Chicago/Far Northwest Side
The Far Northwest Side of Chicago includes the neighborhoods of Avondale and the Polish Village (Jackowo and Wacławowo), with large Polish communities; Irving Park and Old Irving, quiet areas with historic homes; and Forest Glen, Jefferson Park, Norwood Park, Edison Park, Edgebrook, Dunning, and Portage Park, residential areas which have nice parks, old theaters, and some big annual festivals.
These are the neighborhoods closest to O'Hare International Airport.
The Far Northwest Side is, for many travelers, nothing more than a blur of drab buildings seen from the expressway or the Blue Line on their way to O'Hare. And only the most fervent of true believers could make an argument that it ought to be anywhere near the top of a first-time visitor's list. None of the city's most famous landmarks are located here; nothing in the best-known history or literature about Chicago happened here. In fact, most Chicagoans would find the Far Northwest Side as unfamiliar as someone right off a plane from the coast.
What is here, though, is a group of large, residential communities and a handful of treasures they've grown accustomed to keeping for themselves, unencumbered by style or pace. Sausage shops and old-style Italian restaurants carry on as if health food and celebrity chefs never happened. If you're serious about trying a Chicago-style hot dog at the peak of the form, you'll do well here. Two classic movie palaces awaken for special events, and there are strong contenders for the city's best music venue and original theater venue — the Abbey Pub and the Prop Thtr, respectively.
Plenty of tourists and locals have tried "going Chinese" for a night in Chinatown, but an even more immersive (and less-traveled) experience is "going Polish." English slides to second on the signs, the food makes sweet love to your waist, and the beer flows cheap at your choice of fab discos straight out of Eastern Europe or laid-back dives with you and the regulars. Famously, Chicago has the largest population of Polish people of any city in the world save Warsaw. If you never make it to Poland, at least you can say you've been to Avondale.
So once you're sick of the screaming brats in Lakeview and Lincoln Park, the scuzz in Uptown, the tourist traps on the Mag Mile, the crowds in the Loop, the hipsters in Wicker Park, the confusion in Rogers Park, the pretension in Hyde Park, the cranks in Bridgeport — and you're in the mood to experience Chicago all over again, for the first time — then the Far Northwest Side may have something for you.
The CTA Blue Line has stops throughout the northwest side of Chicago in Avondale (Belmont, Addison), Irving Park (Irving Park, Montrose), Jefferson Park (Jefferson Park), and Norwood Park (Harlem), before passing into the orbit of O'Hare Airport (Cumberland, Rosemont, O'Hare). You may need to connect with a bus, though, as these stops are quite far west, and there is a lot of ground between them and the Brown Line to the east.
The end of the CTA Brown Line is within reach of Irving Park (Kedzie, Kimball).
The Metra Union Pacific Northwest Line has stops in Irving Park, Jefferson Park, Norwood Park, and Edison Park, while the Metra Milwaukee District North line stops at Mayfair, Forest Glen and Edgebrook. The former ends at Ogilvie/Northwestern Station and the latter at Union Station, both in the West Loop.
This is a fairly large area, covered by a ton of bus routes. Most connect to the CTA Blue Line or the Metra, and a few spread out into the suburbs.
- 53 Pulaski runs all night through Irving Park and Avondale connecting with the Irving Park Blue Line & Metra Stations.
- 54 Cicero runs through the eastern half of the area, although it's not an all-night route.
- 54A North Cicero/Skokie Blvd runs between the Blue Line and Metra at Irving Park and heads up Cicero to Lincolnwood and Skokie ending at the Skokie courthouse. It also serves Old Orchard Mall in Skokie.
- 56 Milwaukee runs from downtown through Wicker Park, Logan Square, Avondale the heart of the Polish Village and most the Far Northwest Side ending at Jefferson Park Blue Line/Metra.
- 68 Northwest Highway runs from the Jefferson Park station to the Park Ridge Metra Station running parallel to the Metra. It also makes connections to the Gladstone, Norwood and Edison Park Metra stations.
- 77 Belmont connects with the self-named Blue Line station and runs all night. This is handy for trips in Avondale.
