Chicago Neighborhoods: Uptown

Situated between the Lakeview and Edgewater neighborhoods, ethnically diverse Uptown is known for great live music and nightlife at the Green Mill jazz club, and several popular concert and entertainment venues, including the Aragon Ballroom, Riviera Theatre and Uptown Theater at Lawrence Avenue and Broadway. A bit further north, along Argyle Street, is a heavy concentration of Southeast Asian restaurants and shops, including some of the best Vietnamese eateries in the city.

The colorful community known as Uptown is located in the northern part of Chicago, bordered by Foster Avenue on the north, Irving Park Road on the south, Lake Michigan on the east and Clark Street on the west. Once an elite summer resort, the area has evolved into an eclectic neighborhood of more than 63,000 residents.

Uptown is home to tree-lined streets, stunning architecture, historic jazz clubs, ethnic restaurants, and varied cultural activities. One of the best-known sites is St. Augustine College, which is located in the former Essanay Studios. Long before Hollywood became the film capital of the world, Essanay Studios was the center of the motion picture industry. Today, that energy can be seen in Uptown’s lively nightlife. Residents also enjoy outdoor recreational activities. The area around Lake Michigan provides walking paths, bike trails and fishing at the Montrose Harbor Pier. Golfers can visit the Sydney R. Marovitz Golf Course.

The neighborhood’s two iconic symbols, however, are undeniably the Aragon, a 1926 repurposed ballroom; and the Uptown Theatre, a 1925 movie palace at Lawrence and Broadway just down the street.

The Aragon, after some decline — it famously flopped in the ’60s as a disco called “The Cheetah” — was revived in the 1970s as a concert venue. These days, along with frequent shows by Hispanic artists, which helped power that revival, it’s often jammed with youthful music fans who adore Spoon and Weezer and have never heard of Tommy Dorsey.

The 4,000-seat Uptown Theatre, on the other hand, is a shuttered landmark, essentially unused since 1981, the theater’s current owner keeping its deteriorating but still-splendid interior intact while seeking financing for a restoration. While the nearby Riviera Theatre, even older (1917), still hosts rock shows, the Uptown’s primary function today is — well, it’s providing a rooftop roost for a family of peregrine falcons that terrorizes local pigeons.

Remarkably, on either side of the closed theater are lively, contemporary restaurants and bars — including the Green Mill, a onetime speakeasy carefully restored and thriving as a jazz club — as well as Annoyance Theatre, which somehow balances drama, improv and martinis.

And right next door to the Uptown — seemingly oblivious to its hulking gloom — is this used book and music store . . .

Shake Rattle and Read (formerly the Book Box) has been owned by the same family for more than 40 years. Ric Addy, who took it over from his sister in 1986, has lived or worked in this neighborhood since 1971.

“I’ve seen a lot of changes,” he says. “It’s really a diverse neighborhood. The people at the post office tell me there’s 60 different languages spoken in Uptown. Sixty.”

On his block are Indian and Mexican restaurants; across the street, Ethiopian and Chinese. Just north, some on Broadway but mainly on Argyle Street below the Argyle Red Line ‘L’ station, is a succession of Vietnamese, Chinese and Thai eateries.

A mere sampling around Argyle: Pho Xe Tang — familiarly Tank Noodles (with a tank on the sign) — gets raves for its Vietnamese noodle soups and accompaniments. Sun Wah Bar-B-Q is especially known for its Beijing duck (no 24-hour notice required). Chilled Vietnamese spring rolls with their spicy peanut dipping sauce delight at upscale Hai-Yen. Thai Pastry and Restaurant has a loyal following while, across Broadway, the dim sum at Furama packs them in, especially on weekends.

Take some time to wander through the pan-Asian supermarkets on Argyle — and don’t miss La Patisserie P. The genius of Peter Yuen creates baked goods ranging from to Asian chicken-sausage buns to delicate chocolate banana mousse cake.

More languages can be heard on Wilson Avenue east of Clark Street, where Fontana Grill and Wine Bar — with its inviting, romantic front courtyard — is neighbor to the Palace Gate Ghanian restaurant and the Nigerian Kitchen. This is one of Uptown’s more intriguing districts, where apartment buildings and handsome greystones share side streets with century-old mansions, many fully restored and some awaiting a little tender care. (The 1898 beauty on the corner of Wilson and Malden Street, for sure, will get your attention.)


