which sounds like a brilliant marketing plan for the continued success of everything she does.
Haters gonna hate, but there's no denying the power that is Big Star. We here at The Infatuation Chicago are divided on the matter, but the pro big star team is all about tacos and margaritas on a nice summer day. This is arguably the best patio in town, but don't sleep on the bar in the winter either.
If Furious Spoon is the cigarette smoking punk rock kid that you don't want your daughter to date, then Oiistar is the prep star in khakis and a collared shirt. Both are highly talented, but Oiistar plays it a bit safe with the space. There's nothing wrong with that though, and it's a great place to come for not only ramen, but other shared dishes like buns or togarashi mussels.
Authentic tacos, Antique Taco's options are not. But that's OK because they're still doing great things. The "Antique" in the name is a nod to the style and decor of the space, and the taco part of the name is for tacos. You're welcome for that explanation. Fish tacos are a good move here, and save room for abuelita's pop tart for dessert - marshmallow and chocolate in a homemade pastry.
Dove's is one of the best spots you can dine solo or with one other person. It's almost all counter seating, and overall is a Tex-Mex Food + Old School Soda Shop Lunch Counter + Chicago Blues Music combination. It's definitely one of a kind.
We all know the Au Cheval burger is arguably the best out there. But as good as it is, that's how big of a pain in the *ss it is to get a table. That's why Small Cheval is so great. It's not quite as good as Au Cheval because you can't get the bacon, but it's pretty damn close and you can always get in.
The Trenchermen sits in a building that was once a Russian bath house in the 1920's. There are no naked Russians these days, but the characteristics of the building, including some leftover tiles and old brick foundation, haven't changed. The unique space is a great place for gathering your friends or a date.
We want to show love to the vegetarian crowd, so shout out to Handlebar. The small neighborhood spot is part bar, part restaurant, and part cozy beer garden in the back. They specialize in vegan and vegetarian items, but they also serve seafood if that will help convince you to go. It's worth a trip.
We won't be mad if the influx of fried chicken restaurants never ends, and Buck's is a good example why. It's basically a bar that serves southern food, which is the best kind of bar. Once you're done fighting for a first come first served table, get yourself drinks, fried chicken, and biscuits. In fact, order all of the biscuits. They're that good.
The Anglo-Indian pub is like a fancy English drinking establishment accentuated with Indian-style food. Would this type of concept have come to life if not for years of English imperialism in India? Doubtful. But Pub Royale can convince everyone to get along.
You need a little ethnic food in your life, and that's where Cumin comes in with specialties from both India and Nepal. Devon Ave. might be the best known part of town for Indian cuisine, but that doesn't mean it's the only spot. Cumin does basic Indian dishes really well, and you can try new things from Nepal odds are you've never had.
Some of the best cheap eats around. Get large quantities of all sorts of Middle Eastern cuisine for virtually nothing. We like to keep it simple with the falafel and shawerma sandwiches on the go, but don't sleep on the platters either. If you really want to take advantage of Sultan's, grab dinner on the small patio in the summer where it's also BYOB.
Hash feels like eating breakfast in your living room, if your living room were a friendly hipster commune. The mugs are mismatched, the alcohol is BYO, and the music actually adds to the atmosphere. Everything about this place gives you the vibe that Hash isn't interested in conforming to the brunch scene. Think of Hash as the beatnik genius who shows up stoned to Math, and that's why it's ideal for breakfast and lunch any day of the week.
You might be sick of hearing the term "Asian fusion," but Mott Street does things differently. Items like Kimchi and Oaxaca Empanadas or General Tso's Veal Sweetbreads are proof there is a god. If that sounds too exotic for you, stick with the everything wings and you'll be good to go.
Is a donut shop actually a restaurant? Yes, because we make the rules. Eat all of the donuts at Stan's.