Chicago’s Bucktown is a young, fun neighborhood with great independent boutique shopping and the best restaurants. Don’t miss:
Mindy’s Hot Chocolate is now Mindy’s Bakery. This was a great neighborhood spot from chef Mindy Segal received the 2012 James Beard Foundation Award for Outstanding Pastry Chef in the country. Her focus is now on bagels, breads, quiche, cookies and pastries along with coffee and hot chocolate. Formerly at 1747 N. Damen, it is relocating in early 2022 to 1623 N. Milwaukee.
Le Bouchon: A traditional French bistro with great ambiance and food. You will feel like you are in a small neighborhood restaurant in Paris. 1958 N. Damen. They are also open for lunch which I prefer to avoid the crowds.
Club Lucky: Looks like an old neighborhood supper club with good Italian food and retro atmosphere. The Christmas decorations in December are outstanding. 1824 W. Wabansia.
Make sure to stop in at the popular retailer, Shinola at 1619 N. Damen. I enjoyed visiting their Detroit store in the past.
A wonderful new addition to the city is in the Bucktown neighborhood at the corner of North, Damen and Milwaukee right at the Blue Line stop. Groupo Habita from Mexico City has opened a wonderful property located in two historic buildings. The Robey Chicago which has 69 rooms that is aimed at independent and global travelers who appreciate great style and design. The Robey features 400-thread count sheets, WiFi and a swimming pool. The second floor lounge offers coffee by day and cocktails by night. Cafe Robey, is a French American bistro on the ground floor and there is a 35-seat rooftop bar overlooking the neighborhood which is open to guests and their friends. I thought the meal and service were really outstanding. The salmon entree, grilled octopus appetizer, plus butternut squash and brussel sprouts sides were perfectly prepared. The view from the upstairs bar is amazing. The former Hollander, a 2o room, high-end hostel, featuring shared as well as private rooms, is now called The Annex Lofts and features three room configurations attached to the hotel.
I enjoyed my recent experience at Antico at 1946 N. Leavitt at Armitage. This is a fun neighborhood Italian cafe and restaurant. They feature seasonal ingredients and make all of their pasta, bread, gelato and sausage in-house. I was able to share several excellent dishes including the roasted beet and arugula salad with a goat cheese and fig vinaigrette and a pappardelle pasta with pork ragu. They have a lovely garden patio for the warmer month. I will definitely go back!
The Royal Grocer & Co. is a new spot at 2118 N. Damen. They are open for dinner plus brunch on weekends. For dinner they features a selection of small and shared plates. I enjoyed my meal with local friends.
Pagoda Red, the well-known specialists in rare and unusual 19th Century Chinese antique furniture, accessories, art and artifacts, have moved back to Bucktown in a large warehouse location. They also represent emerging Chinese and Asian-inspired artists and designers. 1740 W. Webster.
My most recent find is etta restaurant. At 1840 W. North Ave. this is a contemporary, casual spot featuring an merican menu of wood-fired fare and brunch plates. I went with a neighborhood friend a and really enjoyed lunch on the upstairs terrace. They also have a restaurant in River North at 700 N. Clark St.