The Best Restaurants In Wicker Park, Chicago

Isabella Bengoechea

A melting pot of nationalities from Polish to Puerto-Rican, Chicago’s Wicker Park and Bucktown area has experienced a golden age of development of late. While staying true to its eclectic roots, gentrification has transformed the Illinois neighborhood into a creative hub, with a wave of new bars, boutiques and galleries encouraging an influx of enthusiastic patrons. It also boasts many renowned restaurants from Chicago’s enviable dining scene. Here are some of our top picks.

Antique Taco

1. Mindy’s HotChocolate Restaurant and Dessert Bar

Bar, Restaurant, American

A relatively recent makeover hasn’t stopped the steady upward surge of Mindy’s HotChocolate, which has now become a sort of local institution. Opened by celebrated James Beard award winning pastry chef Mindy Segal, the restaurant is famous for its selection of exquisite, gourmet desserts which, after a new direction in cooking style and ethos, now rotate throughout the year to utilize the best seasonal and locally grown ingredients. Popular choices include warm brioche doughnuts, strawberry cheesecake and, of course, the prestigious hot chocolate with homemade marshmallows. But fear not if you don’t have a sweet tooth as there is also a stunning selection of savory dishes to choose from, including Gunthorp Farms duck breast, flap steak with garlic chimichurri and homemade pasta. Relax in industrial-style, bright and spacious decor.

Big Star

Famous in Wicker Park and Bucktown for its tacos, Big Star is the highly rated protégée of James Beard award winning chef, Paul Kahan. In fact, exceptional tacos belie an initially somewhat unimpressive appearance, a cross between a drive-thru (you can order from the pick-up window), a dive bar, garage and a hipster cafe. But don’t let that put you off. The tacos are objectively excellent, stuffed full of the freshest, meatiest, most aromatic ingredients. Try the taco de pescado (tilapia fillet, chipotle mayo, cabbage, red onion, lime) or the favorite taco de panza (braised pork belly, tomato guajillo sauce, cheese coriander) to start. They don’t take reservations so you may have to wait a while as it is small inside, but there is an inviting outdoor patio for the warmer months. You can always enjoy margaritas while you wait.

Big Star, 1531 N Damen Ave, Chicago, IL, USA, +1 773-235-4039

Taco de Panza, Taco al Pastor, Taco de Pescado


Leading the way in Wicker Park and Bucktown’s recent revival for more than 20 years is the casual and cozy, yet chic and smart Jane’s. You will find the restaurant in an ancient converted house (the beams and brickwork are still visible) that grants it a tangible vintage vibe, while its walls are even covered in the artwork of local artists, ensuring its status as a hipster magnet (but don’t hold that against it; the atmosphere is welcoming and friendly). Jane’s is famed for its imaginative takes on classic American dishes, alongside daring forays into alternative cuisines and diverse dishes. Simple, fresh and often local ingredients make this a winner for healthy eating and the environmentally minded. The brunches, burgers and steak sandwiches are heaven, and there is plenty for vegetarians too.

Jane’s, 1655 W Cortland St, Chicago, IL, USA, +1 773-862-5263

Mana Food Bar

What is a petite and apparently unassuming establishment from the outside, hidden away among the bustling throng of stylish bars and boutiques which dominate the area, is in reality one of the best vegetarian restaurants in Wicker Park and Bucktown. The adorably quaint Mana Food Bar specializes in small, flavorful and healthy dishes, ideal for sharing and, as meat-lovers are so pleasantly surprised to discover, exceptionally filling. Choose from a diverse menu of veggie and vegan options from all over the world including hot and cold dishes such as sesame noodles and peanut sauce, sweet potato pancakes with chutney or the famous Mana slider burger, in simple, stylish surroundings, and thankfully at a decent price. There is even a covered outdoor patio when the weather is fine. Translated ‘the life force in nature,’ Mana is certainly a force to be reckoned with.