- 78 Montrose connects with the Blue Line at the Montrose station and the Mayfair Metra Station, handy for trips in Portage Park or Irving Park and the Harlem Irving Plaza.
- 80 Irving Park is, as you might expect, ideal for Irving Park and Old Irving. Connections can be made with the Irving Park Blue Line or Brown Line stops as well as the Irving Park Metra. This route serves the Harlem Irving Plaza.
- 81 Lawrence runs from Uptown to the Jefferson Park Blue Line/Metra Station, with a direct connection at the Kimball Brown Line stop providing service all night long.
- 81W West Lawrence operates in between the Blue Line stations at Jefferson Park and Cumberland.
- 82 Kimball/Homan connects with the Blue Line at Belmont and the Brown Line at Kimball, and can save you a bit of walking from the Blue Line to places like Abbey Pub.
- 84 Peterson runs between the CTA Red Line at Bryn Mawr and the northwest side at Central/Caldwell primarily along Peterson Avenue serving the Metra at Edgebrook. It runs through the North Park, Sauganash and Edgebrook neighborhoods.
- 85 Central runs along Central Avenue through most of the Northwest Side like Portage Park, and Jefferson Park.
- 85A North Central runs along Central Avenue from the Jefferson Park Station up to the Metra at Edgebrook before heading north via Caldwell-Touhy-Lehigh and back. It has a few scenic sections near or through the Forest Preserve.
- 86 Narragansett/Ridgeland runs primarily along Narragansett Avenue through of Northwest side ending at Devon and Milwaukee near Superdawg's.
- 88 Higgins runs primarily along Higgins Avenue between the Jefferson Park and Harlem Blue Line Stations before heading up into Norwood Park and Edison Park via Harlem-Talcott-Canfield-Devon-Avondale-Harlem and back to Higgins.
- 90 Harlem runs between the Green Line Terminal in Oak Park and the Blue Line in Norwood Park through most of the Northwest side. It provides front door access to the Harlem-Irving Plaza.
- 91 Austin runs along Austin Avenue through most of the Northwest Side like Portage Park, and Jefferson Park.
- 92 Foster starts at the Jefferson Park station heading east to the lakefront and the Red Line at Berwyn.
- 152 Addison runs through the Northwest side along Addison serving the Blue line.
Pace buses cover the regions that cross over into the suburbs:
- 209 Busse Highway operates between the Harlem Blue Line heading west on Higgins and up Canfield to Park Ridge ending at the Des Plaines Metra Station.
- 225 Central-Howard starts at the Jefferson Park station heading north along Central Avenue connecting with the Edgebrook Metra station. It then continues up to Skokie and Niles along Howard Street through an Industrial Area ending at Oakton/Harlem.
- 226 Oakton Street just like the 225 starts at the Jefferson Park station heading north along Central Avenue connecting with the Edgebrook Metra station. It then continues up to Skokie heading west on Oakton through Niles, Park Ridge, and Des Plaines to Mount Prospect.
- 240 Dee Road runs from the Cumberland CTA Station up through Park Ridge to Golf Mill Mall in Niles.
- 241 Greenwood-Talcott also runs from the Cumberland CTA Station up through Park Ridge to Golf Mill Mall in Niles.
- 270 Milwaukee Avenue goes up Milwaukee Avenue from the Jefferson Park Station through Norwood Park and continuing into the suburbs like Niles and Glenview. Ideal for reaching Superdawg's and Golf Mill Mall.
- 290 Touhy Avenue covers Edgebrook and Edison Park and ends at the Cumberland CTA Blue Line.
- 326 West Irving Park runs between the Blue Line in Rosemont and the Harlem Irving-Plaza.
- 423 Linden CTA/The Glen/Harlem Avenue starts at the at the Harlem Blue Line covering Norwood and Edison Park and continues up into the suburbs.
I-90/94 (aka "The Kennedy") runs through the center of Chicago and then to the western parts of the city, where it joins I-190. I-90/190 go to O'Hare Airport, while I-94 splits off to reach the northern and northwest suburbs. The most useful exits are off the Kennedy at Lawrence Avenue and Ill-19/Irving Park Road.
