We live in a world with people who say things like “I’m hungry, but I’m not sure what for” and who love starting a “Where do you guys want to go?” group text with 25 friends. In these situations, eventually someone, anyone, just needs to make the f*cking decision. And that person can be you. Here are 11 places in Lincoln Park you can get into on short notice, with fine enough food and drinks, and a great atmosphere - which is probably why you all wanted to go out in the first place.
Print this list out, and the next time you find yourself on Fullerton and Clark with a group of commitment-phobes, just throw a dart at it.
Once pizza inevitably gets brought up, you no longer have time for the best option, which would be at Pequod’s or Bebu. At this point you need the pizza that will be in your mouth the soonest. You’ll find it at Homeslice, a fun spot that feels like someone bought a ski lodge and turned it into a restaurant, complete with big comfortable couches and an RV out on the patio. The pies here are solid, and should keep everyone happy - at least until you try to plan a group ski trip.
The original Parson’s in Logan Square is a small spot with excellent fried chicken, and one of our favorite patios in Chicago. This location has a great patio too, but a much bigger dining room so you won’t have to wait for a seat indoors when it’s 11 degrees outside. Since the menu’s the same, consider this your cue to start drinking negroni slushies all year long.
After your 30th restaurant suggestion gets vetoed, you might say screw it, and decide it’s easier to just go home. Go to Blue Door Farm Stand instead, which has better versions of food you can make yourself like salads and sandwiches, and things you probably shouldn’t like crab cakes and fried cheese curds. You won’t have trouble getting a table right away, and whatever you order will definitely be better than your turkey sandwich with stale bread.
If your friend says they’re “down for whatever” six times, eventually you have to just take charge. Head to Sono, which has great pasta, pizza, and six different types of bruschetta - but most importantly in this situation, it’s a reliable place where you can get a seat any night of the week.
After the never-ending conversational carousel involving phrases like “not that place” and “no, not that place either,” suggesting Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba can stop the nightmare ride. It’s a neighborhood staple that’s perfect for groups and there are enough options on the tapas menu - from baked goat cheese to grilled squid to four different types of paella - that everybody should be able to find something that sounds good (even when nothing sounds good).
You’re having a hard time because your group hasn’t split a check since the Great Venmo Schism of 2018. Head to The Budlong, where you can pay separately at the counter and order some of the best hot chicken in the city. Call a truce while you eat your sandwiches, then go back to passive-aggressively requesting Uber money from each other when you’re done.
The bar area at Summer House Santa Monica is big enough that you can usually grab a spot right away, and even though there’s definitely a Real Housewives Of Lincoln Park atmosphere here, it’s still pretty casual. Plus, if someone in your group wants tacos and another wants filet mignon, that can happen. We get it, because we’re both of those people.
This is the pizza restaurant attached to Summer House Santa Monica. So while you can’t get tacos and filet mignon here, the food is still very good. In addition to thicker, traditionally-sliced pies, there’s also tavern-style, which should placate the hold-out in your group who won’t shut up about “authentic” Chicago pizza.
When it’s taking forever to find a movie to watch, sometimes the best thing is to just go with something everybody enjoys, like the The Matrix. That’s a good strategy for picking a restaurant too - like Twin Anchors, a classic place on the border of Lincoln Park and Old Town with some very good ribs. It’s a perfect option when making a decision is taking longer than when you scroll through “90s Sci-Fi With Keanu Reeves” on Netflix knowing you’re just going to end up with The Matrix anyway.
As everyone gets worn down during the decision-making process, it’s easy to forget why you wanted to go out in the first place. You need a clear reminder - delicious food - that comes from suggesting the fantastic Kalamata chicken (a half chicken with French fries and lemon sauce) at Athenian Room. Plus, this restaurant is attached to a bar so the “Where should we get after-dinner drinks?” decision is already made.
Pasta Palazzo feels like it was designed for the purposes of this guide. There are 20 different kinds of pasta, they’re all $11 or less, and you won’t have to wait for a table. Most importantly, a big bowl of pasta is an excellent way to cure lingering irritation from searching for a restaurant that everyone will commit to.