As Chicagoans, we live in a city comprised of what seems to be a billion different neighborhoods. That being said, sometimes it’s hard to make time in our busy schedules to get out of our own neighborhoods and into a car or onto a train or bus to explore a foreign neighborhood for a day or even for a few hours. Recently, I’ve made it my personal mission to get out of my comfort zone when it comes to restaurants, shopping, and exploring and set my sites on the unfamiliar.
This week I’ll be reviewing Lincoln Square: a neighborhood located on the North Side of Chicago that can be accessed easily by train or bus. It’s about a 30-minute brown line ride from downtown Chicago, so there’s really no excuse not to take a quick trip there. Lincoln Square is a neighborhood where both families and young professionals reside and is known for its vintage charm and hominess.
Lincoln Square is also a neighborhood steeped in German heritage with German landmarks like the DANK Haus German American Cultural Center that promotes German culture, heritage and language through a museum, art gallery, classes and events. There’s also a yearly German American festival and numerous German coffee shops and restaurants.
Although there is a large German influence in Lincoln Square, there are also many other types cuisines and cultures. Our account executive Katie, who lives in Lincoln Square, gave me a run-down on her favorite spots to grab food and drinks:
“Bistro Campagne, a French bistro, has a beautiful garden patio and the best quiche I’ve ever had. I’ve craved it constantly since I had it. I used to hate on brunch, but then I went there and I’m now a brunch believer. You get to drink classy cocktails while eating breakfast food in the sun. Seriously, what’s not to love?
Photo via TripAdvisor
I studied abroad in Vienna in college, so the Julius Meinl coffee shop is a favorite spot of mine when I’m missing Wiener Kaffeekultur. My favorite coffee drink is the mélange and even though they’re not at all traditionally Viennese, I love their cinnamon rolls.
Photo via Julius Meinl
Fountainhead, while technically on the Ravenswood side of my home, has my favorite mac and cheese (other than my own) in the world, a fantastic ever-changing craft beer menu, décor that reminds me of the Gryffindor common room but with classy vintage French and German wall art and a rooftop patio. It’s honestly one of the main reasons I chose to live where I do.”
Photo via Chicago Magazine
If you’re not feeling hungry, there are many other great spots to explore. Here are my top recommendations for cool spots in Lincoln Square sans food:
Merz Apothecary has been open since 1875. Merz started out as a pharmacy with both traditional and herbal-based remedies and had a strong focus on customer service and providing international products. As the years went by, Merz was passed down from son to son, and finally in 1972 when Ralph Merz was set to retire and close the apothecary, Indian pharmacist Abdul Qaiyum purchased the business. Quaiyum moved Merz to it’s current, larger location where the concept remains the same and the staff represents the international feel by collectively speaking seven different languages (pretty cool if you ask me). Merz carries natural medicines, exotic perfumes, and a wonderful selection of home fragrances and candles. This is truly a historic destination not to be missed.
Photo via Merz Apothecary
Lincoln Square Lanes is one spot in Lincoln Square that’s more geared toward the sport and game fanatic. The food menu here can best be described as classic American bar food. The venue boasts 12 bowling lanes, huge TVs, pool tables and video games. It’s a great social hangout with a neighborhood vibe and they even have party packages for kids looking to celebrate a birthday. Prices for bowling vary throughout the week, but go up to $30 per hour on the weekends. This place is always packed so it’s best to reserve a lane if you’re coming to bowl.
Photo via TimeOut
For the serious beer drinker there’s Half Acre Beer Company. Half Acre is a local brewing company that has both their brewery and taproom in Lincoln Square. Brewery tours are every Saturday at 11:00am and for only $10 you get a great tour, a Half Acre pint glass and sampling. If you can’t make the tour, the taproom is open every day but Monday. The taproom is a great place to relax and try one of Half Acre’s awesome brews. Top hits include Half Acre Daisy Cutter – a pale ale, and Akari Shogun – an American wheat ale with a citrusy finish.
Photo via The Beer Haul
There really is a plethora of things to do and places to go in the charming Lincoln Square neighborhood. What’s your favorite spot? Let me know by commenting below!
Header photo via Flickr