Uptown is a cultural mecca for many Chicagoans, and live music is a vital part of the neighborhood. Local landmarks include the Uptown Theatre, the Aragon Ballroom, the Riviera Theater and the Green Mill Jazz Lounge. The Uptown Theatre is dedicated to promoting arts and music in the lives of community residents. The Aragon Ballroom, a former hot spot for “big bands,” now hosts a variety of rock and Latin groups. The Riviera Theater, which began as a movie house, is another popular rock venue. And the Green Mill Jazz Lounge is among the best-known venues for live music, where patrons can enjoy late-night jazz sets in a nightclub once frequented by Al Capone.

It’s home to the city’s largest concentration of East Asian restaurants outside the Chinatown (Armour Square) neighborhood, a film studio that gave Charlie Chaplin a nice career boost, the resting place of heavyweight boxing champs Jack Johnson and Bob Fitzsimmons and what may be the best ground-level view of Chicago’s glorious skyline.



  • Historical Landmarks

The Aquitania, built by Ralph C. Harris and Byron H. Jillson, was completed in 1923, and became a cooperative in 1949. Located at 5000 Marine Drive, the stunning Aquitania apartment building is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Free Admission | 5000 N. Marine Dr. | 773.561.2928

Aragon Ballroom

  • Music,
  • Sports & Recreation

For more than 80 years the Aragon has been home to the great names in music, from Frank Sinatra to Keith Richards. Take a special backstage tour to learn its rich history and about the renovations to restore its 1920s splendor, and see their still-operational, original Wurlitzer organ.

1106 W. Lawrence Ave. | 773.561.9500

Essanay Studios

  • Historical Landmarks

Designated as a Chicago landmark in 1996, Essanay Studios played a major part in cementing Chicago’s role as a force in early motion pictures. They produced hundreds of movies here, many starring the famous silent movie actor, Charlie Chaplin.

Free Admission | 1333 W. Argyle St.

Former Home of Carl Sandburg

  • Historical Landmarks

One of the most famous literary figures of the 20th century, Carl Sandburg is best known for his six-volume biography of Lincoln and his poem describing Chicago as the “City of the Big Shoulders.” He lived with his family at 4646 North Hermitage Avenue beginning in 1912. Selected as a Chicago Tribute Marker of Distinction.

Free Admission | 4646 N. Hermitage Ave.

Former Home of Margaret Anderson

  • Historical Landmarks

As founder of The Little Review, Margaret Anderson introduced the nation to avant-garde ideas and authors such as James Joyce, Gertrude Stein, and Ezra Pound. She lived at 837 West Ainslie Street when she began the literary magazine in 1914. Selected as a Chicago Tribute Marker of Distinction.

Free Admission | 837 W. Ainslie St.

Graceland Cemetery

  • Cemeteries

Established in 1860, this large Victorian era cemetery is the final resting place of many of Chicago’s most famous and influential people. From George Pullman, Marshall Field and Cyrus McCormick to Daniel Burnham and Louis Sullivan, there are many historic graves to visit, with maps provided at the gate house near N. Clark St. and W. Irving Park Rd.

Free Admission | 4001 N. Clark St. | 773.525.1105

Green Mill Cocktail Lounge

  • Music

In business since 1907, this historical jazz venue is still offering live jazz every night in a prohibition-era speakeasy atmosphere. Every Sunday at 7 pm, the Green Mill hosts the Uptown Poetry Slam, hosted by the father of slam poetry Marc Smith.

4802 N. Broadway St. | 773.878.5552

Hutchinson Street

  • Art & Architecture

One of the best collections of Prairie-style architecture in the city, the homes along these three blocks of W. Hutchinson St. were mostly designed by noted architect George Maher.

Free Admission | N. Clarendon Ave. & W. Hutchinson St.

Pegasus Players Theater

  • Theater & Dance

Pegasus Players Theater has operated in the Uptown neighborhood for over 30 years, providing a venue for artistic and creative live theater. Part of their mission is to provide access to live theater at no cost to those less-fortunate, such as inner-city high school and grade school students.

1145 W. Wilson Ave. | 773.878.9761

The Annoyance Theater

  • Theater & Dance

Since their opening Halloween slasher show in 1987, The Annoyance Theater has created over 100 shows in many different genres, making a name for themselves as a place to go for witty and subversive theater.

