Where to eat in Wrigleyville
Pizza aficionados go nuts for Coalfire's blistered thin-crust pies, which are topped with everything from bacon jam and sopressata to pistachio pesto and honey. The joint's most famous (and Instagrammable) pie is the pepperoni and whipped ricotta, which is dotted with thick-cut rounds of meat and dollops of herb-speckled cheese. Coalfire doesn't accept reservations, so plan accordingly on game days.
Even non-vegetarians know Chicago Diner. The vibe is normal, everyday diner, albeit with soy milk, tofu and tempeh on the giant menu. Waits for weekend brunch can get painful (even though the menu is served daily), but patient non-meat-eaters are rewarded with dense (and fairly flaky) soy margarine biscuits. Of the non-brunch options, the tofu and veggie-packed soul bowl is a solid pick. If you still have room, try the vegan caramel crunch torte for dessert.
Big Star's second location brings queso fundido, tacos and margaritas to Wrigleyville. The 9,000-square-foot space, which is situated just across the street from Wrigley Field, offers several ways to enjoy your tortilla-wrapped goods: Grab takeout from the walk-up window, snag a seat inside or, if the sun is shining, request a table on the sprawling outdoor patio.
With hundreds of tin robots, wind-up toys and other kitschy gewgaws covering every inch of wall space, your short wait for lunch here will be spent giggling about Pez dispensers you had as a kid. Entrées typically zoom out of the kitchen, especially on busy weekend nights. Start with the spring rolls, which are light and crisp enough that you’ll have plenty of room for a heaping plate of rama, with its rich peanut sauce, crunchy steamed broccoli and perfectly fried cubes of firm tofu.
If you don't mind getting your hands dirty, grab a seat at Lowcountry, located just south of the Wrigleyville border. The lively restaurant specializes in seafood boils, with options like shrimp, snow crab legs, crawfish and clams. Simply choose a sauce, select a heat level and opt to add in corn on the cob, potatoes and sausage (all of the above). While you wait for the main event, snack on crab hush puppies and garlic beignets. Fear not, first-timers: The staff here is happy to help you figure out how to get into your crustaceans.
Things to know when planning a trip to this Argentine grill: You will wait for a table, and when it’s time to order, it’s best to keep it simple. Start with a plate of empanadas to share, then order a perfectly seared steak to dunk in the house chimichurri sauce and finish with the flan. Bring along that bottle of big red wine you’ve been holding on to, drink it with your slab of beef, sit outside on the sidewalk and enjoy the live Latin guitar—is life really always this sweet in Buenos Aires?
Open 24 hours on the weekends, Pick Me Up Café is a veggie organic alternative to late-night grease, with vintage hodgepodge decor and a Haight-Ashbury vibe. Standout moo-free items include the falafel wrap, the vegan chili, mac 'n' cheese and the tummy-warming French toast. Good luck getting a table during prime loitering time, when it seems as if the gothy coffee-gripping kids from high school still haven’t left their booths.
The basic menu appeases the masses that flood the simple, minimalist room of this top-notch Thai joint. But the true standouts can be found on the translated Thai-language menu, with never-fail flavor explosions such as tart and smoky pork-and-rice sausage; ground chicken with crispy basil and preserved eggs; and warm sweet-and-sour beef jerky. Don’t disregard the specials board; promising rotations have included basil duck stir-fried with garlic and mushrooms, and lettuce wrap–ready deep-fried mackerel with apples, cucumbers, fish sauce and chilies.
No matter what type of handheld you're craving, this tiny Wrigleyville stand is bound to have it. They've got hot dogs, chili dogs, corn dogs, bratwursts, burgers, Italian beefs and gyros—and that's just scratching the surface. Byron's opens at 10:30am daily and closes between 10 and 11pm, making it all too easy to get your fix morning or night.
Okay, so it's not technically in Wrigleyville, but this sweet Boystown favorite is a short jaunt from Wrigley Field and worth the trip if you're looking for something a bit more sophisticated than pizza by the slice. We're always most impressed by Home Bistro chef Victor Morenz's flavor-packed main dishes, like the Middleneck clams with Spanish chorizo, polenta, roasted red pepper, onion and Tuscan kale. Don't forget to grab a bottle of wine on your way in; the restaurant's BYOB policy makes it easy to keep your bill reasonable.
You might expect a place that has a 70 percent vegetarian menu and was completely nonsmoking before it had to be to serve boring dishes made with soy milk and flaxseeds. But this coffee shop/bar/restaurant/performance space will surprise you. During brunch, the winners keep coming: The uncommon huevos are gooey, cheesy and substitute black-bean cakes for tortillas; and the savory French toast is stuffed with ham and rosemary Neufchâtel cheese. The dinner hour brings Jeff Buckley tributes and enough surprisingly good cocktails to get through them.