Albany Park == good?
February 13, 2006 7:15 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to know if any Chicago folks could tell me more about the Albany Park area than the wikipedia article can, which isn't much. I took a drive around and couldn't even find a coffee shop or anything, let alone a place where I might see some live music. I didn't even see any pubs/bars. Did I drive the wrong roads? (on behalf of twiggy)

Basically - if I were living on Spaulding near Lawrence - is there any entertainment or at least comfy coffeeshops within walking distance? It's a block or two from a brown line stop, but I can't find an easy means of answering the question "what cool stuff can I get to via the brown line?". I do know that some of the fun places I like to go are in the Bucktown/Logan Square areas, but that doesn't mean I won't go elsewhere. I like live music, bars (more on the comfy or maybe dive side than the frat boy or club side) and would like to see more theater (Neofuturarium-type things would be great for those in the know!).
posted by Count Ziggurat to Society & Culture (18 answers total)
Probably easier to find a fight than a coffee house.
posted by Kwantsar at 7:24 PM on February 13, 2006

No idea. But I live at Fullerton and Western and there's a great bar near by.

Quenchers would be perfect for a meetup, if anyone's interested.


P.S.: there's a great Italian place at Montrose and Clark, which isn't THAT far.
posted by rbs at 7:28 PM on February 13, 2006

Hey... As a former Albany Park resident. I don't think you'll find any comfy coffeeshops directly near there (unless you count the starbucks at kedzie and leland) but if you do hop on the brown line, you're only 2-3 stops from lincoln square which has "The Grind" (mmm, excellent sandwiches and salads) and many other nice places to eat, drink and spend money). A little bit further along the brown line and you're in the part of Chicago most people are more familiar with. One thing in your potential new neighborhood that must be experienced is the awesome Noon-O-Kebab on kedzie (again near leland, i think) If they're too crowded (it can happen) go across the street to Salam, and you will get *way* more food than you can handle for cheap.

Anyway, in general, I'd say... Stuff withing walking distance of the Kimball stop... not so much. But Lincoln Square is great, and not at all too fratty (for my tastes anyway). Also be aware that Andersonville will be directly east of you at lawrence and clark-ish. Have you been to Carol's Pub at Clark and Leland? Oh man. Put on your cowboy hat and get going!

(On Preview) As for the crime db. There is definetly a *lot* of police presence around there, but my g/f and i never felt threatened at all. It is a lot of families, a great mix of cultures and yeah, you'l occasionally have to deal with some loud music and or talking out in the street. But coming from Logan Square, nothing you can't handle.
posted by idontlikewords at 7:31 PM on February 13, 2006

Thank you to Count Ziggurat to posting for me - I really appreciate it.

I should add that I work in a north suburb (Prospect Heights), so being near the metra line that stops at Grayview, Mayfair, Forest Glen etc would be nice, but isn't 100% necessary.

Problem is I just don't see much fun around Albany Park - would love to hear "oh, you didn't look in the right place, check this out!" -- or "oh, you're next to the brown line though, here's some cool stuff right along the brown line!"...

Interesting on the chicagocrime link - I'll have to look at that for other zip codes now and see how they compare .. crime's everywhere, after all! Thanks!
posted by twiggy at 7:31 PM on February 13, 2006

P.S. It's also worth noting that the Brown Line is a much nicer El experience than the Red Line. You still get a little of the pee smell, but it's not nearly as overpowering. Plus, after the Western stop, you'll have it all to yourself!
posted by idontlikewords at 7:34 PM on February 13, 2006

It's been awhile for me, but the coffeeshops were up on Foster, across from the campus of North Park. The bars right around there were self-segregating by race and not welcoming to outsiders. YMMV. You might consider going over to Lincoln Square and heading south on Lincoln Ave. That will keep you busy checking things out until next year. Plenty o'bars. (Sorry, not walking distance...)
posted by rhymesinister at 7:34 PM on February 13, 2006

Here's the listings for Albany Park. First off on the list is a porno theater (excuse me, theatre), so there is entertainment to be had. Although I've never gone to Albany Park for drinking, live shows, etc. Or, allow me to clarify, for porn either.

