My favorite local place in Chicago is Lokal, located in the heart of the Bucktown/Wicker Park area on North Avenue, two blocks East of Damen.
I've always felt that Chicago lacked a neighborhood with the feeling of artistic and creative energy. I'm talking about a fun, vibrant and energizing neighborhood with small galleries and independent boutique shops mixed with good restaurants in between.
Our home is in Bucktown and our studio is in Wicker Park which are adjacent to each other. We've been living in this area for 14 years now and we've been witnessing the transformation of this neighborhood from the semi beginning with excitement and some anxiety. The area used to house many artists and creative souls since it wasn't that developed and therefore rent was more affordable. The artist community started an annual gallery show called "Around Coyote" every September and it became a huge hit. This event attracted many beautiful, creative, and artsy people and the area was packed for the whole 2.5 days bustling with music and busy in and out traffic at every gallery and restaurant.
After 4 - 5 years of "Around Coyote" the developers started to build condos, tear down old houses and build new ones and eventually many of these galleries and artists unfortunately moved away, but the feeling of vibrancy and excitement still remains.Lokal opened only a few months ago. As usual we always pay close attention to new places opening up in the hood. Carlos passes by the place everyday on the way to the gym and while it was under construction, wondered what this place was going to be. Finally one day it was open for business, with a nice clean, cozy and modern look.
We were hoping we would like the food as much as we like the ambiance they created. I'm delight to say that we love the food as well!!!
First we tried Butternut Squash Soup (seasonal) which was just to die for. Then we ordered Grilled London Broil Steak, Cabbage Cakes, and house made Whole Wheat Potato Pierogi. They were all excellent! I highly recommend ordering a few different dishes and share. I'm a huge fan of "family style" eating!!! I want a bite of every dish on the table.
Almost everything we had was "mouth happy" and satisfying. I haven't had a chance to try their breakfast yet, but I am looking forward to trying it when I return back to Chicago in May.Artur , one of the owners, told us that they were considering opening a restaurant either somewhere in Europe or Chicago and I'm so glad that they decided to do it in Chicago.
We met two of the three owners, Artur and Piort, and they are super nice people. Gosia, who we didn't get to meet has quite an interesting culinary background. She grew up in Poland and lived in Zambia for a while as part of charity organization cooking for 50 people everyday with limited ingredients! That sounds like a huge challenge to me.
If you are in Chicago make sure to stop by! They are open for lunch, dinner, and brunch on Saturday and Sunday. Great food, ambiance, presentation and lovely prices!