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Tucked-Away Village in Chicago’s Backyard
East Village is a small, hide-away village bordered by Wicker Park to the north, the Loop to the east, and Ukrainian Village to the west. Many Chicagoans refer to East Village as Wicker Park, West Town, or UK Village; whatever way you slice it, it’s a cherished neighborhood with landmark status. Residents are varied – from young professionals and families new to the neighborhood, to residents with roots set here that go back generations.
Like many other Chicago villages, East Village represents a melting pot of the many working-class immigrants who have come to settle here over the years. First t came the German workers after the Great Chicago Fire, then the Swedes and Hungarians; later, after WWII, the Polish arrived and not too long ago, the Hispanics.
Of course, this thrilling mash-up of culture brings with it some downright divine food. Regarding the latter, can we cut to the chase and get into that now please?
What to Eat in East Village
While East Village is small, it packs big flavor. For fine-dining, check out The Winchester. This establishment offers a simple, modern design and a delectable menu. With two floors for dining, The Winchester works beautifully for a date night meal or a large private party or event. And in the summer when the weather heats up, they offer outdoor seating. Swoon!
Mexican food is not lost to the East Village. To dabble in a bit of Central America flavor here in the Midwest, check out Carbon Live Fire Mexican Grill. Locals (and those in-the-know out-of-towners) rave over the tortilla chips and guacamole. You can find everything you need for a complete and authentic Mexican meal, from carne asada burritos to tilapia tacos.
Shhhh…. Don’t tell anyone we told you about Ruxbin. Locals simply don’t want this hidden gem run over by the tourist throngs. It’s easy to miss – snuggled in-between dentist offices and random shops – however once you know about Ruxbin, you’ll never pass its doors the same way again. Ruxbin is a BYOB (that last “B” stands for beer – woo hoo!) The seasonal menu is inspired by world-cuisine. With capacity for just 32 customers and completely hand-made décor in recycled materials, Ruxbin offers an elbow-to-elbow authenticity with food that is just plain good for your soul.
Where to Shop
For its size, the East Village offers a surprisingly well-rounded mix of shops. For those who like to pick up a cute trinket as a gift for friends back home, check out RR#1. This shop has made its home here on the corner of Chicago and Ashland for more years than most. The carefully curated selection is sure to provoke and delight even the most jaded shopper.
Sir & Madame
Just about anybody who’s been in Chicago for longer than a weekend can attest to Sir & Madame’s greatness. Offering a thoughtful selection of quality menswear and accessories, this mainstay is the place to browse and linger. Sorry, Madames – the shop does tend to cater more to the XY chromosomes…
There are several options for housing in the East Village, be sure to enlist knowledgeable Chicago Real Estate agents who are up to the task. Perhaps the hallmark of the neighborhood is the 2 ½ story worker cottage, offering a selection of multi-room condos. Quite a few corner buildings have been renovated into live-work lofts, with living spaces atop street-level storefronts below. Chicago luxury condos haven’t exactly sprung up in droves here, and maybe the locals want to keep it that way!