Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood is a great destination for theater, restaurants and shopping. It is an area bounded by Diversey Pkwy. on the south, Irving Park Rd. on the north, N. Lakeshore Drive on the east and N. Ravenswood Ave. on the west. The Southport Corridor along Southport Ave. is one of my favorite neighborhoods in the city to visit.
Some of my favorite neighborhood spots include:
Tango Sur, 3763 N. Southport Ave: This is a great spot for Argentinian specialties. I recently went back with a group of local friends and enjoyed the food and service. The portions are large and it is a BYOB restaurant which makes it a great value. It is very popular, so make sure to book your reservations in advance. They recently opened a more casual Bodega Sur next door at 3755 N. Southport. They serve Argentinian specialties including a daily brunch menu.
El Mercado Food Mart: At 3767 N. Southport, this Argentinian grocery store, a part of Tango Sur, is known for its quality meats.
Bombastic Café is a coffee house where they serve single origin specialty coffee beans that are roasted in-house. They also feature specialty teas, infused sparkling sodas, color-changing lemonades and seasonal craft cocktails. I really enjoyed the staff and the experience. 3732 N. Southport Ave.
Also fun is the colorful Cafe Tola Loncheria y Tacos for coffee, tacos and empanadas. 3612 N. Southport Ave.
Recently opened is an Amazon Bookstore at 3443 N. Southport. Here you can find a small coffee shop and a large assortment of books that are found on Amazon.com and that get high customer ratings.
Across the street is Corridor Brewery & Provisions. This is a casual local craft brewery and gastropub at 3446 N. Southport. I went with neighborhood friends and enjoyed my experience.
Music Box Theatre: Since 2007, this is the place to see foreign and independent films in Chicago. Their sing-along White Christmas and It’s A Wonderful Life is a must during the Holidays!!
I was sad to learn that during the pandemic in 2020/21 that the Mercury Theater at 3745 N. Southport Ave. was permanently closing. But in late 2021, I was thrilled to learn that it was reopening and would continue to play a prominent role in musical theater in Chicago. It has been a popular for its homegrown productions such as “Avenue Q” and “Spamalot” which I saw there in its larger mainstage theater. In addition they have a smaller and more intimate Venus Cabaret Theater, where I have really enjoyed recent productions of Company and a Nat King Cole Christmas show. I hope you will go and support this important local venue! I was just back for a fun production of the musical Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.
Before or after a performance you can enjoy a meal at Ela Elli at 1349 W Cornelia Ave. which features an upscale, international menu. Next door at 3455 N. Southport Ave. is Crosby’s Kitchen for American comfort food and a weekend brunch in a family-friendly setting. I also want to try the casual Doña Tola at 3751 N. Southport Ave. for Mexican cuisine and cocktails.
Athenaeum Theatre: Located south of the Music Box and Mercury Theatre, the Athenaeum is an historic theater, and for over 100 years and is Chicago’s oldest continually running off-loop theater. With a large main stage and three smaller studio theaters, it is home to a number of theater companies, dance companies, comedians and concerts. Make sure to check out their website for the current schedule. I went recently to an excellent contemporary opera presented by the Lyric Opera. Street parking is available but they also have two nearby lots they share with a neighborhood church. 2936 N. Southport.
Before a a performance at the Athenaeum, I recommend having dinner at Sal’s Trattoria two blocks south at 2834 N. Southport. This is a neighborhood Italian restaurant open for dinner and Sunday brunch. I enjoyed the warm atmosphere along with the service. I recommend the beet salad and the mussels steamed in white wine. They also make all pastas in-house. It is owned by the same group as The Butcher & Burger, one of my favorite spots in Lincoln Park.
Angelina Ristorante: At 3561 N. Broadway, Angelina has been a neighborhood favorite since 1988. They serve excellent Italian food for dinner and for brunch on weekends.
Wood: At 3335 N. Halsted, Wood is one of the best restaurants in Chicago since it opened in 2012 and has received the Michelin Bib Gourmand designation several times.
At 3307 N. Clark is the French cafe, Maison Parisienne. Opened by three friends from France, they offer not only coffee and tea but several varieties of quiche, sandwiches, soups and salads, plus wonderful macaron, croissants and pastries. I enjoyed the Quiche Lorraine with a salad plus a wonderful almond tart made from a 200 year-old French recipe. It is a casual spot, BYOB along with a small patio in the rear. I loved the sign on the wall that states 100% homemade by real French people. The chocolate, flour and butter are all imported from France, so the quality is outstanding!
I just tried Ceres Table with friends. They took over the former Frog & Snail space at 3124 N. Broadway. They offer great Italian food and just received the Michelin Bib Gourmand designation in their first year.
Nearby is one of my newest recommendations, Mortar and Pestle at 3108 N. Broadway. Opened in Fall 2015, they serve breakfast, brunch and lunch. They are doing some pop-ups for dinner and may expand into that as well. My friend enjoyed the decadent grilled cheese which was very decadent and I loved the Alaskan king crab benedict with poached egg, sriracha hollandaise and watercress. Thanks to long-time friend, restaurateur and food columnist for the Chicago Tribune for this great suggestion. I enjoyed visiting with the manager and chef/owner.