Here's the Chicago Reader restaurant listings.

Look around the el stops where there the train runs at ground level, I know there are a few dive bars around there, although it's been awhile. Here's a coffeeshop that sounds good.
posted by hydrophonic at 7:39 PM on February 13, 2006

hydrophonic: I totally tried looking at the Metromix thing, but only via the "neighborhoods" page, and it was useless. Thanks for giving me those search results - WAY better!!!
posted by twiggy at 7:44 PM on February 13, 2006

Ok... Stuff keeps coming to me, right after I post. You may also want to note that Albany Park / Lincoln Square is part of Korea-town, so there are plenty of tasty BBQ joints and stuff around. Especially along Lincoln. I'm just gonna brain-dump a bunch of places in the area you should check out:


Garcia's (Western, just South of Lawrence)

Thai (in desecending order of preference):

Tom Yum (on Foster)
Opart (Western, South of Lawrence)
Spoon (ditto)


Tom Lee (western, south of lawrence)

pubs, etc:

daily bar & grill (lincoln & wilson)
the grafton (just south of there)


"korean restaurant" (between california and western on lawrence)

garden buffet (north of foster on lincoln)

ok, running out of steam, but those are all tasty. Also, with regards to coffeeshops, try perfect cup, right by the damen el stop (one east of western). not as good as The Grind, but not so crowded either.
posted by idontlikewords at 7:44 PM on February 13, 2006

Twiggy, I live in the area (closer to Lincoln Square than you might) but 60625 nonetheless.

Albany Park is old school but up and coming as is most of this zip code. Condo prices have skyrocketed in my area and they will continue to go up with the renovation of the Lincoln Avenue motel stretch. If you feel like you got a great price, it may well be worth it.

The best suggestion I could give you is hitting the brown line as others have suggested. It's a 5-10 minute ride tops, from where you'd be. If you get off at Western, you got Thai food and German food up the wazoo. Walking down Lincoln, you got Old Town School of Folk music, some great restaurants and shops.

Crime-wise, yes it can be a bit dicey but if you've ever lived in a large city where good common sense keeps you alive, you'll do just fine here.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 8:04 PM on February 13, 2006

Kevin's so right. (I used to live in Lincoln Square.)

The Brown Line's gonna be your best friend, or you can hop on the Lawrence bus, too.

Sulzer Library is a short walk from the Western Brown Line stop, and is it ever awesome.

For groceries, I went to Andy's Fruit Ranch a few times (a block south of Lawrence on Kedzie) and they had nice stuff, but I made the trek from Western & Lawrence because they used to sell kinder eggs. I hear HarvesTime (near L&W) has expanded and is really nice now. There's a Trader Joe's south on Lincoln.

Lots of yummy middle eastern food in your immediate neighborhood. In Lincoln Square proper, there's lots of bars, good restaurants, and nice little shops. (They have all been amply covered up-thread)

The neighborhood definitely gentrified in the almost three years I lived there but I don't think it's been totally taken over by Lincoln Park trixies yet.

Also, there's a Lincoln Square community on livejournal. If you have an LJ, definitely join! Everyone there is very helpful.
posted by sugarfish at 8:57 PM on February 13, 2006

Albany Park is a little sleepy, but as has been said, if you're close to the Brown Line that won't matter too much.
posted by me3dia at 9:50 PM on February 13, 2006

Just keep in mind what Kwantsar said. Watch your back.
posted by wsg at 2:55 AM on February 14, 2006

We moved to Albany Park in October (near Lawrence and Central Park) and have been pretty disappointed in the neighborhood so far. Impossible to get a cab, too many dollar stores, and what the fuck is the deal with all thse "linen" shops? Lawrence just sucks. That said, we're looking forward to digging deeper into the hood come springtime.

