Recent gentrification has transformed Bucktown from a former working-class residential neighborhood into a hip, urban area full of chic boutiques, galleries and restaurants. Carefully restored workers cottages and residences are now home to artists and young professionals attracted this vibrant area in close proximity to the Loop and easy access via the CTA Blue Line. Bucktown’s name may have originated from the large numbers of goats (bucks) raised by the Polish immigrants that settled here in the 19th century.
The Bucktown area is relatively small, an eastern wedge of the Logan Square neighborhood defined in part by the Chicago River and interrupted down its length by the Kennedy Expressway (Interstate Highway 90-94).
As in nearby DePaul-Sheffield and Lincoln Park, nearly everything old in Bucktown has been made new again through thoughtful restoration, augmented by fresh residential construction kept carefully in scale.
Its commercial heart, Damen Avenue, maintains the same values. Its shops and restaurants rarely exceed one storefront in width; an exception — Coast Sushi Bar — combines three storefronts, but its minimalist signage and exterior decor do nothing to overwhelm its neighbors. No oppressive neon anywhere.
In fact, the whole neighborhood kind of sneaks up on you, especially when approached on Damen from its northern entry point, the award-winning Damen Avenue Arch Bridge (2000).
First greeting comes from the Vienna Beef factory — home of what the company calls Chicago’s Hot Dog®. Yes, if you really want to know what goes into a hot dog, there are tours on Wednesday mornings; if you don’t, there’s still an onsite cafe selling sandwiches (hot dogs, corned beef, salami and other beefy things) and a factory store.
Continuing south on Damen, visitors drive beneath the expressway overpass and emerge unexpectedly into a world of chic boutiques, galleries, interior designers, flower shops and (mostly) small but (mostly) sophisticated eating places.
In fact, Le Bouchon may be the quintessential Bucktown restaurant. Launched in 1993, it’s very small, it’s not terribly expensive for what it is (French) and there’s a good chance its rognons de veau à la moutarde would not have done well in this formerly working-class neighborhood 30 years ago.
Just south, much praised Chef Takashi Yagihashi fuses Mediterranean and Asian elements at Takashi. A little farther south, Duchamp merges the familiar and flavorful skirt steak with less-familiar “parmesan-smoked bacon quiche & roasted shallot sauce.”
Back up north on Damen just this side of that expressway overpass is The Bristol. (Roasted bone marrow anyone? Goat sausage?)
It’s not all tight seating here. There’s the aforementioned, relatively sprawling Coast. Even more emphatically bucking the smaller-is-sweeter trend, the Perez family — which has been cooking Peruvian goodies elsewhere in the neighborhood for 30 years — went big a couple of years ago, pouring $2.4 million into the dazzling, bi-level Rios d’Sudamerica. It’s on Armitage just west of Damen and the place to go for cau cau de conchas.
And it’s not all fancy or esoteric grub: There’s George’s Hot Dogs, here more than 60 years, with all the Chicago sandwich essentials and more; and Nick’s Pit Stop, the ultimate in simplicity, with char-broiled chickens (whole, half, quarter, all good) and not much else.
Nor is it all about Damen Avenue. Cafe Matou does nice French on Milwaukee Avenue. Cafe Laguardia (a popular spot for Cuban goodies) is a minor stretch of the legs west of Damen on Armitage.
And it’s not all restaurants and shops. Do take the time to appreciate the neighborhood’s residential streets. Walk or drive along Charleston Street or Dickens Avenue or any of the others and appreciate the work that’s been done converting workers cottages and larger brick homes from marginally acceptable to near-showplace status. Appreciate, too, how well buildings of different ages and styles work together aesthetically.
In fact — at least in terms of aesthetic integrity — it can be difficult to tell where the boutiques and cool restaurants end and the rest of the neighborhood, where people actually live, begins.
For more information about Bucktown, please contact the Wicker Park- Bucktown Chamber of Commerce at 773.235.6385.
- Art & Architecture
This sustainable-minded art gallery exhibits fine art, functional art, furniture, and design objects made with eco-friendly methods and materials. Accessibility limitations. Please contact site for more information.
