NFT Chicago North Center / Roscoe Village / West Lakeview

North Center / Roscoe Village / West Lakeview

The tan, fit, stroller-pushing set rule in Roscoe Village and West Lakeview. The north side jewel is populated with gray- and brownstones, lush, tiny green lawns, funky boutiques, expensive grocery stores and cozy neighborhood restaurants. The nightlife here is mostly subdued with Saturday nights consisting of dive bar crawls.

Catch a show at Beat Kitchen, try the crispy egg rolls at Hot Woks Cool Sushi and enjoy the generous portions at Piazza Bella Trattoria. Unwind with a late night pint at local favorites The Village Tap and rugby bar Black Rock.See more.


This Neighborhood Featured in...
Bringing Out Baby

By Nina Williams
Just because you have a new little one in your life, doesn't mean your days of going out on the town are totally over. Join Nina Williams as she brings out the baby all over Chicago.

Beer: English for Beer.

By Jill Jaracz
Beer: It may be the world's most popular alcoholic beverage but that doesn't mean you have to be democratic about it. From cask-conditioned to microbrewed, let Jill Jaracz show you a whole new world of fermented yeast.


On Our Radar:

Posted By:  Jill Jaracz
Photo:  Jill Jaracz

Murphy & Sons Irish Bistro
Mrs. Murphy's is not your traditional Chicago Irish pub. First off, it's housed in a former funeral home. Granted, they've done wonders with the space, making it warm and inviting, but it's still a little different from the corner pub. The food is also a little fancier, hence the "bistro," in its name. The food here is a more modern, upscale take on Irish cuisine. Lamb and pork are some of the stars of the culinary show, with several options dotting the menu. And yes, you can get your Irish favorites like fish and chips and Shepherd's pie. Plus, you'll find interesting twists, like a Guinness and onion soup. Brunch features a full Irish breakfast as well as many difficult choices--go with the banana and Bailey's French toast, or dig into a curried vegetable omelet? Whatever you choose, you'll find there's more than meets the eye when it comes to Irish cuisine.

Posted By:  Brian Lauvray
Photo:  Brian Lauvray

Beat Kitchen
Located on a strip of Belmont between Damen and Western that seems to have more condos than people; Beat Kitchen shines through the vacant gentrification as a beacon of great music and astonishingly good food for a venue, or hell, a restaurant. The back half of BK opens into a decently-sized venue, with, oh, a capacity of 250. In any case, the acoustics are good and, yeah, small-time Chicago acts looking to break it big play there along with minor-national acts (read: hipster rock outfits and metal bands prepped to assault your ear drums). However, with all due deference to my taste buds and the fact that I'm a mediocre restaurant critic; let's focus on the food. Beat boasts an impressive selection of fresh ingredients that are incorporated into typical, American-style, but very delicious, food. Unlike the more blase offerings of lesser establishments, Beat boasts a bunch of flavor and, dare I say, effort and care. For example, the Beat Burger is a fresh (not frozen) patty of ground beef that is hand-formed! Though an indulgence, it really does make a difference and when you size up a juicy, asymmetrical slab of sizzled beef on a French roll.

Posted By:  Jill Jaracz
Photo:  Jill Jaracz

Village Tap
The Village Tap is everything you'd want in a neighborhood bar. It's laid-back, has a year-round beer garden that's great to unwind in after a long day. You can, of course, get full bar service here, but this place is known for having a solid beer list. The bar has twenty-six taps with a great variety of microbrews and imports. They're also available by the flight or by the pitcher, which can be a rarity in Chicago. Another element of a good bar is food, and this menu doesn't disappoint. True, most of it is burgers and sandwiches, but they've got options you don't normally see: You can swap out your fries for chips and salsa or pita and hummus. If none of those are to your liking, pay a little extra and get onion rings or a side salad. Don't forget to take your picture in the photo booth!