Mana Food Bar, 1742 West Division Street, Chicago, IL, USA, +1 773-342-1742



Discreetly hidden behind an unappealing exterior lies Schwa, GQ’S ‘most revolutionary restaurant in America’ and haunt of Michelin starred chef Michael Carlson. Don’t let an atmosphere resembling an upmarket, exclusive nightclub with booming music and a stylish clientele make you forget the main sell of this place: the exceptional quality of its food. Creative and innovative are words perhaps too often thrown around, but Schwa has certainly earned the right to be deemed such, with an emphasis on the art of molecular gastronomy. A sample of its ever-changing menu features interesting combinations like tagliatelle with huckleberries, black truffle and veal heart or tiger fish with carrot, cardamom and marshmallow. It has to be tasted to be believed, and trust us, it’s worth it.

Schwa Restaurant, 1466 N Ashland Ave, Chicago, IL, USA, +1 773-252-1466

2. Irazú

Restaurant, Vegetarian

Irazu Costa Rican Restaurant & Catering, Chicago
Courtesy of Irazú
For an authentic, family owned restaurant that cooks up some seriously tasty Costa Rican grub, make Irazú your next stop. A casual, friendly atmosphere have made this colorful Bucktown establishment a favorite with locals for years, and which thankfully shows no sign of letting the standard drop as its popularity soars. Enjoy dishes of steak, fried pork, black beans, rice, guacamole, hot peppers, pickled vegetables, avocados, plantains, spices and lashings of coriander. The homemade burritos and liberally filled empanadas are particularly recommended by Irazú regulars, who also warn against missing out on the renowned oatmeal shake. Though small, Irazú is exceptionally well priced and you get a whole lot of food for your money that you can enjoy on the outside patio when it’s warm enough. Another major pull is the restaurant’s BYOB policy, with no corkage charge.

Antique Taco

This taco establishment is gorgeously tiny and character filled with an undeniably scruffy-chic hipster vibe. Run by husband and wife Tick and Ashley Ortiz, Antique Taco brings a touch of innovation to your run of the mill meat and tortilla combo, with plenty of deliciously creative tacos to choose from. Interesting fillings and new flavors are the order of the day here, all prepared with the freshest ingredients in the wonderfully cozy, old-world atmosphere decorated all over with antique items and vintage decor. Two of our favorites from the admittedly select menu include the garlic shrimp taco with purple potato, black bean edamame and crispy Brussels, and the grilled rib-eye steak taco with salsa, queso enchilada and coriander. The Antique Taco Salad is also probably one of the most exciting salads you have ever tried.

Antique Taco, 1360 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL, USA, +1 773-687-8697

Antique Taco

3. Trenchermen


Opened by food loving brothers Mike and Patrick Sheerin, Trenchermen is the perfect spot to try out some out of the box ingredients and unexpected combinations that define its menu. The brothers’ experimental cooking style has produced a no-holds-barred menu which gives you free range to explore the wackiest of cooking styles; a move that is sure to pay off after tasting it. Clean, succinct, American-style food with rich punches of intense flavor, served in a setting both artsy and industrial, packed full of antiques, lights, an overdose of white tiles and two bars in an old restored subterranean bathhouse. Some of the more unexpected options include preserved rhubarb and aged duck breast, pork belly and plums with bubble gum or black olive-coated trout.

Trenchermen, 2039 W North Ave, Chicago, IL, USA, +1 773-661-1540

Culture Trips launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes places and communities so special.

Our immersive trips, led by Local Insiders, are once-in-a-lifetime experiences and an invitation to travel the world with like-minded explorers. Our Travel Experts are on hand to help you make perfect memories. All our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

All our travel guides are curated by the Culture Trip team working in tandem with local experts. From unique experiences to essential tips on how to make the most of your future travels, we’ve got you covered.

Culture Trip Spring Sale

Save up to $1,656 on our unique small-group trips! Limited spots.

Edit article