By Bob Glaze
Chicago’s Lincoln Square is one of my favorite neighborhoods in the city. I always love exploring and walking the neighborhood. It has some great entertainment venues as well as some excellent shops, coffee bars and restaurants. There is usually ample parking on the street and in nearby lots, or you can easily take the Brown Line train to Western on the CTA “L.”
My favorite spots include:
Café Selmarie: A great brunch or lunch spot in the center of the pedestrian area of the square with outdoor seating. It is also open for dinner. Since 1983, they have been serving excellent European style pastries, an eclectic menu of gourmet food, espresso, coffee, beer and wine. I recently went back and loved the pulled pork sandwich on a pretzel roll served with an apple slaw on top. 4729 N. Lincoln Ave.
Merz Apothecary: At 4716 N. Lincoln, this pharmacy was established in 1875. With a recreated, traditional decor, they sell homeopathic remedies, vitamins, supplements, other natural medicines, natural skin care, bath, aromatherapy, and other personal care products from around the world. They also have a huge selection of natural and luxury soaps.
The Chopping Block: A great place to take a hands-on cooking glass, see a cooking demonstration or take an outdoor grilling or wine class. 4747 N. Lincoln.
Gene’s Sausage Shop & Delicatessen: At 4750 N. Lincoln this is a great spot for sausages, meats and gourmet foods. You might check the rooftop beer and wine garden, from Friday to Sunday, that features smoked sausages and bratwurst cooked on an open wood grill. Nearby is Book Cellar at 4736 N. Lincoln for books and a snack.
Bistro Campagne at 4518 Lincoln, is a traditional French bistro that has been a local’s favorite since 2002. I recently went back after several years. They have expanded and added on to the dining room. They have several cozy dining rooms inside along with great outdoor patio seating. I was very impressed with the food and extensive wine list. I went with friends during Lincoln Square and Ravenswood Restaurant Week in October. It featured a three-course menu with wine pairings for a very reasonable price. I will definitely go back!
I also like Gather restaurant which is perfect for Sunday brunch at 4539 N. Lincoln. Both my friend and I loved the omelette! They have a cozy interior space and great outdoor space for summer dining.
Next door at 4535 N. Lincoln is The Warbler, opened by the same team behind Gather. They have a great menu of American comfort food and vegetarian dishes. I thought the food was excellent. I enjoyed the baked mussels long with the cauliflower and asparagus sides. They have outdoor seating for the warmer months. I thought the service and the sleek contemporary design also helped make it a great experience.
One of the hot new spots in town is Baker Miller has moved from 4610 N. Western Ave. to 4655 North Lincoln Ave. They source their own grains, then mill them into their own flours and bake them into wonderful breads and pastries. They also have a cafe serving breakfast and lunch. For lunch they have wonderful salads, sandwiches and sides. On my first trip I enjoyed a vegetarian pot pie with curry, a side of dressed greens and wonderful pear and cherry tart. On my second, I loved the sandwich on a fresh baguette with roasted beets and goat cheese plus a perfect piece of blueberry pie. Owners Dave and Megan Miller have received two James Beard nominations for Outstanding Baker.
I also enjoy Yogurt Square for frozen yogurt, sorbet and gelato at 4701 N. Lincoln. I have been several times and always like sitting on their outside patio.
Other recent additions to the neighborhood include a new location for Hoosier Mama Pie Co. and Dollop Coffee at 4613 N. Lincoln. Geraldine’s Cafe & Bakery is a casual spot for coffee, pastries and breakfast items. 4743 N. Lincoln. I also just read about Cobblestone Restaurant at 4337 N. Lincoln which is open for dinner as well as weekend brunch. It opened in 2020. The menu looks excellent.
West of Lincoln Square is Arun’s at 4156 N. Kedzie. This is a wonderful Thai restaurant in a very elegant setting that features beautiful art, artifacts and craft work from Thailand. The menu features a 9-course prix fixe, degustation tasting menu with incredible food as well as an à la carte menu. It is featured in the book “1000 Places to See Before You Die” by Patricia Schultz. I have been twice in the past and it never disappoints.
Artango, formerly at 4217 N. Ravenswood, is now at 4767 N. Lincoln in Lincoln Square. It specializes in Argentinian and South American cuisine for lunch, brunch and dinner. The brunch dishes were really excellent, particularly the crab cake benedict. They also feature live music and teach tango classes during the week, so check the website for details.
Not to be missed is Luella’s Southern Kitchen at 4609 N. Lincoln. Chef Darnell Reed named the restaurant after his Grandmother Luella. Her influences can be seen in his traditional southern dishes from shrimp to chicken gumbo.
Opened in August 2016 is Oromo Cafe, which is a hip coffee shop with great coffee and a beautifully designed space. 4703 N. Lincoln.
Fans of the famed architect Louis Sullivan should make sure to walk by and visit the Krause Music Store building, an historic landmark building from 1922. Located at 4611 N. Lincoln, it was one of Sullivan’s last projects from late in his life. The interior of the building has been totally renovated but the exterior remains the same.
Local events throughout the year include the Lincoln Square Farmers Market, held Tuesday mornings and Thursday evenings from May through November and Apple Fest in October.
The Old School of Folk Music offers classes, concerts and events throughout the year at 4544 N. Lincoln.
For more travel destinations and recommendations, visit globalphile.com.