Approximate price of a typical entree on the dinner menu, tax and tip not included:

$ $10 or less

$$ $10-15

$$$ $15-20

$$$$ $20-30

$$$$$ $30 and up



Is it too much to expect that a humble, prairie-locked shrimp shack land a fresh catch and sell it at working-stiff’s prices? Apparently so. At ASH the critters are overbattered in an unseasoned glop that smothers any taste of the sea and require a heavy dose of heat or cocktail sauce to get them down. But if for some reason you find the call of the sea in Logan Square irresistible, the jumbo shrimp do keep a faint memory of sweetness under their battered armor. Cash only; BYO. | Lunch and dinner Mon-Sat | $ | 3054 W. Armitage | 773-486-1584


Comfy deli/coffee shop/ice cream parlor with mismatched chairs and a case of used library books. Standout sandwiches on house-made bread include the pastrami–salty, marbled meat and thick slices of good Swiss pressed between slices of buttered French. There’s also a coffee bar, a case of mostly classic Breyer’s ice cream flavors, fountain creations like the Coco Angel, a lovely coconut and pineapple shake served in a cutesy coconut shell bowl, a shifting menu of homey soups, and free WiFi. Fresh churros and homemade tamales return to the menu this month. Cash only. | Breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily | $ | 2524 W. Fullerton | 773-235-8103


The brunch overflow from Lula Cafe often makes its way to this second location of Doug and Michael Dunlay’s Clark Street bar and grill. In addition to eggs, omelets, and pancakes there’s the cholesterol-enhancing Big Mike’s Irish Breakfast: a fried egg, rasher of bacon, sausage, broiled tomato, potatoes, and a pint of Guinness. At other times the largish menu offers standard bar fare–burgers, sandwiches, salads–but also more upscale options, like a grilled artichoke with remoulade, pepper-encrusted seared ahi tuna, house-smoked salmon with toasts and a tarragon-chive sauce, and soy-glazed ruby red trout. There’s also pizza, including one with eggplant, cremini mushrooms, artichokes, and goat cheese; and ribs (the Dunlays are also behind Smoke Daddy). To go you can get a smoked pig’s ear for two bucks. | Dinner daily, brunch Sat & Sun; open till 3 AM Sat, 2 AM Mon-Fri, and 1 AM Sun | 3137 W. Logan Blvd. | 773-227-2400

American Contemporary


This smart BYO spot started life as a casual deli and cafe and still does double duty as a catering kitchen, but owners Shin Thompson and Kurt Chenier hit their stride earlier this year when they introduced three-course prix fixe dinners. The contemporary American menu showcases clean, streamlined, seasonal flavors; the summer menu includes pan-roasted barramundi in a pink peppercorn sauce with a grilled asparagus risotto cake and plum chutney as well as a toothsome serving of braised pork shoulder in a burly bourbon sauce. On Saturdays the restaurant offers a five-course “underground” dinner for $55; to get invited sign up for the mailing list at | Dinner Tue-Fri and invite-only Sat, brunch Sun | $$ | 2728 W. Armitage | 773-486-7511


Lula Cafe may be the best neighborhood restaurant in Chicago. One side of the menu is dedicated to cheap, surprising, delicious entrees in the $6-$12 range, including a perfect roast chicken; a simple spaghetti with sweet, spicy salsa rossa, bacon, and mild queso fresco; and an excellent turkey sandwich. Then there’s a more expensive specials menu ($12-$24, at breakfast, lunch, and dinner) that changes constantly but has included a scallops appetizer that makes vegetarians very sad to be vegetarians, a roast leg of lamb with sherry-braised mission figs and cippolini onions, and an ocean trout served with brandade-stuffed peppers. On one visit a friend who’s a professional chef in New York stuck around for hours to order nearly everything on the menu, and then we came back the next night. No reservations. | Breakfast, lunch, and dinner Sun-Mon, Wed-Sat, brunch Sat-Sun; open till 11 PM Fri-Sat | $$ | 2537 N. Kedzie | 773-489-9554


Chef Omar Rodriguez’s Think Cafe has expanded in recent years to three airy, low-key dining rooms. The Italian-influenced contemporary menu covers a lot of ground: half a dozen appetizers, as many salads, and even more pasta and entree options. Try the white asparagus salad with tomatoes and Maytag blue cheese or a plate of arugula, dried apples, and goat cheese in a mango vinaigrette. Specials like grilled bass served over pearl couscous with mango chutney tend to be unfussy and satisfying, but the prices can come as a shock–$35 venison? BYO. | Dinner daily | $$$ | 2235 N. Western | 773-394-0537



Chef Alan Yuen returned to his family’s decades-old establishment after a kitchen-hopping tour of Paris and Hong Kong several years ago, and its neighborhood Chinese style shows some French influence. Anything sweet-and-sour here is a good bet, as the sauce is made with a fruit-juice reduction instead of cane sugar. The hot-and-sour soup, made with seafood and julienned mushrooms, is especially good, and even dishes as simple as spicy Szechuan long beans (green beans with red pepper and garlic) stand out. A pot of oolong comes with dinner. | Lunch Mon-Sat, dinner daily | $ | 2830 N. Milwaukee | 773-227-0970


Jim Bee of Sai Cafe brought sushi to the hood with this restaurant just south of Logan Boulevard. Everything tastes superfresh, from basics like tuna and unagi to a “fashion” maki (tuna, shrimp, avocado, mayo, fish eggs, and cucumber) and more inventive options such as the excellent Spicy White Tuna Crunch. The mochi sampler offered tasty little domes of green tea, lychee, and red bean ice cream meant to be eaten with a toothpick spear. Hachi’s also has a nice selection of wines available by the bottle and the glass and a very satisfying house sake. | Dinner daily; open till midnight Fri-Sat, 11 PM Mon-Thu | $$$$ | 2521 N. California | 773-276-8080


Sai Mai is a tiny spot with just eight or so tables. But the menu is extensive, offering appetizers, soups, salads, noodles in broth, fried rice and curry, rice plates, house specials, desserts, and beverages including Thai iced coffee and bubble tea lattes. The Sai Mai salad is a flavorful and refreshing mix of apples, white cabbage, carrots, green beans, and roasted peanuts with a tangy lime dressing; barbecue pork noodles come with perfectly cooked pork. Green tea ice cream is a perfect finish. Best of all, it’s affordable–you’ll leave with a full stomach and a full wallet. No reservations; BYO. | Lunch and dinner daily | $ | 2532 N. California | 773-276-8424



Pit master Calvin Woods tends the smoker at this pleasant little orange and yellow spot on a relatively bleak block of West Armitage. But his barbecue fails to deliver in one crucial respect: smoke. The pulled pork, moist and bland, was pretty good, albeit drowned in a ketchupy sweet sauce. Baby back ribs, on the other hand, were overcooked and dry. Brisket was better, though still mysteriously without smoke flavor. Somebody in the kitchen has a deft hand with a deep fryer, though: catfish fillets were flaky and juicy with a nice crisp cornmeal crust, as was the fried okra. Reservations for large groups only; BYO. | Lunch and dinner daily | $$ | 2540 W. Armitage | 773-342-5100


Right across the side street from the City North 14 cineplex, Fat Willy’s is a fine place for a pre- or postmovie nosh. But the ribs fall short of the gold standard (though notably they’re not quite fall-off-the-bone mushy). Caked with dry rub and cooking in a rotisserie that’s short on the smoke, slabs are held until ordered. In fact, on one visit a cook admitted that his job was to sear grill marks on the meat, an approach that in Texas is referred to as “all hat and no cattle.” Sides are made from scratch and include chili topped with cheese, sour cream, and smoked jalapeno salsa and a mac ‘n’ cheese with Gruyere, fontina, Parmesan, and cheddar. Staff is friendly and there’s an outdoor patio. No reservations. | Lunch and dinner daily | $$ | 2416 W. Schubert | 773-782-1800


