If Chicago is a classroom, Andersonville is the student who’s sitting quietly while other students (i.e. neighborhoods) are cartwheeling around begging for attention. So it’s easy to overlook this area if you don’t live here. But that’s a mistake - Andersonville has some of our favorite restaurants in the whole city. Here’s our guide to where you should be eating.
Lost Larson originally opened just as a bakery and cafe, focusing on fantastic bread (made with house-milled grain), pastries, and toasts. But now they also serve dinner, which is equally impressive. The menu is short, but has interesting options like a mushroom custard with crab, housemade agnolotti, and some excellent Swedish meatballs in a cauliflower-based gravy that sounds terrible but is actually delicious. Come here for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, and get a seat on their fenced-in patio, which feels like someone’s backyard.
It can be a red flag when a restaurant has an all-over-the-place menu full of dishes like empanadas with blueberry salsa, fava bean toast, and Japanese seafood pancakes. After all, juggling is hard enough without it sounding like a Vegas buffet. But at Gadabout they do, and everything we’ve eaten here tastes pretty great. Since the space is decorated with furniture from the Brown Elephant, it feels like you’re having dinner in an apartment of a friend who likes old bookcases, fuzzy throw pillows, and vintage violin cases. Come here for some small plates and drinks, and to catch up with the people in your life who like resale shopping.
The most important thing you need to know about Hutch is that they do bottomless brunch every day. This means $18 unlimited mimosas, and dishes like chilaquiles, chicken and waffles, and a bunch of benedicts. If for some inexplicable reason you’re not looking to get day drunk on a Wednesday, this place is still a decent option for dinner. The menu has a variety of perfectly OK things like nachos, burgers, salads, and ribs. The food might not blow your mind, but the large, two-level space works really well for groups that need a lot of options to choose from, or if you’re just in the mood for some Ro-Tel mac and cheese.
Middle East Bakery & Grocery & Cafe is (unsurprisingly) a counter service cafe attached to a grocery store, and it serves savory meat pies, falafel, shawarma, and sweets like baklava - with all the breads and pastries made in-house. Come here for a casual lunch or dinner, and then pick up some stuff to go at the bakery.
Octavio is a Mexican restaurant that looks like it snuck over from River North. That’s not a bad thing - the space is huge, with loud music and a lively atmosphere that’s great for groups. They serve brunch (with dishes like chilaquiles and tequila-spiked French toast), and at dinnertime there are options like enchiladas, fajitas, and tacos made with fresh tortillas. They also have a long list of tequila and mezcal. Come here for a casual group get-together, or for drinks after work.
Head to Bar Roma for great rustic Italian food, and to feel like you just stepped into “Charming Italian Countryside Home” magazine. The space has a lot of wood and distressed furniture, plus bags of flour lying around to remind you that they make all their pastas in-house. There’s an entire menu section dedicated to meatballs, with varieties including spicy pork belly and veal. But we like coming here for their pastas - the cacio e pepe is fantastic, and you can’t go wrong ordering whatever pasta is the special for the day.
Blu 57 is one of Andersonville’s more upscale restaurants, serving mainly steak and seafood with Thai influences. The space looks a little fancy, but still manages to keep a neighborhood feel. Dishes that lean heavier on the Thai flavors are your best bet, like the lobster tail with curried risotto and the sticky rice dessert. It’s BYOB, and if you’re feeling on the fancier side, they do offer a six-course prix fixe menu for $75.
This is a popular neighborhood breakfast and lunch spot, and the breakfast is what you want to focus on when you’re here. They have everything from bacon-wrapped baked eggs to cinnamon roll French toast to a crab cake benedict. The space looks a little like a farmhouse, and gets crowded quickly, so unless you get here really early, expect a wait.
It’s impossible to have a bad date night at Vincent. Literally impossible. If a date goes badly here, you need to reevaluate either yourself or the person you were with. Go for dinner, order a nice bottle of wine, and share some small plates (like the chicken liver mousse) and one of their five preparations of mussels (the house specialty).
Big Jones is a Southern restaurant serving a lot of old-timey dishes (like “chicken and dumplings circa 1920”) that we really like. You’ll need to get the perfectly-cooked fried chicken, and you should absolutely come for brunch, when they also make beignets.
Before Sushi Mike opened the new fancy digs in the West Loop, there was the original in Andersonville. This location has the same quality sushi, just in a more laid-back environment. So come here for sushi that’s good and reasonably priced. Tanoshii is perfect for a weekday dinner or low-key date night.
This bar has one of our favorite cheeseburgers in Chicago. It also has other food that’s a lot more interesting than what you’ll find at your typical neighborhood drinking spot. Order one of their light and fluffy bao (the pork is our favorite), or their green curry mussels. But whatever you do, make sure someone at your table gets a burger.
The term “gastropub” gets thrown around a lot, but for us, Hopleaf embodies its true meaning. This place has an exceptional beer selection and a food menu that goes above and beyond what you would eat in an average bar. The delicious cashew butter and fig jam sandwich takes a PB&J and makes it awesome, and you’ll wonder where it’s been all your life. Hopleaf is popular and doesn’t accept reservations, so count on it being crowded.
If you’re still in mourning over the loss of Hot Doug’s, then you need to know about Hot “G” Dog immediately. This place was started by two former Hot Doug’s cooks, and is very similar - with the same Friday-Sunday duck fat fries, and a weekly special dog made with something unusual like pheasant or alligator. While it’s not exactly Hot Doug’s 2.0, it should help you move on. Which you really need to do.
Taste of Lebanon is a casual, cash-only Lebanese restaurant. You can’t go wrong with the hummus, shawarma wraps, or their fattoush salad. It’s small, with only a couple of tables, so the best strategy is to order as much as you can carry and take it all to-go.
First Slice Pie Café
This is a welcoming little cafe serving all kinds of soups, salads, and sandwiches. And pie, of course, because with a name like First Slice Pie Cafe, there’d better be pie. It’s really the pie that you should be getting here (if that wasn’t obvious) - either the Reese’s peanut butter or something more classic like the apple. Eat it there, or get it to-go. Or do both, and have more pie.
This sweet shop should be your go-to dessert stop in the neighborhood. Most things they sell aren’t made in-house, but the selection of Chocolate Shoppe ice cream (from Wisconsin), cake, and treats like chocolate-covered Oreos is still excellent. We particularly like the sundaes, which have generous amounts of chocolate fudge.