I forgot how much I love Wicker Park. Edgy and hipster (but slowly becoming more mainstream), and cluttered with restaurants from vegetarian cafes to bougie eateries, it is very easy to fall in love with this casual, fun neighborhood. Here you can find boutique clothing shops, second-hand bookstores, restaurants from a wide range of cuisines, art galleries, live music, all in fairly close proximity.
When it comes to adorable coffee shops, Wicker Park has absolutely no shortage of them, whether you are looking for a quick cup to-go or to sit down and finish that English paper (hello). In fact, you probably have heard of or been to popular ones such as Ipsento Coffee, Wormhole Coffee and La Colombe. My roommates and I wanted to go to Volumes Book Cafe to study, but it was packed by the time we got there on a Sunday afternoon. We wandered off a couple blocks, and came across Bru Chicago.
A spacious cafe with an array of beverage choices, Bru is a also great study + chill spot. On their chalkboard menu, you can find the usual cafe staples – coffee beverages, fresh smoothies, baked goods, sandwiches. The background music is light, not overbearingly loud like in some other cafes. With free wi-fi and outlets near each sitting area, this is a place to bring a book or laptop to be (idealistically) productive 😉
We spent an hour at Bru, where I did not finish my essay, before venturing off to dinner. We had Mott St. in mind because we wanted to try their burgers. Before that, we stopped by Myopic Bookstore, which is right next door to Bru. It is one of the town’s most favorited used bookstores, and everything you would imagine a second-hand bookstore to be – small, cozy, packed with rows and columns of rustic, used books and magazines, with a staircase that twists up to a second floor that holds even more books. It felt like I had stepped back in time as I wandered further into the bookstore. Most of the books are half-priced from their original prices, which ends up to be around $7.50. I fell in love with this place in a heartbeat.
Plot twist of the day – it turned out that Mott St. is CLOSED on Sundays after 3pm (!!!). I think my heart broken a little. I was so ready to sink my teeth into a monstrous, juicy burger. But nope, Mott St. closes after brunch time. So we turned to another burger place nearby – Umami Burger.
We know that Umami Burger is a chain, but we have heard some good stuff about it. Although the burgers are a little overpriced, they are definitely quality burgers. The patties are juicy and very fresh, cooked medium rare. I love that the edges are so slightly burned and crispy. Unlike the classic, melted cheese on a burger, the cheese here is fried to almost like a cheese brittle, which adds a light crunch to the burger.
My favorite part of the meal is the ketchup. I know that is an odd thing to highlight, but hands down, Umami Burger has the BEST KETCHUP EVER. They make it fresh in the house, and there is some garlicky flavor in the condiment that gives it a special ~umami~ flavor. I even got a sauce cup with their ketchup to-go because it is just so freaking delicious.
My all-time favorite ice cream store in Chicago, Jeni’s Ice Cream, is right across from Umami Burger. We stopped by for dessert. I’ve been there several times before and have never seen a line, but this time there was a pretty long one, which did not deter me at all. I love their creative flavors such as Brambleberry Crisp, Salted Peanut Butter with Chocolate Flecks and Wildberry Lavender. I was a happy, happy kid when I got my cup of ice cream. ❤
Here are some other great eating spots to hit up in Wicker Park and Bucktown:
- Stan’s Donut
- The Bongo Room (great brunch spot)
- Furious Spoon (fusion ramen)
- Big Star Taco
- Mindy’s Hot Chocolate
- Big & Little’s (fast seafood)
- En Hakkore (Korean fusion)
- Sultan’s Market (Mediterranean)
- Small Cheval (Au Cheval’s smaller counterpart)
- Antique Taco