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Chicago/Uptown

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Chicago : Uptown
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Uptown is a scruffy, jazz-inflected neighborhood on the north side of Chicago. Within its boundaries, off to the side of the action, are the residential areas of Sheridan Park and Buena Park, and an exciting Southeast Asian community based around Argyle Street.

This article also includes Andersonville, a short walk to the north, which is an upscale, lesbian-friendly neighborhood.

Understand[edit]

"Eternal Silence" by Lorado Taft, Graceland Cemetery

Uptown, with its diverse cultures and restaurants, can be absorbing like few others in the city. A visit to Uptown's fabulous ethnic restaurants and many entertainment options makes for a memorable night out, and it is well worth a trip to stroll the bucolic streets while gazing at the majestic mansions of Buena Park.

Uptown is bounded by Irving Park on the south, Foster on the north, the lake to the east, and Ravenswood to the west. Uptown the neighborhood was the result of an explosion of city growth in the late 1890's, when land formerly dedicated to farms and cemeteries became the focus of affluent business owners, who built multiple mansions spanning across Uptown at the (then) northern terminus of the rail line. The area's famous entertainment district followed, as tremendous amounts of money were invested in the area in the early 1920s. Boosters sought to build an entertainment district of such magnificence that it would shift the entire center of Chicago to the north, and within a few years, overtake even Manhattan for supremacy in the nation. Up went canyons of Art Deco magnificence: hotels, department stores, palaces of music and the arts; all in accord with the vision. Ever see a movie where cigar-chomping gangsters escort gorgeous molls into a damn good jazz club? That's The Green Mill. Where thousands of earnest teens dance their hearts out for a famous live radio broadcast? That's the Aragon Ballroom. And the crowning achievement was the Uptown Theatre, where every man could see a movie like a king.

But there were two problems with the vision for Uptown. First, the train line expanded north, and the mansion owners eventually moved north with the train. Then, there was the small matter of the stock market crash in 1929. Right as Uptown was reaching its peak, new construction slammed to a halt and Uptown never recovered. Needing tenants, many buildings were carved up for low-income housing, and maintenance was lowered to match the rent. There was still revelry, but it was seedier, and less of a destination for the fresh-faced teens of yesteryear. Unlike other parts of the city, which were reinvented by changing fortunes across the decades to come, Uptown stayed on the mat, beaten down by poverty.

At last, however, Uptown is reaping the rewards of her complex history. Years of cheap living attracted an incredibly diverse community that hails from places spanning the country and globe, from Appalachia to Africa. Most of the groups that have settled in Uptown still maintain a presence today, highlighted by the amazing Southeast Asian pocket on Argyle between Sheridan and Broadway. (An area sometimes (mistakenly) known as "Little Saigon," "New Chinatown" or "North Side Chinatown," but the area (now called "Asia on Argyle") is too diverse for one label.) Uptown is also dotted with great African restaurants, spanning from Ethiopia to Senegal.

In an area where a dilapidated pancake house from the 1950s once counted as 'new' construction, the formerly seedy atmosphere of Uptown is giving way to a thriving and fast growing community. Seeking opportunities to rehabilitate the area's amazing housing stock, gay couples have poured in from the surrounding communities (Boystown and Andersonville) to create an ever more vibrant community. Developers have recently turned their eye to Uptown, and there are multiple ongoing construction and rehabilitation projects, including the Stewart School Lofts, 811 Uptown, 4555 N. Sheridan, and 5050 N. Broadway. For the first time in decades, the neighborhood and entertainment district are also growing again, with the survivors (the Riviera and Aragon theaters, The Green Mill) holding strong and joined by some great new options (The Chicago Magic Lounge and Uptown Underground). And, hopefully in couple of years, the majestic Uptown Theatre, once refurbished, will join the other two major venues to reform the 1920's entertainment district a century later.

For those looking for great examples of early 20th century construction on a grand scale, many of the aforementioned mansions are still here. There are tours available for the mansion 'district' in Buena Park (Hutchinson, Buena and Junior Terrace), and mansions that survived Uptown's midcentury downturn can be found walking through the neighborhood, primarily on Beacon, Malden, Magnolia, Gunnison, Castlewood, Margate and Ainslie streets.

Northern Uptown is sometimes known as "South Andersonville." Andersonville hasn't experienced the highs or the lows of Uptown, and strikes a completely different vibe. Originally a hub for Swedish immigrants, whose influence can be seen in a few restaurants and bars, it became a hub for Chicago's lesbian community, and today has a less raucous atmosphere than the younger GLBT scene in Boystown. The stylish boutiques and inviting restaurants have made it a great place for people of all backgrounds to live, and a laid-back destination for shopping or entertainment, particularly at the Neo-Futurarium, Chicago's most inventive original theater.