- Carl Schurz High School, 3601 N Milwaukee Ave (56 Milwaukee bus), ☎ +1 773 534-3420. A massive 1910 Prairie School masterpiece by Dwight Perkins, possibly the biggest example of the architectural style, and still a working high school. It's an impressive sight.
- Gateway Theater/Copernicus Foundation, 5216 W Lawrence Ave (Jefferson Park Blue Line), ☎ +1 773 777-8898. A Polish Cultural Center in Jefferson Park, housed in the old Gateway Theater movie palace. They host community events and classes throughout the year; highlights include the Taste of Polonia in September and the Polish Film Festival in November.
- Jefferson Memorial Park, 4822 N Long Ave (Jefferson Park Blue Line), ☎ +1 773 685-3316. Beloved local park with seasonal concerts and seven acres of outdoor fun, including fields for baseball, football, soccer, and tennis, as well as a swimming pool and a spray pool. The Jeff Fest is held every summer.
- St. Hyacinth Basilica, 3636 W Wolfram St (56 Milwaukee or 76 Diversey bus), ☎ +1 773 342-3636. Church hours 5:30AM-8PM daily; masses are split evenly between English and Polish. Another of Chicago's gorgeous Polish Cathedrals, the three towers of St. Hyacinth's Basilica are a landmark of the Avondale neighborhood. The paintings and stained glass windows inside are very much worth a look.
- St. Wenceslaus Church, 3400 N Monticello Ave (Addison Blue Line), ☎ +1 773 588-1135. The other monumental religious edifice that dominates the Avondale skyline, it is considered to be "one of the best examples of the fusion of Art Deco stylings with medieval European architecture in the city of Chicago." Although the historic church is a stop for many of the tourists visiting the landmark Villa District, this majestic Romanesque-Art Deco hybrid is actually a few blocks south of the district's formal boundaries.
- The Villa District, between Addison, Pulaski, Avondale, and Hamlin (Addison Blue Line). This landmark district was built in 1902 by a number of architects, many of them visibly influenced by Frank Lloyd Wright's Prairie Style of architecture. Most notable among these were bungalows designed by the architectural firm of Hatzfeld and Knox, whose partner Clarence Hatzfeld would later design the fieldhouse and natatorium at Portage Park. The area showcases many unique Craftsman and Prairie style homes fronting on picturesque boulevard style streets.
- Habetler Bowl, 5250 N Northwest Hwy (68 Northwest Highway bus), ☎ +1 773 774-0500. Long-standing local bowling alley with brand-new facilities. Usually, it's $4 per game for adults ($3 for kids), and shoe-rental is $3.50. However, it's $2 per game all summer long, and Tuesday nights are always $1 per game.
- Portage Theater, 4050 N Milwaukee Ave (80 Irving Park or 56 Milwaukee bus), ☎ +1 773 736-4050. Currently closed by owner Eddie Carranza while in a battle for a liquor and entertainment license. A beautiful old movie palace in Portage Park, built in 1920 with a whopping 1,938 seats. It's only open for special events and festivals like the Silent Summer Festival and scary movies around Halloween. The Empty Bottle in Ukrainian Village sometimes hosts shows here. Tickets vary by event.
- Prop Thtr, 3502 N Elston Ave (152 Addison bus), ☎ +1 773 539-7838. Prop is the best place in Chicago to see smart, exciting new dramatic theater, from "Porno Zombies" to Daley biographies. The current production will almost certainly be worth seeing, but the New Plays Festival in July offers two shows and a slew of live readings. Most shows $32, $22 students.
- Euro One Design, 3023 N Milwaukee Ave (56 Milwaukee bus), ☎ +1 773 384-9335. M-Sa 10AM-8PM, Su 10AM-6PM. Search no further: here are the diamond-checkered sweaters you were always meant to have. Euro One Design stocks Polish and Eastern European fashions for women, with a decent selection for men.
- Eva's Polish Bookstore, 3034 N Milwaukee Ave (56 Milwaukee bus), ☎ +1 773 276-0826. M-Sa 10AM-6PM. Almost certainly the largest selection of Polish books in Chicago.
