Wicker Park has long been known as a cultural hub for artists and performers. No matter what time of day or night it is, you’ll likely see folks walking around and in and out of shops, bars, art galleries, and restaurants. A good way to get a sense of this eclectic neighborhood’s vibe is to eat your way through it. From small bites at off-beat coffee shops to sumptuous dishes created by award-winning chefs to comfy spots perfect for families, these are the top restaurants in Chicago’s Wicker Park.
Best for Seafood: Café Cancale
You’ll be enraptured by the brilliant ambiance at Café Cancale, with its French-inspired seafood cuisine, served on mismatched-yet-coordinating porcelain plates. Rich and indulgent, abiding by the changing seasons, the flavor profiles are somewhat unexpected but altogether delightful. Order off the menu or opt for the prix fixe three-course dinner and let the experts charm you.
Best for Date Night: Clever Rabbit
Although they're not required, don nicer threads and bring your date to Clever Rabbit. While not entirely meat-free, this cool and stylish eatery is definitely veggie-forward. The large salads are chock-full of vegetables and crunchy enchantments, and the small plates are perfect for sharing. This is the restaurant to go to step outside of your comfort zone and experiment a little bit with plenty of creative cocktails and brightly colored dishes. If you’re flying solo, consider dining at the long counter.
Best for Tex-Mex: Dove’s Luncheonette
Light,bright, and full of fun tchotchkes to look at, Dove’s Luncheonette capitalizes on the bar-stool-at-the-counter dining experience. Belly up, say hello to your neighbors, and order classic dishes like pozole or smoked tomato soup. The atmosphere here is communal—people will chat with strangers, play music on the Juke Box, and linger for hours. Dove’s Luncheonette is a quintessential Chicago experience, highlighting the culture and beating heart of the neighborhood.
Best for Pizza: Etta
Etta is known for its wood-fired food, including pastas and pizzas, created by expert Chef Danny Grant. House-made noodles, salads, and veggies are on the menu, as well as a fairly large kids’ menu, but go for the gold and order a fire pie with giardiniera and chile de arbol. Large booths and tables make for a comfy environment, ideal for groups or families. The atmosphere is humming and whirring, which makes for a lively place to dine with friends or little ones in tow.
Best for Asian-Inspired Dishes: Mott St.
Earning a Bib Gourmand for good quality cuisine and fair prices, Mott St. serves up soups, noodles, bread, dumplings, meat, and seafood in a relaxed, yet stylish, environment. There’s a well-curated beer, wine, sake, and cocktail program as well. Special dishes and menus are offered year-round to celebrate holidays or fun Chicago happenings. Meet friends here, or visit after work, and you’ll feel refueled and recharged.
Best for BBQ: Smoke Daddy
With two locations, one in Wicker Park and one in Wrigleyville, Smoke Daddy has been taking the barbecue scene by storm since 1994. Not only can you dine on some of the best barbecue the city has to offer, but also you can enjoy a live music performance here. There are a dozen beers on tap and specialty cocktails and wine are available as well. Chicagoans love Smoke Daddy for the three B’s: BBQ, Beer, and Blues.
Best for People Watching: Café Robey
Situated in The Robey Hotel, right at the popular spoke wheel intersection of Damen, Milwaukee, and North Avenues, Café Robey is quite accurately in the heart of Wicker Park. Enjoy brunch or dinner inside a stunning Art Deco building and watch the world go by outside of the floor-to-ceiling windows. You’ll find that the menu is well-curated with comfort food favorites like biscuits and gravy in the morning or homemade pasta with mashed potatoes in the evening. Afterward, make sure you explore The Lounge, just above the cafe, which is a relaxing place to enjoy an espresso or cocktail. It’s also worth snapping a few Chicago skyline shots from the sixth floor Cabana Club or the rooftop lounge, The Up Room.
Best for Nostalgia: The Worm Hole
No visit to Wicker Park is whole without a stop at The Worm Hole, a flash back in time with 1980’s movie posters, paraphernalia, and decor. There’s even an old DeLorean car perched on a ledge. The coffee is strong, complete with delicate coffee art, and you can order a sugary pastry or buttery croissant before settling in for some great people watching. The Worm Hole is totally unique and has established itself as a must-visit Wicker Park tradition.
Best for American Fare: The Bristol
The Bristol on a Saturday night, or at Sunday brunch, is usually packed. Chicagoans come in droves for the multi-hued dishes, handmade pasta, and imaginative beverage menu. The Chef’s Family Style Menu includes a choice of four starters, two pastas, three main dishes, and two desserts. Selecting this option is a great way to try a lot of different creations that The Bristol is known for. If you dine during happy hour you’ll be rewarded with discounts on light bites and drinks.
Best for Late-Night Dining: The Delta
Open until 3 a.m. on Saturdays, The Delta is the prime spot in Wicker Park for late-night eating. Alongside the extensive craft cocktail list, The Delta is well-known for its Mississippi Red Hot tamales. Memphis’ son, Eldridge Williams, owns and operates the restaurant with the same ethos that he grew up with, which is to say that the culture and food of the Mississippi Delta region is celebrated in Chicago. There are also vegan and vegetarian-friendly options available.