Two years ago Robert Adams moved his celebrated west-side barbecue to this location. Adams learned his craft from his grandfather growing up in Arkansas: he smokes superslow in his gleaming eight-foot glass-and-steel aquarium-style pit, using a mixture of red oak, cherrywood, and only a bit of hickory, which if used in excess “poisons” the meat. Unlike most barbecue cooks, who think fat is essential to keep the meat from drying out, Adams favors his ribs lean: “A lot of people can’t cook lean meat and make it real juicy,” he says. “And I can. I guess that’s my gift.” BYO. | Lunch and dinner Sun, Tue-Sat; open till 11 PM Fri-Sat | $ | 2241 N. Western | 773-227-5130

Breakfast & Lunch


Sunny, six-table destination for homey standards like a gooey grilled peanut butter, banana, and honey sandwich and beefarrific chili laced with head-clearing handfuls of cumin and chile (a vegan version is also available). The daunting Reuben, piled with thick folds of corned beef, subs grilled onions for the traditional sauerkraut. There’s also a rich mac ‘n’ cheese, a meatball sub, a Goose Island root beer float, and daily soup, sandwich, and dessert specials. Cash only; BYO. | Breakfast and lunch Sun, Tue-Sat, dinner Tue-Fri | $ | 3706 W. Armitage | 773-661-0675


At this busy diner, run like a well-oiled machine, there’s an Early Bird Special–a ham and cheese omelet for $2.99 from 5 to 9 AM–and a host of others served all day, like the Big Man (two eggs, two pancakes, and sausage, bacon, or boned ham) and the Hungry Man (three eggs, three pancakes, and meat). The food’s what you expect from your corner diner, only better. | Breakfast and lunch daily | $ | 2294 N. Milwaukee | 773-276-2215


The booths at this breakfast-and-lunch spot look like the ones at McDonald’s, except they’re padded with vinyl cushions so they’re way more comfortable, and the floor’s decorated with big circles in primary colors. There’s apple-smoked bacon in the ample breakfast burrito and peppery mushroom gravy on the homemade biscuits, and I’m still dreaming about the butter-topped lingonberry pancakes, loaded with berries. Lunch includes salads, burgers, and hot and cold sandwiches like a Mediterranean sub stuffed with prosciutto, roasted peppers and eggplant, pesto, and a smear of mashed olives and capers. Breakfast extends from 8 to 2:30 on Saturday and Sunday. | Breakfast Sun-Mon and Wed-Sat, lunch Mon, Wed-Fri | $ | 2824 W. Armitage | 773-770-3838


This Logan Square coffeehouse outperforms the nearby Starbucks with its tasty food and drinks and its pleasant atmosphere. Deli sandwiches are made from Boar’s Head meats and cheeses, and there’s a long list of breakfast creations like the Weird Sandwich–cream cheese, steamed egg, and cucumbers on a toasted bagel. Coffee drinks include a standout mocha, hot chocolate, and iced coffee; there are also smoothies, pastries from Bleeding Heart Bakery, and cupcakes from JR Bakery and Desserts. | Breakfast and lunch Sun, Tue-Sat | $ | 2023 N. California | 773-278-7170


At breakfast and lunch Vella, tucked neatly in a new storefront under the Blue Line stop at Western, sells what may be the finest panini in Chicago–among them a killer brisket version and a French toast a la bread pudding. And the frittata panini, which comes with sausage or in a vegetarian version with herbed cream cheese, cremini mushrooms, and roasted tomato, is one of the best egg sandwiches ever invented. The menu also includes crepes, soups, salads. Brunch is affordable for the greater Wicker Park area, and you can BYO liquor to customize the virgin Bloody Mary. The high-ceilinged space, spiffed up with the help of family and friends, is as cheery as a sunny-side-up egg. No reservations. | Breakfast and lunch Mon, Wed-Fri, brunch Sat-Sun | $ | 1912 N. Western | 773-489-7777



Don’t overlook this remarkably unspoiled 16-year-old Puerto Rican joint. Guachitas, smashed fried plantain disks, come topped with guacamole and a slice of piquant red salchichon sausage–an inspired combination. The canoa, a large sweet plantain filled with cheese and beef, was also killer. Mofongo, plantain smooshed together with lots of garlic and chunks of pigskin and served with a side of golden consomme, was the best version I’ve ever had–and I’ve tried it all over Puerto Rico. Another guaranteed pleaser are the pasteles, plantain tamales with a core of lightly spiced pulled chicken. And upon tasting the cabrito en fricassee, tender chunks of steamed baby goat in a light wine sauce speckled with green olives, I knew I had found my paradigm for preparations of the horned beast. No reservations; BYO. | Lunch and dinner Sun-Mon, Wed-Sat | $ | 2420 W. Fullerton | 773-235-7377


Meals at this Puerto Rican place start with free bowls of thick, tomatoey noodle soup, and the pace is slow and friendly. Appetizers are heavy on starch and light on meat; mofongos need the garlicky dipping sauce they come with. Steaming, spicy empanadas, rellenos de papa–crisp potato-and-meat pastries–and tostones, thick, salty disks of fried plantain, are also meant to be dipped. Entrees include a simple, well-cooked skirt steak and the more complicated cabrito en fricassee, a bony, tangy dish of soft baby goat in a white-wine stew studded with big pieces of green olive, onion, and raisins. It’s great mixed over arroz con gandules, mild yellow rice with pigeon peas. The jibarito is supposed to rival the one at Borinquen, where the sandwich was supposedly invented. Reservations for large groups only; BYO. | Lunch and dinner daily | $$ | 2420 W. Fullerton | 773-235-7377


At this neighborhood cafe, where regulars just about walk into the kitchen and staff sit at tables to chat, the food is simple, satisfying, and well prepared. Meals start with warm bread prespread with butter–an excellent Cuban custom. Crisp-crusted ham croquetas come splayed in a pool of thick yellow mayo; yuca comes as a fluffy mound splashed with pure white garlic sauce; and the delicate bacalao, salt cod, is outstanding in a light tomato sauce. The Cuban specialty ropa vieja is understandably very popular, but our favorite was a steak preparation called vaca frita (literally, “fried cow”), a tangle of crisp beef hash and onions complemented by the moist sweetness of ripe plantains. BYO. | Lunch and dinner daily | $$ | 3238 W. Fullerton | 773-489-4440


This Logan Square branch of a two-shop Puerto Rican chain seems to do more business in takeout than sit-down. Maybe that’s because table service is so damn glacial. But at least the many fried appetizers that do time under the heat lamps in the window seem to have a high turnover–including alcapurrias (banana dumplings), bacalaitos (cod fritters), and pinchos and mofongo (fried and stuffed plantains). The menu is filled out by typical homey Boricuan plates: chicken and beef stew, steak and onions, fried pork chops, blood sausage, and a tender if salty lechon (roast pork) that’ll come with a chewy bit of pigskin if you’re lucky. A line of sandwiches is highlighted by a particularly good version of the jibarito (steak pressed between plantains). BYO. | Breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily | $ | 3400 W. Fullerton | 773-276-3524


This spot serves a mix of Caribbean and American comfort food, but our charmer of a waitress persuaded us to dive directly into the island cuisine with sancocho, a hearty soup of plantain, yuca, corn, pork, and “Spanish spices.” Jerk chicken was moist, aggressively spiced, and served with a side of yellow rice with pigeon peas; we also had the Chicago-born, Puerto Rican-inspired jibarito, crisp sheaves of pounded plantain encasing tender grilled beef and garlicky mayo. The meat loaf had a homespun flavor, and the terrific burgers were served perfectly medium rare. Sides include tostones with garlic sauce, curly fries, and sweet potato fries with honey for dipping. There’s live music three nights a week (see Music). No reservations. | Lunch Sun, Wed-Sat, dinner daily, brunch Sun | $ | 2657 N. Kedzie | 773-489-7478



Atlas Cafe bills itself as an “international kitchen”: the menu bops around madly from club sandwiches to dishes like charquican, a Chilean stew, with almost nothing over $10. The zalouk starter, a Mediterranean roast eggplant salad, was tangy and nicely spiced, with warm pita triangles on the side. Apio y avocado, a mound of celery stalks and creamy avocado with a light vinaigrette, was the size of an entree–and only $3.99. A veggie empanada was perfectly hot and crisp, and spinach ravioli had a blushing tomato sauce that begged to be sopped up (no bread basket here). The menu leans toward the vegetarian, and the kitchen can be spotty on meat dishes: grilled salmon was hopelessly dry, but another night’s cheeseburger was just fine, served on a nice eggy challah bun. BYO. | Lunch and dinner Mon-Sat | $ | 3028 W. Armitage | 773-227-0022

