10 new and coming-soon restaurants and bars in Wicker Park

A new flash of bars and restaurants lights up the heart of Wicker Park

  • A selection of cocktails at The Revel Room
A selection of cocktails at The Revel Room (Kaitlyn McQuaid / For RedEye )
October 01, 2013|By Kate Bernot, @redeyeeatdrink | RedEye

It's not uncommon at the intersection of North, Damen and Milwaukee avenues to pass leather-clad punks heading to a show, packs of ladies in five-inch heels spilling out of a bar and well-dressed couples on their way to date night. That's the magic—and mayhem—of Wicker Park, a nightlife-heavy neighborhood that's only upping the entertainment ante. The past month has seen three bar and restaurant openings, with more on the way from major players such as Rick Bayless and the team behind Big Star and The Violet Hour. Consult our guide and prepare for even more beer, booze, doughnuts and sushi. kbernot@tribune.com | @redeyeeatdrink

Runa Japanese

2257 W. North Ave. 773-278-8887

Opened: September 28

This BYOB Japanese restaurant and sushi bar quietly opened in the space formerly home to The Lazy Parrot and Yuca Cafe just a few blocks from the North-Damen-Milwaukee hub. The 48-seat spot, which also has a rear patio, offers traditional maki rolls and sashimi plus hot dishes including ribeye steak and grilled salmon. Take-out currently is available, with delivery debuting within a few weeks.

Dimo's Pizza Six Corners

1615 N. Damen Ave. 773-525-4580

Opened: Mid-July

Wrigleyville's popular purveyor of wacky pizza slices--think s'mores, chicken parm or chicken and waffles--opened an outpost on Damen just north of North Avenue. In addition to a larger space, the major distinguishing factor of this location is a menu of beer and wine to pair with your choice of pie.

Chop Shop and 1st Ward

2033 W. North Ave. 773-537-4440

Opening: In the coming weeks, pending inspections

This butcher shop-meets-bar-meets-restaurant will need the full 15,000 square feet of its historic building to contain all the varied elements under its roof. Walking in from North Avenue, guests will see the deli case, which houses sausages, antipasti, meatballs, sandwiches and more alongside a selection of beer and wine. Snack at high-top tables or watch a game on the four TVs above the 27-seat bar, which pours 18 draft beers plus signature cocktails. For more substantial fare, take a seat at the bi-level restaurant, helmed by chef Joshua Marrelli (formerly of Little Italy's Urban Union). Making use of the in-house butcher shop, Marrelli plans a menu of chops, steaks, burgers and seasonal dishes including grilled stone fruits and crab and watermelon salad. Attached to Chop Shop is 1st Ward, an events space, as well as a 60-seat patio suitable for chasing the last warm nights of fall.

5411 Empanadas

2045 W. North Ave.

Opening: February

This popular food truck, which also has a Streeterville storefront, expands westward with a second location located nearly next door to Chop Shop. Construction began on the storefront and commercial kitchen last week, but isn't expected to wrap up until February. Though the design and menu will be similar to the Streeterville spot, the Wicker Park outpost will have a liquor license and plans to sell beer and wine.

The Revel Room

1566 N. Milwaukee Ave. 773-278-1600

Opened: Late July

Mid-summer, the clubby Empire Liquors quietly morphed into The Revel Room, a modern version of a Chicago tavern. Shadows and turntables have been replaced by windows, leather booths and exposed brick. And though the attitude is relaxed, there's serious talent behind the menu. Ria Neri, the cicerone (beer sommelier) at Bangers & Lace, assembled a list of eight draft and numerous canned craft beers, while Ronnie Higgins, also of Bangers & Lace, designed the tight cocktail program that focuses on classics as well as creations like Gold Bullets and Vampires (gin, apricot liqueur, lime and cinnamon cider) and Vanisher (bourbon, cognac, cherry liqeuer and vanilla bitters, vermouth).

Door No. 3

1572 N. Milwaukee Ave. 773-489-3160

Opening: Oct. 14

This speakeasy-style lounge below Double Door is, like its upstairs sibling, music-focused. Enter through the back alley and follow the sound of DJs or instrumentalists, who provide the beats while you sip cocktails or beer. Reaching back to the building's former identity as a clandestine bar and, at one point, a whorehouse, owners hope to channel a slightly furtive basement feel. Though the space has hosted some private events, it won't open to the public until mid-month.

Stan's Donuts

1560 N. Damen Ave.

Opening: Late November

Building permit delays have pushed back construction at the former Skewerz space tucked under the Damen Blue Line stop, where a Chicago outpost of longstanding L.A. shop Stan's Donuts hopes to open this winter. In partnership with local Labriola Baking Company, Stan's Donuts aims to be an old-school coffee and doughnut operation, upping the fried dough quotient directly across from the Glazed and Infused location that opened in spring of 2012.

Links Taproom

1559 N. Milwaukee Ave. 773-991-4306

Opening: Early November

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