During the day, Hollywood Grill and Breakfast House is home to the busy locals. But, at night, being caught in the cross-hairs of Wicker Park nightlife, it becomes a haven for party animals on their way home. The service is phenomenal. You will never experience so short a wait between ordering and receiving. The "2222" breakfast is one of the most popular, offering two eggs, two pieces of bacon, two sausage links and two buttermilk pancakes. However, do not let the cheap prices fool you. This is good, honest, stick-to-your-ribs food served up in a bright, friendly environment, which might hurt your eyes if you have had one too many at the nearby bars.
You will be hesitant to actually eat at Congress Pizzeria because the interior is reminiscent of a slaughterhouse, but the pizzas are the thing. They are simply mouthwatering, and, when you get your hands on one of the square-cut slices, you will not be able to wait to gobble the next piece.
Le Bouchon a moderately-sized, Lyon-styled neighborhood bistro serves an authentic traditional menu. Some of the starters include roasted duck for two and Hanger Steak. The grilled halibut is also very good. The wait can sometimes be trying during peak times, and, even if you have reservations, you may have to wait for a half hour or more. On weekday nights avail of the Prix Fixe where you can choose the starter, entrée, and dessert you want.
A slightly under rated place to have a drink in Roscoe Village, the patrons here belong in the suburbs and act like they are just visiting the city for the night. The food here is a standard mini-pizza and when you are done, you can hoof it to the back room to watch a band play for a small or sometime not so small cover. But check the calendar because this place books every garage band in town. Pared down to its essentials, this is somewhere to go for inconspicuous crowd watching.
This dive has everything from a picture of Dracula to a barber's chair with a built-in ashtray. A huge selection of bourbon and scotches are on hand, and the bar's patrons swear that Tuman's sells the cheapest pints of Bass and Guinness in the city. The crowd varies from the of Wicker Park's diverse art-on-contact scene to the scruffiest types.
1561 North Milwaukee Avenue Between Damen & North Avenue Chicago, IL 60622
Formerly Earwax Records, this café is one of Wicker Park's standard places to meet and greet for the moody hipster with a book to read or music to discuss. The closest you get to eclectic is present here, right down to the lack of air conditioning in the summer, which makes the place so hot the wax will run out your ears. Decent, cheap food, strong coffee and alternative atmosphere (complete with murals of circus freaks) complement the not-so-comically rude service. The coffee shop also features a video rental store with some decent selections.
This mecca of multicultural feasting has a dining room with an Arabian motif, complete with flying carpets. Food may stem from the Middle East, Morocco, India, Italy or Asia. Typical dishes are the Indian Tandoori-Spiced Chicken Breast with Basmati Rice, Spinach and Mint Raita. Owner Debra Sharpe modeled the restaurant to mirror her rock 'n' roll catering style. It has a gorgeous outdoor garden and glass atrium add to the ambiance.
Food served here is the type that Mom would make, if she were getting paid," and a decent place for bottled ales, including Himay Ale Red, Maudite Ale and Leffe Ale. Sandwiches come with tasty, crunchy tater tots. Typical menu selections are Grandma's Meatloaf, served with fresh green beans, mashed potatoes & Bell's Amber Ale gravy. Every Wednesday sit in and listen to the live jazz performance.
Red Door Restaurant and Bar is true to its name and welcomes everyone with open arms. The fusion menu seems to offer something for everyone, and includes dishes like tempura, schnitzel, and lamb neck sloppy joes. With a specialty beer and wine list and its large patio area and great interior, the Red Door is a great place to have a meal and a drink with friends. -Sylvia Barragan
When Bordeaux-born chef Vincent Colombet arrived in Chicago in 2004, he looked long and hard for stores that sold French food and ingredients. He couldn't find any, so he set to the task himself. Cook Au Vin began as a catering company and has now expanded to a much larger operation that not only lets Chicagoans sample French food, but also teaches them to prepare it themselves. On-site cook-and-dine classes include appetizers, entrées, desserts, sides, and, of course, wine. Cook Au Vin has plans to expand its offering of French food in the city by opening locations that sell traditional pastries and authentic French crepes, wraps and sandwiches. And Colombet can no longer complain that Chicago lacks a French cheese and sausage counter; his own shop now sells those items. - Betsy Mikel
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