- Little Poland's Dollar Plus Store (Polski Sklep), 3067 N Milwaukee Ave (56 Milwaukee bus), ☎ +1 773 478-0752. 9AM-10PM. Most of the space is given over to standard-issue dollar store junk, but this one stands out not only for the frenetic burst of verbiage on the sign — and the even more effusive exterior walls — but also the small, terrific selection of Polish souvenirs. (While not expensive, most do cost more than a dollar.)
- Syrena, 3004 N Milwaukee Ave (56 Milwaukee bus), ☎ +1 773 489-4435. M-Sa 10AM-8PM, Su 10AM-6PM. The alpha and omega of department stores in Avondale. Frills, lace, fabric roses, and more fill the rows of Polish fashion for women of all ages at Syrena. Even from outside, it's quite a sight.
The Portage Park intersection of Cicero, Milwaukee, and Irving Park is known as Six Corners. In the 1950s, that was the commercial epicenter of the Northwest Side, and one of the busiest in the entire city. These days, it's a mix of a few chains and some intriguing, boarded-up old businesses.
- City Newsstand, 4018 N Cicero Ave (54 Cicero, 56 Milwaukee, or 80 Irving Park bus), ☎ +1 773 545-7377. 7AM-11PM daily. An estimated 60 newspapers and 6,000 magazines from everywhere and south of there, with imports from Prague, Italy, and some kid's basement in Omaha. If it's in print, you stand a very good chance of finding it here.
- Fantasy Costumes, 4065 N Milwaukee Ave (56 Milwaukee bus), ☎ +1 773 777-0222. M-Sa 9:30AM-9PM, Su 11AM-5PM, open later and busy around Halloween, naturally. A huge, wonderfully cluttered costume shop in Portage Park, covering almost a full city block. A massive selection of props, costumes, and wigs for kids and adults are available for sale or rental.
- Lincoln Antique Mall, 3115 W Irving Park Rd (80 Irving Park bus), ☎ +1 773 604-4700. M-Sa 11AM-7PM, Su noon-6PM. An intriguing antique mall in Irving Park with space for dozens of dealers whose eras and offerings vary from Spanish oil paintings to vintage cookbooks. Reportedly, it's a favorite stop for film set designers.
- Polonia, 4738 N Milwaukee Ave (Jefferson Park Blue Line), ☎ +1 773 481-6968, toll-free: +1-866-210-6451. M-F 10AM-6PM, Sa 10AM-2PM. A very wide selection of Polish books, films, and especially Polish language learning materials. It's a bit of a Polish-American center too, sporting a coffee shop and even an art gallery.
- Sears, 4730 W Irving Park Rd (80 Irving Park bus), ☎ +1 773 202-2000. M-Sa 9AM-9PM, Su 10AM-7PM. This was a million-dollar store when it was built in the 1930s, and it still thrives despite the economic downturn at the Six Corners. Nothing fancy, but the building has some interest as a retail time capsule of sorts.
As Hyde Park is to academics, as the Near North is to department stores, so Avondale is to Polish sausages. Cavernous delis line the streets here, particularly up Milwaukee and Belmont. They're a sight to see even if you're not after some czarnina (blood duck soup). A ride on the 56 Milwaukee bus makes for a pretty good off-the-beaten-path culinary tour.
Alas: the internationally renowned Hot Doug's closed in 2014, with the retirement of owner Doug Sohn. If this has caught you by surprise at lunch time, try Kuma's Corner or Honey Butter Fried Chicken, both a short walk away.
- Alexandra Foods, 3304 1/2 N Central Ave (85 Central bus), ☎ +1 773 282-3820. M-F 8AM-7PM, Sa 8AM-5PM, Su 9AM-3PM. Wholesale, direct-to-the-public pierogies. Restaurants from around the Midwest buy them in bulk, but you're welcome to enter the grey factory walls and buy as many of the 15-or-so varieties of pierogi as you'd like on the cheap. $3-7.
- Gene's Sausage Shop & Delicatessen, 5330 W Belmont Ave (77 Belmont bus), ☎ +1 773 777-6322. M-Sa 8AM-8PM, Su 8AM-4PM. People come from miles away to get their meat, bread, and beer at this authentic Polish market. Look for the giant cow out front. $7-10.
