While the California Avenue access point is not one of the major entry parks to the 606, this gateway will undoubtedly be heavily trafficked. Step off the Bloomingdale Trail at California and you are on the edge of Humboldt Park and Logan Square, in a neighborhood with rich Puerto Rican heritage and the cutting edge of Chicago restaurants and bars. Grab a slice of pie or piece of fried chicken before heading to a punk show in one of the North Side's hippest enclaves.
RECOMMENDED: Our complete guide to the 606
What to do off the 606 at California Ave
The food truck-turned storefront specializes in two things: pie and biscuits. While the pie list is streamlined (four to five slices a day, that's it), the biscuit menu is much bigger, with biscuit sandwiches, biscuits drowning in gravy and biscuits piled with eggs and chorizo, among other iterations. The ambiance is a little more charming than the food, because while the picnic tables and blue and white checkered papers atop faux paper plates are ideal for Instagramming, the dry biscuits leave something to be desired. Pie's the way to go, and if you need caffeinating, the iced coffee is dispensed via tap.
Thanks to local design crew Alter Ego, this Logan Square pizza bar looks like the Mos Eisley cantina from Star Wars collided with the local transportation department—seat belts, CTA doors and all. Nobody expects great pizza from a bar, so while we’ve had good luck with the meatballs-and-giardiniera pizza, chalk up any gaffes to the Jameson on tap—a shot of the stuff with a PBR tall boy and a slice of pizza rings in at $7.50.
Local Puerto Ricans and Puerto Rican food lovers alike populate this authentic spot from the time the first café con leche is slurped down to the minute the last jibarito sandwich (steak between crispy pounded plantains) is consumed. Juicy, onion-flecked steak, garlic-smothered plantains, yellow rice with pigeon peas and seafood salads are found on most tables in the dining room.
You might think this is just a chocolate shop, where ingenious flavor combinations (passionfruit-ginger–white chocolate, goat-cheese-walnut) take shape as decadent truffles. One sip of owner Katherine Duncan’s hot chocolate, however, and you’ll know that this is really a test of will. Whether in traditional varieties (milk or bittersweet) or variants (salted caramel, hazelnut), the hot chocolate here is the thickest, richest, most insanely wondrous kind imaginable, topped with oversize, handmade marshmallows in flavors like Earl Grey and lemon-ginger. If you finish a full cup of this stuff, please give us a virtual high-five.
Regional Piedmontese cuisine is Osteria Langhe's focus, and that means ingredients like truffles, cream and eggy pastas appear on this streamlined menu. The plin, miniature agnolotti filled with cheese, are beautiful and light; the beef tartare is impeccably seasoned; and a rotating selection of salads are fresh and well-dressed. Service was a bit slow on our visit, and other pasta dishes didn't match the plin's flavor, but Osteria Langhe has quietly elevated Logan Square's Italian restaurant scene.
You could wait up to an hour to get into one of this microbrewery’s booths. Or you could simply hover around the bar and snap up a stool as soon as someone else calls it a night. Either way, remember you’re here for the beer as much as the food. So pair that Workingman burger with a pint of Workingwoman brown beer. And follow that with a goblet of Bottom Up Wit and an order of pumpkin hand pies. The latter is a pairing good enough to make you forget about the wait for a seat, ambivalent service and disappointing pizza.
A snug, rustic vibe complements this neighborhood spot’s Alpine fare. Sip a cocktail at the bar while snacking on shareable dishes like roasted beets and carrots with pistachio creme fraiche, freshly baked pretzels with cauliflower and comte fondue and a curated selection of European and domestic cheeses. A menu of $5 Monday night specials—typically including a larger-than-a-slider, smaller-than-a-Big-Mac burger, plus one-offs like housemade corn dogs—makes for a cheap but satisfying date night.
Mad Men may be over, but '60s nostalgia lives on. Tastee-Freez is a vintage time warp, and while there aren’t nearly as many locations of the fast food restaurant as once dotted Chicago (there were dozens), you can still find one in Logan Square. In the summer, there’s a walk-up window and picnic table seating. The savory items, like corn dogs and burgers, aren’t much to talk about, outside of living John Cougar fantasies of suckin' on chili dogs. The ice cream menu, with milkshakes, sundaes and soft serve, is the main draw.
Up-and-coming art punks, garage rockers and knuckle-dragging amp crankers come here to hone their chops in one room, while glassy-eyed hipsters bury their heads in Dark Matter coffee and the latest Lapham’s Quarterly at the counter of another room. Food (samosas, a crispy fried-fish sandwich, a killer Subcontinental-ish brunch) is cheap, bottled beer is mostly craft, and service—though on the slow side of mellow—is as unaffected as the dinerish environs.