Ice Cream


The legendary ice cream parlor at the intersection of Western and Armitage dishes up sundaes with enough embellishments to satisfy the most demanding sweet tooth: bananas, cherries, nuts, fluffs of whipped cream, cookies, and hot fudge in a pitcher on the side. A Chicago institution since 1921, the cozy room, stuffed with dolls and other knickknacks has transported more than one Rater right back to grandma’s house. Margie’s also serves a limited menu of diner standards–burgers, fries, grilled cheese–but skip the real food and have another dessert. | Lunch and dinner daily; open till 1 AM Fri and Sat | $ | 1960 N. Western | 773-384-1035


This Italian ice window, sister to the Miko’s in Bucktown, serves 12 flavors, including peach, coconut, and blueberry as well as the standard lemon, in sizes ranging from $2 cups to $7.50 quarts. If you’re driving you might pull up in the alley behind it–or double park, at some risk–but be forewarned the place will probably be busy. There are a couple of benches outside if you want to eat on the spot. | Noon to 10 PM daily | $ | 2236 N. Sacramento | 773-988-9664


At this Logan Square institution owner Tony Zarcone dispenses plenty of the soft-serve ice cream (vanilla, chocolate, twist) that he touts as 96 percent fat free–and it might be a good idea to cut some calories considering the rest of the fare: quarter-pound burgers, cheese fries, funnel cakes, and a deep-fried Polish that Zarcone is particularly proud of. Friendly kids staff the counter, there are a variety of flavored dips if you fancy your ice cream coated, and a baby cone goes for just 55 cents. | Lunch and dinner daily; open till 11 PM | $ | 2815 W. Armitage | 773-507-7477



For a neighborhood Italian joint, Buona Terra does a decent job. To start there’s fresh escarole sauteed with garlic to just the right level of crispness, and carpaccio topped with shaved Parmesan, porcini mushrooms, and capers is similarly refreshing and satisfying in its simplicity. Pastas can be disappointing: the tomato sauce in the linguini al pescatore was bland, and aside from some fresh and tender scallops the “pescatore” portion of the dish all tasted suspiciously similar. Freshly made cannoli was as tooth-achingly sweet as any this side of Sicily, and if there’s another Italian restaurant at this price point with as wide a list of after-dinner amari and other digestivi, I haven’t been there yet. | Dinner daily; open till 11 PM Fri-Sat | $$$ | 2535 N. California | 773-289-3800



“Sorry, we don’t have anything,” we mumbled to the panhandler. But a glance at the table said we had too much. Margaritas here come in goblets sized for Henry VIII, and we’d ordered platters of fajitas and Veracruz-style whole red snapper. Open round the clock, this brightly lit corner storefront draws Anglo and Latino locals–twentysomethings sopping up the night’s drink with the Tex-Mex standards (tacos, tortas, fat burritos) and workmen huddled over cups of coffee at the counter. | Breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily; open 24 hours | $ | 2001 N. Western | 773-772-4944


Despite the name, Cafe Con Leche makes only a shortish list of coffee drinks; the menu’s standard Mexican and heavy on breakfast stuff like huevos rancheros. I assumed a coffee shop would serve lots of cold takeout options, but the menu listed just a couple, including a Cuban sandwich: ham and cheese with steak, butter, pickle, and best of all a side of amber-colored homemade hot sauce, all for four bucks. If you’re looking for dinner, get here early: closing time is 8 PM. Cash only. | Breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily | $ | 2714 N. Milwaukee | 773-289-4274


The Logan Square location of the Lakeview cafe has location, style, and a genuinely friendly staff, but it desperately needs higher-quality raw materials and someone in the kitchen who knows how to use them. There’s no way a restaurant with upscale pretensions should be serving corn chowder made with frozen kernels or a seafood chile relleno with canned crab. Eighteen bucks bought three “enchiladas del mar” that were simply small tortillas folded over the same tinny-tasting crab, diminutive scallops, and tasteless shrimp with bits of shell attached. And I can’t believe there’s any reasonable rationale for serving multiple entrees at premium prices with the identical standard combo platter accompaniments of rice and pintos. BYO. | Dinner Tue-Sat; open till 11 PM Fri-Sat | $$$ | 2556 W. Fullerton | 773-772-4355


A late-night oasis in Logan Square, El Cid produces solid traditional platters that regulars swear by (and they swear louder when the management is handing out shots of tequila). For $12.95, the fresh shrimp and octopus salad was packed with seafood, and with some ranchero sauce thrown in for color it tasted really good. There’s musica en vivo Wednesday nights, and a large, festive back patio. Reservations for large groups only. | Breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily, brunch Sat-Sun; open till 2 AM Fri-Sat, other nights till midnight | $$ | 2645 N. Kedzie | 773-395-0505


To kick things off at this restaurant from veterans of Topolobampo and Mia Francesca, tacos ensenada (fish tacos) are tasty–a clump of whitefish dressed with avocado and cabbage, and the shrimp ceviche is a knockout. Soups are spiced with a light hand: caldo siete mares (“seven seas soup”) is a chile-kissed tomato broth with just a few select slices of seafood; chileatole del mar brims with seafood, peppers, and corn in a tomatillo-based broth seasoned with epazote. Mahimahi gets the mojo de ajo treatment; lamb chops in a mole negro were expertly grilled. Of special note is a roasted pork loin served in a fruity mole manchamanteles. Out back is a find: a relatively undiscovered patio with lots of shade and half a real boat turned into a flower planter. | Lunch Sat-Sun, dinner daily, brunch Sat-Sun; open till 11 PM Fri-Sat | $$$ | 3749 W. Fullerton | 773-489-3748


For drunken denizens of Logan Square, the corner of Armitage and Western offers two 24-hour taquerias, Lazo’s and Arturo’s. I vote for Lazo’s, as much for its rustic stone wall, thrift-store portrait of Pope John Paul II, and bench seats a la KFC in 1983 as for its food. Mexican telenovelas blare from a wall-mounted TV as you crunch down on a hangover helper of camarones rellenos, meaty shrimp wrapped in ham and crispy fried mahogany-colored bacon, and Lazo’s airy chicken tamales are worth turning down the tamale guy to wait for. Also worth the trip: the spicy, tangy tacos al pastor or the tostada de ceviche, with its chunks of creamy diced avocado and limey nuggets of shrimp. | Breakfast, lunch, dinner daily; open 24 hours | $ | 2009 N. Western | 773-486-3303


There are taquitos and burritos on offer at this first Chicago location of the Mexican chain, but not surprisingly the chicken is the way to go, marinated in citrus and grilled over an open flame for a flash of lively flavor. Still, why pay $5 for two small pieces of bird and two sides at a chain when you can get the juicy real deal for less at scores of hole-in-the-wall joints? No reservations. | Lunch and dinner daily; open till 11 PM every night | $ | 2715 N. Milwaukee | 773-394-5626


The best thing about this cozy Mexican restaurant, a few blocks from the Kedzie Blue Line, is the hours: it’s open as late as the latest bar on weekend nights. House DJs spin, and there’s a mariachi band on weekends. But the food’s nothing to sneeze at either, from a full range of huevos and omelets at breakfast to an even fuller range of Mexican standards–not just burritos and tacos but huaraches, gorditas, and tortas with fillings that include tripe and sometimes brains as well as the more standard carne asada, pork, and chicken. Carnitas, pastor, and barbacoa are available by the pound for carryout, and El Ranchito delivers. | Breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily; open till 5 AM Fri-Sun, 2 AM Mon-Thu | $ | 2829 N. Milwaukee | 773-227-1688



It’s far from fine Italian, but the service is warm and tailored to the customer: young ladies dining alone might be served by a gruff, handsome charmer in a three-piece, while moms can expect relief from i bambini in the form of a matron bearing so-so pizza. The pies–in varieties that include taco pizza and the Siciliano Special–come thin, pan, or stuffed, and there are chicken, pasta, fish, and veal dinners as well, all available for delivery. | Dinner daily; open till 2 AM Fri-Sat, other nights till 1 AM | $ | 2033 N. Milwaukee | 773-235-4455