We did find one totally cool little place. I can't remember what it's called but it's on Avers just south of Wilson (behind that big-ass school). It's a candy shop but they've got soup and sandwiches and here's the coolest thing: you can buy a bag of Fritos and they'll scoop warm nacho cheese on top of it! Best!

There's also Murray's Pub on Pulaski if you like french fries and burgers (and off-duty cops).

I think it's funny that there are two fancy-pants fixed-price restaurants around here: Arun's (high-end Thai) and Matsumoto (high-end Japanese). Haven't tried either of them yet, but I hear they're both awesome.
posted by elvissinatra at 5:41 AM on February 14, 2006

With all this Brown Line talk, just remember: there's construction starting on the line which will be closing down stops for several months at a time. See the Brown Line construction site for more information.

Rockwell is one of the first stations going down (starting Feb. 20th, and for up to six months), but if you're able to, I highly recommend Beans & Bagels for, well, beans and bagels, but also great sandwiches. There's another one right at the Montrose stop, but I believe that one is closing permanently due to the el construction.

The Damen stop has my favorite ice cream in the world - Madison's own Chocolate Shoppe ice cream, sold at Sweet Occasions. And my favorite Thai is right there - Siam Country.

As others have said, there's tons of great places right off most brown line stops. And I second the Sulzer as a great library.

If you're willing to stick it out in your condo for several years, I'm sure the Lincoln Square gentrification will be spreading your way soon.
posted by bibbit at 8:52 AM on February 14, 2006

Albany Park was my favorite neighborhood to live in Chicago. I'm down in Wicker Park/Bucktown/Ukranian Village-ish digs now, but if I didn't love walking the few blocks to work I'd move back in a second!

Wonderful lebonese pastry shops, korean grocers, andy's fruit ranch, davis theatre, billiard halls, the tiny magic shop on lawrence, weirdo karoake bars, the greek gin rummy nuts, it's a wonderful neighborhood in my opinion. As far as coffee shops, sadly you have missed the era of the Nervous Center, the best damn coffee shop ever, but up in Lincoln Square there are plenty of places (starbucks, selmarie, etc) but locally I recall an espresso/coffee joint on lawrence near kedzie. Also any damn lebonese place will serve you a fine cup of turkish coffee!

posted by mrs.pants at 8:58 AM on February 14, 2006

Wow, I am way, WAY too late to chime in on this thread probably, but for posterity...

I live in North Park, which is a few blocks north of the Kimball EL Stop and I LOVE it. A little sleepy, yes, but with its charm and definitely up and coming. Less crime north of Foster but south of Foster is cleaning up its act. The Open Hearth Coffee Shop on Kimball (a few storefronts north of Foster) is excellent. Tre Kronor on Foster seriously rocks. I've only ventured to The Hollywood (known as "The Wood) a few times and it is a bit of a dive, but okay. I love the Fifth Provence Pub at the Irish American Heritage Center and, if we are dying to bar hop, we either skip up McCormick to Evanston or over to Lincoln Square.

Surprisingly, there are quite a few hookah lounges here now, terrific Lebanese/Middle Eastern food, supurb Korean food, excellent Mexican/Cuban dining. Folks are extremely friendly. If you have kids, Peterson School is one of THE best public elementary schools in Chicago. And there are two excellent CPS high schools here as well (Northside Prep and Von Steuben). Plus, there is Galter and the Nature Center and Schlegals and Lincolnwood Produce and L.Wood's and The Baked Tomato and, well, I could go on and on but I'll stop there. Probably best for families and students, but I would love to see Bryn Mawr between Kimball and Kedzie claimed for the Mid-Century Modern revival street that it has the potential to be.

Just my take.
posted by jeanmari at 8:18 PM on September 3, 2006

Just circling back around in the thread to post, for posterity, that some awesome new coffee shops have opened up in Albany Park near the Kedzie El Stop.
posted by jeanmari at 1:22 PM on December 7, 2006

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