Ask a Local: Neighborhood Guide to Logan Square, Chicago

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When people come and visit me in Chicago, I like to show them around the neighborhoods. I believe that neighborhoods are the lifeblood of any city and usually the downtown area, even if it is full of touristic sights, doesn’t tell the story of the city. Where people live, where people eat, that is where you can really get a sense of what a city is all about.

It has been almost 4 years since I moved to Chicago and I am proud to call Logan Square my home. This neighborhood is full of diversity, interesting things happening and LOTS of delicious restaurants.

After countless guests and tours of my neighborhood, I was inspired to write this neighborhood guide for other folks who might be traveling to Chicago and want to get a local’s perspective on what is cool. I tried to capture the various questions and recommendations that people always ask me about to create a dynamic and robust neighborhood guide for Logan Square!

When you ask a local, this is the kind of inside guide to Logan Square Chicago that you get!

What place do you frequent?

I think my friends are sick of hearing about it but I’m obsessed with the burgers and beer at Moonlighter. It was opened about a year ago by the same restaurant owner as Scofflaw and it was an immediate favorite of me and Sam’s. It helps that it is literally visible from our front door! But legit, their burgers are great (I always order the Coronado) and their beer list is full of sour ales which are hard to find at other places. Their huge patio is alluring all times of the year with fire places to keep you warm in the fall and winter.

Brewery worth a visit?

There are all of a sudden a lot of breweries opening up along Milwaukee Avenue, but Revolution Brewing is the original Logan Square spot. They offer a bevy of year round & seasonal craft beer options, as well as sizeable pub menu. For a more modern take, Hopewell Brewing has an airy minimalist design in their taproom that welcomes people to play games while they sip on their variety of small-scale microbrews.

Best cup of coffee?

I have a two favorite coffee shops in the neighborhood. The first is Damn Fine Coffee on Armitage Avenue. It is just down the street from my house, so I go there a little too frequently! They have excellent espresso, friendly staff, and delicious cold brew. My second favorite is Passion House Coffee near the Logan Square Blue Line stop. Their interior design is beautiful and their coffee is great too. Their staff can be grumpy sometimes, but I still love their coffee.

Where to grab a weekday breakfast?

Brunch is a competitive sport in Chicago and there are plenty of places in Logan Square that run long waits for weekend brunches (looking at you Lula Cafe!) so I actually prefer a weekday breakfast. My two favorites are Cellar Door Provisions and Jam.

Located in an unassuming nameless building on Diversey, Cellar Door Provisions is a hidden gem in Logan Square. Its bright but tiny cafe gets crowded quickly because it is only open for brunch/lunch Wednesday-Sunday. Despite the wait, it is absolutely worth coming. In my opinion, their pastries are the best in the neighborhood (photo above). The croissants are seriously amazing, and paired with fresh drip coffee, this is a great spot to read a newspaper or have a slow start to your morning.

Jam is a classy little brunch spot on the north end of the neighborhood. The minimalist, modern decor is the first thing you’ll notice, but the food is what you’ll remember. I love the burrito suizo which is served in a delicate buckwheat crepe with a bright & citrusy tomato crema. If you’re more of a sweet breakfast person, the french toast is awesome. The malted custard stuff inside is creamy heaven , and the pink peppercorns & lime offer a unique and light flavor profile to the rich but not heavy dish.

Favorite neighborhood date night?

We always start our date nights with a drink at Billy Sunday. This is my favorite cocktail bar in the neighborhood, because of the variety and friendly service. Also, their quirky letterpress menu is memorable. My favorite drink is probably the Gibson, but the Victorian is a close second. After a drink, we’ll usually head out for dinner, often times to somewhere new, and then we will go to a movie at Logan Theater. I love the vintage vibes at this historic movie theater and the affordable ticket prices means you can get a fresh bag of popcorn for the flick!

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Where should I stay?

Honestly, there aren’t a lot of hotels in the Logan Square neighborhood although that is changing as a new boutique hotel is slated to open up in the old Grace’s furniture spot next year. AirBnb would be your best bet if you want to stay in Logan Square proper but a nearby boutique hotel option that is really cool is The Robey in Wicker Park just south of Logan. The renovation of this historic building took over 3 years and it was worth the wait—the hotel is beautiful and thoughtfully designed. The rooftop has a skyline view and a pool!

Best place to indulge a sweet tooth?

I’m married to a man with a chronic case of sweet tooth, so I have a lot of suggestions in this area. If you’re looking for a nostalgia-induced spot that truly captures the history and diversity of the neighborhood, you can’t beat soft-serve purveyor The Freeze. Their walk up window and endless customizable options are indulgent and delightful.

If you’re more of a baked treat kind of person, Bang Bang Pie Shop is a great choice. A hole in the wall shop on California Ave, Bang Bang Pie Shop has a seasonal menu of savory and sweet pies. All made from scratch, the creative combinations of flavors they feature include sweet honey pie, chocolate pecan, or key lime. Get there early (or late) because there is a steady line throughout the morning, especially on the weekend.

My final suggestion is a newly opened popsicle bar named Pretty Cool. This endlessly ‘grammable spot is the real deal. Their popsicles are gorgeous, but also taste AMAZING. They’ve got a big variety from creamy pops to chocolate-covered treats to vegan options.

Best market to walk around and eat?

