Chicago Neighborhoods: Andersonville

Andersonville is characterized by an incredible diversity of cultures and lifestyles, a neighborhood whose predominantly locally-owned boutiques are found amidst quaint brunch spots, Middle Eastern bakeries, hip bars and gastro-pubs, and a strong Scandinavian presence from the neighborhood’s Swedish founders. Andersonville is also home to a vibrant gay and lesbian community, catered to by the neighborhood’s many LGBT-friendly businesses, restaurants and bars.

Andersonville, a historically Swedish neighborhood becomes one of Chicago’s most diverse communities.

This is one of Chicago’s quintessential mosaic-type neighborhoods, neighborhoods that in some ways best exemplify what the city offers visitors away from Buckingham Fountain and Water Tower Place.

Here, in a neighborhood whose residents no longer have a dominant ethnic identity (the Swedes, who converted farms to city blocks, began scattering as early as the 1950s), Chicagoans from a variety of cultures and lifestyles have created an attitude that truly celebrates diversity.

Among the Clark Street restaurants: the Icosium Cafe (“Un Cafe Algerois”; great crepes) and Reza’s (Persian; try the ghemieh bodemjan). In winter, sure, you can find a glass of glogg, a flaming refreshment enjoyed enthusiastically in Sweden — at Andie’s, which specializes in Grecian lamb and Lebanese salads.

Historically, however, back around 1910, when Chicago was the world’s second largest Swedish city (Stockholm stubbornly refusing to cede leadership), the center of all that was Swedish in this town was here, in what is now called Andersonville. And its business district – Clark Street between Foster and Bryn Mawr Avenues – was full of Johannsens and Sandburgs and Nilssons.

(The namesake Anderson, whose name was on an early school and eventually attached to the neighborhood, might actually have been Norwegian. Undeniably Norwegian was explorer Roald Amundsen, whose name is on a neighborhood high school, home of the neighborhood Vikings. But let us not quibble.)

In the new millennium, Andersonville, while still flying the motherland’s flag here and there, is classic Chicago.

Modest of style and price, its restaurants reflect that ethnic mix: Turkish, Japanese, Italian, pub-style, Mexican, the aforementioned Persian and Algerian, the inevitable tastes of Sweden (more about that later). Small one-of-a-kind shops (City Olive for all things “olive,” Women & Children First book shop, bon bon for chocolates, many others) offer what the chains can’t.

Three of the neighborhood’s more popular bars couldn’t differ more: Hopleaf is pure European and features Belgium’s finest brews, plus food including perfect mussels and frites. Up the street, Simon’s – the founding Simon was Swedish, of course – began as a basement speakeasy during prohibition (upstairs was a grocery), went legit in 1934 and, aside from its obligatory glogg, is quintessentially American down to its Northwoods murals. A bar called Atmosphere, just north, is a favorite gay dance club.

The Swedes? A few representatives of that earlier era remain.

Erickson’s Delicatessen has been supplying Swedish cheeses, herring and meatballs to pilgrims’ smorgasbords since 1925. “It’s one the last in the neighborhood,” says Ann Nilsson, whose mother, Ann Mari Nilsson, owns the place. Lines at Christmastime – some locals, some from distant states – are out the door.

Though the city’s one true Swedish restaurant – Tre Kronor – is two miles west in the North Park neighborhood (near Swedish Covenant Hospital and North Park University, also with Swedish roots), two Andersonville restaurants feature some Swedishness: Svea, essentially a breakfast-lunch diner, and Ann Sather, a full-service restaurant (one of a small chain) that long ago replaced the still-missed Villa Sweden, feature a few Swedish items (lingonberries!) to match the decor. The Swedish Bakery can supply a toska torte – or a cannoli.

And during key festivals – notably the mid-summer Midsommarfest – appropriate food and appropriate costumes can be seen.

An essential stop, year round: the Swedish American Museum, which affectionately chronicles the immigrant experience – universal but here, specifically, from Sweden – and the adjustment to a new world, specifically Chicago.

Finally, not a museum but a living experience: Ebenezer Lutheran Church, founded by those Swedish immigrants in 1892 when much of the area was pickle farms. The present sanctuary was completed in 1912, is still very active and “as long as someone’s around” is open most days for a peek inside. Do it – and don’t miss the model immigrant ship at the doorway near the Swedish-style altar.