4830 N. Broadway St. | 773.561.4665

The Black Ensemble Theater Cultural Center

  • Theater & Dance

The Black Ensemble Theater is one of the pre-eminent African American theater companies in the United States, and strives to help eradicate racism, perpetuate the history of the African American people, and serve disenfranchised communities through theater.

4440 N. Clark St. | 773.769.4451

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 Riviera Theatre

  • Music

Located in Chicago’s historic Uptown theater district, at the intersection of Racine, Broadway and Lawrence, the Riviera Theatre, a live concert venue, is a central part of the Chicago’s past and present.

4746 N. Racine Ave. | 773.275.6800

Theater on Broadway

  • Theater & Dance

Profiles Theater (4147 N. Broadway St.) and the National Pastime Theatre (4139 N. Broadway St.) are two great theatre ensembles performing on the 4100 block of Broadway Street.

4147 N. Broadway St.

Uptown Post Office W.P.A. Murals

  • Art & Architecture

Painted by artist Henry Varnum Poor in 1943 as a commission from the Federal Art Project, these two murals celebrate the accomplishments of architect Louis Sullivan and poet Carl Sandburg.

Free Admission | 4850 N. Broadway St. | 773.561.1720

Wilson Skate Park

  • Other Attractions,
  • Parks & Gardens,
  • Popular Attractions,
  • Sports & Recreation

This park is Fun for everyone! When it’s time to flash those board skills (no bikes), there’s no better place than Wilson Skate Park.

Free Admission | E Wison Ave. & N Lakeshore Dr. | 312.742.PLAY


Alma Pita

  • Middle Eastern

This popular pita spot serves many traditional Middle Eastern dishes, as well as Indian curries, burgers, fajita sandwiches and more.

4600 N. Magnolia Ave. | 773.561.2787

Ba Le

  • Vietnamese

A synthesis of French and Vietnamese cuisine, Ba Le’s tasty and affordable bahn mi sandwiches are extremely popular and offer a unique and quick dining experience.

5014 N. Broadway St. | 773.561.4424

Bars on Broadway

  • Bar

There is no shortage of nightlife in Uptown. Great places to go for a drink include Fat Cat Bar and Lounge (4840 N. Broadway St.) Wild Pug (4810 N. Broadway St.) and Crew (4804 N. Broadway St.).

4810 N. Broadway St.

Big Chicks

  • American (Traditional)

A popular and laid back LGBT bar serving comfort food and libations after their sister brunch restaurant Tweet closes at 3pm. Decorated with artwork by some of Chicago’s best artists plus various different events including live music, spoken word and free BBQ on Sundays!

5024 N. Sheridan Rd. | 773.728.5511

Café Too

  • American (New)

Offering contemporary cuisine in an upscale setting, Café Too also helps out the community by employing and empowering local homeless people.

4715 N. Sheridan Rd. | 773.275.0626

Carol’s Pub

  • Bar

This old Chicago honky-tonk spot plays country and Western music, attracting Southern experts to its late nights. Come visit Carol’s Pub for the regular live music and karaoke nights.

4659 N. Clark St. | 773.334.2402

Ceres’ Table

  • American (New)

Trained by Wolfgang Puck and Michael Kornick, chef and founder Giuseppe Scurato puts together a nice seasonal and sustainable menu of contemporary American cuisine, served in an unassuming and quiet neighborhood location.

4882 N. Clark St. | 773.878.4882

Ch’ava Cafe

  • Dining

Serving Intelligentsia coffee and excellent homemade sandwiches, this neighborhood favorite coffee shop is a step above average, going out of its way to be unique with its service and menu.

4656 N. Clark St. | 773.942.6763

Fontana Grill & Wine Bar

  • Pizza

Featuring a large outdoor patio perfect for a warm summer day, Fontana Grill is known for their stone-fired pizzas, large wine selection, and other fine Italian fare.

