Chicago’s Lincoln Square has some great entertainment venues as well as some excellent shops, coffee bars and restaurants:
American Theater: Located off of Lincoln and Byron this is a local theater company that does great work from plays to musicals. 1909 W. Byron.
Café Selmarie in Lincoln square. A great brunch or lunch spot in the center of the pedestrian center of the square with outdoor seating. It is also open for dinner. Since 1983, they have been serving excellent European style pastries, an eclectic menu of gourmet food, espresso, coffee, beer and wine. I recently went back and loved the pulled pork sandwich on a pretzel roll served with an apple slaw on top. 4729 N. Lincoln Ave.
Merz Apothocary: At 4716 N. Lincoln, this pharmacy was established in 1875. With a recreated, traditional decor, they sell homeopathic remedies, vitamins, supplements, other natural medicines, natural skin care, bath, aromatherapy, and other personal care products from around the world. They also have a huge selection of natural and luxury soaps.
The Chopping Block: A great place to take a hands on cooking glass, see a cooking demonstration or take an outdoor grilling or wine class. 4747 N. Lincoln.
Gene’s Sausage Shop & Delicatessen: At 4750 N. Lincoln this is a great spot for sausages, meats and gourmet foods. You might check the rooftop beer and wine garden, from Thursday to Sunday, that features smoked sausages and bratwurst cooked on an open wood grill. Nearby is Book Cellar at 4736 N. Lincoln for books and a snack and The Grind Coffee at 4613 N. Lincoln.
Bistro Campagne at 4518 Lincoln, is a traditional French bistro that has been a local’s favorite since 2002. I recently went back after several years. They have expanded and added on to the dining room. They have several cozy dining rooms inside along with great outdoor patio seating. I was very impressed with the food and extensive wine list. I went with friends during Lincoln Square and Ravenswood Restaurant Week in October. It featured a three course menu with wine pairings for a very reasonable price. I will definitely go back!!
I just tried Gather restaurant which is perfect for Sunday brunch at 4539 N. Lincoln. It has a Michelin Bib Gourmand designation. Both my friend and I loved the omelette!! They have a cozy interior space and great outdoor space for summer dining.
One of the hot new spots in town is Baker Miller located at 4610 N. Western Ave. They source their own grains, then mill them into their own flours and bake them into wonderful breads and pastries. They also have a cafe serving breakfast and lunch. You can find grits, oatmeal, a toast bar, a grain bowl and others items. For lunch they have wonderful pot pies, sandwiches, sides and tarts. On my first trip I enjoyed a vegetarian pot pie with curry, a side of dressed greens and wonderful pear and cherry tart. On my second, I loved the sandwich on a fresh baguette with roasted beets and goat cheese plus a perfect piece of blueberry pie. Owners Dave and Megan Miller, have received two James Beard nominations for Outstanding Baker.
West of Lincoln Square in the Albany Park Neighborhood is Arun’s at 4156 N. Kedzie. This is a wonderful Thai restaurant in a very elegant setting that features beautiful art, artifacts and craft work from Thailand. The menu is a 12 course prix fixe, degustation tasting menu with incredible food. It is featured in the book 1000 Places to See Before You Die by Patricia Schultz.
ARTango, formerly at 4217 N. Ravenswood is now at 4767 N. Lincoln in Lincoln Square. It specializes in Argentinian and South American cuisine for lunch, brunch and dinner. The brunch dishes were really excellent particularly the crab cake benedict. They also teach tango classes during the week, so check the website for details.
Two new finds include Luella’s Southern Kitchen at 4609 N. Lincoln. Chef Darnell Reed named the restaurant after his Grandmother Luella. Her influences can be seen in his traditional southern dishes from shrimp to chicken gumbo. Nearby is Pannenkoeken Huis, a Dutch pancake house at 4757 N. Western. This small, colorful restaurant features great Dutch pancakes, coffee and other breakfast items.
Opened in August, 2016 is Oromo Cafe, which is a hip coffee shop with great coffee and a beautifully designed space. 4703 N. Lincoln.
Ampersand Wine Bar: At 4845 N. Damen, just east of Lincoln Square, is a great new restaurant featuring refined American comfort food, wines and cocktails in a rustic, contemporary atmosphere. I had a really great meal and wine. I loved the heirloom tomato salad with cous-cous and burrata and the whole roasted game hen with parsnip confit and roasted summer squash. The free form rustic tart with peaches, toasted granola and honey caramel yogurt was also great. The service was really excellent
Just north of Ampersand is Over Easy Cafe at 4943 N. Damen. It is open for breakfast, lunch and Sunday brunch. It is a popular, casual spot with an extensive menu. I really loved the smoked salmon omelette.
A great new addition to the area is Kitsune Restaurant and Pub at 4229 N. Lincoln. Owned by Chef Iliana Regan, it is an homage to Japan. It has received great press and was named by Esquire Magazine as one of the Top New Restaurants in 2017. It is also on the top lists of Chicago Magazine and the Chicago Tribune. I went with friends and loved being able to taste a number of dishes. The seared scallops, the pork belly bao, the fish collar with daikon and lemon and the savory pancake with tuna flakes were all excellent. It is a small place, so making a reservation online is essential.