Free Admission | 1924 N. Damen Ave. | 773.698.6340
Adventure Stage Chicago
- Theater & Dance
Adventure Stage Chicago creates dynamic theatre for young audiences that activates the imagination, inspires dialogue and celebrates community.
1012 N. Noble | 773.342.4141
Chicago Tribute Markers of Distinction
- Other Attractions
Chicago Tribute Markers of Distinction commemorate notable Chicagoans by marking the places where they lived or worked. Since the program started in 1997, eighty markers have been placed across the city. This number will be increased to 100 markers placed by the end of 2009.
Free Admission | 78 E. Washington St. | 312.744.6630
- Art & Architecture
Fire Cat is the studio of Chicago artist Tony Fitzpatrick. The studio is open to the public and displays Tony’s work as well as some of his friends work.
Free Admission | 2124 N. Damen Ave. | 773.342.5381
Gorilla Tango Theater
- Theater & Dance
Gorilla Tango Theater is a live theatrical venue that shows a wide range of performances every night of the week. Beer and wine are available for purchase to drink during the shows. Accessibility limitations. Please contact site for more information.
1919 N. Milwaukee Ave. | 773.598.4549
- Parks & Gardens
Originally designated a park in 1854, the field house at Holstein Park was added in 1912 by designer William Carbys Zimmermann. Today the park includes baseball fields, basketball courts, a spray pool, swimming pool, playground and gym.
Free Admission | 2200 N. Oakley Ave. | 312.742.7554
- Art & Architecture
Featuring paintings, illustrations, and designer toys, this storefront is the gallery of artist collective OhNo!Doom. Additionally, the collective showcases artists and their work from all over the world.
Free Admission | 1800 N. Milwaukee Ave. | 773.698.8348
St. Hedwig Catholic Church
- Religious locations
Organized in 1888, this church was the fourth Polish parish in Chicago to be staffed by Resurrectionist Fathers. St. Hedwig Catholic Church houses a Statue of Our Lady of Manaoag, and for 17 years has been the home parish of the Devotees of Our Lady of Manaoag.
Free Admission | 2226 N. Hoyne Ave. | 773.486.1660
St. Mary of the Angels Church
- Religious locations
Completed in 1920, St. Mary of the Angels was modeled after St. Peter’s in the Vatican City. The Catholic church features a painting of the Virgin Mary and Jesus that was smuggled out of Poland during the communist period. Accessibility limitations. Please contact site for more information.
Free Admission | 1850 N. Hermitage Ave. | 773.278.2644
- Theater & Dance
The Hideout is a small live music club that hosts everything from music and theater performances to book-signings, seminars, art shows, and holiday festivals. It also hosts the venerable Hideout Block Party every September.
1354 W. Wabansia St. | 773.227.4433
Trap Door Theater
- Theater & Dance
Specializing in experimental and challenging performances, this intimate theater has served Chicago since 1994.
1655 W. Cortland St. | 773.384.0494
- Asian Fusion
Not your typical soup, salad and sandwich spot, Belly Shack fuses Asian and Latin cuisines to create dishes like the Boricua sandwich (crispy plantains, Chinese black beans, marinated tofu and organic brown rice). For dessert they offer five unique soft serve ice cream flavors, such as Bacon Chocolate Chip and Vietnamese Cinnamon Caramel.
1912 N. Western Ave. | 773.252.1414
Grab a cup of Metropolis coffee or any of the numerous pastries and sandwiches at this small café, and relax on the over stuffed chairs in the lounge area while you watch the news on TV, play a board game, or surf the internet with their free wi-fi.
2158 N. Damen Ave. | 773.278.4200
Bucktown Soup Café
A soup lovers dream, this café offers a rotating selection of 90 soups, including many vegan and vegetarian options. Enough Said!
1840 N. Damen Ave. | 773.904.8364
Café Bolero serves Cuban food with a fine-dining atmosphere, including candle-light dining in the back room. Check their website for a schedule of live music performances. Reservations are required for Fridays and Saturdays.
2252 N. Western Ave. | 773.227.9000
Featured on Check Please! and Rachael Ray, this Cuban restaurant, with a second location in Dunning, offers a friendly atmosphere and most importantly, delicious food, including the house specialty Paella Valencia.
