1747 N. Damen Ave. 773-489-1747
It’s true that this restaurant serves one of the best burgers in town, but the name should be your hint to save room for the sweets. James Beard Foundation award-winning pastry chef Mindy Segal recently introduced a cookie cart doling out treats by the piece and a five-part “study” of a particular seasonal ingredient such as berries. Also: milkshakes, doughnuts, flavored ice creams and, of course, hot chocolate.
1952 N. Damen Ave. 773-772-6170
Inside a quaint little house in Bucktown’s north end, award-winning chef Takashi Yagihashi serves his own blend of Japanese, French and American flavors. The noodle menu, served only on Sundays, is to die for.
1721 N. Damen Ave. 773-698-8852
This airy, white-washed space is technically a steakhouse, but don’t expect a lengthy lists of cuts. The main event is a $25 prix fixe dinner that includes salad, house-baked bread, addictively crunchy fries and sliced grass-fed sirloin steak.
2020 W. Division St. 773-862-8500
While familiar sushi offerings such as simple nigiri and sashimi are available, the most popular dishes are the shrimp togarashi with seven-spice sauce and the spicy mono roll made with octopus, spicy tuna and sweet unagi sauce.
1805 W. Division St. 773-235-8888
Holding court since 2000, this reliable sushi bar serves dozens of specialty maki, hand rolls and nigiri, along with a handful of vegetarian rolls for the seafood-averse.
The Smoke Daddy
1804 W. Division St. 773-772-6656
Whether it’s lunch, dinner or carryout, the Smoke Daddy remains a reliable favorite for barbecue. The small dining space is host to live blues and jazz most nights, but the main draw is the meat—ribs, burnt ends, pulled pork, sliced brisket—ready to slather in house-made sauces.
1938 W. Division St. 773-235-1006
If one of the 100-plus sandwiches on the menu at this bar and eatery doesn’t catch your eye, you can design your own from a list of cheeses, breads, toppings and meats, which range from turkey meatloaf to corned beef to fried chicken.
2049 W. Division St. 773-772-2727
This tiny bar serves seriously delicious burgers. Opt for the simple house burger topped with onion, tomato and parmesan-herb aioli, or customize your own with funky toppings such as jalapeno-bacon jam or tobacco-smoked onions. There’s a killer craft beer list to boot.
The Violet Hour
1520 N. Damen Ave. 773-252-1500
The rules may be strict (no cell phones), the lines long and the door hidden, but neighborhood dwellers find this cocktail lounge well worth the trouble thanks to a menu of beautifully crafted classic cocktails served in a dark, whimsical space perfect for date night.