- Java Thai, 4272 W Irving Park Rd (80 Irving Park bus), ☎ +1 773 545-6200. M-Sa 8AM-10PM, Su 9AM-3PM. All the elements of a good American coffee house and a good, cheap Thai restaurant form this small, quiet, low-lit hang-out, with live jazz during Sunday brunch. $4-7.
- Leadbelly, 5739 W Irving Park Rd (80 Irving Park Bus), ☎ +1 773 283-7880. Tu-Th 5PM-9PM, F-Sa 5PM-10PM, Su noon-7PM. Hamburgers, fries, shakes, and a good selection of craft beers. Handmade buns, and if they sell out of them on a day, they close up shop. Burgers are moist, and they have pork belly mixed in with the ground beef. All burger styles can be made with grilled/fried chicken or vegetarian options. Crispy, varied fry styles are welcoming and served in small baskets. Not cheap burgers compared to fast food, but quality food made to order. $9-12.
- Superdawg, 6363 N Milwaukee Ave (270 Milwaukee bus), ☎ +1 773 763-0660. Su-Th 11AM-1AM, F-Sa until 2AM. For the best hot dogs in town. One "superdawg" comes with pickled tomatoes, mustard, small hot peppers, and a kosher dill. The true Chicago-style hot dog never has ketchup, so save it for your fries! They also sell burgers and sausages, but the superdawg can't be beat. You can also order directly from your car, '50's style with the tray hanging from your car window. $4-6, cash only.
- Amitabul, 6207 N Milwaukee Ave (270 Milwaukee bus), ☎ +1 773 774-0276. Tu-Sa 12-9PM. You love Korean food, but you're a vegan. You often find yourself considering how a certain dish would be perfect if the chef had just added a dash of zen cooking energy. You will be very happy at Amitabul. $9-15.
- Dharma Garden, 3109 W Irving Park Rd (80 Irving Park bus), ☎ +1 773 588-9140. Su,Tu-Th 11AM-10PM, M 5PM-10PM, F-Sa 11AM-11PM. There are several worthwhile Thai restaurants in Irving Park, but Dharma Garden serves vegetarians and seafood lovers especially well, with an emphasis on natural ingredients and healthy preparation. $8-14.
- Halina's Polish Delights, 5914 W Lawrence Ave (81W West Lawrence or 91 Austin bus). Su-M 12-8PM, Tu-Sa 12-9PM. If you are in the mood for breaded fried pork and veal cutlets, there is nowhere else you should be than this corner of Jefferson Park. They serve a fine spread of pierogies, too. The Polish Plate sample platter is available for new diners. English is not part of the staff hiring requirements, so you might want to brush up on your Polish. $7-12.
- Jolly Inn, 6501 W Irving Park Rd (80 Irving Park bus), ☎ +1 773 736-7606. M-Sa 10:30AM-9PM, Su 11AM-9PM. The location — really far west — means the buffet at the Jolly Inn is cheap and known only among the Polish locals. The food is unabashedly high-calorie, and yes, that's a bowl of spread-able lard they place on your table. There's a long list of dessert offerings. They get commendably festive at Christmas. $8 weekdays, $10 weekends.
- La Oaxaqueña, 3382 N Milwaukee Ave (56 Milwaukee bus), ☎ +1 773 545-8585. M-Th 9:30AM-11:30PM, F-Sa 9:30AM-12:30AM. A small, casual restaurant serving Mexican food specific to the Oaxacan region. The Oaxaqeño chocolate mole sauces are a specialty here, although the excellent seafood dishes can be hard to pass up. $7-15.
- La Peña, 4212 N Milwaukee Ave (56 Milwaukee bus), ☎ +1 773 545-7022. Tu-W 4PM-10PM, Th-F 4PM-2AM, Sa 4PM-3AM, Su 8AM-2AM. Family-made Ecuadorian food in Portage Park, with a full drinks menu. Friday and Saturday nights have live Andean music, while Sunday nights offer karaoke. Hence, if there's an important conversation to be had over dinner, this may not be the place. $13-18.