2111 W. Armitage Ave. | 773.862.5996
Coast Sushi Bar
- Sushi Bars
Receiving awards such as Chicago Magazine’s “Best of Chicago” and Zagat’s “award for excellence,” Coast Sushi Bar is a relaxed and lively BYOB sushi bar.
2045 N. Damen Ave. | 773.235.5775
Cortland’s Garage Bar & Grill
Cortland’s Garage has great bar food including 8 kinds of gourmet hamburgers plus drink or food specials everyday.
1645 W. Cortland St. | 773.862.7877
- American (New)
Serving a modern blend of upscale American and French cuisines, Duchamp also has one of the best hamburgers in the city according to Chicago Magazine.
2118 N. Damen Ave. | 773.235.6434
Estrella Negra Restaurant
Artwork by local artists covers the walls and tables of Estrella Negra, a contemporary Mexican restaurant with an experimental menu that includes items like a Chalupa Hummus Wrap and Cinnamon Wheat Quesadillas.
2346 W. Fullerton Ave. | 773.227.5993
This bar offers free live music every night. Over the past 20 years Gallery Caberet has featured many well known artists, including the Smashing Pumpkins and Liz Phair. Accessibility limitations. Please contact sites for more information.
2020 N. Oakley Ave. | 773.489.5471
Global Dining in Bucktown
Visit Bucktown for cuisines from around the globe, including French at Café Matou (1846 N Milwaukee), Middle Eastern at Babylon (2023 N Damen), Peruvian at Rio’s D’Sudamerica (2010 W Armitage), and Cuban at Siboney (2165 N Western). Accessibility limitations at some sites. Please contact sites for more information.
1846 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Honey 1 BBQ
Using traditional Arkansas wood-smoked BBQ, your meal takes a little more time to cook at Honey 1 BBQ, but it’s worth the wait.
2241 N. Western Ave. | 773.227.5130
- Latin American
For the past 20 years Irazu has served up Costa Rican food in Chicago and has been featured on Check Please!
1865 N. Milwaukee Ave. | 773.252.5687
- American (Traditional)
For 11 years Jane’s has served gourmet international cuisine with a seasonally changing menu by Chef Tony Recillas. Accessibility limitations. Please contact site for more information.
1655 W. Cortland St. | 773.862.5263
Late Night Eats in Bucktown
Eat great late night tacos at Lazo’s (2009 N Western) or Arturo’s (2001 N Western).
2009 N. Western Ave.
One of the finest French restaurants around, Le Bouchon features traditional fine dining, and was featured on WTTW’s Check Please! Accessibility limitations. Please contact site for more information.
1958 N. Damen Ave. | 773.862.6600
- American (Traditional)
Lottie’s has 20 beers on tap, 18 beers in bottles, awesome nightly drink and food specials, trivia on Mondays and most intriguing, a fascinating history. Accessibility limitations. Please contact site for more information.
1925 W. Cortland St. | 773.489.0738
Luscious Layers Bakery
- Food Retail: Bakeries
With 18 cake frostings, 57 types of cake filling, and 28 flavors of cake, it is not hard to find a combination you like at Luscious Layers Bakery. They create cupcakes, cookies, pastries, and all your other favorites.
2315 N. Damen Ave. | 773.661.1335
Map Room is a serious beer bar with a rotating selection of 26 beers on tap and over 200 bottles from around the world. This “traveler’s tavern” hosts a beer school, International Night (a free buffet catered by a different local restaurant every Tuesday), and other special events. Accessibility limitations. Please contact site for more information.
1949 N. Hoyne St. | 773.252.7636
- Food Retail: Ice Cream & Frozen Yogurt
Open since 1921, this tiny old-fashioned ice cream shop has a large menu of sundaes, shakes, and other tasty desserts involving homemade ice cream and candies. Accessibility limitations. Please contact site for more information.
1960 N. Western Ave. | 773.384.1035
Miko’s Italian Ice
- Food Retail: Specialty Food
With over 13 flavors that rotate daily, Miko’s Italian Ice is a great summer spot to grab a sweat treat to cool you down from the Chicago sun. Accessibility limitations. Please contact site for more information.
1846 N. Damen Ave. | 773.645.9664
For more dining options, visit the Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber of Commerce (1414 N. Ashland Ave.).
