Fantastic Japanese spots, Korean barbecue and ice cream can all be found in Lakeview, not to mention some great burger joints. All of these restaurant are perfect spots for relaxing while you spend the day in the North Side neighborhood.
RECOMMENDED: Our complete guide to Lakeview
Best restaurants in Lakeview
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 flaky soy margarine biscuits. Of the non-brunch options, the tofu and veggie-packed soul bowl is a healthy pick, and if you still have room, try the vegan caramel crunch torte or the thick, perfect milkshakes for dessert.
Go ahead and believe the hype about the cupcake here: It’s moist, it’s substantial but not heavy, and the thick, sugary icing hides deep flavors of chocolate and vanilla. If you’re going to pick up a dozen, you may as well stick around for breakfast or lunch. A bright start is the sweet and savory French toast with rosemary-roasted ham. Later, try the albacore tuna melt with local butterkase cheese and green olive aioli. Eat up, but save room for one of those cupcakes.
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?
This spot manages to execute its Korean-inspired concoctions with enough pizzazz to have you reconsidering fusion as a whole. Sure, straight-shooters can do well with “bop plates," but we prefer the loosely packed burgers topped with an oozing fried egg, funky kimchi and a squirt of kimchi mayo. Surprisingly, the cream of the crop is a side: piping hot french fries drowned in a creamy mess of cheddar, bacon and kimchi. Yeah, we know, others do it too—but bopNgrill does it best.
Kuma's second location has the same menu, though the space—which swaps Avondale for Lakeview—is more of what you'd expect along the chains on Diversey. The room is brighter and the music is softer, but the burgers are the same thick patties piled high with ingredients, like the Iron Maiden, with cherry peppers, chipotle mayo, pepperjack, avocado and LTO.
This tiny chicken joint in Lakeview is constantly packed, and for good reason. The chicken is fresh, of good quality, and comes slathered in three different sauces: a sticky barbecue, a hot sauce–laced Buffalo and a sesame-soy glaze dubbed “Seoul Sassy.” While we love the latter, even unadorned, the chicken stands out for its juicy meat and crunchy black pepper–dotted crust. There’s also a decent bibimbap (best ordered with “marinated” vegetables, beef, an egg and brown rice), Korean-style burritos whose fresh vegetables benefit from a liberal slather of sweetish hot sauce, and skippable potstickers with innocuous fillings. But the chicken is the thing.
The hopping brewery is just what East Lakeview needed. The rotating selection of house beers includes IPAs, wheats and pale ales, and a flight of each draft offering is an easy way to find a favorite. The food menu encourages sharing dishes like the bacon poutine with sausage gravy, Scotch eggs and frites with a tangy "dragon sauce," while the creamy cheese-topped burger is a new classic. A brunch menu has biscuits and gravy and omelets, but the sleeper hit is the Captain Crunch French toast, which is made with rum-spiked egg and cream batter and bourbon maple syrup. Get there early or keep your eyes peeled for bar seats—DryHop gets crowded and waits for tables only make it feel more like the place to be.
What would a soda fountain be without an outdoor spot from which to watch the world go by? Late-night hours (till 11pm weekdays, midnight weekends) mean you can take in nocturnal antics while sipping a caffeinated “cream express” milkshake (vanilla and espresso). Or go earlier in the evening, grab a scoop of the Lakeview Barhopper (chocolate ice cream with Jack Daniel’s), and get a jump on the night’s festivities.
You might expect a place that has a 70% 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 fruit plate sometimes comes with passion-fruit sorbet and a slice of white-chocolate banana bread. The dinner hour brings Jeff Buckley tributes and enough surprisingly good cocktails to get through them.
Walk into Scooter’s and disregard the hot dogs, Italian ice and anything else that doesn’t contain the words frozen and custard. Order a Boston shake, and quiver in awe as the towering milkshake topped with hot fudge and whipped cream is handed over. As you taste how dense, thick, buttery and rich the custard is, you’ll soon be on your way to a full stomach and an ice-cream headache. And it’ll be worth it.