A Day in Bucktown, Wicker Park and Ukrainian Village with Linnea Carlson
Linnea Carlson, Front Office Manager at Four Seasons Hotel Chicago, has been with Four Seasons for more than six years, starting in Chicago, then in Dallas and Chicago again. She resides in Ukrainian Village, located on the near west side of Chicago. With the rise of Ukrainian political refugees during World War I, these immigrants settled this area, giving it its unique cultural identity. Wicker Park, which includes a four-acre (1.6 hectare) park of the same name, neighbours Bucktown, which was first settled by Polish immigrants in the 1830s. Today, these neighbourhoods are a vibrant hub of culture, cocktail bars, restaurants, boutiques and more. Here, Linnea highlights her favourite eateries and places to visit there:
No matter what my Friday night consists of, I love to start my weekend off on Saturday morning with a good sweat, followed by coffee. I usually brew a big pot at home from one of the many Chicago local roasters. Chicago has become a coffee roasting mecca, so make sure to grab yourself a bag before you head home from any of the following purveyors: Big Shoulders, Passion House, Dark Matter, Metropolis or Halfwit. Really, I could list many more.
Once I am thoroughly caffeinated, it is time for brunch. If I am feeling something lighter, I hop over to Bite Cafe. My go-tos include the spring veggie hash or super salad. But, if I am going for something a little more luxurious or want to show an out-of-towner a great spot, I opt for Dove’s Luncheonette. The chicken-fried chicken is what dreams are made of, but the tamal de hongos is a close second.
The Wicker Park/Bucktown area is home to many quaint shops, so after brunch, I enjoy walking around, people watching and window shopping. I almost always stop into Myopic Books. This spot will transport you to your yesteryears, and the vast book selection spanning multiple genres and old-school ambiance provide something for everyone. If I am in the mood for something a little more crafty, I will head over to The T-Shirt Deli, where one can design his or her own article of clothing and have it made that day.
At this point, it is probably time for a late snack or an outdoor patio. With many options in the area it can be hard to choose, but for a burger and a beer, my go-to is Small Cheval; for ramen and hip-hop, it has to be Furious Spoon; and for a patio and a taco, it is definitely Big Star. Big Star’s yellow umbrellas embody all that is spring, and you can enjoy a signature Margarita, try one of their 40 plus tequilas or mezcals, or simply sip on one of their agave-based cocktails.
Later in the evening, it is time to find a great spot for dinner and drinks. It can be tricky for my friends and me to come to a consensus on what we want for dinner with so many exceptional restaurants. For casual dining, I recommend Irazu. Not only is it BYOB, but you cannot beat the Costa Rican platanos served there. For New American fare in a Bohemian atmosphere, look no further than Beatnik. The restaurant describes its interior as a voyage from Mediterranean farmhouse to opulence of Moorish architecture to tropical lushness of Bali. When you come to Chicago, you should definitely visit one of our acclaimed steakhouses. In Humboldt Park (just west of Wicker Park), Boeufhaus is just that. Rated as one of the best new steakhouses in Chicago, it is a must for dining, and I still smile when I think, not only about the steak but, of the vegetable sides including the spaetzle and spiced carrots.
Once dinner concludes, this area is not done yet. Head over to The Violet Hour for a swanky artisanal cocktail. If more action is what you are craving, try Slippery Slope for dancing and Emporium for arcade games.
And while my friends and I may have difficulties deciding where we start our night, we always enjoy ending it at Happy Village. It’s a true Chicago dive bar with low-key ping-pong and a spacious patio in warmer months. It might end up being a late night, but don’t worry, you can sleep in and enjoy Four Seasons room service Sunday morning.