Father & Son feels like a classic pizza joint–well lit and inviting, full but not crowded, with long tables of families and booths of high school kids fidgeting through first dates. Their thin-crust pizza is great, hearty and crispy, but their Chicago-style deep-dish pies are sloppy, undercooked messes best eaten cold. The otherwise standard wine and beer list has an unexpected Easter egg–martinis with hand-stuffed olives. | Lunch and dinner daily; open till 1 AM Fri-Sat, 11:30 other nights | $ | 2475 N. Milwaukee | 773-252-2620


Vito’s serves a fine carryout slice: imagine yourself in May, window-shopping the Milwaukee dollar stores in munching content. Or imagine December, sitting down to minestrone and spinach salad with a sweet light vinaigrette while you wait for veal Parmigiana, chicken Vesuvio or oregano, or a rib eye. There are specialty pizzas, sandwiches, pasta, fried chicken, and barbecue; could this friendly little Italian place do anything bad? Can’t imagine. | Lunch and dinner seven days; open till midnight Fri-Sat, other nights till 11 PM | $ | 2171 N. Milwaukee | 773-292-0101

South American


There’s an actual Gloria in the kitchen at this little Colombian joint, and she puts out lovingly made home-style cooking. My (admittedly limited) experience with arepas (corn cakes) had led me to believe they were all dry as pucks, but here the cheese and sweet corn (choclo) arepa appetizers both were moist and cakey. Empanadas with mild chimichurri were swell, particularly the spinach, garlic, and potato variety, as was a “Colombian Hummus” with no identifiable South American traits. Besides Caesar and house salads there’s an unusual rice and shrimp ensalada with sweet plantains, chile flakes, and a sweet-and-sour sauce that wouldn’t be out of place on a Thai menu. Rotisserie chickens are marinated and blazed well, and available in various sums of their parts. The traditional and steak dishes come with ample starchy and fibrous sides (rice, cassava, plantains, beans). BYO. | Lunch and dinner daily | $$ | 3300 W. Fullerton | 773-342-1050


At the Argentinean restaurant El Nandu there are eight kinds of empanadas to choose from, including criollo (ground beef, bell pepper, yellow raisins), maiz (fresh corn, hard-boiled egg, cheese), and espinaca (fresh spinach, white and green onion). We enjoyed the molleja, charbroiled beef sweetbreads, which were remarkably crispy and lightly meaty. There’s a simple grilled chicken breast zebra-striped with garlic or served with chimichurri, but meat’s the thing here–just driving past the place could give a vegetarian the heebie-jeebies. Asada a la parilla is a platter of juicy and wonderfully crusty short ribs; steak Milanesa is a traditional Argentinean preparation, breaded and fried. For dessert try the fantastic flan. | Lunch Mon-Sat, dinner daily; open till 1:30 AM Thu, 11:30 Fri-Sat | $$ | 2731 W. Fullerton | 773-278-0900



Every dish on the tapas menu at Azucar sounded good, so among the four of us we ordered nearly all 20 or so, along with a bottle of wine from the reasonably priced all-Spanish list. Standouts included beef empanadas on a fire-roasted pepper puree; albondigas, meatballs in a spicy-sweet piquillo pepper sauce with garlic jam (we ordered seconds of both); a lamb dish redolent of vanilla; and a cheese-stuffed red pepper served on chickpea puree. Desserts include a chocolate terrine and a cinnamon-laden creme Catalan. No reservations. | Lunch and dinner Sun, Wed-Sat; open till 2 AM Fri-Sat, other nights till midnight | $$ | 2647 N. Kedzie | 773-486-6464


Bob Inn

During the Fireside Bowl’s heyday, the Bob Inn served as the pre- and

postshow watering hole of choice for generations of punks. The shows across the street may be mostly gone, but the bar’s cheap-ass drink prices, affectionate staff, and comfortably dive-y atmosphere still make it a destination in its own right. | Sun-Fri 11 AM-2 AM, Sat 11 AM-3 AM | 2609 W. Fullerton | 773-342-2309

Green Eye Lounge

Tucked under the Blue Line tracks at Western, the Green Eye’s run by the folks behind Underbar, Lemmings, and the recently opened Blind Robin. Like its siblings the bar’s low-key and casual without being a dive. The eight beers on tap range from PBR to Red Seal and Two Brothers; there’s also a changing selection of seasonal beers in bottles, lots of board games, and outdoor seating in the summer. | Mon-Fri 3 PM-2 AM, Sat noon-3 AM, Sun noon-2 AM | 2403 W. Homer | 773-227-8851

Helen’s Two-Way Lounge

A wedge at the intersection of Fullerton and Milwaukee, the Two-Way takes its name from the facing doors that open onto each street. The cross-ventilation creates a beautiful breeze through the place on a muggy evening–but if you’re looking for more amenities than that you need to go someplace else. At the Two-Way it’s a buck and a quarter for Old Style on tap and $3.75 for a shot of Beam, lots of country and classic rock fill the juke, and there’s often a scattering of old guys and younger dudes watching the Cubs game. | Mon-Fri 9 AM-2 AM, Sat 10 AM-3 AM, Sun 11 AM-2 AM | 2928 W. Fullerton | 773-227-5676

Small Bar

Around since 1907, this cozy corner joint with its brick walls and tin ceiling probably saw its share of bar fights back in the day, but under the Small Bar moniker the ashtrays are clean and the kitchen does calamari in addition to the burgers and fried cheese. And the beer menu, chalked on a board, features 60-odd international and craft brews. With its friendly staff, excellent jukebox, and neighborhood ambience, this place pretty much epitomizes unpretentious class. | Mon-Fri 4 PM-2 AM, Sat noon-3 AM, Sun noon-2 AM | 2956 N. Albany | 773-509-9888 |

Streetside Cafe

The Streetside’s not pushing any boundaries, but it does the basics pretty dang well. The room’s simply decorated, with an inviting, worn-in woody feel. The beer list offers a few nice selections at reasonable prices, including Spaten, Allagash White, and Scrimshaw Pilsner on tap. The menu’s just as simple, with a jalapeno-mayo-enhanced grilled cheese that might be the best in town. DJs spin everything from classic soul to house to rock Tuesday through Saturday. | Mon-Fri 11:30 AM-2 AM, Sat 11:30 AM-3 AM, Sun 11 AM-2 AM | 3201 W. Armitage | 773-252-9700

Tini Martini

DJs run the show at this hit-or-miss dance club. Depending who’s spinning in the three separate rooms, it can be anything from a flashy hip-hop club to the exclusive playground of the latest wave of decadent club kids. Drink prices are a little steep for the hood, but the potential for total urban hedonism is usually worth it. “No street clothes.” | Sun-Fri 9 PM-2 AM, Sat 9 PM-3 AM | 2169 N. Milwaukee | 773-269-2900

Weegee’s Lounge

If you’re looking for an expertly prepared gin rickey, sidecar, or old-fashioned, your best bet in Logan Square is this year-old joint just west of the burgeoning Armitage business strip. It’s dimly lit, rarely too crowded, never too loud, and arguably the most tolerable bar with a shuffleboard table in the city. Classic cocktails are the specialty, but there’s always a handful of regional brews on tap, and while the bottle selection isn’t as vast as what you’ll find at Small Bar or the Map Room, it’s no less carefully curated. The only real knock against the place is the attitude: the bartenders can be impatient and judgmental to a degree that would make even record-store clerks blush. | Daily 5 PM-2 AM | 3659 W. Armitage | 773-384-0707

Whirlaway Lounge

Of all the dives in Logan Square, none can hold a candle to the Whirlaway. Always too smoky, almost always too crowded, it’s the anti-Weegee’s in every regard. There’s a full liquor shelf, but the pours are always too weak. Beer comes strictly in bottles, and the choices are both unremarkable and largely overpriced. But it feels homey, like you’re getting drunk in your parents’ basement, and that’s entirely due to co-owner and bartender Maria Jaimes, a woman who used to cook a buffet for her customers once a week and has been known to make birthday cakes for her most beloved patrons. If you stop by more than once, you’ll likely be one of them. | Sun-Fri 4 PM-2 AM, Sat 4 PM-3 AM | 3224 W. Fullerton | 773-276-6809


