Ask a random person for the best restaurant neighborhood in all of Chicago and you might get maced. But if you happened to pick a friendly and well-informed gourmand, you might instead hear "Logan Square," which would be a perfectly defensible response and one FAR preferable to the mace. What makes Logan special? These spots, from cutting-edge Asian cuisine to iconic sweet shops, are a fine place to start.
Best meal for a group: Fat Rice
2957 W Diversey Ave
The eponymous Fat Rice dish is a massive pile of jasmine rice laced with a bevy of Portuguese and Southeast Asian fixings -- sofrito, Chinese sausage, salted duck, Portuguese chicken thighs, char siu pork, linguiça sausage, prawns, clams, pickles, and tea eggs -- and is a great meal for six, but an even better meal for four. And although the food appears to be something a guy in LA calls "fusion," it's actually an authentic mingling of flavors leftover from Portuguese colonialism in Southeast Asia, particularly Macau.
Best Japanese: Yusho
2853 N Kedzie Ave
Chef-cum-owner Matthias Merges spent years under Charlie Trotter before developing his own burgeoning empire of restaurants that began with izakaya-inspired Yusho. The $20 Sunday-night ramen prix fixe is a hot ticket, and the periodic ramen battles between noted Chicago chefs are even hotter. Because they're shirtless! Or, something.
Best burger: Owen & Engine
2700 N Western Ave
The short rib and brisket-mottled Slagel Family Farm beef burger needs nothing more than the caramelized onions and house-made potato bun it comes with, and it's perpetually on our best burger roundups. But that doesn’t mean you should stop there -- other menu items, like the step-up fish and chips, are equally excellent.
Best late-night: Red Hot Ranch
2072 N Western Ave
Come by late at night for steamed dogs simply dressed in mustard, relish, and onion (peppers by request), and a more-than-generous mound of fresh-cut fries that hold their own against just about any in the city. They’re textbook “Depression Dogs,” but they won't make you join the WPA a few years down the road.
Breakfast & brunch: Lula Cafe
2537 N Kedzie Blvd
With this place a forerunner in the farm-to-table movement when it actually meant something -- as well as a venerable city brunch staple -- we have nothing negative to say about it, except regarding the severe distress caused by the recent couple-month closure for renovations. It's back though; worry not. And the beet bruschetta with whipped goat cheese is a good move.
Best dessert: Bang Bang Pie & Biscuits
2051 N California Ave
Classics like lemon cream and maple-bourbon-pecan pies are pretty stupendous, but we’d be remiss not to also mention the crazy-buttery savory biscuits. The interior is so rustic and adorable you’ll feel like you’re sitting in a dollhouse, except the food wasn't prepared on a plastic stove by a three-year-old.
Best fusion: Belly Shack
1912 N Western Ave
A husband and wife from Korea and Puerto Rico, respectively, Chef Bill Kim and his wife Yvonne blend cultural flavors to create affordable eats like hominy hot-and-sour soup, plus pickled papaya and egg noodle-topped hot dogs that hit a perfect intersection of Asian and Latin cuisine.
Best pizza: Reno
2607 N Milwaukee Ave
Each funky, wood-fired pizza -- like the roasted pear, Brussels sprouts, and bacon pie -- is made in the same oven as the unreal morning bagels.
Best place to not have to leave: Longman & Eagle
2657 N Kedzie Ave
Eat and drink at the first-floor, whiskey-fueled, wood-laden nose-to-tail temple, then head upstairs to the accompanying inn's six furnished bedrooms. Small plates of tête de cochon or duck-in-a-jar might precede your dinner of wild-boar Sloppy Joe, but the menu is based on ingredient availability, so you’ll just have to take a chance.
Best Cuban: 90 Miles Cuban Cafe
2540 W Armitage Ave
The empanadas, ropa vieja, and Cubano sandwiches are all fantastic, the booze is bring-your-own, and one time, Guy Fieri got a pork-roasting lesson when he visited. I'd like to give Guy Fieri a pork-roasting lesson, if you know what I mean. (I mean I make a terrific fresh-herb tenderloin rub with a brown-sugar glaze.)
Best nostalgia: Margie's Candies
1960 N Western Ave
Serving up three-scoop banana splits -- with whipped cream, nuts, and a cherry on top -- for more than 90 years, this vintage candy and ice cream shop allegedly played host to a Beatles ice cream sundae party in 1965, when the band charmingly shared a few six-scoop sundaes with five lady fans, if you know what I mean. (I mean they all ate ice cream together.)
