Restaurants near the 606
The theme here is “simple, unpretentious Midwestern fare,” but expect nothing but big flavors from dishes that might sound unassuming on the page. Must-order plates include the fried uni shooters, Jonah crab salad with waffle fries, saffron tagliatelle with king crab and pecan-smoked baby back ribs. You can't go wrong here, but you will want to make a reservation if you're planning on nabbing a seat in the small space on a busy weekend night.
Tucked away on a residential stretch of Wabansia in a building that allegedly served as a Prohibition-era speakeasy, this retro-looking supper club has been a neighborhood go-to for unpretentious red sauce fare since 1990. Hunker down in one of the family-friendly dining room’s swanky scarlet vinyl booths and dig into Italian-American standards like eggplant parmigiana, veal marsala and chicken vesuvio.
The cute-as-a-button British tea room aura here belies a menu of decidedly un-dainty Korean fusion fare. There’s bibimbap loaded with jewel-toned shredded vegetables and a protein such as barbecue beef, sashimi or tofu, and tasty sides like japchae, sesame oil-scented sweet potato noodles. But the headliner is a gargantuan spicy pork taco served up on flaky paratha flatbread; it’s a two-hander, and it’s delicious.
This no-frills sandwich shop, appended to the corner liquor store that shares its name, is something of a hidden gem. Order up a basic but tasty sub, featuring a range of meaty combos tucked into supremely crusty bread, and head across the street for lunch with a side of Humboldt Park loveliness, or stick around and wet your whistle with a selection from the 20-strong rotating draft list.
Topolobampo alums Brian Enyart and Jennifer Jones Enyart deliver inventive Mexican food like carnitas crowned with cabbage and grilled mushrooms and sweet chestnut corn bread anchored in earthy red mole. Finish off your meal with glazed plantains and queso fresco over cajeta, and sip on the Rosita, a Negroni reimagined with tequila and Amargo-Vallet bitters.
With its laid-back beach shack vibe and BYOB friendliness, Irazu is one of those places where the atmosphere nearly outdoes the food. Turn up with a group of friends and your drink of choice and settle in for an evening of boisterous conversation and unfussy Costa Rican fare (think empanadas, grilled meats, rice and beans and lots of plantains). Oh, and save room for dessert; the cinnamon-scented oatmeal shake is arguably the restaurant’s tastiest offering.
There’s a great nostalgic quality to this seasonal spot, sunken just below street level, where styrofoam cups of Italian ice are passed to customers through a walkup window. On balmy summer evenings, lines here are inevitable, and no wonder: The fruit-infused ice is lightly sweet, so smooth as to be almost creamy, and super refreshing, making it the perfect finish to a leisurely stroll.
The fast-casual offshoot of Osteria Langhe, Animale is open for lunch and dinner with house-made pastas, a rotating burger of the month, panini, entrees and dessert. But you'll want to focus your calories on the carbs—pasta can be ordered by the gram (133, 227 or 453 grams) and smothered in pesto, primavera, ragu di carne and puttanesca bianca.
As the name implies, this is an offshoot of Au Cheval, and the menu is inspired by the restaurant’s most famous item—the cheeseburger. It isn’t the exact same burger, but enumerating the differences feels like splitting hairs. The rest of the menu is short and sweet: Toss in golden fries and pick your poison (beer, select classic cocktails, shakes and shots). If it's nice outside, grab a seat on the expansive dog-friendly patio and stay a while.
Though Juan C. Figueroa, putative father of Chicago’s famed jibarito (or plantain sandwich), no longer owns this California Avenue joint, it’s still possible to get a good rendition of his signature dish here. Opt for the tender roasted pork or steak varieties, both satisfyingly salty and dressed with crunchy iceberg lettuce, American cheese, sliced tomato and a dollop of cool garlic mayo. Since a jibarito gone soggy is a very sad sandwich indeed, pull up a chair in the rambling dining room and dig in while the plantain “bread” is still hot from the fryer.
This simply appointed yet intimate (read: good for dates) spot specializes in the cuisine of Piemonte, one of Italy’s most northwesterly regions. Don’t know the top of the boot from the toe? Expect rich dishes like vitello tonnato (poached beef with crispy egg and tuna aioli), agnello (lamb and green olive tortelloni with pomegranate, mint, almonds and feta) and tajarin (a traditional egg noodle in meat ragù), along with an extensive selection of Piemontese wines.
One of Chicago’s oldest family-run businesses has operated out of the same storefront, distinguished today by its vertical neon sign and quaint painted lady facade, since its establishment in 1911. Today it’s a good all-arounder, with doughnuts and danish for breakfast, and a wide selection of cake slices and cookies (many in Chicago sports team motifs) for dessert.