Congress Theater

One of the last of the 1920s movie palaces still standing in Chicago, the Congress was declared a landmark in 2002–which means, thankfully, it won’t be torn down for another set of generic condos anytime soon. The terra-cotta exterior houses an elaborate lobby and performance space, including a stunning saucer dome and loads of intact original details, as well as offices and the like. These days the venue hosts mainly concerts, and while House of Blues frequently puts bigger shows here, it’s also a prime location for rock en espanol gigs and even Mexican wrestling once in a while. Upcoming shows: Reel Big Fish (8/15), Rock Uranak tour (9/2), Tiesto (9/8), Rise Against (9/19). | 2135 N. Milwaukee | 312-559-1212 |

Elastic Arts Foundation

This intimate space upstairs from Friendship Chinese Restaurant presents a variety of performing arts and houses a recording studio to document live performances (see also Theater and Performance). Programmed by the Elastic Arts Foundation, which formerly ran a space called 3030 in an old Humboldt Park church, it hosts a number of regular music series, including Elastro (electro-acoustic music) and the Elastic Hip-Hop Series , as well as weekly concerts in improvised music and free jazz. Upcoming: Jonathan Chen and Tatsu Aoki (8/14-, see the Treatment in Section 3). | 2830 N. Milwaukee | 773-772-3616 |

Fireside Bowl

Before its owner turned it back into a functioning bowling alley a few years ago (see Education & Recreation), the Fireside was a bustling all-ages venue, presenting punk, metal, emo, and indie rock nightly; the lanes were roped off and patrons crammed the strip between the entrance and the alleys to watch bands pinned to the western wall. Since 2004 the lanes have been refurbished and strikes, spares, and gutter balls are the main attraction, but the Fireside still presents live music–mostly rock and punk–on Sundays at 9 PM. Upcoming: End of the World Band, DBLD, Cookies and Dirt (8/19); Disrobe, Krunchies (8/26). | 2648 W. Fullerton | 773-486-2700 |

Hotti Biscotti

When it opened in 2000 Hotti Biscotti was a smoke-free cafe serving caffeinated drinks and pastries, but that didn’t last long–patrons can now smoke and booze is served. The food and drink are both cheap and it’s a pleasant place to see some low-key music: Wednesdays are open mike nights, while at 8:30 PM most Tuesdays there’s great free jazz from keyboardist Jim Baker, drummer Steve Hunt, bassist Brian Sandstrom, and guests. Occasionally there’s music on other nights; obscure movies usually screen on Saturday evenings. Upcoming: Matnia, Magic Lanterns (8/11); Jason Soliday and Brent Gutzeit (8/14, late set); Young American Patriots for Truth, Black Mengele (8/18). | 3545 W. Fullerton | 773-292-6877

Logan Square Auditorium

This large and charming ballroom, still available for receptions and other private events, is increasingly booked for concerts–most notably indie-rock events programmed by the Empty Bottle, though there’s also a fair amount of Mexican regional music. There’s a balcony in the back, huge windows on three sides, and a lot of echo. The current sound system is a big improvement over what was there just two years ago, but it’s still far from perfect. Upcoming: Head of Femur, Dirty on Purpose, Bound Stems (8/16); Scary Kids Scaring Kids, Boys Night Out, the Dear Hunter, Pierce the Veil (8/21); Chicago Samba (9/2); Akron/Family, Greg Davis, Megafun (9/7); Okkervil River (9/18); Black Lips (9/28). | 2539 N. Kedzie | 773-252-6179 |

the Mutiny

This dive bar tends to book punk and metal bands as raw as its atmosphere. Drinks are cheap, the smoke-stained brick is exposed, and there are a bunch of old darts trophies scattered about. It’s easy to get a gig here, which explains why you won’t have heard of most of the bands on the calendar, but if you’re just looking to get your ears shredded the Mutiny is a safe bet. Pool, darts, and Golden Tee are free; there’s also free karaoke Wednesday evenings and–for early risers or those who have yet to sleep–Saturday mornings. The bar is often celebrated for its human-size urinal–since there’s never a cover it might be worth your time to take a look in person. This weekend: Begotten, Maurice, Altered States (8/10); Curtains!, Vertigo, Johnny Murder and the 25 to Lifes, DJ Goth Paul (8/11); The Uneasy Xela, French Kiss, Justin (8/12). | 2428 N. Western | 773-486-7774 |

Quenchers Saloon

Roomy Quenchers has been serving up an impressive international selection of beers since it opened in 1979; it also serves food until midnight. After a post-E2 hiatus from live music, the bar has resumed entertainment, with an open mike on Mondays and a mixture of local rock, folk, and jazz most other nights. Upcoming: Havana-Afro Cuban Jazz (8/10); Lusties, Jagz (8/16); Anders Parker, Mikey Peterson (8/30). | 2401 N. Western | 773-276-9730 |


This neighborhood dive bar has emerged as an indie-rock hot spot since MP Productions, the fiercely independent promoters who used to book the Fireside and the Bottom Lounge, began using the venue. Most of the offerings are indie and punk, and performances take place in a garagelike space with little to no ventilation–hot and smoky, even in winter. Upcoming: Wax Museums, Krunchies, Bold Ones, Catburglars (8/11); Dr. Manhattan, Empty Orchestra, Vicelords, the Most Genuine Expression (8/16); CoCoComa, Retainers, Hospital Rats (8/18); 8 Inch Betsy, Ex-Members, Cathie Santonies (8/24); Marissa Nadler, Picastro (9/5); Harvey Sid Fisher (9/7). | 2101 N. California | 773-235-6591 |

Rosa’s Lounge

This family-run blues bar has long billed itself as “Chicago’s Friendliest Blues Lounge.” Tony Rosa moved to Chicago from Milan, Italy, after meeting Junior Wells, and six years later he opened Rosa’s–named after his mother, who followed him here and helped him get started. Visiting the club was once a dicey proposition, but gentrification has caught up with Rosa’s now. Most nights feature homegrown talent–which in Chicago can mean national acts–but some weekends feature out-of-towners. Upcoming: Carl Johnson (8/11, see the Treatment in Section 3); Lurrie Bell Band (8/17); Little Arthur Duncan and the Backscratchers (8/18); Hot 8 Brass Band (8/24). Regular acts include Melvin Taylor & the Slack Band (Tuesdays); Killer Ray Allison (Wednesdays); James Wheeler Blues Jam (Thursdays). | 3420 W. Armitage | 773-342-0452 |

THE Winds CafE

Music is an added attraction at this relaxed family-run restaurant (see Restaurants), where the menu focuses on southern comfort food and a handful of Caribbean specialties (see Restaurants). On Thursdays it hosts open mikes and on other nights an eclectic mix of local talent with an emphasis on jazz. There’s no cover charge. Upcoming: Latin Inspiration (8/11); Joe Sweet and John Haines (8/14); Aristide (8/18). | 2657 N. Kedzie | 773-489-7478 |


City North 14

When this 14-screen multiplex opened on Western Avenue in late 1999, its distinguishing architectural feature was a giant popcorn-box mascot looming over the entrance. After General Cinemas sold the building to AMC, the sublimely tacky mascot came down, and in June 2006 the multiplex changed hands again, taken over by Kerasotes Theatres. Like any multiplex, City North 14 caters to kids, with a rowdy arcade in the lobby, but the projection is competent and the staff are reasonably polite and friendly. Tickets are $10 (matinees $8, $6 before noon Friday-Sunday and holidays); on Tuesdays all screenings are $6, and there’s free popcorn to boot. Validated parking in the adjoining garage is $2, and party rooms are available for $50. | 2600 N. Western | 773-394-1600 |

Logan Theatre

Built in 1915 as the Paramount, this 975-seat theater is the city’s last second-run movie house, giving patrons a chance to catch up with recent releases for a $3 ticket. The space has been carved up into four screening rooms, the seats are uncomfortable, and the floors are usually sticky. But projection is adequate, and the building is a neighborhood landmark with its triangular marquee and vertical neon sign (which is no longer lit). | 2646 N. Milwaukee | 773-252-0627 |