Get in[edit]

By train[edit]

Uptown map.png

Uptown is extremely well-served by public transportation from the center of the city, with all of the sights and nightlife within an easy walk of the train. The CTA Red Line runs from the Loop through Uptown (Wilson, Lawrence, Argyle) and near Andersonville (Berwyn). The CTA Purple Line express also stops at the newly built Wilson station during the weekday "rush" periods (5:45 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. and 3:45 p.m. to 7:45 p.m.).

Uptown's stations were historically some of the CTA's oldest and worst-kept stations, so accessibility for handicapped travelers was a major issue for many years. However, the Wilson station was recently rebuilt from the ground up, and is fully accessible to those who need access.

While the Lawrence and Argyle stations remain non-accessible, they are about to be reconstructed and will be fully accessible in 3 years.

The walk from any of the Uptown Red Line stations to the Uptown's two major concert venues, Clark Street and Andersonville is no real bother except in the winter, when you're better off waiting inside the station for a bus (see below).

By bus[edit]

Bus access is also very good, with the area being served by major arterial bus lines (8 Ashland, 22 Clark, 36 Broadway, 78 Montrose, 80 Irving Park, 81 Lawrence, 151 Sheridan) and multiple express lines (CTA 136, 146, 147, and 148 buses to and from downtown)

  • 22 Clark also runs all night on Clark Street from Edgewater (to the north) and on to Lakeview (to the south).
  • 36 Broadway also runs from Edgewater (to the north), passing by the concert venues and the Southeast Asian stores, and from there to eastern Lakeview. It's only a half-block walk from the Red Line stops.
  • 78 Montrose connects with the Brown Line in North Center and the Wilson Red Line in Uptown.
  • 80 Irving Park runs along Irving Park. Connections can be made with the Irving Park Brown Line stops as well as the Sheridan Red Line.
  • 81 Lawrence connects with the Red Line station of the same name and operates all night. You won't need the bus to reach the concert venues, but it does run through Albany Park and to the Jefferson Park Blue Line station.
  • 92 Foster connects with the Red Line at Berwyn and is the best way to reach Andersonville from the train. It also ends up west at the Jefferson Park Blue Line station.
  • 151 Sheridan is a local route from downtown, running all-stops down Sheridan Road. It's an all-night route.


{{infobox|Train in vain|On a transit system full of oddities and abnormalities, the Wilson Red Line station used to be the dirtiest and dingiest station on the system. The former grandeur of the ornate Gerber Building at Broadway and Wilson was gone for many years, with the marble steps and ornate facade hopelessly cracked and water-damaged. However, 2016 brought a full scale rebuild and renovation of the station, and now the station is modern (with the widest platforms in the system, escalators and full elevator access) and features a piece of art from internationally reknowned artist Cecil Balmond. And the Gerber Building has been fully rehabilitated and looks just like it did in 1923, when it replaced an the former stationhouse by, of all people, Frank Lloyd Wright. In 2019, the market coop known as Chicago Market will take over the Gerber building and operate a community market out of the base of the Wilson station.

By car[edit]

The best way to reach Uptown by car is the fabled Lake Shore Drive, which has exits at Wilson, Lawrence, Foster, and Bryn Mawr ending at Sheridan and Hollywood in Edgewater. Drive a few blocks west from any of these and you're at Broadway, the main street in Uptown.

Clark Street is the main drag for Andersonville, with a few sights on Ashland, a short walk to the west.

See[edit][add listing]

Uptown is rich with gorgeous buildings large and small, albeit in varying stages of preservation or neglect. The Wilson Red Line station is worth a look for the beautifully rehabbed Gerber building, including a restored arch over the original entrance at the corner of Wilson & Broadway. It's worth a trip to see the Bridgeview Bank Uptown building at Lawrence and Broadway, the tallest building in the area, with a well-kept green and white facade and a gorgeous lobby. The old Goldblatt's Department Store at 4718 N Broadway was carefully renovated and now features one of the city's top climbing gyms, First Ascent. And finally, the ornate facade of the Uptown Broadway building, at 4707 N. Broadway, has been beautifully restored and is worth a view.

Another worthy stroll for architecture enthusiasts is the Hutchinson Street District [49], from 600-900 W Hutchinson, closer to the lake. It's the post-Mies apartment blocks that dominate the Uptown skyline from the lake, but Hutchinson has some lovely street-level Prairie School houses by George Maher.