1414 N. Ashland Ave.
Located in the trendy Logan Square neighborhood, Revolution Brewing is one of Chicago’s craft brewing companies. Try the Bacon Fat Popcorn at their restaurant, which also has vegan-friendly options.
2323 N. Milwaukee Ave. | 773.227.BREW(2739)
Open since 1984, this homey café is known for its extensive menu and the incredible variety of its brunch. Make sure to try out the BLT’s in the lovely garden seating.
1656 W. Cortland St. | 773.278.3354
Sterling & Goss
Sterling & Goss sells many varieties of quality meats and prime and choice cuts, as well as made-to-order sandwiches and freshly prepared foods.
1845 N. Oakley Ave. | 773.342.7100
Named one of GQ’s “10 Best New Restaurants in America 2010,” The Bristol offers Mediterranean influenced cuisine featuring seasonal menus and locally-sourced ingredients.
2152 N. Damen Ave. | 773.862.5555
Vienna Beef Factory Store and Deli
At the factory and headquarters of Chicago’s favorite hot dog, you can taste any of Vienna Beef’s delicious meat products straight from the source. Dine in their cafeteria style restaurant or shop amongst the refrigerated products to take home.
2501 N. Damen Ave. | Cafe: 773.435.2277; Office: 773.278.7800
Antiques Shopping on Damen Avenue
Shop Damen Avenue in Bucktown for one-of-a-kind finds at antique shops like Pavilion (2055 N. Damen Ave.), Daniel’s Antiques (2062 N. Damen Ave.), and Jean Alan (2134 N. Damen Ave.). Also look for Revival (2016 W. Armitage Ave.) just off of Damen on Armitage. Accessibility limitations at some sites. Please contact sites for more information.
2062 N. Damen Ave.
Apartment Number 9
Apartment Number 9 is a high-end men’s clothing boutique with a mix of classic and contemporary styles.
1804 N. Damen Ave. | 773.395.2999
Cat and Mouse Game Store
- Hobby Shops
Cat and Mouse has over 600 non-electronic games in stock, including board games, card games and puzzles for children and adults alike.
2212 W. Armitage Ave. | 773.384.4454
- Comic Books
This large comic book store has its own social networking website and regular game nights and book release events.
1845 N. Western Ave. | 773.278.0155
Claudia Kleiner Malabar Collection
Claudia Kleiner Malabar Collection is a boutique featuring clothes and handmade jewelry by Chicago designers influenced by South American and European style.
1872 N. Damen Ave. | 773.321.6685
G Boutique, owned by women for women, includes lingerie and erotica, and is the perfect place for a bachelorette party or a girls night out with its private parties.
2131 N. Damen Ave. | 773.235.1234
- Gifts and Souvenirs
Featured in magazines like Lucky, 190 North, and Chicago Home, Grasshopper 510 sells eco-friendly home décor, kitchenware, jewelry, furniture, apparel, baby gear, and other gifts.
1944 N. Damen Ave. | 773.292.0510
Home Décor Shopping on Damen Avenue
Find unique home furnishings and accessories at some of the many home décor shops on Damen Avenue including REarrange (2064 N. Damen Ave.), Michael del Piero (1914 N. Damen Ave.), Wow & Zen (1912 N. Damen Ave), Crosell & Co (1922 N. Damen Ave.) and The Painted Lady ( 2130 N. Damen Ave.). Accessibility limitations at some sites. Please contact sites for more information.
1914 N. Damen Ave.
Designer Michelle Tan sells her own clothing, jewelry, and handbag designs along with other local and international designers at this fashionable boutique.
1872 N. Damen Ave. | 773.252.1888
For more shopping options, visit the Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber of Commerce (1414 N. Ashland Ave.).
1414 N. Ashland Ave.
Paper & Print
With a wide variety of paper for your own DIY projects and card printing services, Paper & Print has everything you need for invitations and more.
1940 N. Damen Ave. | 773.384.1600
Shopping for Gifts and Accessories on Damen Avenue
Bucktown offers some of the best shopping opportunities for accessories and gifts, including Hunny Boutique (2027 N. Damen Ave.), Virtu (2034 N. Damen Ave.), and D. Marie Handbags (1867 N. Damen Ave.). Accessibility limitations at some sites. Please contact sites for more information.
