NOW IN ITS SIXTH YEAR, OPEN HOUSE CHICAGO is one of the great public events of our city—opening the doors to over 200 buildings distinguished in some way by their architecture and history. It’s a fantastic opportunity to experience one of our city’s supreme arts in all its variety, from mock-medievalist to post-modernist and everything in between, and the list of neighborhoods and sites changes every year, so there’s always something new to explore. (See the full list of sites and other info here.)

But touring our city builds up an appetite. And what could better round out your appreciation of a neighborhood than by eating the food that the locals make and enjoy themselves? Fooditor’s Guide to the dining near the sites was one of our first posts last year. And I return now with an updated guide to each featured neighborhood on this year’s list, showcasing some of the architectural highlights—and then a few restaurant suggestions for each one that will help you get to know the neighborhood behind these architectural gems, and maybe shed a little light on history of their own. (I left out Downtown—which accounts for a quarter of the total sites—because there’s something to eat on every corner and you probably already know it, anyway. But just because this guide focuses on the neighborhoods, don’t overlook it too.)

Bridgeport/Back of the Yards

Zap Props

Zap Props

What it is: Traditional power base of Irish Chicago (but home to Lithuanians and many other groups back in the day), now a fast-rising real estate market, but still with many early 20th century factories and food processing plants near the former Stockyards.

What to see: The funkiest site on the whole list has to be Zap Props, whose jumbled warehouse of old stuff supplies period detail to movies and restaurants alike; go early as they only take a few at a time inside. Other sites include the twin towers of Holy Cross Immaculate Heart of Mary church, and a number of urban food businesses including The Plant and Growing Power’s Iron Street Farm.

Where to eat:
• The Duck Inn, 2701 S. Eleanor. Retro-flavored gastropub and tavern with deep Bridgeport-Irish roots.
• Schaller’s Pump, 3714 S. Halsted. Generally considered the oldest bar/restaurant in Chicago, and an unofficial headquarters of the Democratic machine, serving standard bar fare.
• Johnny O’s, 946 W. 35th. Quintessential South Side joint serving burgers, dogs, Italian beef and the Bridgeport specialty, the breaded steak sandwich.
• Home Style Taste Chinese, 3205 S. Halsted. Northern-style Chinese food, with cumin lamb and fried noodle dishes among the standouts.


Swift Mansion

Swift Mansion

What it is: The traditional center of African-American Chicago.

What to see: Historic black churches, some IIT buildings including Carr Chapel (Mies’ “God Box”), the Swift Mansion (now the Inner City Youth & Adult Foundation) and the shuttered 1940s dance hall The Forum.

Where to eat:
• Peach’s Place, 4652 S. King Drive. Soul food breakfast and lunch spot with good southern dishes.
• Yassa African Restaurant, 3511 S. Martin Luther King Dr. Enjoy yassa chicken and djolof rice at this Senegalese restaurant.
• Ain’t She Sweet Cafe, 526 E. 43rd St. Cheerful cafe with sandwiches and desserts.


The Edgewater Beach Apartments

The Edgewater Beach Apartments

What it is: In the 1920s, it was Chicago’s answer to Miami Beach—swanky hotels and apartments and the upscale businesses that served their residents.

What to see:  1920s Chicago comes alive at the Edgewater Beach apartments and a few vintage mansions, several on the list for the first time, including the George Maher-designed Colvin House.

Where to eat:
• Pearl’s Southern Comfort, 5352 N. Broadway. Imaginative take on, well, Southern comfort and Cajun food.
• Cookies & Carnitas, 5757 N. Broadway. Upscale take on meaty fast food, plus pizza.
• Little Saigon Baguette, 5251 N. Broadway. Very authentic Vietnamese banh mi (sandwich) shop.


What it is: Once the commercial center of African-American Chicago, this tour will show a few surviving gems that are part of efforts to revitalize the neighborhood.

