Neighborhoods in Chicago for twenty-something foodie?
October 14, 2011 11:30 AM   Subscribe

What Chicago neighborhood is best for a single 20-something foodie?

I'm moving to Chicago. I will be telecommuting mostly, but the company has offices in Elgin (if I go there I obviously need to drive), Wilmette, and Printer's Row that I'll need to visit sometimes. I would like to live in Chicago or the Northern Suburbs. I had been living in New York and I loved my neighborhoods there: Sunnyside and Park Slope. They had great amenities like grocery stores and were safe. I wouldn't mind something a little more vibrant though.

I'd like something safe, vibrant, and that has good food (restaurants, grocery stores, farmer's markets).
posted by melissam to Home & Garden (18 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Ravenswood and Lincoln Square are both lovely, with lots of culture and great restaurants.
posted by bonheur at 11:32 AM on October 14, 2011

There is great food (both in expensive restaurants and little hole-in-the-wall places) all over Chicago. You will be able to find great food and good grocery stores pretty much anywhere (well, grocery stores near the Loop are kind of shit).

Anyway, my advice (especially since you've got a car) is to get a nice place in a cheap neighborhood and spend the money you save on rent on more delicious food. Pilsen is great (and has plenty of local Mexican options), as is Albany Park (if Middle Eastern is more your thing). (Both neighborhoods also have abundant free street parking--more money saved for food!)
posted by phunniemee at 11:36 AM on October 14, 2011

I can't answer your question directly, but LTHForum is a Chicago-specific foodie site (more oriented toward hole-in-the-wall places than not) that is pretty popular and you might find some useful information there.
posted by enn at 11:43 AM on October 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'd second Lincoln Square/Ravenswood for what you're looking for in your post, assuming you want some nightlife too. Since you're largely telecommuting the traffic to Elgin shouldn't be a major factor.
posted by ejaned8 at 11:47 AM on October 14, 2011

Lincoln Square sounds right for you. It's a nice "dogs and kids" type neighborhood with relatively low rents, and I bet you'd like Gene's (unless you're a vegetarian).
posted by theodolite at 11:50 AM on October 14, 2011

Have you read any Sauceome comics? It's a great webcomic by a lady who lives in Chicago and is always filled with great meals from various restaurants in Chicago. One of her comics that might help you get a good idea of some good restaurants is this one: A Map of My Bike Commute Organized by Delicious Smells.

I only wish I lived in Chicago to try out all the dishes she illustrates!
posted by jillithd at 12:09 PM on October 14, 2011

Coming from Brooklyn, not sure how vibrant Lincoln Square/Ravenswood would seem outside of Lincoln Ave.. but it is the closest you'll get to great restaurants and close to ethnic, cheap, but great dining).

More vibrant areas would be southern part of Lincoln Park. Lincoln Park is kind of the UES of Chicago (lots of post frat,25-40s type, not very diverse), but probably would remind you alot of Park Slope architecturally.
posted by sandmanwv at 12:14 PM on October 14, 2011

Ravenswood/Lincoln Square are great, but a little further east are Andersonville and Edgewater, with terrific non-Western options and easy access to Devon and Broadway, both vibrant cultural corridors.
posted by Lieber Frau at 12:30 PM on October 14, 2011

Seconding Andersonville. What a fantastic neighborhood. Grocery stores, bodegas, coffee shops, bars that range from dive-like to beer-snob heaven, at least one good gym, and more ethnic restaurants than you can shake a stick at.
posted by artemisia at 12:34 PM on October 14, 2011

I also like Andersonville a lot and the people I know who live in that area are very happy there.
posted by dfan at 12:36 PM on October 14, 2011

I used to live in Andersonville and that's not a bad choice either. There's tons of little ethnic groceries - the Turkish one on Foster at Clark, a Persian one further up on Clark, and the incredible Tai Nam (which is not little) on Broadway near Argyle, for example.
posted by theodolite at 12:43 PM on October 14, 2011

Nthing Lincoln Square/Ravenswood/Andersonville/Edgewater. I wouldn't even worry about picking one in particular, just draw a big rectangle with Peterson as the north border, Western to the West, Montrose to the South, and Halsted to the East. Then cross out the square within it bordered by Foster/Ashland/Montrose/Halsted. Everything left should suit you fine.

And just in case you have any lingering doubt: Avoid the north suburbs. There are some individual gems, for sure, but nowhere is going to have anything close to the concentration of quality that any decent neighborhood will get you.
posted by SpiffyRob at 1:15 PM on October 14, 2011

Man, I wish I had known of Metafilter when I moved to Chicago years ago. Lincoln Sq, Revanswood, Andersonvile and Edgwater are all great.

but let me put in a plug for my old Neighborhood, Logan Square.

It is up and coming, meaning that there are fewer condos, less of a "dog and kids" feel than Ravenswood, but rents are much cheaper and its still pretty safe. It's a bikeride down to Bucktown/Wicker park and relatively close to easy on ramps to the Kennedy Expressway, which is nice if you have to drive to Elgin or Wilmette.

Okay, now that I've read your question more closely, after Sunnyside and Park Slope you probably aren't looking for the hipsteriffic cheap rents of my favorite places, but seriously there is some good food in Logan Square, that place is blowing up. Like I've had three of my best meals at different brunch places my friends worked at in the neighborhood.

So last suggestion, Roscoe Park. It's similar to the neighborhood feel of Ravenswood but its also a hop to clark street and the activity and gagillion restaurants and bars there. It might be a little close to wrigleyville (how do you feel about thousands of Iowa and Ohio State types putting on cubs t-shirts and flooding the sidewalks during nice summer weekends).
posted by midmarch snowman at 5:10 PM on October 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

posted by onepot at 6:06 PM on October 14, 2011


That's the sound of me living in Ravenswood/Lincoln Square. It's great for my wife and I as we're new parents. However, if you're looking for more excitement, I'd go for (in no particular order) Andersonville, Logan Square, Bucktown, or Wicker Park. Tons of trendy restaurants and special boutique grocery stores. Also, you'll be closer to 90/94 when/if you have to go into the office in the 'burbs.
posted by photovox at 6:43 PM on October 14, 2011

I stayed in Wicker Park and loved it. If you do go, definitely visit The Violet Hour, it's one of the best bars I've been to.
posted by marais at 8:12 AM on October 15, 2011

What photovox said. Andersonville is going to be much more foodie-interesting than Ravenswood (although City Provisions and Spacca Napoli are pretty amazing, and my office is in the heart of Ravenswood). Logan Square and Bucktown/Wicker Park are also interesting foodie destinations.
posted by me3dia at 8:51 PM on October 17, 2011

Mod note: Final update from the OP:
Final update to that is I ended up in Lincoln Park just because it is a good option for new transplants, but I hated the food there. I now happily enjoy the food scene in West Town, which has great restaurants and is above the also fantastic West Loop. I love Logan Square, but it's too far a slog from work. I also like the scene in Ravenswood in terms of Thai/Korean/etc., but that's also too far.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:52 AM on June 27, 2013

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