The Guide to North Center: Ten Great Places to Eat, Drink, and Shop

The strip between Lake View and Lincoln Square is bursting with homey eats and cozy cultural attractions.

(Clockwise from top left) Bellybum Boutique, The Big Cheese, Glunz Bavarian Haus, Half Acre Beer Company, Katerina’s, and Smokin’ Woody’s   Photos: Travis Roozée

Bellybum Boutique
[1]
Parents of young children and those with special needs will discover hard-to-find toys and stylish baby threads (Finn + Emma’s organic line, Aden + Anais blankets) at this year-old shop. 4347 N. Lincoln Ave., 773-868-0944, bellybumboutique.com

The Big Cheese
[2]
The Classic American (cheddar, American cheese, tomato, bacon) gets the most orders at this grilled cheese emporium, but inventive combos like chicken with Gorgonzola, apple slices, and raisin purée also dazzle. 4229 N. Lincoln Ave., 773-661-6993

Small North Center map

Click the image to view the full map.

Cho Sun Ok Restaurant
[3]
The line stretches around the corner for this grill-it-yourself Korean barbecue joint, which doesn’t take reservations. 4200 N. Lincoln Ave., 773-549-5555, chosunokrestaurant.com

Glunz Bavarian Haus
[4]
Wash down the spaetzle, schnitzel, and sauerbraten with one of the 16 drafts at this German beer hall. An all-wood decor and a German band on Saturdays add to the Teutonic vibe. 4128 N. Lincoln Ave., 773-472-4287, glunzbavarianhaus.com

Half Acre Beer Company
[5]
No Bud Light here. Along with three craft brews—Daisy Cutter Pale Ale, Gossamer Golden Ale, and Over Ale—the 19 massive fermenting tanks pump out a rotating array of seasonal beers. 4257 N. Lincoln Ave., 773-248-4038, halfacrebeer.com

Katerina’s
[6]
This 13-year-old jazz and world music café books a stellar cast of regulars: among them, piano legend Erwin Helfer, blues singer Katherine Davis, and saxophonist John Brumbach. 1920 W. Irving Park Rd., 773-348-7592, katerinas.com

The Lincoln Lodge
[7]
Don’t be fooled by the front: a greasy spoon called the Lincoln Restaurant. In the back, an intimate comedy lounge stages some of the best standup in the city. 4008 N. Lincoln Ave., 773-251-1539, thelincolnlodge.com

A cocktail from Tiny Lounge

A drink from Tiny Lounge

Smokin’ Woody’s
[8]
After 21 years, the main attractions at this hole in the wall are still the tangy baby back ribs, which are smoked with hickory and applewood for hours. 4160 N. Lincoln Ave., 773-880-1100, originalsmokinwoodys.com

Tiny Lounge
[9]
The bourbon martini is the star at this recently revamped cocktail spot. But the small plates (sweet potato empanadas, sliders, mussels) also shine. 4352 N. Leavitt St., 773-463-0396, tinylounge.com

Welles Park
[10]
Take a splash in the year-round indoor swimming pool (just check the schedule first), go to bat at one of the five baseball diamonds, or stroll all 15 acres of this public park. Cool your heels with a picnic, weather permitting, in the European-style gazebo to the west. Montrose and Lincoln Avenues, chicagoparkdistrict.com
 

ON THE HORIZON

The 15th annual Ribfest Chicago takes over the corner of Lincoln and Damen Avenues from June 7 to 9, with at least 30 vendors feeding the expected 55,000 rib lovers. . . . Enjoy free shows from local bands during the Summer Concert Series on Wednesday nights in Northcenter Town Square (4100 N. Damen Ave.) in July and August.

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