- Red Apple (Czerwone Jabluszko), 6474 N Milwaukee Ave (270 Milwaukee bus), ☎ +1 773 763-3407. Su-Th 11AM-9PM, F-Sa 11AM-9:30PM. An enormous, full-service Polski smorgasbord. There is fresh fruit, but vast kingdoms of meat dominate the landscape, with a full complement of quality kielbasa, pierogies, blintzes, and non-diet salads. There's another location further south at 3121 N Milwaukee. The restaurant is quite nice, but the bar is a bit dour. Weekdays $8.49, weekends $9.49.
- Smoque, 3800 N Pulaski Rd (53 Pulaski bus or Irving Park Blue Line/Metra), ☎ +1 773 545-7427. Su,Tu-Th 11AM-9PM, F-Sa 11AM-10PM. This new, but very serious barbecue joint serves the best barbecue on the North Side of Chicago. If the brisket and ribs don't satisfy your refined palate, though, you should try the offerings on the Southwest Side before giving up on Chicago barbecue. $4-21.
- Staropolska Restaurant, 3030 N Milwaukee Ave (56 Milwaukee bus), ☎ +1 773 342-0779. M-Th 11AM-9PM, F-Sa 11AM-10PM, Su 10AM-9PM. The newly renovated Staropolska has been around for ages and is probably the cheapest of the local spreads. Not bad, too, especially the tripe soup. There's a bar right up front. $6.50 buffet weekdays, $10 weekends.
- Ruk Sushi, 4431 N. Milwaukee Ave Chicago, IL 60630 (Cross Street: Agatite and Milwaukee Public Transit: Blue Line – Jefferson Park Station and Milwaukee Bus Parking: Hotel Parking), ☎ +1 773 286-1900. Lunch: Monday – Saturday: 11:30am – 3:00pm Dinner: Sunday – Thursday: 4:00pm – 9:30pm Friday & Saturday: 4:00pm – 10:00pm. The new neighborhood BYO sushi spot brings Thai and Japanese fare to Portage Park. Named for the Thai word for love (which rhymes with "truck"), the spot does quite a bit of carryout and delivery business but also is filled with neighborhood folks looking for a low-key night out. There's a lineup of contemporary maki rolls such as the Sakura roll, with superwhite tuna, scallion, kampyo, ginger, jalapeno, tempura crunch, hot sauce and red tobiko sauce. There's also creatively named maki like the Green Hornet with tuna, yellowtail, cucumber, jalapeno, cilantro, and thai hot sauce wrapped with avocado and wasabi mayo. Portions are generous for the rice, noodles, Thai entrees and apps, along with plenty of vegetarian options. $30 and under.
- Bread & Wine, 3734 West Irving Park Rd (Irving Park Blue Line or 80 Irving Park bus), ☎ +1 773 866-5266. Lunch: Tuesday – Saturday from 11:00am – 2pm Dinner: Tuesday – Thursday from 5:00pm – 10:00pm Friday & Saturday: 5:00pm – 10:30pm (Bar open till Midnight) Sunday Brunch: 10:00am – 2:00pm Monday closed. Focusing on farm to table fare, menu items are designed, in part, to highlight the different ethnicities in the neighborhood. Visitors can sit at the open kitchen and watch dinner being prepared, or choose one of the unique, local wood tables in the dining room. The space was previously a laundromat, which has now been converted into an inviting, comfortable space. Bread & Wine’s market carries its own private label house made retail items, as well as off the shelf food items from local artisans and a selection of carefully chosen cheese, wine, beer and spirits. $30 and under.
- Arun's, 4156 N Kedzie Ave (Kedzie Brown Line or 80 Irving Park bus), ☎ +1 773 539-1909. Su,Tu-Th 5-10PM, F-Sa 5-10:30PM. One of the finest Thai establishments in the world, including Thailand. One book named it to a list of places to visit throughout the world before you die. prix-fixe meal: $85.