  • Essanay Studios, 1333-45 W Argyle St (Argyle Red Line). From 1907-17, Hollywood was in Uptown. A dizzy list of silent movie giants shot films here, Charlie Chaplin and local girl Gloria Swanson among them, and the city's awful winters played a part in shifting production to California for part of the year. When Chaplin left, the studio collapsed, and California started seeming more attractive year-round. The building is now a protected landmark, and houses the bi-lingual St Augustine College [1]. No tours are available, but check out the grand name above the doorway.  edit
  • Graceland Cemetery, 4001 N Clark St (Sheridan Red Line), +1 773 525-1105, [2]. Grounds 8AM-4:30PM, office 8:30AM-4:30PM. A stunner. Chicago history lies in rest here, from the major names (Burnham, Sullivan, Field, Pullman, Mies) to the footnotes (Charles Dickens' obscure brother Augustus). Some credit Sullivan's 1890 design for the Getty Tomb as the opening act of modern architecture. (And Inez Clarke's grave is one of the most famous "haunted" spots in Chicago.) The new (and warm) office can supply a map for the grounds, which are quite large. Come with time to wander. Free.  edit
  • Japanese American Service Committee, 4427 N Clark St (22 Clark bus), +1 773 275-0097, [3]. Hours vary. A social services agency for the Chicago Japanese community with occasional exhibits of interest, such as a collection of photos and art relating to internment camps during World War II. Festivals and cultural events also pop up from time to time.  edit
  • South-east Asia Center, 5120 N Broadway St, 1124 W Ainslie (Argyle Red Line), +1 773 989-6927, [4]. M-F 8:30AM-5:30PM. Not a tourist sight, necessarily, but a center for the local South-east Asian community, young and old. Ten languages (besides English) are spoken by the staff. Volunteer opportunities like English teaching and elderly care abound.  edit
  • Swedish American Museum Center, 5211 N Clark St (Berwyn Red Line), +1 773 728-8111, [5]. Tu-Fri 10AM-4PM, Sa-Su 11AM-4PM. Celebrates Swedish-American heritage and Swedish immigration in all its forms, including Buzz Aldrin's temporary immigration to the moon. $4 adults, $3 kids.  edit

Do[edit][add listing]

Uptown has one of the best collections of concert venues in Chicago, most of which are renovated holdovers from the area's Roaring Twenties heyday.

One that isn't renovated (yet) is the huge Uptown Theatre [50] on Broadway. The Uptown was built by the Balaban and Katz movie kings in 1925 to be the crown jewel of their theater empire. The Balaban brothers and their partner, Sam Katz, wanted their theater as lavish as possible, and when it opened, it was described as "an acre of seats in a magic city," second only to Radio City Music Hall in size and dripping with opulent touches. However, due to its large size and with the declining fortunes of the neighborhood, it was shuttered in the early 1980s and remained in limbo until this year - too expensive to demolish, but too expensive to fix. Thankfully, 2019 promises a new start for the Uptown, as the City of Chicago announced that it, in partnership with Farpoint Development and the current owner, JAM Productions, will embark on a full scale rehabilitation of the Uptown. With luck, travelers to Chicago will be able to experience the newly renovated theater in 2021.

  • Aragon Ballroom, 1106 W Lawrence Ave (Lawrence Red Line), +1 773 561-9500, [6]. Box office M-F 9AM-6PM. Built in 1926 with an interior that is meant to recreate a Spanish palace courtyard, the Aragon cost more than two million dollars at the time, and the well-preserved interior still has the otherworldly brilliance. It shifted from big-band sensation to prizefight arena and swinging mod disco, but it's been in good hands for more than thirty years now, as promoters for Latin dances and rock shows split nights of the week.  edit
The Green Mill, Uptown
  • The Green Mill, 4802 N Broadway St (Lawrence Red Line), +1 773 878-5552, [7]. M-Sa noon-4AM, Su noon-4AM. Jazz and lots of it at this Uptown landmark, famously an old hangout of Al Capone (who's not, though, around as much as he used to be). Go on a Sunday evening for the weekly poetry slam [8]. National talent Patricia Barber [9] performs on most Mondays along with a few other excellent resident ensembles. Covers usually less than $10.  edit
  • The Riviera, 4746 N Racine Ave (Lawrence Red Line), +1 773 472-0449, [10]. Box office opens when doors open for the night's show. Outside of the Chicago Theatre downtown, this is one of a handful of Balaban and Katz movie palaces that's still in full use, along with the Apollo, Oriental, and Congress Theaters. Like those four theaters, the Riviera functions as an entertainment venue, hosting everything from punk to hip hop shows one to two nights a week. There are seats in the balcony, but the main floor is standing room only. Stay behind the rail to stay out of the mosh pit (should one begin).  edit

Theaters[edit]

