There are so many things to love about Chicago’s northwest side Irving Park neighborhood. One of the best parts is the glorious mix of cuisines so vast you’ll feel like a world traveler. Take these suggestions as a starting-off point for eating around this ‘hood. Wear your coziest pants, however, because the food scene is no joke. You’ve been warned.
Residents of Irving Park are lucky enough to find an abundance of “paleterias,” or ice cream shops, on most main drags, but the newly opened Naranja Dulce might just be a contender for the neighborhood crown. (And to be excited about trying out new fruit ices in Chicago in February? That’s a magical business, indeed.) Besides their yummy Mexican ice cream bars and scoopable treats, they offer an abundance of savory snacks and tasty twists on beverages. Their spicy/sweet/savory “chelada” mixers, for the uninitiated, are reminiscent of chilled Bloody Marys for beer— and ones that’ll have you counting down the days until summertime for sure.
3142 W. Montrose Ave., Chicago
On first glance, you wouldn’t think that a brewery would be great for families, but that’s the beauty of this spot named for the goddess of mayhem (who had a little ol’ thing for tossing apples into the mix); it’s great for absolutely everyone. Vegans, gluten-free foodies, carnivores and imbibers of all palates are welcomed here, and will dine extraordinarily well. The kids’ menu includes mini steak frites and pequena arepas with mango salsa. Your move, Happy Meal.
4240 W. Irving Park Road, Chicago
Even if you’ve never set foot inside this marvelous Middle Eastern bakery, you’ve probably enjoyed their wares all across town. Their wholesale game is strong! That said, it’s worth the side trip to try the softest pita loaves you’ll ever have (a buck a bag, and usually still warm from the oven) and, if you time it right, the counter will be laden with fresh spinach pies, melty cheese and za’taar spices, and fragrant lahmajun (Lebanese meat pies). Perfectly sized for a handheld snack, your kiddo might even have room for one of Sanabel’s fluffy macaroon cookies in the other hand.
4213 N. Kedzie Ave., Chicago
Started in Evanston, the sole Chicago locale of this incredible coffee shop is a cozy, soothing spot to hang out. Kids are more than welcome— as evidenced by the high chairs, organic milk boxes in the cooler, and abundance of Do-Rite Donuts— but the real draw to this place is the killer menu of thoughtfully crafted coffees. The rose cardamom latte is ridiculously special, but a close second might be the nonjudgemental offerings of soy, whole, almond, or oat milk as you place your order. (Swoon.)
3982 N. Avondale Ave., Chicago
Originally opened in 1962 as a casual pizzeria, this neighborhood gem underwent a mammoth renovation in 2015. The result? A gorgeous dining room—complete with terrific lighting and silent black and white movies playing in the background—and an equally gorgeous array of Italian-fusion food, carefully curated wines and craft cocktails. (Pro tip: Their gluten-free pizza crust ranks as among the very best you’ll find in the city.) Sure, the cool factor has been upped, but the abundance of sharable plates and the welcoming nature of the staff cements its status as a community mainstay.
3026 W. Montrose Ave., Chicago
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