Last month, we took a look at the affordable options in Humboldt Park, so it feels natural to move directly east to see what's available in West Town. That's a lot to cover, and know that this list could have been twice as long, but instead of simply adding in every good dish in the area, we decided to strip the list down to 12 genuinely great options.
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First Look: Leghorn Chicken Brings 'Socially Conscious' Fried Chicken Sandwiches to Ukrainian Village
Why are people in Chicago freaking out over a fried chicken sandwich joint? Well, this is the latest project by the Element Collective, the same folks who cure their own sausage at Old Town Social and mill their own flour at Nellcôte, so it makes sense that they'd go the extra mile at Leghorn Chicken.
Bite Cafe serves pretty good food, in style, to the neighborhood. It's the kind of place you feel equally comfortable stopping in straight after work or stumbling from flush-faced after a night out with friends.
"The food scene has been blowing up in Ukrainian Village," says Lee Kuebler, the chef de cuisine at Ada St. "There's a lot of Eastern European families and it's a nice quiet neighborhood, but it's close enough to West Town or Wicker Park that you can access those neighborhoods but stay away from it too."
Behind an entrance that would give your average abbot door envy, Old Oak Tap is an altar where Ukranian Village brunchers come to pray.
A little beer nerd outpost smack in the nucleus of the yupster bubble of Ukrainian Village, Small bar attracts moustaches the way puddles attract rain.
What is the Old Oak Tap doing serving a BLT in November? This version gets around that problem by subbing in fried green tomatoes. Coated in cornmeal, the thick slice is slightly crunchy and acidic. Along with extra crunchy strips of maplewood smoked bacon (the B ) and arugula (the L), the sandwich also adds a smear of pimento cheese.
You may have to chest bump your way through the crowded bar on the weekends or before/during/after The Game, but if you come for lunch or on a regular weeknight, you'll be rewarded with a low-key vibe and some of the better bar food in the area.
Having grown up in the Philippines, I always pay special attention to the Filipino food options in the city. While Uncle Mike's Place serves your typical American diner fare, it also features a small menu of Philippine breakfast food, including many of my childhood comforts. And yes, that means Spam.
The combination of ingredients is winning: a toasted Gonnella French roll is layered with Phil's sauce (think In-N-Out Spread), tomato and pickle slices, house coleslaw, panko-crusted fried shrimp, fresh-fried shoestring potatoes, and Vern's cheddar sauce (which Phil prefers to the ubiquitous Merkt's).
In case you hid in the shadows for the past week trying to avoid the scorching 100 degree heat, there were some serious developments on the fried chicken front. Two of Chicago's most prominent chefs, Stephanie Izard and Jared Van Camp, both announced separate plans for fried chicken joints.
Bite Cafe's Open Faced Tuna Melt ($11.00) features a hearty mound of mayonnaise-drenched tuna salad dolloped on top of a thick slice of grilled sourdough bread. Tomato slices and pickled red onions serve as a buffer between the fish and an ample heap of cheddar cheese that's melted on top. As far as tuna melts go, this one's among the best to be found in Chicago.
The first thing you see when you walk into Phil's Last Stand on Chicago Avenue is Phil, or as he likes to refer to himself online, Fat Phil. Like Doug Sohn (Hot Doug's) and Eddie Lakin (Edzo's) before him, Phil always stands guard, taking every order, and making as many jokes as possible. While that obviously ensures a fun and freewheeling vibe, it's main advantage is quality control. Nothing gets by Phil without his approval. That turns out to be a very good thing.
When I think of marisquerias, the first one that pops into my head is Mariscos El Veneno (also sometimes referred to Restaurant Veneno de Nayarit). Why? Well, I don't think I've ever driven past the storefront on Ashland and not seen a packed house. It doesn't matter what day or time it is, the tables always seem to be full.