  • Black Ensemble Theater, 4450 N. Clark (Wilson Red Line), +1 773 769-4451, [11]. Sa 8PM, Su 3PM. Committed to building racial bridges through telling stories of African-American history to a cross-cultural audience, Jackie Taylor's Black Ensemble Theater is a Chicago cultural institution. If you take in a show, expect incredible ensemble and individual singing performances and excellent songcraft, with stories focusing on blues, rhythm & blues, and soul music. $40.  edit
  • Neo-Futurarium, 5153 N Ashland Ave (Berwyn Red Line), +1 773 275-5255, [12]. F-Sa 11:30PM, Su 7PM, closed last two weeks of December. Andersonville — and the second floor of the Nelson Funeral Home, to be precise — is the home of the long-running late-night show Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind and its ever-changing menu of the funny, the profound, and the occasional tongue bath for a 20th century European ethos, intended to be accomplished within the confines of thirty plays in sixty minutes. Arrive early — people are turned away almost every week. No advance tickets; admission is $9 plus the roll of a six-sided die.  edit

Other[edit]

  • Montrose Beach, 4400 N Lake Shore Dr (Wilson Red Line). Uptown's beach moved a few blocks east due to landfill that created Lake Shore Drive, and got a magnificent new beach in return. Expect a gigantic (and quite popular) beach with full food and bar service (at The Dock), volleyball, and rental catamarans, jet skis, and kayaks. Fishing supplies can be found at Park Bait (located at Simonds Drive and West Montrose Harbor Drive) for those inclined to fish in Montrose Harbor or off of Montrose Beach's unique fishhook shaped pier. (Look up the aerial photos - they're great). Also expect amazing views of downtown perfect for a warm weather picnic, and some of the best bird watching in the United States at the Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary. https://www.lakecookaudubon.org/birding-sites/montrose-point-bird-sanctuary/ Another bonus: it's officially 'Dog Friendly,' with a huge dogs only area on the northern section of the beach (at Wilson).  edit
  • The People's Music School, 931 W Eastwood Ave (Argyle Red Line), +1 773 784-7032, [13]. M-W,F noon-7:30PM, Th noon-8PM, Sa 9AM-3PM, Su closed. For a distinctly non-seedy music experience, try the kids-friendly classical and world music concerts at this community-based not-for-profit music school. Concerts free, but donations welcome.  edit
  • The Shift, 4101 N. Broadway (Sheridan Red Line), +1 773 360-1199, [14]. M-F 9AM-8PM, SAT&SUN 10AM-6PM. The Shift​ is a local coworking and community space providing a place for individuals, teams, and small businesses to work or study. This shared workspace has a unique, modern industrial aesthetic, and comes with all the productivity-boosting amenities of a downtown office, but without the hike. With a full calendar of small business classes and personal development workshops, plus a vibrant community of innovative, driven professionals from a range of industries - The Shift is the neighborhood spot to be more productive, get things done, and get connected. Open to the public..  edit

Buy[edit][add listing]

Andersonville[edit]

You'll find several cute, stylish clothes boutiques for women in Andersonville. With the number of cafes and bakeries sharing the streets, it's a great place to shop, stop, and shop again.

  • The Brown Elephant, 5404 N Clark St (22 Clark bus), +1 773 271-9382, [15]. 11AM-6PM daily. A thrift shop that makes a difference: All proceeds benefit the Howard Brown Health Center, a health care center that serves the needs of the LGBT community and the HIV/AIDS community in Chicago. The selection is more hit than miss, so it's worth a look.  edit
  • Early to Bed, 5232 N Sheridan Rd (Berwyn Red Line), +1 773 271-1219, [16]. Tu noon-7PM, W-Th,Sa noon-8PM, F noon-9PM, Su noon-6PM, M closed. Lesbian-owned, female-oriented sex shop without the sleaze. They hold weekly workshops on topics ranging from erotic writing to strategies for, well, you know. Check the schedule on the website (mostly Tuesdays). Workshops are $15/$10 students, reservations required.  edit
  • Foursided, 5061 N Clark St (22 Clark bus), +1 773 506-8300, [17]. M-W 11AM-7PM, Th-Sa 10AM-7PM, Su 11AM-5PM. An eclectic framing shop with a fun selection of cards, one-of-a-kind treasures, and found-art assemblages by the staff and local artists that's worth a look.  edit
  • Shake, Rattle & Read, 4812 N Broadway St (Lawrence Red Line), +1 773 334-5311, [18]. M-Sa noon-6PM, Su noon-5PM. A pop culture emporium and a labor of love for the owners, this store has dense warrens of used paperbacks, pulp novels and vinyl records (78 and 45rpm), mostly jazz, with a sealed-in-plastic selection of memorable news magazines on the wall and porn magazines on a rack toward the back. If you want a peek into the heart of Uptown or just a paperback to last until your next stop, this is the place.  edit
  • Women and Children First, 5233 N Clark St (22 Clark bus), +1 773 769-9299, [19]. M-Tu 11AM-7PM, W-F 11AM-9PM, Sa 10AM-7PM, Su 11AM-6PM. This is one of the foremost feminist bookstores in the country, with more than 30,000 books and a regular schedule of events and author appearances. (Hillary Clinton is among the roster of guests.) If you have kids in tow, bring them to Storytime on Wednesday mornings (10:30-11AM).  edit