1329 W. Wilson Ave. | 773.561.0400

Global Dining on Broadway

  • Dining

You can try a variety of cuisines from all over the world on this short stretch of Broadway. Try some Ethiopian food at Demera (4801 N. Broadway St.), contemporary Indian dishes at Marigold (4832 N. Broadway St.), authentic Chinese seafood dishes at Silver Seafood (4829 N. Broadway St.), West African food at Iyanze (4623 N. Broadway St.), contemporary Japanese food at Agami Sushi (4712 N. Broadway St.), Mexican favorites at Fiesta Mexicana (4806 N. Broadway St.), or the local favorite for late night at Gigio’s Pizza (4643 N. Broadway St.).

4712 N. Broadway St.

Hai Yen Restaurant

  • Vietnamese

This popular Vietnamese restaurant offers authentic dishes in a comfortable dining setting. Specialties include Vietnamese crepes and a fondue dish that involves cooking thinly sliced beef in a savory broth.

1055 W. Argyle St. | 773.561.4077

Holiday Club

  • American (Traditional)

Proud of their award winning wings, the Holiday Club also serves a full menu of traditional American comfort food, as well as an extensive drink menu, all in their eclectically decorated dining room.

4000 N. Sheridan Rd. | 773.348.9600

La Patisserie P

  • Food Retail: Bakeries

Owned and operated by award winning pastry chef Peter Yuen, this bakery focuses on European and Southeast Asian pastries. La Patisserie P’s specialties include the highly praised croissants and savory buns stuffed with barbeque pork, Chinese sausage or bean paste.

1050 W. Argyle St. | 773.878.3226

Magnolia Café

  • American (New)

Serving contemporary twists on traditional American food, the Magnolia Café has been in the neighborhood since 2001, and is a culinary highlight of Uptown’s revitalization.

1224 W. Wilson Ave. | 773.728.8785

Michael’s Pizzeria & Tavern

  • Pizza

A neighborhood pizza joint, Michael’s also serves great burgers and sandwiches. It is a popular local hangout for watching sports or getting together with friends.

4091 N. Broadway St. | 773.929.4149

Nick’s Uptown

  • Bar

Housed in a beautiful Art Deco building, Nick’s Uptown is open until 4 am everyday and 5 am on Saturdays, making it a great place for night owls to drink, play pool, or watch the highlights of the day’s sports games. The bar also hosts live music every Friday and Saturday, with no cover change.

4015 N. Sheridan Rd. | 773.975.1155

Nick’s on Wilson

  • Bar

With the same owner as the more well known Nick’s Uptown, Nick’s on Wilson is a cozy neighborhood bar with good drink specials and free Wi-Fi.

1140 W. Wilson Ave. | 773.271.1155

Pho on Argyle

  • Vietnamese

It is impossible to miss the many offerings of Pho, a Vietnamese beef noodle soup, advertised on restaurant signs on and near Argyle Street. Two places that critics and locals recommend are Tank Noodle (4953 N. Broadway St.), and Pho 888 (1137 W. Argyle St.). Accessibility limitations at some sites. Please contact sites for more information.

1137 W. Argyle St.

Siam Noodles and Rice

  • Thai

Consistently rated as the best Thai restaurant in Uptown, if not the entire city, this authentic and affordable restaurant is a neighborhood staple.

4654 N. Sheridan Rd. | 773.769.6694

Sun Wah BBQ

  • Chinese

In business for 24 years, Sun Wah BBQ is known for their generous portions and consistent quality. Specialties include Beijing duck carved table-side, lotus root with house cured bacon, and other classic Chinese dishes.

5039 N. Broadway St. | 773.769.1254

Thai Pastry & Restaurant

  • Thai

Formerly a Thai bakery, this restaurant bloomed out of demand for Thai savory dishes for lunch and dinner. You can still enjoy selections of pastries and sweets made with a homemade touch.

4925 N. Broadway St. | 773.784.5399

Tweet…Let’s Eat

  • American (Traditional)

Organic brunch restaurant lined with artwork from some of Chicago’s most notable artists. The menu also features artist inspired dishes, for example, you can indulge on “Tony Fitzpatrick’s skirt steak and eggs”.

5020 N. Sheridan Rd. | 773.728.5576

Uptown Lounge

  • Bar

This simple, elegant neighborhood bar serves a good selection of beers and other drinks. Uptown Lounge is the most laid back late-night bar in the neighborhood with an easy vibe, awesome music, and Tuesday night’s $3 “U-Call-It” drink special and open mic night.

