Not to be outdone by Pilsen's Thalia Hall, with its red-hot bar, restaurant, and soon-to-be music venue, Wicker Park now has its own shiny new restaurant, bar, and event space—plus a butcher shop! It's called Chop Shop (2033 W. North Ave., 773-537-4440).

The multi-level complex was conceived to be the ideal place to grab a quick sandwich for lunch, a steak dinner or a drink at night, and housemade brats to take to your own grill. You could also take in a concert. Or host your wedding. And if you're there on a Sunday, check out Dose Market!

Is this a case of concept overkill? After a Saturday night visit, to at least see the nightlife side of the place, the multi-functional design didn't seem like a problem. 

The evening’s biggest takeaway was that it’s a mighty fine option for cocktails—namely, mixologist Dan De Los Monteros’ (The Bedford, The Exchange) lavender- and cherry-infused Moretti’s Manhattan. The music is loud enough to bob your head, but you can still have a conversation. And there's plenty of space to just stand around and relax (without getting intimate every time someone brushes past).

In concept, Chop Shop might be overwhelming, but in person, it isn't intimidating. Yeah, you can impress a date here. But you can also show up disheveled on a Saturday afternoon for a hangover lunch. We’ll raise a glass (and eat a sandwich and host a baby shower) to that.