Uptown[edit]

Shopping in Uptown

With the glory days of Goldlbatt's long past, Uptown is no longer a destination for shopping unless you are looking for unique gifts found at the Asian importers on and around Argyle and in the remaining wholesale retailers on the 4500 block of Clark Street. Mega-retailer Target has a location on the 4500 block Broadway, flanked by a brand new Aldi. Discounted clothing and home goods reseller Ross also has a new location on the 900 block of Montrose. There are fun small shops scattered around, including Asian housewares and gift stores in the Asia on Argyle section of Uptown and Korean importers specializing in casual jewelry and accessories (purses, hats, scarves, etc) in the 4500 block of Clark (between Wilson and Sunnyside).

  • Provisions Uptown, 4812 N Broadway St (Wilson Red Line), +1 773 944-0978, [20]. Hours vary by store. The newer sister to the popular Provisions Rogers Park, Provisions features a wonderful array of cards, gifts, home goods as well as a great craft liquor and wine selection.  edit
  • Tai Nam Market Center, 4925 N Broadway St (Argyle Red Line), +1 773 275-5666, [21]. Hours vary by store. Under the red arch on Broadway near Argyle, this strip mall has outlets for Vietnamese, Chinese & Thai restaurants and groceries, nail & skin care, and imported jewelry, music and videos.  edit
  • Tan Thana Gift Shop, 1135 W Argyle St (Argyle Red Line), +1 773 275-8687. M-F 9AM-6PM, Sa-Su 9:30AM-6PM. Packed to the rafters with statues, pottery, and other Asian gift items. Trung Tin, a block east at 1057 W Argyle, also has a big selection.  edit
  • The Tattoo Factory, 4441 N Broadway St (Wilson Red Line), +1 773 989-4077, [22]. 10AM-2AM daily. Uptown after dark is the kind of place that inspires a tattoo (or a piercing). According to the owners, this is the oldest continually operating tattoo parlor in Chicago. There is also a tattoo-themed bar next door (Drink & Ink) operated by the owners of Tattoo Factory - helpful to take the edge off of the decision to get a tattoo.  edit
  • Foursided, 5061 N Clark St (Lawrence Red Line), +1 773 506-8300, [23]. Hours vary by store. One of several Foursided locations, the "South Andersonville" location of Foursided (located in Uptown) is a cute store that specializes in vintage frames for your framing needs. The store also features a rotating array of unique gift items for sale along with cards and home goods.  edit
  • Uptown Bikes, 4653 N Broadway St (Argyle Red Line), +1 773 728-5212, [24]. M-Tu,Th-F 11AM-7PM, Sa-Su 11AM-5PM, W closed. If you're biking through Chicago, this is a great place for parts, accessories, or quick repair. There are some neat custom bikes for sale, but no rentals.  edit

Eat[edit][add listing]

Budget[edit]

Asian[edit]

Argyle is the wonderland. The Red Line drops you right in the midst of it — three blocks, from Sheridan to Broadway, of cheap and delicious Asian food. If you believe in eating where the locals eat, Argyle is most certainly the place to go; this is authentic cooking, with no tourist traps to be found. Vietnamese restaurants and bakeries are the most plentiful, with various disciplines of Chinese food a respectable second, and Thai dishes included on the menus of several non-Thai restaurants. Happily, there's a Laotian option in the neighborhood as well.