- Gale Street Inn, 4914 N Milwaukee Ave (Jefferson Park Blue Line/Metra), ☎ +1 773 725-1300. M,W-Th 4PM-10PM, F 4PM-11PM, Sa noon-11PM, Su noon-9PM. Chicago's most famous rib joint with a touch of old-time class, right across the street from the Blue Line. It's a good place to eat with parents, and tolerant vegetarians can make do with the portobello mushroom sandwich and some tasty sides. $14-30.
- Lutnia Continental Cafe, 5532 W Belmont Ave (77 Belmont bus), ☎ +1 773 282-5335. Su,Tu-F noon-10PM, Sa 1PM-11PM. Not exclusively Polish, as their menu covers a number of culinary styles, but the recent book Polish Chicago named Lutnia's tenderloin venison one of the exemplars of Polish cuisine. No buffets here — Lutnia is a strictly fine dining experience, and probably the best fine Polish dining in Chicago. There's sometimes live music on weekends. $14-25.
- Mirabell Restaurant & Lounge, 3454 W Addison St (Addison Blue Line), ☎ +1 773 463-1962. M-Sa 11:30AM-10PM, Su noon-8PM. For many years, the foremost outpost of German (and Hungarian) food outside of Lincoln Square. Waitresses in traditional costumes, oompah bands, beer steins, and a noted selection of Hummel figurines set the Bavarian atmosphere for heaping portions of food. $16-25.
- Sabatino's Restaurant, 4441 W Irving Park Rd (Irving Park Blue Line/Metra or 80 Irving Park bus), ☎ +1 773 283-8331. M-Tu,Th 11AM-11:30PM, W 11AM-midnight, F 11AM-12:30AM, Sa 4PM-12:30AM, Su 12-10:30PM. Another fine choice for forgotten-by-time Chicago-Italian ambiance and reasonable prices, with strolling violins Monday through Thursday. It's close to the expressway as well as the train, and offers free valet parking. $14-29.
- The Portage, 3938 n Central Ave (Irving Park at Central Ave), ☎ +1 773 853-0779, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Tues-Thurs 5:00p-9:00p Friday-Sat 5:00p-10:00pSunday 5:00p- 9:00p Closed Mondays. Named as one of the Best New Restaurant by Chicago Magazine in 2011, The Portage is a friendly and welcoming restaurant in the heart of Portage Park. They offer refined American comfort food in a peaceful setting and have a garden. $30 and under.
If you're looking for swinging Polish nightlife, look no further.
- Abbey Pub, 3420 W Grace St (Addison Blue Line or 82 Kimball/Homan bus), ☎ +1 773 478-4408. Box office 11AM-2AM. One of Chicago's essential music venues. The Irish trappings aside, the Abbey Pub does a wider range of great music than almost anywhere else in the city — from surrealist hip hop to English folk rock, with loud stuff, Irish stuff, bluegrass stuff, and foot-stomping stuff thrown in. $8-20.
- Bim Bom Lounge, 5226 W Belmont Ave (77 Belmont bus), ☎ +1 773 777-2120. M-F noon-2AM, Sa 11AM-3AM, Su 11AM-2AM. The warped sheet-metal facade outside leads to a friendly Polish punk/rock/metal bar with an especially fierce foosball scene.
- Cafe Lura, 3184 N Milwaukee Ave (77 Belmont bus), ☎ +1 773 736-3033. Su-F 5PM-2AM, Sa 5PM-3AM. A gloomy (and almost block-long) exterior houses a cheerful bar/cafe with Polish DJs and rock bands, Polish/Czech beer and food, and faux-medieval atmosphere for a Euro-style night at the club. Cover for bands $5-$10, otherwise free.
- Chief O'Neill's, 3471 N Elston Ave (152 Addison bus), ☎ +1 773 583-3066. M-Th 4PM-2AM, F 11AM-2AM, Sa 11AM-3AM, Su 10AM-2AM. Colorful Irish pub in Avondale with a beer garden and very popular food, including Sunday brunch (10:30AM-3PM).