Just up the street from Mortar and Pestle and Glaze Teriyaki is Maison Marcel. Having read about Maison Marcel as a great breakfast/brunch spot in Lakeview, I had to try it. This is a casual French bakery what offers a large number of drinks and pastries along with a menu featuring quiche, egg dishes, soups, salads and tartines. I really enjoyed the salmon tartine which included smoked salmon served on toasted rustic French country bread, herbed cream cheese, sprinkled with chives and capers and served with a mixed greens salad. I will definitely go back. 3114 N. Broadway.
One of my favorite neighborhood spots is Coda de Volpe at 3335 N. Southport. It is a sleek restaurant featuring Italian pastas, pizzas and specialties. I went back a second time and loved the pasta, pizzas and salads. I went back for the third time and loved sharing a margherita pizza, an arugula salad, the wood-grilled octopus and the oven roasted butternut squash with apples, dried cranberries and pumpkin seeds for a lite bite with friends.
South of Coda de Volpe is the Tied House at 3157 N. Southport. It is next and attached to Schubas, a popular bar and music venue for over 30 years. Tied House is open for brunch on the weekend and dinner nightly. It has a bright, contemporary design and a very fresh and interesting menu. Chef Debbie Gold Gold earned the James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef Midwest award in 1999 for her work at The American in Kansas City.
I also love the recently opened Left Coast Food + Juice at 2878 N. Lincoln. This is a health food spot featuring creative salads, grain bowls, wraps & juices in a great casual atmosphere. They have a large terrace for warm weather dining.
For Scotch drinkers, The Duke of Perth offers a fun experience. Opened in 1989, they feature a large number of single malty whiskeys, beer and a traditional food menu including fish and chips. I have always had a great time there over the years. I went back after several years and really enjoyed the experience. They have a nice patio in the summer months.
Next door at 2909-11 N. Clark is a great new addition to the Neighborhood. The Gundis Kurdish Kitchen opened in early 2017. I really loved the decor, the food and the service. The homemade Kurdish bread with a vegetable topping was excellent as were the lamb shank entree and the sea bass entree in a tomato sauce with capers. The chocolate mousse topped with pomegranates was very tasty as well. The wine list was quite extensive. It has a fun international vibe from the food to the servers who were from Romania, Turkey and Guatemala. They are open for dinner and brunch daily.
Having enjoyed Farm House Tavern in Chicago and in Evanston, I was excited to find their latest project, Farm Bar, in Lake View at 1300 W. Wellington. It is a smaller, gastropub featuring a local, seasonal menu that features a number of burgers, sandwiches and salads. They also offer ciders, craft beers and cocktails. For dinner, they also offer a supper club menu or special that changes nightly. I enjoyed it for brunch on a beautiful Saturday in July with the windows open and a lovely breeze. The eggs benedict was very good. They are open for dinner and for brunch on weekends.
Thanks to the suggestion of a local friend, we tried Andy’s Thai Kitchen at 946 W. Wellington. It is a casual BYOB spot with an extensive menu of Thai favorites. I thought the food was very good. I had been wanting chicken pad Thai for a while. It is conveniently located across from the CTA Wellington Brown Line Station. It is popular and does not take reservations, so I suggest that you go early to make sure you get a table. They have a second location further north at 6230 N. Broadway in Edgewater.
When visiting the neighborhood, make sure to check out some of its great architecture. Famed architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe designed the Commonwealth Promenade Apartments built in 1957 at 330-340 W. Diversey Pkwy.
To the west is Surf-Pine Grove District which is predominantly centered around the 400- and 500-blocks of W. Surf St. and 2800-block of N. Pine Grove Ave. Designated a Chicago Landmark, “within the district can be found rugged-looking, Richardsonian Romanesque-style row houses, small-scale corner and courtyard apartment buildings from the years just before and after World War I, and a variety of tall apartment buildings and apartment hotels.” Here you can find some beautiful apartment buildings, homes and row houses.
Another beautiful area is the Meekerville Historic District east of Sheridan Rd along Wellington and E. Lakeshore Dr. A highlight is the mansion of capitalist Arthur Meeker Sr. located at 3030 N. Lakeshore Dr.
Another new find for me was visiting the Alta Vista Terrace Historic District. This is a US Historic District and listed on the US Registry of Historic Places. Built in 1904 to imitate the rowhouses of London, this residential development was the work of Samuel Gross. The street is one block long and contains 40 small, single-family rowhouses that were built with 20 different architectural styles. You can see Gothic arches, Palladian windows, stained and leaded glass, bay and box windows, Doric and Ionic wood pilasters and beautiful decorative woodwork. It is located between Grace and Byron and Kenmore and Seminary.
I just visited the Hawthorne Place Historic District after many years to see its historic homes. The district was built, featuring homes on large lots, in the 1890s by various architects including the McConnell brothers, Burnham & Root, and Pond & Pond. It was designated a Chicago Landmark on March 26, 1996. It is located east of N. Broadway and north of W. Roscoe.