Posted By:  Jill Jaracz
Photo:  Jill Jaracz

West Lakeview Liquors
Tired of drinking macrobrewed swill but don't quite know what to buy? Head to West Lakeview Liquors, a family-owned corner store that's one of the best in the city to buy craft beer. For a small shop, they have an awful lot of stock. Several coolers and a wall are devoted to fine craft beers from around the world, and the rest of the shop is filled with quality wines and fine spirits. The staff also knows their stuff and can help you navigate the world of alcohol. Every Friday they host a tasting of some sort of alcohol, often with the vendor or distributor on hand to answer questions. If you need a keg for your next party, they can special order any one of 400 beers. For those of you who like a bargain, there’s a 10% discount on wine when you buy six or more bottles. Another bonus: They deliver.

Posted By:  Jill Jaracz
Photo:  Jill Jaracz

St Andrew's Gym
Springtime in Chicago means it’s time for the annual Golden Gloves boxing tournament! Golden Gloves is one of the biggest amateur boxing competitions in the country, and Chicago is home to the oldest tourney in the association. Over 300 boxers signed up for this year’s event, the finals of which take place April 17-19. Here you'll see the best men and women amateur boxers from around the area face up in some amazing boxing action. If you can't imagine liking a sport where people pummel each other, you might change your mind when you see these people's muscles and athleticism in person. The action out of the ring is also great because many current and former champs like former heavyweight Ernie Terrell show up to cheer on the new generation of pugilists. Grab a Corona or two and pull up a bleacher for an exciting evening of sporting action.

Posted By:  Matt Wolff
Photo:  Matt Wolff

Be By Baby
Straddling the corner of Roscoe and Lincoln is a rock standing in the current of mainstream parenting. It's a place where parents are encouraged to trade in their giant strollers for baby carriers and disposable diapers for eco-friendly cloth. Say 'cloth diapering' to your parents and they'll cringe at the memory of jabbing you with giant, unwieldy pins wrestling you down while trying to fasten some big white piece of cloth together. No longer the case, today's cloth diapers come with Velcro and snaps, easy to assemble and maintain and Be Bye Baby is helping to lead the revolution for attachment parents everywhere. Be Bye Baby sells a wide array of other ecologically responsible products from detergents to clothing to wooden toys, so important in this day and age of dangerous lead paint on imported goods. Be Bye Baby also offers free and low-cost classes covering topics such as breast-feeding, cloth diapering, infant CPR and more. These classes go a long way toward educating new and soon-to-be parents about options they might not have known otherwise.

Posted By:  Jill Jaracz
Photo:  Jill Jaracz

Cody's Public House
Back in the day most residential areas in Chicago were dotted with small neighborhood bars that were a respite for blue-collar workers from a long day in the factory and their hot, crowded apartment buildings. Unfortunately, these taverns are becoming a dying breed due to gentrifying yuppies who worry that these places ruin the neighborhood. If you stumble upon Cody’s though, you’ll see that the corner bar isn’t the bastion of sin that it’s made out to be. Cody’s is a low-key friendly joint that’s a great place to kick back and enjoy a beverage. The beer selection is great, with everything from cheap Old Style to beers even the pickiest brew snob would enjoy. Throw in a pool table, a couple of self-scoring dart boards, and a bocce court in the backyard beer garden, and you’ve got everything you need to enjoy a night with your neighbors.

Posted By:  Josannah Birman
Photo:  Josannah Birman

Kaze Sushi
Sushi is a drug. You’re reluctant at first, but a friend convinces you to try it. After tasting the raw goods, it’s difficult to stop. Suddenly your bank account is feeling the pain as you indulge night after night. One day, you realize this new addiction lacks two things; comfort and dessert. Then you discover Kaze, a one-stop sushi shop that combines Japanese tradition and Western goodness with euphoric results. Boasting asparagus and avocado nestled among a variety of fresh fish, the rainbow roll is the only way to begin the meal. The salmon entrée is served with mashed potatoes and leaves customers craving a second hit. Fly high in the minimalist atmosphere, where even the faux-rock flooring in the bathroom is Zen-like. After devouring a maki meets mama’s kitchen meal, select a treat from the extensive dessert menu. Braised pear in a sake reduction with green tea ice cream, almonds, deep-fried bananas, and chocolate syrup evokes a single question: Why would anyone waste their money on cocaine?