1136 W. Lawrence Ave. | 773.878.1136


A-Z Wallis Army Navy Depot

  • Retail, Vintage & Consignment

A family owned army surplus and supply store that has been in the neighborhood for over 30 years, they supply the locals with everything from boots and jackets to metal footlockers.

4647 N. Broadway St. | 773.784.9140

Citizen Skate Café

  • Sporting Goods

Owned and operated by the Jesus People USA, this skater-run skateboard shop carries all of your skateboarding needs, and is located within walking distance of Wilson Skate Park.

924 W. Wilson Ave. | 773.751.5809


  • Shopping

Foursided’s goal is to bring imagination to life with art, ephemera, and antiques. This aesthetically alive shop is overflowing with both new and old items that will add a fun twist to your apartment or house.

5061 N. Clark St. | 773.506.8300

Shake, Rattle & Read

  • Books, Mags, Music & Video

In business since 1965 this used book and record store is a great site for potential hidden gems for collectors of vinyl, or obscure used books. They have everything from beat poetry to Harry Potter and for an inventory that is constantly changing, the store is very organized making it easy to find what you are looking for.

4812 N. Broadway St. | 773.334.5311

The Comic Vault

  • Comic Books

The Comic Vault is seriously devoted to spreading the word of good comic books and promoting the comic hobby in Chicago.

1530 W. Montrose Ave. | 773.728.2001

Uptown Bikes

  • Bikes

Small yet full-stocked bike shop in the heart of the neighborhood, Uptown Bikes has been serving this lake-side bike friendly community for many years.

4653 N. Broadway St. | 773.728.5212


Graceland Cemetery

  • Bus,
  • Walking

See lavish monuments forever immortalizing some of Chicago’s leading citizens on a guided tour of historic Graceland Cemetery. Behind these walls are 119 acres of some of the city’s most beautiful green spaces and noteworthy names.

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

Taste of Devon Avenue

  • Bus,
  • Walking

South Asians near and far flock to Devon Avenue for its ethnic grocers, shops and restaurant, and now you too can explore the area like an insider! Discover this popular cultural and culinary destination with Chicago Neighborhood Tours.

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

Taste of Edgewater & Uptown

  • Bus,
  • Walking

Southeast Asian, Middle Eastern, Swedish, West African – these are just some of the many cultures represented by the stellar dining scene in Edgewater and Uptown. Expand your culinary horizons on this globe-trotting food tour with Chicago Neighborhood Tours.

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


Uptown Farmers Market

  • Culinary Events,
  • Farmers Markets

Fresh fruits, vegetables, plants and flowers are just some of the goods available at the Uptown Farmers Market every Thursday from June 21-October 25.

Free Admission | 4646 N. Marine Drive | 773.564.5225


Uptown has a diverse and stylish housing market. Most residences are condos or townhouses, but a few single-family homes are available. Many of these homes are large, Victorian-era mansions. These restored historic properties command high prices from $500,000 to more than $1 million.

Condominiums and townhouses provide a range of styles and prices for buyers. These properties range from the $200,000s to the $500,000s depending on the neighborhood, the size of the unit and the condition of the building. Units are available in both low- and high-rise buildings with waterfront or city views. A small selection of undeveloped land is available, but most of these lots are commercially zoned.

Location & Area

  • North Boundary: 5200 N Foster
  • South Boundary: 4000 N Irving Park
  • East Boundary: ~200 W Lake Michigan
  • West Boundary: 1600 W Ashland
  • Primary Zip Code: 60640

Current Trends and Facts of Uptown Chicago

Right off the shores of Lake Michigan’s Foster Beach and Montrose Harbor, Uptown neighborhood offers residents easy access to Lake Shore Drive and Lincoln Park, the stretch of parks and beaches along Lake Michigan. There are many opportunities for biking, volleyball, fishing and boating. There is even a sled hill for wintertime enthusiasts.

Uptown neighborhood is home of the Green Mill, once a speakeasy of the infamous Al Capone. The Green Mill is a world-class destination for jazz musicians and enthusiasts. It also boasts Aragon Ballroom and the Riviera Nightclub, two of the more popular mid-sized entertainment venues in Chicago. Historically a very popular tourist destination, the current Uptown Entertainment District is home to various music venues, nightclubs, restaurants and shops. The Uptown Entertainment District is now experiencing a revival, with new restaurants and shops opening every year.