When I moved to Chicago from Madison Wisconsin, I knew one of the things that I would miss the most was the fresh food for Madison’s famous farmers market. Nothing beats the taste or fresh veggies or locally made cheese. But then I discovered the Logan Square Farmer’s market. The market was actually one of the big draws for me in choosing this neighborhood, because it runs every Sunday throughout the year, winter included! The market opens at 10am and thankfully, there are minimal amounts of strollers and dogs at that time. We wander around to check out the selection and prices, then loop back to buy all of our produce for the week.

Hottest new dinner restaurant?

My favorite recent Logan Square restaurant opening is Bixi Beer on Milwaukee Ave. Their space is STUNNING. Like truly a masterpiece. I was geeking out the first time I went to their upstairs atrium. The Chinese fusion food is also excellent—I haven’t had momos that delicious since I was in Nepal! Some of their dishes are really spicy, which I love, but if you don’t make sure to ask before ordering what the spice level is.

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Where to get a great cocktail?

It really depends on what type of cocktails you like. We have a surprising amount of good cocktail joints in Logan Square! The gin-forward cocktails at Scofflaw are delightful and their fireplace is extra cozy in the winter time. If you’re a mezcal drinker, I can’t recommend Todos Santos enough. It is well-designed small Mexican speakeasy beneath Quiote on California Ave. Affordable batch cocktails are abundant at the beautiful and trendy Estereo on Milwaukee Ave. I recommend going here during the day time when they open the garage doors and the bar is flooded with light.

Best weekend brunch?

When I have visitors in town, I typically take them to Longman & Eagle for an upscale, Michelin-star brunch. If you can’t afford a Michelin star meal for dinner, brunch is a much thriftier alternative. I love the duck egg hash with an bright black truffle aioli. It had all the finesse and well balanced flavors you would expect in a homey and approachable dish that was executed perfectly!

One of the most popular and well-known brunches in Logan Square, Lula Cafe nearly always a wait for brunch, so come prepared with comfortable shoes. Personally, I think the hype is real with Lula and prefer to eat brunch at other spots in the neighborhood. But! It is famous and good, so it would be a shame not to mention it in this guide. They have a new menu every day along with their Cafe classics, so that you can try exactly what is in season now. A few of my favorite dishes are the seasonal French toast, the rotating pastry board, and their breakfast sandwiches. If you’re not in the mood for brunch fare, get the baked feta! It is so creamy and rich with a charred fresh bread and jalepeno drizzle to cut through the fattiness.

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Best drunk food spot?

I am a sucker for pizza when I’m drunk and none of this Chicago-style nonsense. I want a proper pizza and in Logan Square, the best place for pizza is Paulie Gees. Their main dining room is open until 11pm and then they switch to the late night menu until 2pm. Their thin crust pizzas are wood fired in classic Neapolitan style ovens, but they also have Detroit-style pan pizzas which are awesome.  

What out-of-the-way spot that is worth the walk?

Described as a British pub, Owen & Engine packs on the creativity with their menu. They’ve got lots of the crowd-pleasing British fare, but done with finesse and upgraded ingredient combinations. Take, for example, the bangers & mash. The sausage is made in house and varies daily, and they are served alongside an entire bulb of perfectly roasted garlic, super creamy mashed potatoes and well-balanced cinnamon apples. Another favorite of mine was the carpaccio, served with dried and aerated Parmesan orbs.

Best place to see art?

The streets! Logan Square is full of amazing street art murals and there are new ones popping up all the time. A variety of different Chicago-based artists have done works in the neighborhood, so I think the public art galleries are the best spots. I even wrote a street art guide all about Logan Square murals if you want to find some of the coolest murals.

Favorite places for shopping?

My guilty pleasure for shopping is definitely Fleur. Part flower shop, part trendy home decor shop, Fleur has an awesome eye for design and cool aesthetics. Just across the street is Shop 1021 which is a great place to pick up a gift for someone. They focus on stationary, cook books and quirky children’s gifts, but there is a little something for everyone in there! Further down Milwaukee Ave, I absolutely love the women’s clothing at Birdseye Rule and I’m obsessed with all the cute gift cards at Steel Petal Press. Sometimes they are even making the letterpress cards in the store so you can watch!

Which restaurant is worth the wait?

I have been singing the praises of Giant for a long time and it is absolutely worth the wait. You need to make a reservation at least one month in advance, but sometimes up to 2 or 3 months depending on the size of your party. Their globally inspired small plates menu is spectacular. Every dish has minimal description on the menu and then it comes in all its maximalist glory. Some of my favorite dishes are the uni shooters, braised eggplant and buttered seafood pasta.

Where can we get into trouble for the night?

Best Intentions is the kind of cool “dive” bar where hours and hours pass as you sip down delicious cocktails until you are shooed out at closing time. Don’t miss their great patio in the back! Another favorite bar is The Native. This spot reminds me SO much of divey Wisconsin bars that I always get a nostalgic ping in my stomach when I go there. My last bar recommendation is the Walk-In. It is not easy to find a brandy old fashioned in Chicago, but the Walk-In has it. The space is super small, but it can get pretty rowdy with live DJ music on the weekends.

Loved my Logan Square neighborhood guide? Pin the image below so you don’t forget any of these local insider spots!

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Author: Megan Arz

I am a travel and food obsessed Midwesterner living in Chicago and dreaming of the world. I work as a full-time program manager for Greenheart Travel, but I am also committed to integrating the travel lifestyle into my every day routines. I am passionate about ethical travel, meeting new people, creating unique memories and eating local cuisine!

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