Embark on a gastronomic adventure by exploring seven Lincoln Park restaurants that locals praise for their delicious food and unforgettable dining experiences.
Lincoln Park locals have long known why their Chicago neighborhood has a reputation as a food lover’s paradise. Bursting with a rich tapestry of flavors and a wide variety of price points, Lincoln Park restaurants have captured the hearts and palates of residents and tourists alike. From cozy neighborhood gems to trendy culinary hotspots to getaways with a view, these establishments offer a tantalizing journey through diverse cuisines.
Most Romantic: Geja’s Cafe
Since 1965, Geja’s Cafe has enticed a loyal following with its fondue and live Flamenco music. The intimate, candle-lit interior has contributed to it being named the nation’s most romantic restaurant, but it is a great outing for family, friends and anyone who wants to share the preparation and consumption of high-quality fondue meals. It’s a destination for locals celebrating special occasions and out-of-towners searching for that unique experience. Meals begin with pots of creamy, melted Gruyere cheese in which to dip grapes, apples, vegetables and bread and progress to hot oils for meats, seafood and vegetables before concluding with a flamed pot of Belgium chocolate to dip in delicacies such as pound cake, fruit, marshmallows and even rice krispy treats. An extensive wine menu and a full bar lets guests pair their entrée offerings with select drinks by the glass or bottle. A privately owned restaurant, the owner is known for helping plan elaborate proposals and special celebrations.
340 W Armitage Ave, Chicago, IL 60614
Sun-Soaked Cuisine: Summer House Santa Monica
For a taste of California and a reminder that even in the depths of winter the sun still exists, residents of the Windy City head to the Summer House, a Lincoln Park favorite where the delicious aromas of baked goods immediately engulf anyone who enters. The olfactory experience doesn’t end at the entrance, with each dish making its promise to please all the senses immediately upon arrival at the table. Dishes are designed to be shared and the attentive and helpful staff (who can provide excellent suggestions) will even separate single dishes onto two plates. Specializing in fresh food, the shaved brussels sprout salad with its manchego, bacon, avocado, toasted almonds and green peas is a favorite while the shaved mushroom pizza (gruyere, onion, truffle, rosemary, parmesan cream and parsley) is an explosion of flavor that delights the tongue, nose and eye. A visit to the baked goods counter is the best way to choose from the daily crafted desserts. Have kids? Every Monday through Thursday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., Summer House opens its official pizza counter for kids to craft their own creations. With its bright decor, pots of greenery and light streaming in from the windows, Summer House is one of those places that matches its environment to the outstanding food.
1954 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614
Hopping Nightlife: Cafe BaBaReeba!
The popularity of Cafe BaBaReeba! makes reservations a necessity at this hopping Lincoln Park restaurant that has served authentic Spanish cuisine since 1985. Chicago’s original tapas bar, the destination fills up fast with customers eager for the taste and experience that Cafe BaBaReeba! specializes in. It’s great for those who struggle to choose a single meal, because you’ll get to choose several dishes and pass them around the table. There are three main choices on the dinner menu–pintxos, which are bite-sized tapas, tapas and paella. Want to try chef favorites? Choose the items in red. For example, the beef tenderloin and blue cheese comes with two, small delicious patties of beef with mild blue cheese melted over it. Several dishes come with ham from the famous iberico-fed pigs that free graze on acorns. Then there are choices like the chicken empanada with its buttery crust. While it will be hard (especially if you’ve indulged in the delicious paella options that serve 2-3 people minimum), save room for desert. These just-right sized tapas desserts are bursting with flavor, whether you get the custard, flan, cheesecake or marcona almond-caramel bar. In keeping with its nightlife vibe, you can order pitchers of sangria, Spanish wines, ports and a variety of crafted cocktails. Not in a mood for alcohol? They have zero-proof cocktails with the blackberry-lavender lemonade one of the sweetest mocktails in the city.