2027 N. Damen Ave.
Shopping for Kids on Damen Avenue
- Baby Gear & Furniture
Find fun and educational toys plus cool clothes for your kids at Big Toy Express (2319 N. Damen Ave.) and Red Balloon (2060 N. Damen Ave.).
2319 N. Damen Ave.
- Arts & Crafts
This embellishment store sells everything you could want from ribbon to bows to buttons to feathers and more in all different colors, sizes, patterns, textures, and designs. They also offer classes to help you spruce up your own creations.
2125 N. Damen Ave. | 773.292.9110
Every piece in this high end boutique is handmade by Project Runway Canada contestant Shernett Swaby. The store is only open by appointment, when customers can meet one on one with the designer.
1933 N. Damen Ave. | 773.276.7645; 773.533.1745
Vive la Femme
In the neighborhood since 2002, Vive la Femme features high-fashion clothes for ladies sizes 12-24.
2048 N. Damen Ave. | 773.772.7429
Women’s Fashion Boutiques on Damen Avenue
Bustling Bucktown is a destination for art and design, and blocks of Damen Avenue are filled with fresh fashion. Independent retailers are in abundance and shoppers spend an afternoon finding stylish head-to-toe looks from Robin Richman (2108 N. Damen Ave.), Roslyn (2035 N. Damen Ave.), Clever Alice (1920 N. Damen Ave.), Helen Yi (1725 N. Damen Ave.), Tangerine (1719 N. Damen Ave.), and p. 45 (1643 N. Damen Ave.). Accessibility limitations at some sites. Please contact sites for more information.
2035 N. Damen Ave.
Bucktown, Humboldt Park & Logan Square
This Chicago Neighborhood Tour takes you to experience the three distinct and uniquely Chicago characters that are Bucktown, Humboldt Park and Logan Square on the city’s Near West Side.
77 E. Randolph St. | 312.742.1190 (TTY: 312.744.2947)
Chicago Poetry Tour
- Audio & Self-Guided
The Chicago Poetry Tour, produced by the Poetry Foundation, is a chance to experience the history of the city through poetry. Featuring a range of Chicago poets past and present—Gwendolyn Brooks, Carl Sandburg, Li-Young Lee, Haki Madhubuti, Lisel Mueller, Stuart Dybek, and many more—and addressing a variety of neighborhoods and landmarks—the Loop, Bronzeville, Bucktown, Maxwell Street, Haymarket, Pilsen, and New Chinatown among them—the tour includes archival and contemporary recordings of poets and scholars, local music, and historic photographs. The tour can be experienced virtually online at poetryfoundation.org, or downloaded into an mp3 player. FREE.
Free Admission | 78 E. Washington St. | 312-787-7070
Wicker Park & Bucktown Farmers Market
- Culinary Events,
- Farmers Markets
Wicker Park & Bucktown Farmers Market will take place every Sunday from 8am-2pm from June 3 until October 28.
Free Admission | 1500 N. Damen Ave | 312.744.3315
Wicker Park-Bucktown Neighborhood Map of Chicago
Location & Area
- North Boundary: 2400 N Fullerton
- South Boundary: 1600 N North
- East Boundary: 1600 W Ashland
- West Boundary: 2400 W Western
- Primary Zip Code: 60647
With borders that are often confused with Wicker Park’s, Bucktown is a neighborhood filled with character and art. It lies just to the north of Wicker Park, between North and Fullerton avenues, and from the Kennedy Expressway (routes 90/94) west to Western.
Current Trends and Facts of Bucktown Chicago
The central art district is bordered by Milwaukee, Damen, Wabansia, and North avenues. Their many galleries in and above storefronts and the historic Flat Iron Building houses galleries of many established and up-and-coming artists. Bucktown neighborhood is also the location of the annual Bucktown Arts Fest, every August, and the Round the Coyote art festival in September.
Small neighborhood bars can be found on just about every corner. North and Damen avenues boast smoky late-night music clubs (such as the famous Double-Door and the Blue Note) and cosmopolitan clubs, boutiques, and restaurants. Bucktown neighborhood also contains several remarkable churches, the legacy of early Polish immigrants.