Posted By:  Rick Karlin
Photo:  Rick Karlin

This casual fine dining spot, featuring Asian and Hawaiian influenced dishes, showcases beautifully prepared food amidst rich yet spare décor. The fare is original without straying into the bizarre and offers interesting interpretations of many classic dishes. If there is a complaint, it is a minor one in that the same spice often predominates too many dishes. For example, on the night we visited one of the evening’s specials featured a wonderfully prepared ono (similar to tuna) served with curried cauliflower and curried buckwheat groats. The soup that evening was also curry based. The fact that all of the dishes were absolutely delicious compensated for the repetitiveness, somewhat. Crispy artichoke fritters and lobster shiitake pot stickers are sure-fire winners. Braised boneless short ribs offer up a massive portion of spoon-tender meat atop rich and creamy white cheddar macaroni and cheese. Be certain to order a side of the decadent Parmesan and truffle dusted French fries.

Posted By:  Darwyn Jones
Photo:  Darwyn Jones

Dinkel's Bakery
Strudel. Say it with me… Strooooduuhhll. Mmmmm. Crispy. Flaky. Warm filling. Who doesn’t love strudel? And luckily, here in Chicago, we have one of the four bakeries in the Midwest noticed by Better Homes and Gardens for their what? That’s right: Strooooduuhhll. Mmmmm. Dinkel’s has been at the same address for eighty-five years and is currently run by a third-generation baker, Norm Dinkel. The goods–cakes, cookies, brownies, strooooduuhhlls are made according to old-fashioned European baking traditions, but Dinkel’s isn’t completely old-fashioned. When it comes to customer service, they take advantage of all modern conveniences. Already past closing time? Use the internet before midnight to place your next-day cake order. Hate to deal with parking? Dinkel’s offers free fifteen minute parking out front. Don’t want to get out at all? Order from their online catalog and have the bakery goodness delivered. Need someone to feed the stuff to you? Well, you’ve got problems… seriously. Hey, why didn’t anyone tell me I had Dinkel’s on my chin this whole time? Gee, help a buddy out why don’t you.

Posted By:  Keidra Chaney
Photo:  Keidra Chaney

I must admit, I am rather reluctant to write about Victory's Banner, because the weekend crowd for this quaint storefront restaurant is large enough as it is. The long wait is well worth it; Victory's Banner is one of the best brunch spots in the city. It also happens to be one of Chicago's very few 100% vegetarian restaurants. Notice I say "vegetarian" and not "vegan"or "healthy." The restaurant's french toast with peach butter, raspberry pancakes, and soy-sausage or the smoked gouda omelettes are decadent breakfast delicacies that are not recommended for the calorie-conscious (but highly recommended for the rest of us).

Posted By:  William Moy
Photo:  William Moy

Scooter's Frozen Custard
Once this building was the home for the Little Sisters of the Poor, an outfit that provided meals to people in need. Nowadays it is an ice cream parlor that serves frozen custard to people who need a delicious dessert. Scooter’s is purportedly the only place in the city where you can get authentic frozen custard. The sweet stuff is made from scratch on the premises every day, and the customers know when they have a good thing. Besides the usual chocolate and vanilla flavors along with some interesting daily specials (cinnamon, key lime), they also feature special flavors with mixed-in goodies as the “concrete of the month.” During this July the concrete is cherry pie. The atmosphere here is very friendly—a perfect place for parents to spoil their kids (and themselves). If you bring along a kid or even your pet dog, they can get a free sample as well.

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Restaurants (25)
Nightlife (18)
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