Open University of the Left

A “cooperative educational project” focusing on progressive politics, Open University of the Left presents frequent forums, speakers, and screenings at the offices of In These Times. Projected from DVD, movies range from political dramas like Reds and The Battle of Algiers to muckraking documentaries like The Take and Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price. A $5 donation is requested, though no one is turned away. The next scheduled screening is Silvia Malagrino’s Burnt Oranges (9/10). | 2040 N. Milwaukee | 847-677-5474 |

Performing Arts

Aguijîn Theater Company

Founded in 1989 by actor-director Rosario Vargas, this company presents Spanish-language and bilingual productions, including classic and contemporary drama, music, and dance; it has a mission to foster opportunities for Latino artists and to bridge cultural, ethnic, and economic gaps. Past productions have included works by Federico Garc’a Lorca and Carlos Fuentes. The company’s 2007-2008 season opener, running 9/7-10/7, is La Lujuria Segun Ramiro (Lust According to Ramiro), Urguayan playwright Dina Armas’s drama about a pimp who sells a religious fanatic to wealthy older women. Up next after that is Colombian writer Alberto Llerena’s Casa de Muertos (Dead Folks Home), running 11/1-12/2. At 8 PM on Saturday, 8/25, the company hosts a performance by Colombian singer-songwriter Franco Reins. | 2707 N. Laramie | 773-637-5899 |

Chicago Ballet

The creation of choreographer Paul Abrahamson, this company (formerly the Moose Project) focuses on contemporary ballet, which at times has meant comic dance or Latin-inflected ballet. The company, which appears around the city, moved to Logan Square from the Ruth Page Center for the Arts about a year ago with the help of a city TIF program. A fall performance schedule will be announced later, but a “grand unveiling” of the new Chicago Ballet Studio (9/8-9/9) will feature a performance as well as a chance to meet the company. | 3433 W. Diversey | 312-943-2528 |

Elastic Arts Foundation

As its name suggests, the group is “open to whatever can fit within the confines of our space,” says codirector Sam Lewis. So far that includes occasional theater and performance art events as well as readings, music (see Music), and installation art. Upcoming events at the space include a program of hip-hop and spoken word presented by Hermit Arts (8/26), solo dancer Asimina Chremos (8/13 and 8/27), the monthly Discrete Reading Series (9/8, 10/6, 10/13, 11/3, 12/22), and a 24-hour arts festival called Chicago Calling (10/25, | 2830 N. Milwaukee | 773-772-3616 |

Intimate Opera of Chicago

Founded by classical soprano Nancy Henninger, this small troupe is intended as a low-cost, neighborhood-based alternative to Chicago’s major downtown opera companies, both for the singers and the audience. The troupe performed last season at Grace United Methodist Church, but this season’s venue and schedule have yet to be announced. | 4635 W. Altgeld | 312-719-2113 |

Open Wound Comedy

On the first Sunday of the month at the Mutiny (see Music), producer Clare Kelly hosts a long-form improv set featuring an established ensemble of local performers, which is followed by a short-form improv jam. The show wraps with an open mike that has welcomed stand-ups, ventriloquists, and musicians–“just none of that singer-songwriter shit.” | 9:30 PM | 2428 N. Western | 773-486-7774 | | F

Vaudeville Underground

This monthly variety show staged by Voice of the City (see below) in various locations around Logan Square features performance art, poetry, dance, circus arts, stage magic, comedy, pantomime, cabaret, and film. For the next one, part of this weekend’s Palmer Square Boulevard Arts Festival, the lineup includes the American Theater Company, the Space/Movement Project, spoken-word artist Sheila Donohue, the sketch comedy group Big Dog Eat Child, poet Jus’ Lillie, Winifred Haun & Dancers, West African drumming by the Chicago Djembe Project, juggler Matiss Duhon, and the folk-rock duo Congress of Starlings. | Sun 8/12, 5 PM | Palmer Square Boulevard Arts Festival | 2150 N. Kedzie | 773-782-9471 | | F

Voice of the City

The nonprofit organization Voice of the City describes itself as “an arts alliance building community through making art and teaching art.” Operated by Dawn Marie Galtieri and her husband, Christopher Ellis, the group hopes to turn its new space into a neighborhood performance and training center. The agency, which also offers arts education and work-study programs for children and teenagers, is spearheading the formation of a Logan Square Chamber of Arts in tandem with several other local groups. Voice of the City also presents Vaudeville Underground (see above) and Circle in the Square: New Works in Dance Theatre, a collaborative venture with Winifred Haun & Dancers dedicated to producing new works in dance, theater, and performance art. | 3429 W. Diversey | 773-782-9471 |


Acme Art Works

Since 2000 this two-story yellow-brick warehouse has been a working studio for more than 38 artists, with a designated gallery space presenting eight shows a year featuring local and international artists. | 1741 N. Western | Thu-Sat noon-5 PM | 773-278-7677

BlueLine Studio

Poet David Hernandez and “visual poet” Batya Hernandez show paintings, prints, and sculpture and host dance and music performances, poetry readings, and screenings. Studio visits by appointment; public shows run during Chicago Artists’ Month in October and ChicArt Chicago in March. | Bloomingdale Arts Building | 2418 W. Bloomingdale, #104 | 773-486-0485


Founder Rob Ray and local artists Alexander Stewart and Taylor Hokanson show predominantly tech-inspired work at this second-story “art and technology center.” Recent shows included a stop-motion video installation by Matt Steinke with animatronics, intermittent performances, and paintings. | 3321 W. Fullerton | 773-426-2828 |

People Projects

A not-for-profit collective exhibiting the work of mostly local artists, this is one of the few neighborhood spaces that actually reads as a gallery from street level–it’s got white walls and a clearly visible sign and everything. It hosts small events as well as several live music shows a month. | Sat-Sun noon-5 PM | 2129 N. Milwaukee | 773-474-0979 |

Revolution Tattoo

Cheri Basak and Omar Gutierrez’s successful tattoo shop has been doing double duty as a gallery space since 2002, rotating exhibits of “low-brow, religious, sexual, sometimes controversial, and for obvious reasons, tattoo-related” art every six to eight weeks. | Mon-Sat noon-9 PM | 2221 N. Western | 773-486-8888 |

Studio 207

Mark Siska shows work by “international artists with local ties” in his own living quarters; the art’s installed as you might expect it to be in someone’s home, though it’s probably better lit. Siska makes each of his six or so shows per year a low-pressure, casual yet informative experience. During Chicago Artists’ Month his and many other spaces in the Bloomingdale Arts Building–including the charming courtyard–host short-term exhibits and performances. | Sat noon-5 | 2418 W. Bloomingdale | 773-292-9261

Sulzen Fine Art Studio

For the past five years Julie Sulzen and Dan Zamudio have hosted exhibitions of their paintings and photos in their gallery/studio during April and October, along with a holiday show in December. Studio visits between shows are by appointment. | 2720 W. Saint Georges Ct. | 312-409-4618 |

Shopping & Services

Armitage Bike Shop

Hydraulics on a bicycle? It’s par for the course here, as are services like welding and chrome-dipping for those who consider a bike frame a canvas for self-expression. The digs are nothing fancy–which helps keep prices down–but that doesn’t mean you can’t get nice new wheels here, like a women’s cruiser with floral details on the body from Phat Cycles. | Mon-Sat 9:30 AM-7 PM, Sun 10 AM-3 PM | 3601 W. Armitage | 773-489-2175

Boulevard Bikes

Smaller bike and repair shop next door to Lula Cafe (see Restaurants), owned and staffed by enthusiasts who close early once a month for Critical Mass. New bikes, mostly Bianchis, account for 95 percent of their sales (expect to spend $300 to $2,000), although they occasionally offer used bikes and will refurbish customers’ creaky wheels (on their own schedule, though–don’t call them, they’ll call you). | Tue-Wed noon-7 PM, Thu noon-8 PM, Fri noon-6 PM (5 PM the last Friday of each month), Sat 10 AM-5 PM, Sun noon-5 PM | 2535 N. Kedzie | 773-235-9109 |

