"Uptown" Neighborhoods-other Tip by runswithscissors

Neighborhoods-other, Chicago: 50 reviews and 78 photos

Boundaries are Foster to the north and Irving Park Rd to the south, the lake to the east, and Ravenswood to the west. It's an interesting little pocket of Chicago and doesn't quite get as much of the spotlight as it could or should. Ethnically, the neighborhood is much more diverse than places such as Wrigleyville, Lincoln Park, Lakeview, and there's a good mix of black, white, Hispanic/Latino, and Asian residents.
Uptown has a rich history. You can read about that elsewhere, but if you're here, at least check out some of the ornate building facades that hearken back to a time long past. Some specific areas of interest in Uptown include the Lawrence/Broadway area (red line to Lawrence). There are three historic theatre buildings in about a 4 block zone: the Aragon, the Riviera, and the (defunct) Uptown. The Aragon and Riviera are popular venues for concerts and other events and have been known to attract some big name acts. There is also a fairly nice bar scene in that area. The Green Mill is the most popular jazz venue in Chicago. Also check out the Annoyance Theatre and Bar for drinks and off-the-wall theatrics. There's a cute indie book/record store called Shake Rattle and Read on Broadway.
If you go a little further north up Broadway to Argyle you find what I call (for lack of a better name) Mini Chinatown. It's a largely Asian neighborhood packed with shops, restaurants, and grocery stores.
Restaurant-wise Uptown is chock full of restaurants serving all kinds of (real!) ethnic cuisine. You can find a good handful of Thai, Vietnamese, and Chinese restaurants (I recommend Thai Pastry) and there are at least four restaurants in the neighborhood specializing in African fare. There are two sushi restaurants (that I know of): Dib and the trendier Agave. Alma Pita is a Meditteranean restaurant on Wilson just west of Broadway, and going a little further west you'll find The Cupcake Gallery, a store that specializes in... cupcakes, of course. If you're looking for a fantastic (albeit, a little pricy) meal, I recommend Magnolia Cafe. On Sheridan, you can find Tweet and Cafe Too- nice little cafes. There are plenty more places to eat in the Uptown area, but I can't begin to list them all.
Other places of note in Uptown include Z Wallis Army Surplus (never been, but hear good things), Uptown Bikes (supposedly a fantastic bicycle shop), Smoke Dreams (a head shop), and Tattoo Factory for anyone interested in body adornment.
One caveat: Uptown is can be somewhat of a seedy area- there is some gang activity, panhandlers, and some homeless and other sketchy characters wandering around due to Uptown's large concentration of social services. The neighborhood is not for the easily intimidated, but as a young single woman who probably lives at the worst corner of the neighborhood, nothing bad has happened to me yet (knock on wood). My best advice is know where you are going before you get there, carry a cellphone, don't give away your change, and avoid walking past groups of loitering gangbangers. Avoid the Wilson/Broadway and Wilson/Sheridan areas unless you're brave or jaded. If someone makes you nervous, cross the street or go into a business. I know this sounds pretty nerve-wracking, but there is a large police presence in the neighborhood and a lot of people are usually out and about.
But don't be scared away from Uptown. If everyone is scared to come here, the neighborhood will never improve- support the unique establishments here in this diverse and historic pocket of Chicago.

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  • Written Sep 27, 2010
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