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.
Nestled inside the 173-room Hotel Zachary, Mordecai exemplifies the North Side neighborhood’s new direction, one that veers sharply away from its blue-collar roots and rundown bro bars. Here, guests can splurge on limited-edition pours and rare spirits while noshing on roasted bone marrow, hamachi crudo and clam linguini. For the discerning but casual palate, there's ballpark-inspired eats like the goat bratwurst and Crackerjack beignets.
Even non-vegetarians know the Chicago Diner, a local, meat-free institution that's been around since 1983. Though the wait for weekend brunch can be painful, guests are rewarded with dense soy margarine biscuits, vegan cinnamon rolls and a Monte Cristo made with melted cheese and seitan bacon. No matter what time of day it is, consider ordering one of the restaurant's award-winning vegan milkshakes in flavors like chocolate chip cookie dough and vanilla chai.
This cozy, upscale-feeling Lakeview restaurant highlights Southern Italian fare on its lengthy menu, with dishes like wood-grilled octopus, stuffed zucchini blossoms, Neapolitan wood–fired pizzas and house-made pastas. Unlike some of its kid-friendly neighbors, this spot feels very sophisticated, making it an ideal destination for date night or catching up with a few close friends.
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?
Grab a bench at the bar (that’s right, there are tall, two-seat benches practically made for couples) and order a round of cocktails before digging into thoughtfully composed dishes like the crispy grain salad with goat cheese, endive, radish and pea sprouts. The brunch menu is enticing enough to lure you back the following day to sample stuffed brioche French toast with chocolate, berries and cardamom.
Stubborn Chicagoans may not agree, but we have no problem praising Detroit-style pizza, which is known for its rectangular shape and thick, oil-dappled crust. You'll find a top-notch specimen at Union Full Board in Wrigleyville, a sister spot to Union Pizzeria in Evanston and Union Squared in Revival Food Hall. Choose from classic varieties (like the burrata margherita with mozzarella, tomato sauce and basil) or more out-there creations (we're big fans of the Nickel City Redhot with buffalo chicken, blue cheese and red onion).
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.
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.
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.
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.
Boka Restaurant Group (they're the folks behind Girl & the Goat, Momotaro, Bellemore and others) expands its footprint to Wrigleyville with Dutch & Doc's. Situated directly across the street from Wrigley Field, it's only appropriate that this spot serves upscale American ballpark fare in a family-friendly environment. The dinner menu has everything from buffalo chicken wings and deviled eggs to orecchiette with creamed kale and a 12-ounce New York strip. Kiddos who are 12 and under eat free with the purchase of one adult meal per child, making it the perfect spot to chow down with the whole family before or after the game.
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.
Open 24 hours on the weekends, Pick Me Up Café is an organic alternative to late-night grease, with vintage hodgepodge decor and a Haight-Ashbury vibe. Standout meat-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.