Ravenswood is leafy, tranquil neighborhood on Chicago’s North Side, but don’t mistake it for boring. After all, Carl Sandburg penned his famous ode to the city while living in the neighborhood! It also happens to be the home of the mayor.
Tucked between Lincoln Square and Uptown, Ravenswood is defined by its eponymous avenue that runs along the train tracks. Its old industrial brick buildings house crafty Chicagoans who are cooking, brewing, and carving the neighborhood’s next chapter.
I was excited to highlight Ravenswood in Chicagoist’s 10 More Awesome Chicago Neighborhood Staycations article (check out my picks for the previous Humboldt Park Neighborhood Guide). There are many local businesses deserving of a visit, but you can get started with this guide to one great day in Ravenswood!
1. DRINK – Band of Bohemia
Bohemians live and create by their own rules, as do the owners of the namesake Ravenswood restaurant. Co-founders Michael Carroll and Craig Sindelar are Alinea veterans who melded their considerable experience to create a “culinary brewhouse” that’s upscale but not stuffy. The small plates menu pairs meals with in-house beers, and not the other way around. Expect unique flavors on tap like a Thai-influenced saison or a Belgian brewed with lemongrass, cardamom and lavender. The food at Band of Bohemia is impeccable, but just lounging in the gorgeous bar with a seasonal brew or cocktail will wake your inner free spirit.
4710 N. Ravenswood Ave.
2. SEE – Carl Sandburg’s House
Iconic author Carl Sandburg moved to this house in 1912. In a letter to his wife he referred to it as, “our really, truly home.” It was here that Sandburg wrote his famous poem Chicago.
4646 N. Hermitage Ave.
3. EAT – Glenn’s Diner
Agonizing over the age old dining question, “cereal or fish?” Glenn’s Diner lets you have it all with generous portions in an unfussy atmosphere. For over ten years, the casual neighborhood staple has been serving breakfast all day as well as fresh fish and seafood for lunch and dinner. Eyeing the cereal bar is like taking a nostalgia trip (Golden Crisp! Kix!). Giant chalkboards display underwater options like Arctic char with shrimp diablo sauce and sea scallops dressed with a bacon, mushroom, and sherry cream. If you’re not sure where to start, the knowledgeable staff will walk you through every fin on the menu. Don’t miss the Cioppino, a San Francisco stew that packs four kinds of fish, shrimp, mussels, and veggies in a light, spicy broth.
1820 W. Montrose Ave.
4. DO – Lillstreet Art Center
If Lillstreet were a work of art it would be a mosaic. Since 1975, the co-op has assembled artists of varied ages, skill levels, and disciplines to foster arts growth and education. The 40,000 square foot facility hosts classes in drawing, painting, photography, ceramics, jewelry, printmaking, textiles, and glass. After class, stop by First Slice Pie Café on the ground floor. The nonprofit restaurant’s revenue provides meals to more than 600 needy Chicagoans each week. Check out the gallery to see work from the artist in residency program and other makers. When it comes to community building, Lillstreet has it down to a fine art.
4401 N. Ravenswood Ave.
5. SHOP – Architectural Artifacts
Architectural Artifacts is quite literally a treasure trove. The 80,000 square foot showroom houses eclectic antiques from around the world that owner Stuart Grannen has been collecting since 1987. Wander the century-old warehouse to explore exquisitely crafted and historically significant pieces like remnants of Buckingham Fountain and a Louis Sullivan column from the Chicago Stock Exchange. Where else can you buy your mid-century Czech light fixtures and vintage Japanese temple ornaments in one place? You might not need that 19th-century Bavarian moose horn hunting lodge chair, but why not treat yo self?
4325 N. Ravenswood Ave.