  • Cafe Hoang, 1010 W Argyle St (Argyle Red Line), +1 773 878-9943, [25]. M,W-Th 11AM-10PM, F-Sa noon-10:30PM, Su noon-10PM, Tu closed. It's at the far end of the block, but Cafe Hoang is worth the walk. The menu features several pages of Vietnamese options and a page of Thai. The portions are generous, the food is flavorful, and it's hard to resist spending a while. They make a mean durian smoothie. $8-12.  edit
  • Dong Thanh, 4925 N Broadway St (Located in Tai Nam Market Center), +1 773 275-4928. M 8AM-4PM, Tu-Su 8AM-8PM. BYOB restaurant named for the city by the same name in Vietnam. They take pride in customizing spice levels to suit your taste. $6-8.  edit
  • Furama Restaurant, 4936 N Broadway St (Argyle Red Line), +1 773 271-1161, [26]. Su-Th 9:30AM-9:30PM, F-Sa 9:30AM-10PM. Dim sum, Mandarin, and Cantonese in comparatively palatial second-floor digs. Furama is the biggest and has the most conventional menu of the Argyle Asian restaurants, but that doesn't mean it isn't good. $8-10.  edit
  • Pho 777 (House of Noodle), 1065 W Argyle St (Argyle Red Line), +1 773 561-9909. M,W-F 9:30AM-10PM, Sa-Su 9AM-10PM, Tu closed. Pho is widely available on Argyle, but it's a serious matter in the two big, green rooms of the House of Noodle. Pho supremacy between this and Tank Noodle below is a hot topic of local debate. BYOB. $5-10.  edit
  • Pho Xe Tang (Tank Noodle Restaurant), 4953 N Broadway St (Argyle Red Line), +1 773 878-2253, [27]. M-Tu,Th-Sa 8:30AM-10PM, Su 8:30AM-9PM, W closed. Pleasant, tourist-friendly restaurant that serves a suitably wide range of variations on pho and a few other Vietnamese and Chinese dishes, right on the corner of Argyle and Broadway. $5-12.  edit
  • Sun-Wah BBQ, 5041 N Broadway St (Argyle Red Line), +1 773 769-1254, [28]. Su-W 9AM-9PM, F-Sa 9AM-10PM, Th closed. Among the top culinary treasures on Argyle. Where others might bother with plants, Sun-Wah keeps a few rows of roast birds in the front window. The duck is obviously the headliner, but the pork earns acclaim as well. Order the duck from the to-go window and get a cheaper, more delicious, option. $8-10.  edit
  • Hon Kee, 1064 W Argyle St (Argyle Red Line). W-M 9AM-9PM. This is another good place for Chinese BBQ.  edit
  • Thai Avenue, 4949 N Broadway St (Argyle Red Line), +1 773 878-2222, [29]. M-Th 11AM-9:30PM, F-Sa 11AM-10PM, Su 11AM-9PM. Features the longest Thai-language menu in the area. They have popular lunch specials. $6-8.  edit
  • Thai Pastry, 4925 N Broadway St (Located in Tai Nam Market Center), +1 773 784-5399, [30]. Su-Th 11AM-10PM, F-Sa 11AM-11PM. Inside the Tai Nam Market Center, this is a Thai bakery with a nice sit-down area to relax over coffee, although they do have a full lunch and dinner menu. $8-10 (meal).  edit
  • Siam Noodle and Rice, 4654 N Sheridan Rd (Lawrence Red Line), +1 773 769 6694, [31]. Tu-Th 11AM-9PM, F 11AM-9:30PM, Sa 11:30AM-9:30PM, Su 11:30AM-8PM, M closed. Excellent family-owned homestyle Thai cafe; an Uptown favorite. $6-9.  edit
  • Vinh Phat BBQ, 4940 N Sheridan Rd (Argyle Red Line), +1 773 878-8688. 9AM-7PM daily. There are two sides to this Vietnamese BBQ: birds and bread. The baguettes are priced at a very Vietnam-like three-for-1, while the BBQ'd birds get chopped up into bánh mì sandwiches. $1-6.  edit
  • Ba Le Bakery, 5016 N Broadway St (Argyle Red Line), +1 773 561 4424, [32]. 7:30AM-9PM daily. Specializing in Vietnamese bánh mì sandwiches. Cheap and delicious! $4-7.  edit

Fast and casual[edit]

Fast food can be found around the Wilson Red Line station, but there are many options for eating well on a budget.

  • Gigio's, 4643 N Broadway St (Wilson Red Line), +1 773 271-2273. Su-Th 9AM-midnight, F-Sa 9AM-2AM. Really good greasy thin-crust pizza by the slice — never mind the way the place looks. It's open late in case you're hungry after a show at the Green Mill, the Aragon or the Riviera on the other side of the tracks. $2.50-13.  edit
  • Nigerian Kitchen, 1363 W Wilson Ave (Wilson Red Line), +1 773 271-4010. M-Sa 11AM-10PM, Su closed. Not much for atmosphere, with a loud television hanging over the sparsely decorated dining area, but it's one of Chicago's few sources for yam-heavy Nigerian food, and BYOB too. $4-11.  edit
  • Palace Gate, 4548 N Magnolia Ave (Wilson Red Line), +1 773 769-1793. M-W 10AM-8PM, Th-Su 10AM-9PM. In Ghana, it's considered a taboo to eat in public without inviting others to join you, so don't come to Palace Gate looking for solitude with your fufu dumplings. The decor is plastic and basic, but the atmosphere is merry. $8-10.  edit
  • Svea, 5236 N Clark St (22 Clark bus), +1 773 275-7738. M-F 7AM-2:30PM, Sa-Su 7AM-3:30PM. Swedish breakfast spot with renowned lingonberry pancakes. $4-9.  edit