What to see: The 1890s atrium-courtyard building The Yale, now restored as a senior center; the modernist St. Benedict the African church; Growing Home’s Wood Street Farm.

Where to eat:
• Kusanya Cafe, 825 W. 69th. Coffeeshop and sandwich cafe with punny names (“Tuna Turner”).
• Soul Vegan, 740 W. 63rd. Like the name says, vegan soul food.
• Garifuna Flava, 2518 W. 63rd. Jerk chicken place representing the flavors of a little-known Caribbean subgroup.

Buzz 2


What it is: Historic suburb home to Northwestern University, proper North Shorians like Vice President Charles G. Dawes, and famously a dry town for decades.

What to see:  O irony: tour both the home of the head of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, and long-dry Evanston’s first distillery (FEW Spirits). There are also some Northwestern buildings including the Alice Millar Chapel with its spectacular stained glass, the Dearborn Observatory, and the psychedelic-Gothic Levere Memorial Temple, headquarters of the SAE fraternity.

Where to eat:
• Edzo’s Burger Shop, 1571 Sherman. Much-beloved burger joint.
• Cupitol, 812 Grove. Former site of the notorious Keg, where you couldn’t get in without a fake ID, now a chic coffee and sandwich place with excellent housemade croissants.
• 527 Cafe, 527 Davis. Sunny cafe serving Korean and a few Taiwanese specialties.
• Claire’s Korner, 1827 Emerson. Engaging owner serving up big portions of Jamaican food.

Garfield Park/North Lawndale

Our Lady of Sorrows Basilica & National Shrine

Our Lady of Sorrows Basilica & National Shrine

What it is: African American community has some spectacular vintage sites within a pretty disadvantaged area, and at least some are finally being utilized in new ways.

What to see:  Remnants of the old Sears & Roebuck complex are the main attraction, including the original Sears tower and the former power plant that’s now a tech high school. There’s also the enormous Our Lady of Sorrows Basilica (which is where Sean Connery first told Kevin Costner about the Chicago way).

Where to eat:
• Crazy Bird Chicken, 1138 S. California. Very good fried chicken and weekend barbecue spot; take-out only.
• Al’s Under the L, 2908 W. Lake. One of the city’s oldest and certainly lowest-frills hot dog and burger stands.
• Inspiration Kitchens, 3504 W. Lake. Soul food and Cajun-flavored west side outpost of the organization that trains the homeless to become cooks and servers.

Gold Coast/Near North Side

What it is: Wealthy lake shore enclave, very ecumenical in its churches.

What to see: Vintage mansions from the late 19th and early 20th century, such as the one housing The Palette & Chisel Academy of Fine Art, where Lorado Taft taught society ladies, and the Art Moderne Florsheim mansion. Your chance to finally see inside the Moody Bible Institute after driving by it your whole life, as well as Holy Name Cathedral and St. James Episcopal Church.

Where to eat:
• 3 Arts Club Cafe, 1300 N. Dearborn. As spectacular as any building on the tour, this society women’s club turned Restoration Hardware outlet has a stunning cafe from restaurateur Brendan Sodikoff.
• The Glunz Tavern, 1202 N. Wells. German-American restaurant filled with memorabilia and furnishings from past German establishments and the Glunz family’s liquor business.
• Doc B’s Fresh Kitchen, 100 E. Walton. Better than most healthy foods spot with a wide menu.

Hyde Park

What it is: The home base of the University of Chicago.

What to see: The Hyde Park list is a little thin compared to past years but includes a number of U of C buildings, the adaptively reused ruins of Shrine of Christ the King Sovereign Priest and the art deco Cinderella Ballroom.

Where to eat:
• The Promontory, 5311 S. Lake Park Avenue West. Impressive bar, restaurant and music venue complex from the same group as Longman & Eagle and Dusek’s.
• Valois Cafe, 1518 E. 53rd. Greek steam table joint, celebrated for its multiracial clientele in a sociological study (Slim’s Table), best at breakfast.
• Cemitas Puebla, 1321 E. 57th. New location for the much-loved Mexican sandwich chain.

