Best restaurants in Lincoln Square and Ravenswood
With a name that translates as “countryside bistro,” this restaurant is so warm and inviting we could stay all night. Ingredients are fresh and meld into French bistro classics with unforgettable flavors. There isn’t a bad thing on the menu, but if we had to limit ourselves, we’d go with onion soup, mussels steamed in Belgian ale, roasted chicken and pan-seared hanger steak flanked by amazing frites. Oh, and all of the day’s ice creams.
Weiners, wursts and kielbasa as far as the eye can see. Gene’s is the ultimate European-style market in the former Meyer Delicatessen spot, plus it's a grocer, baker, beer, wine and liquor seller, deli, butcher and importer of everything from Kinder chocolates to pflaumenmus (plum butter). All of that takes a backseat to the sausage though—more than 40 housemade varieties from Alpine (a kielbasa with extra garlic and smoke) toZywiecka (a smoked pork and beef Polish with a sharp, peppery kick). In warm weather, head for pitchers of Pils and grilled brats on the rooftop beer garden.
This place is serious about Neapolitan pizza: A custom-built, oak-stoked oven kicks out bubbling beauties with perfectly charred peaks and valleys in less than two minutes. The hand-formed crust is paper-thin at the center and thicker toward the edges and has the unmistakable chew of a true Neapolitan pie. Aside from the simple marinara or Margherita (which can also be had with fresh buffalo mozz that’s flown in each Thursday), toppings run the gamut from fennel-flecked sausage to bitter rapini to prosciutto ribbons. Add a humble Italian wine-and-beer list, after-dinner options such as espresso and limoncello, and you’ve got a great night out.
Whatever anybody tells you about Jerry's—good, bad or eh—take it with a grain of salt. The place offers more than 100 sandwiches, so some are bound to be good, and others are going to disappoint. For example: the fried chicken on challah with hot sauce, pickles, ketchup and mayo? Good. The turkey Reuben? Eh. The apps here run bready (soft pretzels, bruschetta), which is hard for us to understand since, you know, you're about to eat a lot more bread. Our only guess is that all that starch is there to soak up all that beer—Jerry's has a big, impressive list, which tips the scales of the place from "restaurant" to "bar."
You’ll leave here with the essence of ash wafting from your clothes, but that’s no reason to stay away from the charcoal-fueled Korean barbecue. The wangkalbi and dai ji kalbi are marinated, not saturated, in their respective sauces, which gives the high-quality meats a chance to speak for themselves. Don’t want to smell like a campfire? Try the bibim naeng Myun, a big bowl of cold buckwheat noodles and beef topped with a spicy and flavorful chili sauce.
This bastion of oompah fun, baron-sized beers and heaping platters of carb-tastic classics brings locals and tourists alike. The lederhosen-clad Brauhaus Trio performs nightly, packing the raucous dining hall with duos who dance zwiefacher-style (think polka with quick turns). Grab a stool at the bar, where the banter is better, the service is quicker and the time between you and your next hefeweizen much shorter.
You might have stopped by this Lincoln Square bakery for a croissant to go and missed the dining room hidden in back. The first-come, first-served policy means you’ll have a half-hour wait for brunch, but a cup of coffee and slice of coffee cake will tide you over. For the main event, don’t miss the corned-beef hash: the smoky-salty beef and potatoes are flecked with herbs and topped with two perfectly poached eggs. Lunch and dinner during the week focus on comfort foods, including a yummy, grown-up mac and cheese with leeks.