- Club 40 (Czterdziestka), 3119 N Central Ave (77 Belmont or 85 Central bus), ☎ +1 773 777-1231. M-F 4PM-2AM, Sa 4PM-3AM, Su 12PM-2AM. A Polish nightclub for the over-40 set, with the '80s Euro-pop, decor, disco balls and glass walls that the Polish over-40 set like in their nightclubs. In other words, not your average Chicago dive.
- Edison Park Inn, 6713 N Olmsted Ave (Edison Park Metra or 68 Northwest Highway bus), ☎ +1 773 775-1404. Su-Th 11AM-2AM, Sa 11AM-3AM. Two-floor pub with food and plenty of games, including pool tables and eight lanes of bowling.
- Small Bar, 2956 N Albany Ave (Logan Square Blue Line), ☎ +1 773 509-9888. M-F 4PM-2AM, Sa noon-3AM, Su noon-2AM. Actually quite small, but with an exemplary beer selection. There's more (and better) food than the usual dive.
The vast majority of hotels in the area are clustered around O'Hare International Airport, not the neighborhoods. Some of the Lincoln Avenue motels are within easy reach, and the Chicagoland suburb of Niles, further down Milwaukee Avenue, has a few places to stay as well.
- Edgebrook Motor Hotel, 6401 W Touhy Ave (290 Touhy bus or 85A North Central bus), ☎ +1 773 774-4200. Unmistakable sign, and unpretentious accommodations — televisions, fridges, and microwaves round out the amenities. It's about fifteen minutes from O'Hare in a quiet, safe area, just east of the Chicagoland suburbs of Niles and Park Ridge. It's also near the Leaning Tower YMCA, a notable roadside oddity on Touhy. You'll want a car to reach the city, though. Rooms from $54.
- Esquire Motel, 6145 N Elston Ave (270 Milwaukee bus), ☎ +1 773 774-2700. Friendly accommodations in sleepy Edison Park, five minutes from O'Hare and an easy trip to the city by car down Elston. Rooms have cable and HBO. Rooms from $69.
Being heavily residential areas, the neighborhoods of the Far Northwest Side are dotted with small branch libraries that offer free public internet access.
- Austin-Irving Library, 6100 W Irving Park Rd (80 Irving Park bus), ☎ +1 312 744-6222. M,W noon-8PM, Tu,Th 10AM-6PM, F-Sa 9AM-5PM. Old Irving.
- Edgebrook Library, 5331 W Devon Ave (84 Peterson bus), ☎ +1 312 744-8313. M,W noon-8PM, Tu,Th 10AM-6PM, F-Sa 9AM-5PM. In Forest Glen.
- Independence Library, 3548 W Irving Park Rd (Irving Park Blue Line), ☎ +1 312 744-0900. M,W 10AM-6PM, Tu-Th 12-8PM, F-Sa 9AM-5PM. In Irving Park.
- Jefferson Park Library, 5363 W Lawrence Ave (Jefferson Park Blue Line), ☎ +1 312 744-1998. M,W 10AM-6PM, Tu-Th 12-8PM, F-Sa 9AM-5PM. In Jefferson Park.
- Oriole Park Library, 7454 W Balmoral Ave (Harlem Blue Line), ☎ +1 312 744-1965. M,W noon-8PM, Tu,Th 10AM-6PM, F-Sa 9AM-5PM. Big, new library near the Oriole Park fieldhouse in Norwood Park.
- Roden Library, 6083 N Northwest Hwy (Norwood Park Metra/68 Northwest Highway bus), ☎ +1 312 744-1478. M,W 10AM-6PM, Tu-Th 12-8PM, F-Sa 9AM-5PM. Way out on the fringes of the city in Norwood Park.
- The Chicago Polish community flows over these district boundaries, with more to be found on Milwaukee Avenue to the north (in Niles) and to the south (in Logan Square, and Wicker Park, and Belmont-Cragin), and also notably on the Southwest Side.
- The Chicagoland suburb of Park Ridge, a couple of minutes down Touhy Avenue/Northwest Highway from Edison Park, has the amazing Pickwick, a giant classic movie theater that's still in regular use for second-run movies and occasional holiday revivals.
|Routes through Far Northwest Side|
|O'Hare International Airport ← Rosemont ←||NW SE||→ Logan-Bucktown → The Loop|