Jefferson Park/Portage Park

Car; Schurz High SchoolEric Allix Rogers

Carl Schurz High School

What it is: The much-overlooked northwest side, home to well-kept-up houses and lawns.

What to see: At last, the massive Arts & Crafts style Carl Schurz High School makes the list, along with some old theaters and a couple of churches.

Where to eat:

• Smak Tak, 5691 N. Elston. Homey Polish restaurant with a hunting lodge feel.
• Ivy’s Burgers, Hot Dogs & Fries, 5419 W. Devon. Nicer than most hot dog and burger stand with some unusual items (a Japanese dog with seaweed and pickled ginger on it).
• Pueblo Nuevo, 4342 N. Central. Family Mexican restaurant serving all the standards, with a charming, energetic female owner.


St. Alphonsus

St. Alphonsus

What it is: Affluent housing area on the lake front, mostly dating to around the 1920s.

What to see: Go backstage at a couple of theaters (including the Music Box) and a couple of churches (including the soaring St. Alphonsus), as well as the Salvation Army college at Broadway and Addison and a B&B with a secret bar underneath.

Where to eat: Lakeview has plenty of places to get a burger and beer, so I’ll focus on some of the lesser-known food cultures in the area:
• Rice’N Bread, 3435 N. Sheffield. Scrubbed-up, Korean-owned successor to the long-running Japanese diner Hamburger King, still offering some of its specialties like Akutagawa (a sort of Asian-influenced scramble).
• Tango Sur, 3763 N. Southport. Reasonably priced Argentine steakhouse which grew out of the market next door (and where, if you just want a light lunch, you can still grab a couple of empanadas to go).
• Zizi’s Cafe, 2825 N. Sheffield. Very friendly Turkish restaurant with fresh-baked bread.

Lincoln Park

What it is: Another affluent housing area on the lake front, a little older than Lakeview.

What to see: Lincoln Park’s short list includes two spectacular buildings hidden in plain sight, the grand marble halls of the Elks National Memorial and the shrine of Mother Cabrini, as well as the Romanesque Revival Brewster Building apartments from 1893, with its metal and glass catwalks.

Where to eat: Like Lakeview, Lincoln Park is full of fast food and sports bars, but here are a few more interesting choices:
• Rickshaw Republic, 2312 N. Lincoln. Dine on Indonesian food in a room full of authentic Indonesian puppets and other decor.
• Del Seoul, 2569 N. Clark. The L.A. Korean taco craze came to Chicago at this place, and they’re pretty good.
• Aloha Eats, 2534 N. Clark. What’s Hawaiian food? Find out here.
• RJ Grunt’s, 2056 N. Lincoln Park West. Okay, interesting isn’t exactly the word for the food at the original Lettuce Entertain You restaurant, by modern standards it’s standard fare, but it remains a perfect time capsule of early 70s dining, from the jokey menu and photos of the hippie-chick waitresses on the walls to Chicago’s first salad bar. Can we get a landmark designation already?


Near West Side

What it is: Industrial and food market area that’s become a tech and startup center and a hot restaurant row.

What to see: Mostly factory buildings repurposed into hipster things like the toy-filled headquarters of Big Monster Toys (Saturday only), who concept new toys for kids and grownups, or the giant camera inside photographer Dennis Manarchy’s studio.

