Your perfect weekend: Ukrainian Village

Traditional eastern European bites, iconic Chicago dive bars and an incredible steak dinner all make up your perfect weekend in Chicago's Ukrainian Village
Photograph: Jackie Gillum
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Tucked away just south of Wicker Park and not accessible by train, it’s possible you’ve never really spent time in Ukrainian Village. This is a mistake, but yes, of course we’ll forgive you. The hip, yet family-oriented neighborhood is not one to be overlooked: Home to one of Chicago’s best steakhouses, iconic music venues and steeped in the rich history of the European immigrants who once dominated the area, this ‘hood is emblematic of what makes our city so great. Spend a weekend exploring Ukrainian Village with the help of our guide.

RECOMMENDED: Our complete guide to Ukrainian Village

Friday

Restaurants, Delis

Noon: Kasia's Deli

icon-location-pin River West/West Town

Start your weekend with classic Polish fare at Kasia’s Deli. The old-school eatery has served the neighborhood since 1982, when Kazimiera Bober began selling her soups, potato pancakes and perogi alongside deli salads and sandwiches. The lines at lunch can snake throughout the shop, so grab a number, put in your order and prepare yourself for a hearty Polish meal.

Photograph: Courtesy of Corbett vs. Dempsey
Art, Galleries

2pm: Corbett vs. Dempsey

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Founded by John Corbett and Jim Dempsey in 2004, Corbett vs. Dempsey reflects its owners diverse interests: jazz, film, American modernist traditions, middle-American approaches to abstraction and contemporary art. Located on the third floor of the Dusty Groove building, the art gallery (like a fine record shop) places an emphasis on digging up undiscovered talent, often featuring great regional art.

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Photograph: Martha Williams
Bars, Pubs

7pm: Pub Royale

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Grab dinner and drinks at British-Indian restaurant and bar Pub Royale, where eggplant curry, lamb dumplings and salt-cod samosas are on the menu. This project from Heisler Hospitality (Sportsman's Club) features a unique, almost hyper-specific cross-section of tastes, where a classically British Pimm's Cup perfectly compliments the exciting spices of dishes like the chicken tikka kati roll. 

Photograph: Jackie Gillum
Bars, Cocktail bars

9pm: Bar-hopping on Division Street

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While you’re there, go barhopping along buzzy Division Street. Start with a cocktail at Queen Mary Tavern, another Heisler hangout, which features a maritime-themed cocktail menu. From there, pop over to popular neighborhood dive Rainbo Club, which opened in its current form in 1985. This cheap and charming spot has remained beloved by locals over the decades, throughout the neighborhood's rapid gentrification. Don't skip the photo booth.

Saturday

Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas
Restaurants, American

10am: Whisk

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Get up and at ’em at Whisk, which serves epic dishes like Oreo raspberry pancakes, BBQ piggy Benedict and buffalo chicken hash. In the evenings, it transitions into an equally mouth-watering burger spot. Which is to say, your hangover doesn't stand a chance against a Whisk meal. 

Photograph: Courtesy Ukrainain Institute of Modern Art
Museums, Art and design

Noon: Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art

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You’re in Ukrainian Village, so you might as well get to know the neighborhood's namesake culture while you’re here. Visit the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art, a contemporary art gallery which explores the Ukrainian and American experiences through a plethora of artistic traditions. Then, hit up the Ukrainian National Museum to take in the eastern European nation's history and culture. 

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Shopping, Design and interiors

3pm: Shop around

icon-location-pin River West/West Town

Treat yourself to some top-notch shopping at the heavenly garden center Sprout Home; learn how to brew a love potion at the Occult Bookstore; and explore racks of affordable, trendy clothing at Ad Hoc. Even if you're just window shopping, these quirky, off-beat shops will keep you entertained. 

Restaurants, Steakhouse

6pm: Boeufhaus

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Save room for one of the best steak dinners of your life at Boeufhaus, a French-German brasserie with unforgettable cuts of meat. The restaurant's tagline is “eat carnivorously,” which might mislead you into thinking that this is merely a palace of beef, where vegetarians and pescatarians will be left out. You’d be wrong, since the French and German-inflected steakhouse, led by chef Brian Ahern, gives just as much thought to its non-meat dishes.

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Empty Bottle
Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas
Music, Rock and indie

8pm: The Empty Bottle

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Cross the street to Empty Bottle to catch an indie show at this beloved grungy venue. Don’t be fooled by its unassuming storefront: This is Chicago’s premier indie rock club, hosting cutting-edge bands from home and abroad. Get to see your favorite garage rocker, up-and-coming indie musician or eletronic tinkerer.

Sunday

Restaurants, Coffee shops

10am: Dark Matter Coffee

icon-location-pin River West/West Town

Sip a damn fine cup of joe at Chicago fair-trade roastery and espresso bar Dark Matter Coffee. You can find Dark Matter's coffee at restaurants around town, but the Ukrainian village location is the beanery's "Mothership," a small shop  is a small shop set up in the front of the brand’s roasting facility that specializes in to-go orders.

Chocolate donut with blackberry gelato ice cream sandwich at black dog gelato.
Photograph: Martha Williams
Restaurants, Ice cream parlors

Noon: Black Dog Gelato

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Cap off your weekend with a scoop from Black Dog Gelato, which serves boundary-pushing scoops of gelato such as avocado-cinnamon and sesame-fig-chocolate chip. The mish-mash of tattooed bike-peddlers and stroller-pushing locals tends to sample plenty before settling, giving you more time to decide between a simple cup or a cone with a refreshing iced Turkish coffee on the side.

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