Mid-range[edit]

  • Hamburger Mary's, 5400 N Clark St (22 Clark bus), +1 773 784-6969, [33]. 11:30AM-11PM daily. Legendary burgers, fried twinkies and plenty more. $8-12.  edit
  • Jin Ju, 5203 N Clark St (22 Clark bus), +1 773 334-6377, [34]. Su,Tu-W 5-9:30PM, Th 5-10PM, F-Sa 5-11PM, M closed. Possibly the only Korean food in Chicago outside of Seoul Drive. Seafoodies and vegetarians will do equally well; if unsure, try the bulgogi, and resolve all of life's other uncertainties with a round or two of soju. $12-20.  edit
  • Silver Seafood, 4829 N Broadway St (Argyle Red Line), +1 773 784-0668, [35]. 11AM-1AM daily. Hong Kong-style seafood, some of which comes out of the tank at the back of the banquet-style dining room. Whether this meal is a mid-range or a splurge depends on how deep into the Chinese-only menu you'd like to go. It's just down the block from the Argyle Asian restaurants. $6-58.  edit
  • Tweet...let's eat, 5020 N Sheridan Rd (Argyle Red Line), +1 773 728-5576, [36]. 8:30AM-3PM daily. Brunch only, with organic materials. Try the quiche platter ($14) or the lox ($12). Free wi-fi and parking. Cash only  edit

Splurge[edit]

  • Brass Heart, 4662 N Broadway St (Lawrence Red Line). Two Star Michelin chef Brian Kearney replaced another two star Michelin chef (former 42grams proprietor Jake Bickelhaupt) in this unusual and slightly hard to find restaurant. Expect exceptional award winning food in an intimate environment, with wine and alcohol pairings available. $185 per person booked online in advance.  edit
  • Agami, 4712 N Broadway St (Lawrence Red Line), +1 773 506-1845, [37]. Su-Th 5-11PM, F-Sa 5PM-1AM. Sushi, maki, and cooked Japanese fare that lives up to the prices and fancy decor. There's a full bar, and a $15 corkage fee per bottle of wine will apply for BYOB. $16-30.  edit
  • Longacre, 1303 / 1309 W. Wilson Ave (Wilson Red Line). Longacre serves a broad range of dishes touching on multiple cuisines in a new space with a beautiful patio. Next door is "Longacre Pizza Box," a yummy homage to Detroit's iconic Buddy's Pizza. Expect delicious pizza served Detroit style, with caramelized cheese on the crust and sauce served on the side for pouring on top. The Pizza Box is small, so restrict yourself to a small group unless the weather is warm enough to sit outside, where the sidewalk cafe accommodates larger groups.  edit
  • Ka'lish, 1313 W. Wilson Ave (Wilson Red Line). Chicago's hottest new vegan (and now voted most popular in Chicago) is a sibling to Longacre. Expect delicious vegan takes on foods you love, including "burgers," "tuna melts" and "chicken." Don't knock it until you've tried it - it's actually pretty amazing how close they get to the real thing. Kalish also features a great array of vegan baked goods. BYOB.  edit
  • Spacca Napoli, 1769 W Sunnyside Ave (Montrose Brown Line), +1 773 878-2420, [38]. Tu 5-9PM, W-Th 11:30AM-3PM,5-9PM, F 11:30AM-3PM,5-10PM, Sa 11:30AM-10PM, Su noon-9PM, M closed. If you're weary of the pizza struggle between Chicago and NYC, side with the Sicilians at this fantastic Neapolitan restaurant and their excellent wine list. $15-25.  edit
  • Munno, 4656 N Clark St (Wilson Red Line), +1 773 942-7575, [39]. Th-Su 5-10:30PM.. Craft Italian food served in an open and airy space along Clark Street. Expect indulgent (and real) Napoli pizzas, a limited selection of hand crafted pastas, and a rotating selection of appetizers and meats. Alcohol (Italian wines and cocktails) is served.  edit

Drink[edit][add listing]

Cafes[edit]

  • Kopi, 5317 N Clark St (Berwyn Red Line), +1 773 989-5674. M-Th 8AM-11PM, F 8AM-midnight, Sa 9AM-midnight, Su 10AM-11PM. Describes itself as "a traveler's cafe." In practice, it's a relaxed coffee shop of the early 1990s vintage, with earthy decor and earnest staff.  edit

Bars[edit]

If you're looking for a drink in Uptown, don't forget to raise a glass at the Green Mill (above).