Where to eat: Although this area is full of great lunch spots (Publican Quality Meats, Cemitas Puebla, J.P. Graziano’s. etc.) on Saturday, it shuts down like a small town on Sunday, when you’ll be better off looking on adjacent major streets or in Greektown. Everything listed here is open both days (except Maxwell Street).
• BellyQ, 1400 W. Randolph. Korean barbecue and fusion dishes.
• Meli Cafe & Juice Bar, 301 S. Halsted. Reliable, popular Greek breakfast place with big plates and housemade jams.
• Greek Islands, 200 S. Halsted. The quintessential Greektown restaurant; Greek dishes are comfy and heavy, grilled fish is fresh, simple and perfect.
• Maxwell Street Market, 800 S. Desplaines and area. Chicago’s century-old open-air market and immigrant entry point into the commercial life of Chicago started with Jewish peddlers, became a center for the blues, and today offers terrific Mexican food (see this Fooditor guide). Sunday only, 7 am to 3 pm.

Oak Park

What it is: The first year for the second suburb to make the list.

What to see: Obviously Frank Lloyd Wright is a focus here, with his studio, though there are actually more homes (two) by his fine Arts & Crafts-ish contemporary George Maher, Pleasant House and the Unity House (not to be confused with Wright’s Unity Temple, currently closed for restoration), as well as the very attractive Oak Park Art League and the Queen Anne Pilgrim Congregational Church.

Where to eat:
• Delia’s Kitchen, 1034 W. Lake. Sunny breakfast and lunch cafe.
• Taste of Brasil, 906 S. Oak Park Ave. Brazilian cafe specializing in risoles and pastels (savory pastries) as well as classic Brazilian feijoada.
• Katy’s Dumpling House, 1113 W. Lake. Great pot stickers and Chinese noodle dishes like dandan mien.

Rogers Park

St. Scholastica chapel

St. Scholastica chapel

What it is: Genteel community on the lake front when built in the 1920s, now one of the city’s great melting pots.

What to see: Some Art Deco-era apartment buildings, as well as the… Midcentury Medieval, I’d guess you’d call it, chapel at St. Scholastica Monastery (now an Uno school); contrast that with the gilded Renaissance interior of St. Jerome.

Where to eat:
• Tamales lo Mejor de Guerrero, 7024 N. Clark. Lots of good Mexican along Clark here, and one favorite is this excellent tamale shop.
• Susie’s Noon Hour Grill, 6930 N. Glenwood. Tiny, personable Korean diner.
• Royal Coffee, 6764 N. Sheridan. Looks like a bright coffee and panini shop, but it also serves African food from the same place as the coffee (Ethiopia).
• Ghareeb Nawaz, 2032 W. Devon. Order by the pictures at this excellent and very cheap, if admittedly somewhat intimidating, Pakistani restaurant.

South Loop/Prairie Avenue

What it is: The original getaway from downtown for the wealthy in Chicago, with some beautiful houses on Prairie Avenue (when they weren’t torn down long ago).

What to see: A feast for old house fans, including the city’s oldest house (the Clarke House Museum), the Romanesque Glessner house, and the Second Empire-style Wheeler Mansion.

Where to eat: You’re so close to Chinatown (and it’s most likely to be open on Sunday), so head there:
• Go 4 Food, 212 W. 23rd. Great fresh seafood and good versions of classics like Hot and Sour Soup.
• Cai, 2100 S. Archer Ave., Suite 2F (upper level). Busy, popular dim sum place in the Chinatown mall on Archer.
• Lao Yunnan, 2109 S. China Pl. Smaller, quieter spinoff of Lao Sze Chuan has many of the same dishes plus some Yunnanese specialties; don’t miss tea-smoked duck.
• Richland Center, 2002 S. Wentworth. Downstairs food court with a variety of stands offering everything from dumplings to grilled skewers to takoyaki; see this Fooditor Guide.

South Shore

New Regal Theater

New Regal Theater

What it is: African-American neighborhood long in the shadow of the steelworks.

What to see: The lavish New Regal Theater, closed for some years but still in excellent shape, is one highlight here; there’s also Theaster Gates’ Stony Island Arts Bank and, new on the list, WGN Flag & Decorating Co., maker of giant flags.

