The Bento Box (Lenny Gilmore/RedEye )
The Bento Box
2246 W. Armitage Ave. 773-278-3932
Fair warning: The space at this BYOB is extremely limited. Just 16 seats are available for diners hoping to nosh on a tight, rotating menu of dishes such as Korean short ribs and pork egg rolls.
Marie’s Rip Tide
1745 W. Armitage Ave. 773-278-7317
This legendary late-night dive is dead most nights before midnight, but you can bet the crowds will start flowing in once every other bar in the area is closed. Just mutter the cross streets “Armitage and Hermitage” to your cab driver and he or she will know exactly where you’re going.
1467 N. Milwaukee Ave. 773-360-7650
This low-key, wood-paneled bar serves margaritas and manhattans that are just as strong as the ones served at legendary but miniscule bar The Matchbox. Only here, it’s about 10 times easier to snag a seat.
2076 N. Hoyne Ave. 773-489-4757
Tucked away on a residential strip, this sleek throwback lounge features a DJ most weekend evenings, but despite its intimate space, you won’t ever feel too overwhelmed — it’s more a neighborhood spot than a club.
Glazed and Infused
1533 N. Damen Ave.
This walk-up window built into the side of Italian restaurant Francesca’s Forno sells artisanal doughnuts in fun flavors such as peanut butter and jelly, red velvet, creme brulee and bacon-maple. It closes up shop in the afternoon and reopens to feed bar-goers during a late-night shift on weekends.
1360 N. Milwaukee Ave. 773-687-8697
Craving a taco but can’t stomach the idea of waiting for a table at always-crowded Big Star? This tiny, antique-filled shop has enough delicious options to hold its own. Don’t miss the mushroom and garlicky kale tacos or the slightly spicy habanero-and-cheese popcorn.
1664 N. Ada St. 773-697-7069
Tucked away on a just-barely-Bucktown block, this hip tavern features a menu of American comfort
food favorites with a twist (think crispy black-eyed peas) alongside a lengthy house cocktail menu. Can’t snag a reservation? The picnic-themed backyard is first-come, first-served in the warmer months.
1655 N. Cortland St. 773-862-5263
This long-time neighborhood favorite on a treeshaded block off Bucktown’s main drag is known for its comfort food menu, half-priced wine nights and weekend brunch.
1946 N. Leavitt St. 773-489-4895
The made-from-scratch gnocchi and pasta at this charming Italian cafe are best enjoyed on the picturesque garden patio out back.
2151 W. Armitage Ave. 773-278-8028
Come to this Italian deli for Roman-style pizza by the slice or freshly pressed panini and stay for a Stiffy, a seriously strong signature cocktail made with your choice of booze and fresh-squeezed juice.