“We still have the Swedish heritage here,” says the church’s Swedish American office clerk Nathan Tolzmann, with pride.

And on Christmas morning: services in Swedish. All – even Norwegians, and especially you – are welcome. Inclusion is what Andersonville is all about.



Chicago Filmmakers

  • Theater & Dance

Fostering the creation, appreciation and understanding of film and media, this 35-year-old media arts organization hosts workshops, video exhibits, and Reeling, the Chicago Lesbian and Gay International Film Festival. Some free attractions, contact site for more details.

5243 N. Clark St. | 773.293.1447

Edgewater Historical Society and Museum

  • Cultural Centers,
  • Museums & Zoos

The Edgewater Historical Society is a neighborhood museum and society that collects and preserve the memories and histories of the residents of Edgewater. The museum is used for exhibits of local history, including the famous Edgewater Beach Hotel. Also shown is information about the three historic districts of Edgewater: Lakewood Balmoral, Bryn Mawr, and Andersonville.

Free Admission | 5358 N. Ashland Ave. | 773.506.4849

Las Manos Gallery

  • Art & Architecture

Showcasing works by artists of all stages of career development, Las Manos offers “River North quality without the attitude.”

Free Admission | 5220 N. Clark St. | 773.728.8910

Swedish American Museum

  • Museums & Zoos

The Swedish American Museum preserves and presents Swedish American heritage through special exhibits, Swedish language and genealogy classes, crafts, folk dancing, concerts, lectures, films, and the interactive Brunk Children’s Museum of Immigration.

5211 North Clark Street | 773.728.8111, ext. 22

The Neo-Futurists

  • Theater & Dance

Along with a number of critically acclaimed prime-time shows, the Neo-Futurists also produce the long-running and celebrated Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind, a show of thirty plays in sixty minutes.

5153 N. Ashland Ave., 2nd floor | 773.275.5255

The Yannell House

  • Art & Architecture

The Yannell House is an architecturally beautiful zero net energy home. Opened in 2008, it is the greenest house in America.

Free Admission | 4895 N. Ravenswood Ave. | 312.408.1661


Andersonville Breakfast Spots

  • Breakfast & Brunch

Start your day with breakfast at one of Andersonville’s many morning stops, such as The Coffee Studio (5628 N. Clark St), Kopi Café (5317 N. Clark), or Taste of Heaven (5401 N. Clark).

5400 N. Clark

Andersonville Global Dining

  • Dining

Savor internationally-inspired flavors at favorites such as Andie’s (5253 N. Clark St.), Icosium Cafe (5200 N. Clark St.), Jin Ju (5203 N. Clark St.), Reza’s (5255 N. Clark St.) or Turkish Cuisine (5605 N. Clark St.).

5253 N. Clark St

Andersonville Nightlife

  • Various

Experience Andersonville’s roots at Simon’s (5210 N. Clark St.), sample Belgium’s finest brews at Hopleaf (5148 N. Clark St.), taste fine wines at In Fine Spirits (5420 N. Clark St.), and dance the night away at Atmosphere (5355 N. Clark St.).

5210 N. Clark St.

Ann Sather

  • Breakfast & Brunch

Famous for their cinnamon rolls and Swedish breakfast favorites.

5207 N. Clark St. | 773.271.6677


  • Italian

Home-style Italian cooking skillfully prepared with fresh ingredients. Garden dining in season.

5316 N. Clark St. | 773.506.9990

Big Jones

  • Southern

Big Jones serves up Coastal Southern American Cuisine focusing on fresh, locally grown and sustainable ingredients.

5347 N. Clark St. | 773.275.5725

City Olive

  • Food Retail: Specialty Food

For everything olive, from soaps to fine oils, visit this small store featuring gourmet and artisan products derived from olives.

5408 N. Clark St. | 773.878.5408

Erickson’s Delicatessen

  • Delis

Pick from an extensive selection of Scandinavian delicacies at Erickson’s, a popular small deli counter that ships throughout the U.S.