  • Big Chicks, 5024 N Sheridan Rd (Argyle Red Line), [40]. M-F 4PM-2AM, Sa 3PM-3AM, Su 10AM-2AM. Gay-friendly bar in Uptown, with a dance floor, plenty of food, and a fine beer garden.  edit
  • Cafe Della Robbia, 4804 N Broadway St (Lawrence Red Line), +1 773 784-2739, [41]. M-W 11:30AM-midnight, Th-F 11:30AM-2AM, Sa 11AM-2AM, Su 11AM-midnight. New bar from the owners of the Green Mill — expect food and uptempo jazz and blues.  edit
  • Fat Cat Bar & Grill, 4840 N Broadway St (Lawrence Red Line), +1 773 506-3100, [42]. M-F 4PM-2AM, Sa 11AM-3AM, Su 11AM-2AM. Brand new and very popular, with decor and cocktails that attempt to evoke the Art Deco class of the original Uptown.  edit
  • Nick's Uptown, 1140 W. Wilson Ave (Wilson Red Line), +1 773 681-0705, [43]. M-F 4PM-2AM, Sa 11AM-3AM, Su 11AM-2AM. Revived in 2017 after a few years off, Nick's straddles the hipster and dive bar divide. Great place for a quick drink or a few.  edit
  • Hopleaf, 5148 N Clark St (Berwyn Red Line), +1 773 334-9851, [44]. Su-F 3PM-2AM, Sa 3PM-3AM. Fantastic selection of beer, with a surprisingly accessible menu for delving into the world of Belgians and local microbrews. The food is great, especially the steamed mussels, but the beer is even better. It's pricey, though. Make sure to come early, The Hopleaf is popular and usually packed. The monthly Bookslut Reading Series [45] is held upstairs.  edit
  • Simon's Tavern, 5210 N Clark St (22 Clark bus), +1 773 878-0894, [46]. Su-F 11AM-2AM, Sa 11AM-3AM. Simon's has roots as a Prohibition-era speakeasy and a Swedish hangout (from which, rumor has it, Norwegians were barred). Today, there's cheap beer on tap and vikings among the unpretentious decor.  edit
  • Uptown Arcade, 4830 N Broadway St (Lawrence Red Line), +1 773 219-2699, [47]. M-F 4PM-2AM, Sa 11AM-3AM, Su 11AM-2AM. Very popular, especially after shows at the Riviera and Aragon. Expect a bar with a number of free videogames to pass the time while you drink.  edit

Sleep[edit][add listing]

Don't book a room in Uptown with expectations of that old swingin' class — most of these rooms are used by transients and homeless people getting back on their feet, and should only be considered by travelers as rock-bottom budget options. Nearby Edgewater has a few nice, gay-friendly B&Bs, though.

  • Darlington Hotel, 4700 N Racine Ave (Lawrence/Wilson Red Line), +1 773 561-1741. On a residential street, a short walk from the Green Mill, the Riviera, and other Uptown music venues. Rooms vary — some have sinks, some have baths, other have neither. $45 per night with a $30 key deposit.  edit

Contact[edit]

  • Bezazian Library, 1226 W Ainslie St (Argyle Red Line), +1 312 744-0019. M,W noon-8PM, Tu,Th 10AM-6PM, F-Sa 9AM-5PM. Just off Broadway, a quick walk from the Southeast Asian restaurants.  edit
  • Screenz, 5212 N Clark St (Berwyn Red Line), +1 773 912-1565, [48]. 9AM-9PM daily. Full-service internet cafe in Andersonville.  edit
  • Uptown Library, 929 W Buena Ave (Sheridan or Wilson Red Line), +1 312 744-8400. M,W 10AM-6PM, Tu,Th noon-8PM, F-Sa 9AM-5PM. Free public internet access.  edit

Stay safe[edit]

Uptown is safe more or less around the clock, as long as you use basic city common sense. The overall crime rate is not high compared to some other parts of the city, but Uptown has had sporadic gang-related violence at times. It is a populous and busy area and is overall safe to walk, and you'll be fine walking between the concert venues to the CTA.

A lot of transients and homeless people still live in Uptown, where many social service agencies found homes in the middle of the 20th century, and while most are perfectly harmless, it is always advisable to be aware of your surroundings, even in daylight.

Get out[edit]

  • If it's jazz history that brought you here, don't forget Bronzeville, which in its day was home to Louis Armstrong and Chicago jazz in its golden age. If you care less about the history, however, and just want to hit the current top jazz clubs, head down to the Velvet Lounge in the Near South, which should not disappoint.
  • For a more expensive theater experience, the prices rise as you head south through Lakeview and Old Town.
  • If the GLBT scene in Andersonville leaves you wanting more, head south on Clark and then a couple blocks east towards Boystown.
  • If you had a good time on Argyle, the Red Line can take you straight to Chinatown on the South Side.





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