Dining Out on the Northwest Side: Beyond the Golden Nuggets

Dining Out on the Northwest Side: Beyond the Golden Nuggets

Dining out is an art to be taken seriously.

It's essential for a restaurant to be gracious in service, tasteful both in food and decor, and provide fare that will attract increased amounts of customers. While many local restaurant patrons might suggest eateries that fit the aforementioned criteria in other parts of the city, Chicago's northwest side offers a home to an impressive number of fine dining establishments.

The days of the ethnic eateries serving hearty European fare, such as the former Red Star (German) on Irving Park Rd. and Keeler Ave., are diminishing, and a new era of modern fusion cuisine is prevailing through new dining ventures. Farm-to-table, cultural fusion and eclectic variations of traditional dishes are all hallmarks of new eateries in Chicago. A large amount of these restaurants are located in areas of Chicago that are already home to many other fine dining choices: River North, Lincoln Park, West Loop, et cetera. However, a growing amount of these new spins on old favorite foods are appearing on the city's Northwest side.

Take, for example, the now-immensely popular Kuma's Corner, located on Belmont Ave. just west of the intersection of California and Elston Aves. A most modern take on the lowly hamburger, Kuma's serves up heavily-modified variations of giant burger patties with a myriad of toppings with rich sides. Kuma's Corner is not for the casual diner, however. The creamy mac-n-cheese and juicy, 1/2 lb. burgers are served with heavy metal music being played at a deafness-inducing level.

The site of a former laundry cleaner has been transformed into a modern purveyor of farm-to-table dining concepts. Located at the corner of Irving Park Rd. and Ridgeway Ave., Bread and Wine opened in January of this year. A fantastic dinner operation that also does Sunday brunch, Bread and Wine offers regional American cuisine served in a 21st century-manner, with contrasting sauces, flavors and textures for each menu category.  The menu also changes with the weather as well, offering new gastronomic delights that are fresh and in-season. You'll rarely be able to order the same dish twice and Bread and Wine.  True to its name, Bread and Wine also offer a enormous wine selection with a tasting area.

New forms of ethnic dining are also sprouting up within the Northwest side. 13 Pins, located at Irving Park Rd. and Tripp Ave., attempts to be bold by combining several dining concepts: haute cuisine, tapas, and traditional Filipino delicacies. The result is a savory array of small plates of complementing one another in tastes and texture.

Looking more like a trendy pub than a Chicago Eastern European eatery, Staropolska at Milwaukee Ave. and Ridgeway Ave. is the newest offshoot of the long-revered, traditional Staropolska located farther west on Belmont Ave. The Milwaukee Ave. Staropolska combines a modern yet elegant interior, a gigantic bar with huge windows (or no windows in the summer), and updated offerings of traditional Polish favorites that every type of eater can enjoy.

All-American fare is now becoming a hot idea for new restaurants to experiment with, and Chicago's Northwest side is no exception to this. Smoque BBQ, located at the corner of Pulaski Rd. and Grace St., is probably the best-known of these newcomers. In the words of recent customer Peter Bruce (who made a pilgrimage from Lakeview): "Smoque was all it's cracked up to be." Although not the biggest or fanciest of eateries, the barbecue offerings of Smoque are delicious enough to attract international attention and long lines out its doors on weekends and evenings.

Located on Central Ave. just south of Irving Park Rd., The Portage is named after the city's legendary public park situated only a few thousand yards from its door. The Portage is one of the newest and freshest restaurants in its immediate area. Encompassing all this is modern and American; it offers diners lots of bacon, duck fat fries, and more delicious pork and beef delicacies. There are also beautifully intricate meatless entrees that showcase the fresh, creative energy that The Portage brings forth in its dinner offerings.

Plenty more new Northwest side restaurants could be featured here; enough to make your eyes tired from reading. These are among the area's best restaurants that satisfy every hungry soul and diner's whim.




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