Details Salon & Spa

Details bills itself as a downtown-style salon with relaxed, down-to-earth service–it even hosts a free weekly barbecue during business hours on Saturdays. Salon and spa services–from cuts and manicures to laser hair removal–come a la carte, or you can try one of the luxurious-sounding packages for the total pampering experience. The 6,000-square-foot space includes a boutique that sells everything from ceramic irons to bathing suits. | Mon-Sat 10 AM-8 PM, Sun 11 AM-6 PM | 2537 W. Fullerton | 312-735-2119 |


The Logan Square location of the small, family-owned Dulcelandia (“Candyland”) chain is a festive world filled with brightly colored pinatas and some 800 varieties of caramelos, chicles, and bomboms to stuff into their bellies. In the towering displays are sweets in tropical flavors like mango-chile, tamarind, and guava as well as plenty of items only a child could love, like tubes filled with fruit-flavored gelatin. At the front counter is a small selection of fresh cakes. | Mon-Fri 10 AM-8 PM, Sat 9 AM-8 PM, Sun 10 AM-7 PM | 3855 W. Fullerton | 773-235-7825 |


Assemble your own bouquet of exotic blooms or hire Fleur to create colorful and contemporary displays for you. Cool branch-shaped white vases, pink-tinged succulents, and striking jewelry by local artists are also for sale, along with candles, greeting cards, and baby gifts. | Tue-Sat 10 AM-7 PM, Sun 10 AM-4 PM | 3149 W. Logan Blvd. | 773-395-2770 |

Gap Factory Outlet

And you thought you had to go to Gurnee. The occasional deal can be found here on basics for men, women, kids, and babies amid the clearance items and “exclusive” outlet merch, but don’t expect even minimal Gap ambience. | Mon-Sat 10 AM-8 PM, Sun 11 AM-6 PM | 2778 N. Milwaukee | 773-252-0594 |

La Casa del Vaquero

More stores should have a giant boot as their signage. Inside, assorted stuffed wildlife–including an alligator and a boar’s head–keep watch over Western-style shirts, leather jackets, ornate belt buckles, and dozens of styles of cowboy boots, mostly the Dos de Oro brand, made in Guanajuato, Mexico. | Mon-Thu 10 AM-7 PM, Fri-Sat 10 AM-8 PM, Sun 10:30 AM-4 PM | 2427 N. Milwaukee | 773-862-0208

Mega Mall

Although this massive building was renovated not long ago, it’s still completely devoid of charm. Inside dozens of stalls sell soccer jerseys, cowboy boots, car stereo systems, Hello Kitty backpacks, and T-shirts bearing images of the Virgin Mary, Che, or marijuana leaves. There’s some fairly decent-looking gold jewelry to be had, but maybe the best deals are the fresh fruit licuados and jugos for sale next to the taco stand. | Daily 10 AM-8 PM | 2500 N. Milwaukee

Mia Mora

The stock at this vintage clothing shop is eclectic, ranging from ladylike designer suits to hilarious examples of 80s excess, a reflection of the wide-ranging tastes of owner Maria Morales, an obsessive shopper who’s culled many of the pieces from her own collection. With its piles of velvet hats and evening shoes, visiting Mia Mora is like stumbling into the best dress-up closet ever. | Thu-Fri 1-7 PM, Sat 11 AM-6 PM, 1-5 PM first and third Sunday of the month | 2639 W. Fullerton | 773-772-2007


It’s not just a dog groomer, it’s a canine spa, with hot oil treatments, hydrotherapy baths, and blueberry facials. Dog owners who are slightly allergic or just can’t stand piles of hair around the house might try the FURminator, an intense cleaning and brushing with special products that help reduce shedding. Appointment required. | Tue-Fri 9 AM-5 PM, Sat 8 AM-5 PM | 2949 W. Diversey | 773-384-7666

Plateau Blu Salon and Spa

This brand-new salon offers the usual services: cut, color, straightening, extensions, mani-pedis, etc. There’s a day spa upstairs where you can indulge in massages, a sauna, and the exotic-sounding Vichy shower, in which you lie on a cushioned table and let several shower heads do their work. | Mon-Fri 11 AM-8 PM, Sat 10 AM-6 PM | 2064 N. Western, #1 | 773-227-8787 |

Provenance Food and Wine

Caution: coming here may cause a severe case of pantry affluenza. Salivate over hard-to-find artisanal foods and condiments like pink Himalayan salt and dried borlotti beans from Italy as well as fine cheeses and sandwiches. Every wine gets a handwritten description, and there’s a table devoted to bottles under $10. If you want to try before you buy, there’s a free wine tasting every Saturday from 3 to 6 PM. For other tastings and classes check the Web site. | Tue-Sat noon-9 PM, Sun-Mon noon-7 PM | 2528 N. California | 773-384-0699 |

Touch of Vintage

This could either be your cool grandma’s house or a hip librarian’s. Rocking chairs and old-fashioned embroidered linens share space with shirtdresses and gowns from the 50s and 60s, vintage bags, and plastic and Bakelite jewelry. | Wed-Fri 1-6 PM, Sat-Sun noon-5 PM | 2506 N. California | 773-384-8427

Threads Etc.

As at any secondhand store, the thrill is in the hunt, and here there are two stories and 16,000 square feet of clothes and consignment furniture in which to seek your quarry. Amid the Old Navy rejects and dining sets of questionable taste you might find gems like a mod blue upholstered chair with a round base or a red, white, and blue micromini in a graffiti print that recalls where-is-he-now 80s designer Stephen Sprouse. | Mon-Sat 11 AM-7 PM, Sun 11 AM-5 PM | 2327 N. Milwaukee | 773-276-6411 |

Village Discount Outlet

You know the drill: fluorescent lights, bratty kids, shopping carts blocking the aisles, no dressing rooms, all made bearable by the ever-present possibility of finding the perfect pair of vintage slouchy boots or overlooked Armani jacket for $4. | Mon-Fri 9 AM-9 PM, Sat 9 AM-6 PM, Sun 11 AM-5 PM | 2032 N. Milwaukee | 866-545-3836 |

Viking Ski Shop

This year the readers of Ski magazine voted this 40-year-old gear and repair shop the National Gold Medal Shop of the Year–not bad for a store that’s hundreds of miles from the nearest mountain range. Besides top brands of skis, boots, and snowboards, Viking stocks winter gear suitable for nonskiers, including sweaters in Alpine designs, snow pants, and a matching pants-and-parka combo in a pink, red, and black houndstooth pattern. | Summer hours: Mon and Thu 11 AM-8 PM, Fri 11 AM-6 PM, Sat 10 AM-5 PM; fall hours start mid-Sept: Mon-Tue and Thu 11 AM-9 PM, Fri 11 AM-6 PM, Sat 10 AM-5 PM, Sun 11 AM-5 PM | 3422 W. Fullerton | 773-276-1222 |

Wolfbait & B-Girls

Run by designers Jenny Stadler and Shirley Novak, who crack wise from behind the counter, this store flies the DIY-revolution flag by showcasing clothing and accessories from local and independent designers. Inventory ranges from crafty jewelry to silky tunics to Novak’s own stylish biking britches. Stadler and Novak also host poker nights (you can only lose your gently used accessories), styling workshops, and fabric-painting classes. | Tue-Thu noon-7 PM, Fri-Sat 10 AM-7 PM, Sunday 10 AM-4 PM | 3131 W. Logan Blvd. | 312-698-8685 |

Education & Recreation

Chicago Guitar Lessons

In business since 1979, Michael Powell teaches acoustic and electric guitar and electric bass at levels from beginning to advanced. Voice lessons (by De De Z), Pro Tools tutorials, and instrument repair and setup are also offered. | 3021 N. Troy | 773-463-0212 |


This four-year-old language school offers small classes and private lessons in Spanish, French, and Mandarin for both adults and children. Spanish grammar instructors have advanced degrees in Spanish or another language. The school also offers translation services, private tutoring, Spanish for health-care workers, and custom classes for groups. Informal conversation classes are $180 for 12 hour-long sessions. The “Intercambios” program matches English and Spanish learners to teach each other; call for details. | 2504 N. California | 773-235-1499