2024 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614
Best View: North Pond
Tucked away in the North Pond Nature Conservatory, across from the Richard Oglesby Monument, this small restaurant serves up fine American cuisine with some of the best views in the neighborhood. Set on the banks of the pond from which it gets its name, the building was erected in 1912 as a warming shelter for ice skaters. It was then redesigned in the Arts and Crafts tradition, a style found throughout the restaurant and its culinary style. The chefs draw inspiration from local foods, using ingredients only when they are at the height of their freshness. They describe their vibe as “layers of subtle craft beneath a simple decorative style.” Because they are small, reservations are required and a maximum of six people can be seated at a table. Their main offering is a seasonal tasting that changes on a regular basis. For $125 per guest (with an optional wine pairing at every course for $67), guests can select four courses of gourmet offerings. For example, in the spring, you could start out a meal with Hibiscus Ceviche that combines Four Star Mushroom, Honduran Tostada, Hibiscus Veil, Leche de Tigre and Grover’s Prawn. For a second course you can choose from sweet potato octopus or rabbit gnocchi. The main course offers a choice of Atlantic cod biryani, Celtuce Waygu or date lamb. Desserts include chocolate truffle, chamomile rhubarb, banana seaweed or a cheese board. It has garnered city awards for being among the most romantic restaurants and having the best tasting menu in the city.
2610 N Cannon Dr, Chicago, IL 60614
Coffee with a Cause: Ludlow Charlington
The newest restaurant on this list, they opened in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, selling their first coffee on Aug. 2, 2021. They have a dual mission–to sell a great cup of coffee in a warm atmosphere and to help Chicago’s shelter dogs find homes. With a commitment to sustainability, Ludlow Charlington sources its coffee beans from Counter Culture, a fair-trade supplier. In addition to specialty coffee drinks, hot chocolate and a variety of pastries, they also sell reusable steel straws. They have a shop that sells Ludlow Charlilngton’s branded merchandise and 50 percent of all the profits from those sales go to the Friends of Chicago Animal Care and Control. The cafe is decorated with dog portraits with the canines dressed in Victorian-era fashion. All of the dogs in the paintings were inspired from actual sheltered dogs at Chicago Animal Care and Control. The ones with their names etched in gold plaques? Those were adopted at adopt-a-dog events held in front of of the shop. Their shop has inspired local authors, songwriters and poets, 19 of whom were corralled by Chicago author Tina Jens to create an anthology filled with stories, poems, songs and plays about each of the dogs. It’s available as an ebook that also benefits Friends of Chicago Animal Care and Control.
2425 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60614
Escape from the City: La Creperie
The oldest creperie in the United States, Le Creperie was established in 1972 and has since cultivated a loyal customer base–and a beautiful backyard garden. It’s the sort of escape where you can forget that you are in a city and melt into the charm of this old-school restaurant. It invites you to dine on savory or sweet crepes made in the traditional French style. They also offer up continental-inspired sandwiches and a daily brunch. Common savory crepe ingredients include eggplant, burgandy-braised beef, goat cheese, butter or curry cream sauces, roasted tomatoes and seafood. For those with a sweet tooth, they can indulge in crepes containing nutella, peanut butter, lemons, toasted coconut, fresh fruit, cinnamon, caramel and Grand Mariner. Appetizers include escargot, cheeses and assorted pates. The French bistro also boasts an international wine list. A gorgeous beer garden beckons diners outdoors with strung lights providing illumination and a fountain pairing with red & white checkered tablecloths to provide the bistro ambiance.
2845 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60657
Vulgar Chicago: Wiener’s Circle
In a complete departure from the other restaurants on this list, locals go to Weiner’s Circle for hot dogs served up with vulgar abuse. It’s an iconic hot dog stand that has been a darling of national media and even comedy sketches. Dogs come charred or steamed and you’d best know which you want when you get to the counter if you don’t want to be impatiently ridiculed. Other foods include char-burgers and dogs that can be ordered with ‘the works”–mustard, onions, relish, dill pickle spears, tomato slices, sport peppers and celery salt. With the abuse ranging from playful to hostile, the workers shout at customers who throw insults right back at them. Even their website hurls abuse at visitors and features employees flipping off those who dare to open their site. Traditionally open until the early hours of the morning, the abuse started when the owner called a drunken customer an a**hole. They’re also known for their across-the-aisles political satire including their 3-inch Trump Footlong hot dogs during the Donald Trump presidency. During the pandemic, they pivoted to offer “curbside abuse” and delivery.
2622 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60614