In a neighborhood that once had the largest Swedish presence in Chicago (long live Wikstrom's!), and could alternatively be called "girlstown," the area around Clark and Foster continues to emerge as one of the best places in Chicago to eat and drink. In the winter, a glass of glögg at Simon's is de rigueur, while Sunday mornings mean cinnamon rolls at Ann Sather and the ubiquitous Andersonville coffeecake at the Swedish Bakery. Personally, it's too hard to narrow things down to just five places, but here goes:
1. Hopleaf, 5148 N. Clark St., 773-334-9851
With more than 100 Belgian beers by the glass, do you need another reason?
2. Great Lake, 1477 W. Balmoral, 773-334-9270
The best pizza in Chicago (that's right, I said it) is supported by the best crust in town by a mile.
3. A Taste of Heaven, 5401 N. Clark St., 773-989-0151
Homemade sweets just like mom used to make, if your mom had the most kick-ass recipes in the world and could actually bake.
4. Middle East Bakery & Grocery, 1512 W. Foster Ave., 773-561-2224
Savory pies, fresh cheeses, luscious spreads and enough groceries to whip up your own Middle Eastern feast at home.
5. Sunshine Restaurant, 5449 N. Clark St., 773-334-6214
A textbook mom-and-pop Japanese restaurant with simple dishes and zero pretense.