Diversey River Bowl

Commonly known as the Rock ‘n’ Bowl, this cavernous, cacophonous bowling alley caters to families, leagues, and slumming hipsters alike with video games and pinball, a pro shop, a full bar, fog machines and a light show (Thursday through Sunday nights), and a bumpin’ sound system. Rates vary by day and time. | Sun-Fri noon-2 AM, Sat noon-3 AM (June-August) or 9 AM-3 AM (September-May) | 2211 W. Diversey | 773-227-5800 |

Degerberg Academy of Martial Arts

Named best overall martial arts school last year by Black Belt magazine, this “martial arts university” offers one-hour classes in a slew of styles–karate, tae kwon do, capoeira, jujitsu, kickboxing, kung fu, you name it–for kids, teens, and adults. There’s another location in Lincoln Square. | 3596 N. Milwaukee | 773-545-3423 |

Fireside Bowl

The other rock ‘n’ bowl (see listing in Music) offers good, old-fashioned bowling without all the flashing lights and fog. Lanes run $3.50 a game or $20 an hour. There’s a full bar and lounge with a pool table and video games. The lanes and the bar are available for private parties. | Sun-Thu 6 PM-12 AM, Fri 6 PM-2 AM, Sat 6 PM-3 AM | 2648 W. Fullerton | 773-486-2700 |

Haas Park

Under an acre in size, Haas Park is one of the busiest parks in the city–Logan Square has the second smallest amount of green space of any neighborhood in Chicago. Last year plans to expand the park moved forward (after an almost ten-year struggle) with the purchase and demolition of the adjacent Worldwide Distributors warehouse. Facilities include a baseball field, basketball courts, and a spray pool; a newly renovated playground opened this spring. | 2402 N. Washtenaw | 312-742-7552

Kosciuszko park

At the northwest corner of Logan Square, Kosciuszko Park was established in 1911 and is distinguished by its Tudor-style field house, designed by architect Albert A. Schwartz. Facilities include tennis courts, a playground, a basketball court, and an indoor pool. | 2732 N. Avers | 312-742-7546

Logan Square Draught Beer Preservation Society

Draught beer preservation societies are now active in Ukrainian Village, Andersonville, and Roscoe Village, but Logan Square’s is the granddaddy of them all. Founded in 2005, the group is dedicated to “protecting beer drinkers’ rights and advocating for improved public beer drinking facilities in Chicago’s Logan Square community.” Such civic-minded spirit is manifested mostly in pub crawls on bike and on foot. (The agenda for the July 11 membership meeting at Quenchers started at 7 PM and concluded at 7:04 with a “post-meeting reception.”) See the Web site for upcoming events. |

McCormick Tribune YMCA

This spiffy new facility opened in 2001 and features a basketball gym, racquetball courts, an aerobics studio, and a fitness center, plus a game room and child care. There are plans for an aquatic center addition, but as of now there’s no swimming. Memberships are $42 a month for adults, with family, youth, and senior discounts available. | Mon-Fri 5:30 AM-9 PM, Sat 8 AM-3 PM, Sun 9 AM-2 PM | 1834 N. Lawndale | 773-235-2525

mozart park

This five-acre park at Armitage and Avers, around since 1914, features a gym, two softball diamonds, a brand-new fitness center, and two outdoor basketball courts. | 2036 N. Avers | 312-742-7535

Unity Playlot Park

This three-quarter-acre park offers play areas for toddlers and older children, including a sandbox, multiple play areas, a water playground, a basketball court, and more. | 2636 N. Kimball | 773-478-1410


Bickerdike Redevelopment Corporation

Bickerdike builds, rehabs, and manages affordable housing units, developing more than 1,000 apartments and managing 918 apartments for low- and moderate-income residents of Logan Square, Humboldt Park, West Town, and Hermosa. Its economic development initiatives–a grocery story and construction company–hire and train community residents, and its youth component, BickerBikes, trains kids in bike repair and leadership skills and educates them about health and nutrition. The nonprofit also helps residents organize around health, safety, and housing issues, such as the property-tax cap and the affordable-housing set-aside rule. Volunteers are always needed for a variety of tasks. | 2550 W. North | 773-278-5669 |

Christopher House

A family resource center with several sites throughout the city, Christopher House provides low-income families with early childhood education, tutoring, literacy classes, college and career preparation, and teen parenting support. Volunteers are needed for tutoring and child care and for GED and ESL instruction. Another Logan Square center will open in the fall at 2450 N. Sawyer. | 2610 N. Francisco | Cortney DeArmond, 773-472-1083

Alderman Rey Colon

Volunteers for the alderman’s office have produced a cable access show and managed the 35th Ward’s Web content. Says communications director Marielee Macapagal, “At the moment we’re in need of people to help coordinate community events” such as this weekend’s Palmer Square Boulevard Arts Festival. | 2710 N. Sawyer | Martha Ramos, 773-365-3535, ext. 102, or

Elastic Arts Foundation

See listings under Music and Performing Arts. Volunteers are needed to distribute flyers and posters, work the door, and help set up live sound. Other opportunities are available depending on skills and desires. | 2830 N. Milwaukee | 773-772-3616 |

Humboldt Park Social Services

As a result of redistricting, this 17-year-old agency is actually in Logan Square. Its two locations offer six programs, including a soup kitchen, a food pantry, a seasonal emergency shelter for men (October through June), and temporary free housing for women and children, which includes access to social services including job training, budgeting help, and aid with whatever particular issues brought the family to the organization.Because of the high turnover in the apartments (residents can stay for six months max), volunteers are regularly needed to help clean and paint. The organization’s supportive service center, the Center for Changing Lives, also needs help with administrative tasks. | 2120 N. Mozart (church/shelter) and 3051 W. Armitage (service center) | Martin Seliciano, 773-342-6210 |

Logan Square Boys and Girls Club

The club offers recreation and supplemental education to local children and teens including Head Start, tutoring, computer instruction, etc. During the school year hours are 2:30 to 9 PM; in the summer they’re 8 AM to 6 PM. Volunteers are needed for tutoring, mentoring, and supervising recreation. | 3228 W. Palmer | John Stephan, 773-342-8800

Logan Square Neighborhood Association

The LSNA runs community learning centers inside public schools, offering evening ESL and GED classes for adults and educational and recreational activities for kids. Volunteers are needed for help with childrens’ programming, tutoring, helping immigrants fill out citizenship applications, and organizing around affordable housing issues. | 2840 N. Milwaukee | 773-384-4370 |

Puerto Rican Arts Alliance

The PRAA provides community outreach, cultural programming, and free art and music classes for people 18 and under. Volunteers can assist with administrative tasks and help plan and promote events such as the annual Cuatro Festival–billed as “the largest Puerto Rican cultural event in the Midwest region”–where kids who’ve learned to play the cuatro, a small, ten-stringed Puerto Rican guitar, pair up with renowned musicians from PR and around the world. | 1440 N. Sacramento | Sonia Solivan, 773-342-8865 |

Voice of the City

See listing under Performing Arts. Volunteers are needed to hand out programs at performances, work bake sales, and donate old windows and doors for found art projects. | 3429 W. Diversey | Dawn Marie Galtieri, 773-782-9471 |

Volunteers for Dominican Literacy Center of Chicago

Volunteers here work primarily with immigrant women, providing one-on-one tutoring in English and citizenship training. | 2436 N. Ridgeway | Sister Judith Curran | 773-384-0659 v

Megan Baker, Martha Bayne, Kathie Bergquist, Patrick Daily, Nicholas Day, Brenna Ehrlich, Tamara Faulkner, Ira Glass, David Hammond, Ryan Hubbard, J.R. Jones, Heather Kenny, Dustin Kimmel, Michael Marsh, Peter Margasak, Tori Marlan, Laura Molzahn, Michael Nagrant, Tasneem Paghdiwala, Miles Raymer, Kate Schmidt, Ann Sterzinger, Mike Sula, Elizabeth M. Tamny, Julia Thiel, Peter Tyksinski, David Wilcox, Albert Williams, Gary Wiviott, Katherine Young, and Seth Zurer contributed to these listings.