5250 N. Clark St. | 773.561.5634

Great Lake

  • Pizza

Great Lake is a new, unique pizza experience featuring a rotating menu and delicious soups, salads and breads. The tiny storefront shop uses local ingredients, reduces and recycles their waste, and keeps hours shorter than their demand.

1477 W. Balmoral Ave. | 773.334.9270

Hamburger Mary’s/Mary’s Attic/Mary’s Rec Room

  • American (New)

A play on the GLBT crowd’s sensibilities (the venue’s most frequent patrons), this kitschy eatery, brewery and theater is a popular attraction.

5400 N. Clark St. | 773.784.6969

Middle East Bakery & Grocery

  • Food Retail: Specialty Food

Since 1981, this well-located family-owned Middle Eastern grocery and bakery has been a neighborhood mainstay, selling breads, dips, savory pies, sweets, and a global selection of groceries.

1512 W. Foster St. | 773-561-2224

More Dining

  • Various

For more dining options, visit the Andersonville Chamber of Commerce.

5356 N. Clark St.


  • Scandinavian

Svea is an authentic Swedish diner. Go for the nice selection of breakfast items, cozy surroundings, and antiques and d�cor reflecting Andersonville’s Swedish heritage.

5236 N. Clark St. | 773.275.7738

m henry

  • American (New)

This neighborhood hotspot for brunch features globally inspired, new American-style cooking.

5707 N. Clark St. | 773.561.1600


Andersonville Galleria

  • Shopping Centers

A go-to spot for handmade jewelry, clothing and other wares, the Galleria is a local artist and designer showcase featuring dozens of independent retailers and small businesses.

5247 N. Clark St. | 773.878.8570

Andersonville Home Decor Shopping

  • Home Decor

Discover unique furniture and vintage finds at inspired retailers like Room Room Service (5438 N. Clark St.), Roost (5634 N. Clark St.), Urbanest (5228 N. Clark St.), and The The White Attic (5225 N. Clark St.).

5438 N. Clark St.


  • Antiques,
  • Framing,
  • Gifts and Souvenirs

An offshoot of their original Lakeview location, Foursided in Andersonville offers custom framing, unique art and gifts, and antiques in a store that is a self-professed ‘ultimate curiosities emporium’.

5061 N Clark St. | 1.866.446.8690

Green Genes

  • Baby Gear & Furniture

Here’s an eco-friendly boutique specializing in products for children and adults, and taking in organic and natural products.

5111 N. Clark St. | 773.944.9250

Paper Trail

  • Shopping

Paper enthusiasts and gift shoppers will appreciate these fine paper products, from stationery to wrapping paper to notebooks.

5309 N. Clark St. | 773.275.2191


  • Antiques,
  • Furniture Stores,
  • Home & Garden,
  • Home Decor

This urban antique shop has been an Andersonville fixture for years. Owner Larry Vodak’s penchant for juxtaposing timeless utility with second-hand comfort is evident in the simple and stylish pieces found throughout the store.

5221 N. Clark St. | 773.275.5700

Toys et Cetera

  • Toy Store

Open the doors and enter a world of hands-on creative play.

5311 N. Clark St. | 773.769.5311

Women & Children First

  • Bookstores

With a mission to support the work of women authors, this popular Andersonville bookstore has over 30,000 books by and about women, as well as a large selection of children’s books.

5233 N. Clark St. | 773.769.9299


Out and Proud: LGBT Chicago

  • Bus,
  • Walking

Chicago is home to one of the most vibrant gay and lesbian communities in the country. Explore the heart of the city’s LGBT community, Boystown, and its lively offshoot, Andersonville, with Chicago Neighborhood Tours, and discover other LGBT-oriented neighborhood attractions.

77 E. Randolph St. | 312.742.1190 (TTY: 312.744.2947)


Andersonville Farmers Market

  • Culinary Events,
  • Farmers Markets

The highlight of the market will be an array of local, sustainably grown produce. The market will also feature honey, cheese, wine, fiber, and more from local vendors.

Free Admission | N Clark St & W Berwyn Ave | 773.728.2995

Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind

  • Theater

The Neo-Futurists’ signature show is an ever-changing attempt to perform 30 plays in 60 minutes.

5153 N. Ashland Ave., 2nd Floor | 773.878.4557

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