- Dani Kowalczyk
East of Ukrainian Village, south of Wicker Park, and west of the Loop is the tiny, tucked-away neighborhood of East Village. Most Chicagoans refer to this neighborhood as Wicker Park, UK Village, or West Town. No matter what you call it, this beloved landmark district is a historic, state-preserved area. You’ll find some of West Chicago’s best shops, bars, and restaurants in Wicker Park.
For a long time, Augusta Boulevard lacked a fine-dining representation of the growth and creative energy that East Village harbors. The Winchester graced the neighborhood with its simple, pleasantly monotone design and dashing menu and became a hit. The space feels so delicate yet obtainable, so intricate and deliberate yet simple and relaxed. The space offers two floors for entertaining; the second is ideal for larger private parties or events. The Winchester also offers outdoor seating in the summer!
The Winchester, 1001 N Winchester Ave, Chicago, IL, USA +1 773 698 8703
Chicago is known for its Mexican food, some of the best the Midwest, from big trendy spots like Big Star and Antique Taco to local, late-night staples like Arturo’s. To say one has the best tortilla chips and guacamole is a bold statement – but Carbon may lay claim to the prize. Carbon Live Fire Mexican Grill offers a range of Mexican essentials, including an incredible tilapia taco on a selection of tortillas or in a taco bowl. It’s a necessary stop if you’re ever in East Village!
Carbon Live Fire Mexican Grill, 810 N Marshfield Ave, Chicago, IL, USA +1 312 225 3200
Ruxbin is a hidden gem. Tucked away among dentist offices and obscure storefronts, Ruxbin doesn’t exactly seem inviting from the outside. Don’t be fooled by the unmanicured curbside, because what matters most is on the inside. This BYOB restaurant offers seasonal menus inspired by global cuisines. It’s a 32-seat space with interiors hand-designed (in recycled materials of all sorts) to enhance the experience of each individual that steps inside. Ruxbin takes walk-ins as well as reservations up to 30 days in advance – highly recommended to ensure a seat. With the goal ‘to create food that restores, replenishes, and revives,’ it’s very clear why this place is favored among East Village inhabitants.
Ruxbin, 851 N Ashland Ave, Chicago, IL, USA +1 312 624 8509
A longtime East Village staple, RR#1 has been at home near the corner of Chicago and Ashland for more years than you can count. In the gift shop, one is immediately immersed in playful, thoughtful, intelligently crafted gifts and treats. From plant holders to toys for tots to Scandinavian soaps and fine stationary, there isn’t a beat missed. You’re likely to spend an hour browsing and another chatting with a sales associate. The staff is welcoming and helpful, furthering the neighborhood unity of East Village. RR#1 is worth the trip – check out the eclectic seasonal storefront décor.
RR#1 Chicago, 814 N Ashland Ave, Chicago, IL, USA +1 312 421 9079
Sir & Madame
A veteran of the East Village ‘hood, Sir & Madame is a staple to any Chicagoan. Sir & Madame offers a curated selection of quality menswear and goods – but don’t fret, ladies, the space welcomes the female shopper, as well, with a handful of pieces in tune with the quality-made street-wear aesthetic that is so true to Chicago. Even if you’re not shopping for yourself, it’s a great place to find one-of-a-kind gifts.
Sir & Madame, 938 N Damen Ave, Chicago, IL, USA +1 773 489 6660
Asado Coffee Roasters
A newcomer to the East Village, Asado Coffee Roasters sits on Chicago Avenue next to a mid-century modern gallery and new gyms and real estate offices, thanks to the booming popularity of Wicker Park. Asado is a warm relief from the dreadfully plain, typical coffee roasters on surrounding avenues. The space is smartly decorated with marble floors and Eames replicates, and the coffee is impeccable. It’s a space where you can work in peace and enjoy a well crafted cappuccino. The East Village location is actually one of four, so if you happen to be in the downtown Loop, River North, or Lake View neighborhood, give one of its sister shops a try!
Asado Coffee Roasters, 1651 W Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL, USA +1 773 703 3658
Hoosier Mama Pie Shop is a haven for pie lovers of East Village. The sweet-and-simple Chicago Avenue storefront pumps out the sweetest baked-good smells, luring customers in one slice at a time. Seating is limited, but if you’re lucky enough to get the window spot, it’s like ‘Special Agent Dale Cooper’ heaven – a slice of pie and a cup of coffee. This retro, home-made pie company offers a variety that changes with the seasons. Some of the most coveted include the savory pies, banana cream, and the chocolate chess. Go try a slice or five as soon as possible!
Hoosier Mama Pie Company, 1618 W Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL, USA +1 312 243 4846
Black Dog Gelato
Black Dog Gelato caters to any and all, two-legged or four! Fun and interesting gelato creations include flavors like Goat Cheese Cashew Caramel and Mexican Hot Chocolate. Now one of two shops (the other in Roscoe Village), the Damen Avenue location is closed for the season, as the Chicago winter rolls in with freezing temperatures that precipitate retreat. The highly acclaimed and beloved cash-only gelato and frozen yogurt shop will return to normal business hours and operation come spring.
Black Dog Gelato, 859 N Damen Ave, Chicago, IL, USA +1 773 235 3116
Arami offers a modern take on sushi, tucked away in a refurbished, first-floor residence-turned-storefront. Creative, conservative, and traditional Japanese fare and sushi rolls abound on the menu, along with beer, wine, and sake. If you aren’t into the drink menu, bring your own booze (for a small fee). Arami also offers delivery seven days a week after 5pm and takes reservations as well as walk-ins. This gem offers some of the freshest, most buttery-smooth fish and seafood delicacies often overlooked by other sushi spots. The space is quaint, as it still has the skeleton of a Chicago home. Arami is perfect for date nights, entertaining clients or work associates, or celebrating special occasions. Don’t be afraid to indulge yourself; Arami offers a meal you won’t want to miss!
Arami, 1829 W Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL, USA +1 312 243 1535
The self-proclaimed ‘cheerful storefront’ of Permanent Records is stocked with records, LPs, DVDs, and CDs. The brightly organized selections and welcoming staff offer experts newbies the chance to find something special. One of the best record shops in Chicago, Permanent Records is an East Village staple. The space is easy to find and access, and it’s open seven days a week from 11am to 9pm. Occasionally, Permanent Records hosts events, including BYOB music performances and release parties. Don’t miss this spot on Record Store Day, either! Best of all, if you’re bi-coastal: there’s a Los Angeles location!
Permanent Records, 1914 W Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL, USA +1 773 278 1744