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1. Fat Rice2957 W Diversey Ave, Chicago
2. Yusho2853 N Kedzie Ave, Chicago
3. Owen & Engine2700 N Western Ave, Chicago
4. Red Hot Ranch2072 N Western Ave, Chicago
5. Lula Café2537 N Kedzie Blvd, Chicago
6. Bang Bang Pie Shop2051 N California Ave, Chicago
7. Belly Shack1912 N Western Ave, Chicago
8. Reno2607 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago
9. Longman & Eagle2657 N Kedzie Ave, Chicago
10. 90 Miles Cuban Cafe2540 W Armitage Ave, Chicago
11. Margie's Candies1960 N Western Ave, Chicago
This perpetual hot spot in Logan Square specializes in the cuisine of Macau, which translates to a mix of European and Asian comfort foods. The signature dish is arroz gordo, aka fat rice, a paella-meets-bibimbap bowl of layered rice packed rich with clams, prawns, sausage, chicken, eggs, olives, and chilis. Everything about Fat Rice is conducive to sharing, from the appetizers and entrees to the communal tables.
Because apparently not everything in Japan gets lost in translation, former Charlie Trotter's exec chef Matthias Merges drew on the energy and community he discovered in the country's street food scene when conceiving Yusho. His architect wife channeled his vision into an eclectic space with a bar made from century-old wood beams and a skylit back room projecting anime. Crunch on salmon and chicken skins while you sip a boozy soda or one of the formidable offerings of Japanese and domestic beers. Then share a bowl of mentaiko carbonara, a seaside leaning take on the Italian pasta with spicy cod roe and bucatini from sister restaurant A10.
The term "gastropub" is thrown around loosely in the business of restaurant writing, but Owen & Engine truly fits the bill. The upscale British pub in Logan Square has a Bib Gourmand from the Michelin guide, so it might be better than many that are actually in England. The menu includes snacks and small plates like Scotch eggs and beef carpaccio, plus a selection of entrées that includes one of the best burgers in town. The extensive draft list is constantly changing but features IPAs, Belgian ale, stout, and more.
Chicagoans love their dogs hot and Red Hot Ranch's blinking red arrow sign directs them to this cash-only standby for "Depression Dogs:" Vienna beef dogs with mustard, onion, relish, sport peppers with a fist full of french fries in the bun. The natural-cased weiners pop when you bite them and the fries are crisp. Thin-pattied double cheeseburgers satisfy, but when in the dog house, get the dog.
This Logan Square restaurant has been embracing the farm-to-table philosophy long before the term was so ubiquitous. Open since 1999, Lula Café is a weekend brunch destination with lines running out the door for unreal breakfast sandwiches and veggie-centric mains. The menu is always changing given ingredients' availability, but you'll find it hard to be disappointed by whatever's in store. The garden patio area is the perfect spot for sipping morning cocktails and people watching on Sundays.
Logan Square's Bang Bang Pie Shop is a reminder of a simpler time, when everyone's favorite neighbor Ethel would let her pies cool on the windowsill. The pies at this bright and buzzy corner bake shop are handmade daily using the freshest seasonal ingredients, and their comforting scent alone will have you floating through the entrance. There are classics like key lime and apple, plus unique recipes like butterscotch meringue and maple bourbon pecan. You won't want to miss the small-batch sour cream biscuits either, which are served with ginger-sage sausage, gravy, a poached egg, and a side of seasonal jam.
Opened by the Urban Belly folks, Belly Shack is Chicago's best (and possibly only) Korean-Puerto Rican restaurant, a cozy spot nestled underneath the Blue Line in Logan Square. Designed with industrial-feeling black and white graffiti'd murals adorning gray walls and a menu of options like lemongrass chicken sammies and hot & sour soup, it's no wonder Belly Shack has become a cult favorite amongst even the most chi-chi Logan Square foodies.
Local, organic ingredients go into making Reno's mostly handmade American cuisine, including its delectably stacked wood-fired pizzas. Decked with choice cocktails and an extensive list of fairly priced wine, this resto knocks it out of the park.
Longman & Eagle, the Michelin-starred gastropub in Logan Square, has an exclusive whiskey selection (clocking in at over 400 labels), a craft cocktail menu, and an extensive beer list all fit for the most pretentious of drinkers, in the least pretentious of atmospheres. Longman has a flavor-forward, honest approach to eating and drinking, and because they don't accept reservations, there is always, and will always be, a wait -- brunch, happy hour, and dinner alike. (And it is always, and will always be worth it.) And while whiskey may be king, their regional American fare has just as much to offer (hence the star). The menu changes often, but expect anything from beef tallow beignets and veal brains to wild boar sloppy joes, chicken and waffles, and a burger that, if you know what's good for you, you will order. (And a whiskey to wash it down.)
There're plenty of reasons to love this easygoing Cuban cafe (with a sibling in Roscoe Village). You'll find tasty Cubano sandwiches and ropa vieja, hearty chicken and skirt steak, and really good seafood soups here. It's also BYO, and if you bring your own rum, you can get a pitcher of mojitos.
To put it in blunt terms, you simply haven't lived the true Chicago life until you've been to the legendary Margie's Candies. Serving Bucktown since 1921, this generations-old candy shop offers every confection imaginable, all made by hand every day. The ice cream, scooped into homemade waffle cones and delicately dipped in a rich chocolate sauce, is so decadent that both The Rolling Stones and The Beatles have ventured here after shows to satisfy their (brown) sugar cravings.