Answers from Our Experts (10)
I think Chicago is so great because of the different experiences that you can get within the city — the different feelings of the neighborhoods. We are in Logan Square. Our neighborhood is changing quite a bit. And then there are other neighborhoods that have great shopping, and at Lincoln Park, you can see a baseball game at Wrigley Field. And then the lake is right there — it’s beautiful. You can go swimming in the summertime if you want. Michigan Avenue is crazy busy and really congested but you can get in a cab or hop on a train and a few minutes later you’re in a different neighborhood with a different feel. The other thing I like about Chicago is there is a really good drinking and eating scene in many of the neighborhoods, albeit a little more understated. It’s not all getting dressed up to go out.
I really like Old Town, where we live. I think it’s going through a real renaissance; there are a lot of new places opening. It’s much more residential than any other neighborhood in this area, so there’s a really good mix of people living there, markets and places to go out. I think it’s great. I think Chinatown is always fun to go to.
West Loop is ridiculously cool and just getting cooler all the time. They’re building a SoHo House right now just behind Girl and the Goat. And Fulton is going crazy right now. This whole area is going to be amazing. I think everybody who owns property here, all of the developers, have a good sense of what West Loop is and are making sure that the things that are built here have symmetry with the feel of this area.
And I live in Roscoe Village, so I have to say Roscoe Village, too. It’s great because there are tons of families. It’s a great little area.
I love Logan Square. I think it’s one of the best food neighborhoods right now. It reminds me a lot of Williamsburg and Brooklyn in that it’s a neighborhood that three or four years ago you would never think of living there or even going there. It still has its moments — you’ve got to keep alert — but because of the cost of living and the rent, there’s so many innovative and coming-up restaurants there right now that are also very affordable, and there’s a demographic to support it. People who live in Logan Square, they’re young professionals, they’re hip and they’re eating out five or six nights a week and like cocktails quite a bit. It’s an exciting neighborhood of great eclectic places that you can walk to. Its public transportation is really great as well, which I think is nice to be able to get there from any part of the city and go and have a good time and not really have to worry about parking or getting behind a car after you’ve had some cocktails.
There’s a lot going on in Lincoln Square right now in terms of nightlife and cool bars. There are some interesting high-end restaurants that have opened there recently. One’s called Elizabeth; the chef is a forager. Chris Nugent opened Goosefoot. He named it after a beet. It’s getting a lot of acclaim, and it’s a BYOB tasting menu.
I also think that Logan Square, which used to be a pretty marginal neighborhood, is beginning to get a lot of interesting things there. The Loop is really cool; it’s busy and bustling. I don’t know if it’s a neighborhood, but it’s definitely some place to be. You know, Berwyn is another interesting place that’s beginning to come into its own.
And then there’s a West Side neighborhood called Pilsen that’s highly Hispanic, so there’s a lot of really great regional Mexican cuisine that can be had down there. You know how neighborhoods go — first an ethnic group will move in, then the artists. Then it gentrifies. It’s kind of in that pre-gentrified state.
I must say I do love the Gold Coast. I’m a resident of the Gold Coast, and sometimes it gets mistaken for not really being a neighborhood just because it’s close to the shopping district, but it is very much a neighborhood. We have beautiful gray-stone buildings. You’ve got the lakefront; you’ve got access to the nightlife; you have access to the shopping; but it is a true neighborhood. We walk our dog; we see our neighbors. It’s like our own little slice of New York right here. I live in a high-rise, and I look outside and feel like I’m living in a city.
I love the lakefront. I live in Lakeview and enjoy the neighborhood. Pilsen — it’s quite unique; people don’t get down there as often. You can get some great Mexican; you see a lot of great culture there. And Logan Square.
For shopping and such, I love going to Wicker Park and Bucktown. There’s lots of funky shops. Then for living, well my restaurants are in West Loop, and I live in West Loop, and everything I need is kind of right here.
Flashing wide, tree-lined boulevards and turn-of-the-century greystone mansions, Logan Square has blossomed in recent years as commerce has caught up with its residential appeal. Just off of the neighborhood's public transit stop are excellent restaurants and bars both newer (Longman & Eagle, Billy Sunday) and older (Lula Cafe). Recently reopened after years of neglect is the historic Logan Theatre, its architectural details restored anew, offering both mainstream and indie films as well as a full bar boasting local spirits and brews.
Though the Chicago Loop is primarily viewed as the business-centric artery of the city, several redevelopment and improvement projects over the past handful of years have seen this commerce-heavy corridor boom with shopping, art and eateries. In addition, the Loop plays host to the city's famed theater district.
Chicago really is a big city made up of diverse neighborhoods, from buzzy River North to low-key Lincoln Square. If you’ve got the time, try to hit up more off-the-beaten-path areas like Logan Square, Pilsen and Andersonville — each has rich cultural and food scenes.
My favorite neighborhood, though, is the West Loop. There’s a little bit of everything here. Foodies flock to hot restaurants like Girl & the Goat, Next and G.E.B. At night, spots like RM Champagne Salon, Vera and Maude’s Liquor Bar attract a sophisticated crowd. During the summer months, the neighborhood bustles with a low-key energy. Hungover sunbathers, families and dog walkers converge at Mary Bartelme Park, a beautiful city park loved for its modern design. (Tip: On hot days, head to Cone, the new gourmet ice cream shop a few blocks away). Also a few blocks away? Greektown. I like to sit outside on Athena’s newly renovated patio for a quintessential Greek salad and glass of white wine before a leisurely stroll through the hood.