Where to eat:
• 5 Loaves Eatery, 405 E. 75th. Charming breakfast/soul food spot for things like chicken and waffles.
• Lem’s Bar-B-Q, 311 E. 75th. The city’s oldest barbecue spot, cooking up rib tips and hot links in a vinegary sauce. Take-out only.
• Soul Vegetarian East, 205 E. 75th. Tasty vegetarian choices covering a lot of different types of cuisines.

Ukrainian Village

St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church

St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church

What it is: Ukrainian enclave is gentrifying, but its immigrant character is still plainly visible.

What to see: Four spectacular Ukrainian churches, including Louis Sullivan’s Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Cathedral (the smallest but most harmonious of the bunch).

Where to eat:
• Old Lviv, 2228 W. Chicago. Old school Ukrainian restaurant, offering a buffet of traditional dishes like stuffed cabbage and pelmeny, best described as “grandmotherly.”
• Ann’s Bakery & Deli, 2158 W. Chicago. Eastern European baked goods and prepared foods.
• The Winchester, 1001 N. Winchester Ave. All-day restaurant serving artfully prepared foods.
• Whisk, 2018 W. Chicago. Funky breakfast place with a decorating thing for Ron Swanson.


Garfield-Clarendon Model Railroad Society

Garfield-Clarendon Model Railroad Society

What it is: An eclectic mix of big buildings reflecting onetime prosperity, reused industrial spaces along the Ravenswood tracks—and the city’s other “Chinatown.”

What to see: An eclectic mix ranging from the Bridgeview Bank (don’t miss the vault downstairs), a Buddhist temple, and the Garfield-Clarendon model railroad club, located inside the Clarendon Park Field House.

Where to eat:
• It may not have any historic buildings, dating only to the 1970s, but the north side Chinatown on and near Argyle street includes a number of outstanding Asian restaurants, including Sun Wah (5041 N. Broadway) for Hong Kong style BBQ pork and duck, Ba Le (5014 N. Broadway) for banh mi sandwiches, Chiu Quon Bakery (1127 W. Argyle) for pastries and BBQ pork buns, Pho 777 (1065 W. Argyle) for Vietnamese soup, and Immm Rice and Beyond (4949 N. Broadway) for authentic Thai food (see this Fooditor guide).

West Town

What it is: A Polish neighborhood, an industrial neighborhood, a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood.

What to see: One of the city’s old public bathhouses, a host of Polish Catholic churches and the headquarters of star architect Jeanne Gang (Aqua) in the reused Polish National Alliance building.

Where to eat:
• Boeufhaus, 1012 N. Western Ave. Neighborhood steakhouse has a hearty menu of well-crafted sandwiches at lunch, as well as outstanding French onion soup.
• Papa’s Cache Sabroso, 2517 W. Division. Puerto Rican restaurant specializing in roast chicken and pork, also does an excellent jibarito.
• Podhalanka, 1549 W. Division. The last full-fledged Polish restaurant in the area, Podhalanka serves hearty, homey Polish food—though the old style hospitality has been known to become upselling, so make sure you want what’s being ordered for you.


Michael Gebert is the adaptively reused editor of Fooditor. He adaptively reused some of last year’s text and pictures, too.

COVER IMAGE: The Brewster Building (Lincoln Park)

Sparrow Black 2019


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  1. Jack Nonta says:

    Susie’s Noon Hour Grill was by far the worst resturarant I had ever been to in Chicago. The old lady who runs the place is a scam artist and a fraud. She charged us significantly more than what was printed on her menu. When asked about the price discrepancy, she started harassing us and asked us if we knew how much it costs to run a business. She continued to harness us throughout the entire meal. Furthermore, this is a cash only place. So when we went to pay cash, she refused our bill, stating she did separate checks and refused to accept the bill we gave her. She said we need to go to the store next door to split up the bill. This rude old hag is a scam artist. She is also the only person running this scam restaurant so service is extremely slow. STAY AWAY