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Boystown notables and hidden gems

20 don't-miss bars and restaurants in Boystown and East Lakeview

By RedEye staff

4:25 PM CDT, June 12, 2012

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Whether you're looking for celeb chef-fronted restaurants or little-known bars, don't miss these 20 spots that make Boystown and East Lakeview.

1. Frog N Snail (3124 N. Broadway 773-661-9166). Chef Dale Levitski, known by local foodies for his turns on “Top Chef” as well as his Lincoln Park restaurant Sprout, serves his own spin on French bistro favorites such as Lyonnaise salad and steak frites at this playfully named restaurant.

2. Friar Tuck (3010 N. Broadway 773-327-5101). This laid-back tavern’s bragging right is its wooden façade that looks like the end of a whiskey barrel.

3. Rocks Lakeview (3463 N. Broadway 773-472-0493). Juicy patties and plentiful pick-your-own toppings make this sports bar a standout when it comes to burgers.

4. Avenue Tavern (2916 N. Broadway 773-975-7000). Bar-height counters facing windows that open up onto Broadway make for prime warm-weather people-watching at this corner bar.

5. L&L Tavern (3207 N. Clark St. 773-528-1303). This friendly dive with a reliable jukebox is hiding in plain sight among Clark and Belmont’s colorful boutiques.

6. Pastoral (2945 N. Broadway 773-472-4781). This artisanal food shop is a picnic-goers’ dream thanks to a thoughtfully curated collection of cheeses, meats, olives and wine, plus a menu of baguette sandwiches.

7. Yoshi’s Cafe (3257 N. Halsted St. 773-248-6160). French-trained Japanese chef Yoshi Katsumura cooks seafood specials that change often based on what’s fresh, but tried-and-true favorites such as the Wagyu burger with wasabi blue cheese and roasted Cornish game hen are always available.

8. Ann Sather (909 W. Belmont Ave. 773-348-2378). This Swedish restaurant has earned a legendary reputation for its sticky sweet cinnamon rolls. The first Ann Sather opened in 1945 just a few storefronts down from this location, so this is arguably as close as you’ll get to the original.

9. The Closet (3325 N. Broadway 773-477-8533). “Big fun in a lil’ gay bar” is the motto at this lesbian-owned Boystown fixture, which opened in 1978 and is about as small as you’d expect from the name. Thanks to a late-night license, it’s open until 4 a.m. (5 a.m. on Saturdays) and grows most crowded after the rest of the neighborhood’s bars and clubs close for the night.

10. Charlie’s (3726 N. Broadway 773-871-8887). No matter what kicks off the party at this long-standing gay bar—karaoke, bingo or country dance lessons—the night always ends with a DJ-fueled, after-hours dance party.

11. Kit Kat Lounge & Supper Club (3700 N. Halsted St. 773-525-1111). This martini bar has become a favorite for bachelorette parties thanks to its epic cocktail menu and drag shows performed by its roster of resident “divas.”

12. Berlin (954 W. Belmont Ave. 773-348-4975). Dark, loud and sweaty, this anything-goes melting pot of a dance club keeps the party going all week long with everything from theme parties to album release bashes to dollar drink night.

13. Cocktail (3359 N. Halsted St. 773-477-1420). This corner bar has a little bit of something for everyone, from a see-and-be-seen sidewalk patio to DJs and go-go boys on the weekends.

14. Elixir (3452 N. Halsted St. 773-975-9244). With its no-standing-room policy and always-on-point craft cocktails, this tiny bar is a welcome low-key alternative to Halsted’s high-energy gay clubs.

15. Hearty (3819 N. Broadway 773-868-9866). Food Network personalities Dan Smith and Steve McDonagh serve up twists on comfort food classics ranging from bacon meatloaf and mac ‘n’ cheese to some especially popular fried chicken made with a cornflake crust.

16. Wakamono (3317 N. Broadway 773-296-6800). There are plenty of sushi spots along Broadway, but this one’s a favorite for the fresh fish and sizzling scene. Don’t miss Wang’s, the dark unmarked lair of a martini lounge next door.

17. Nookies Tree (3344 N. Halsted St. 773-248-9888). This family-run cafe has been flipping omelets and grilling silver-dollar pancakes since the ’80s, and its legion of neighborhood fans is so loyal that no number of hot new brunch spots could tear them away.

18. Kanela Breakfast Club (3231 N. Clark St. 773-248-1622). “Kanela” is the Greek word for cinnamon, so you’ll find the tasty spice flavoring a handful of treats on the menu: the signature cinnamon-chip pancakes, cinnamon roll and cinnamon latte.

19. Halsted’s Bar & Grill (3441 N. Halsted St. 773-348-9696). A spacious fenced-in patio, create-your-own mac ‘n’ cheese and fishbowl cocktails with names such as Hollywood Beach Hook-Up make this neighborhood hangout a favorite.

20. Clark Street Dog (3040 N. Clark St. 773-281-6690). Got a late-night hot dog craving? This local legend has been around since the ‘70s and is open until 3 a.m. nightly—and until 4 a.m. on weekends.