Historic Character Evolved into
a Modern Urban Landscape
If you are buying a house in Chicago and considering East Village, use this West Town neighborhood real estate guide for an insider's take before you purchase a home. Chicago's East Village is a hot area with condos for sale, duplexes for sale and single family homes for sale.
Talk about a hodgepodge: sharing space at the same intersection is a supermercado and a bodega, an old school pharmacy, a Greek gyro grill and cheap pizzeria, a graffiti art gallery and an all-natural botanic brewery. A blend of old and new, different cultures and changing demographics, East Village feels very urban — cool even. But in a dialed-down way; this is definitely not a "scene". Which is not to say the neighborhood isn't lively. There's commuters rushing off to work in the morning, teens heading to the taqueria after school, folks in Western wear shopping for ropa para caballeros, and at night, people of all ages collectively satisfying their sweet tooth with a cup of gelato.
Thanks to a city grid system that lays out all the blocks of this neighborhood into neat plots, Damen Avenue is a straightforward border right down the middle between Ukrainian Village and its neighbor to the east, East Village. The adjacent communities share Chicago Avenue as their commercial main hub, which if you go even further east past Ashland Avenue, becomes part of Noble Square. These three neighborhoods are part of the West Town community area.
The nearest train stops for East Village residents are the Division stop and Chicago stop of the Blue Line 'L' train, great for 24-hour access to downtown and the O'Hare International Airport. The busy #66 Chicago bus makes its rounds here too (it can connect to both the Brown/Purple Line and Red Line trains), as do the #9 Ashland and #50 Damen bus routes.
Residents can get by via car since houses with garages and free street parking is available around the neighborhood (chances of finding a spot do get a little slimmer closer to the Wicker Park border). The Kennedy Expressway is right there, just a few blocks outside the neighborhood borders. Biking is another option, with Divvy stations along the busy bike path on Milwaukee Avenue providing a route into the Loop, as well as the more low-key Wood Street bike path.
On Chicago Avenue, the easiest thing to spot are the horses. A trio of full size, fiberglass horses (two suspended in air, rearing up to the sky, and one firmly planted on the sidewalk) have become enduring landmarks of East Village. The mark the location of one of the largest stores for cowboy boots, hats and clothing in the Midwest, Alcala's Western Wear.
This neighborhood staple is flanked by small businesses that cater to both the older generations and the newer residents living together here. There's Deitch Pharmacy, a throwback to an era when patients would get their prescription filled at the local drugstore, and Alliance Poultry Farms, another traditional operation that is both live poultry shop and butcher. Cool shops with a creative edge have found a place too: Permanent Records, which houses a record label and bins of used vinyl mixed in with rare new releases, and Chicago Truborn, a community based “anti” gallery that showcases street/urban/outsider art. Boutiques and home stores round out the rest of the mix: Anastasia, Paperish Mess, Le Thrift Consignment, Sprout Home, Inside Home and RR#1.
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The Essentials: Eat & Drink
Wicker Park may be a foodie focal point, but East Village – its sister neighborhood to the south – is establishing itself as a creative force on the bar-and-restaurant front. Young toques are applying their imagination to everything from Italian gelato to Japanese zensai, and one team of brewers is taking inspiration from bygone eras to reintroduce botanical ingredients to their craft beer. Mix it up with every meal on the diverse dining corridor that is Chicago Avenue. Not content with one type of cuisine, it offers a sampling of international flavors from tacos to Italian to Thai.
Homestead on the Roof: Sit amid an organic rooftop garden of herbs and vegetables on this literal farm-to-table restaurant where seasonality reigns supreme
Roots Handmade Pizza: Never had Quad Cities style pizza? Come here for a taste, paired with over 100 Midwestern craft beers
Hoosier Mama Pie Company: Temptations come in the form of 10 different sweet pies daily (classics and tasty combos like Banana Cream or Apricot Blueberry with Pecan Crumble) plus quiches, savory pies and Metropolis coffee at this retro bakery shop
Black Dog Gelato: Award-winning sorbets and gelato from the mind of Chef Jessica Oloroso — think creative ingredient combos like Butterscotch Bourbon Pecan, Chocolate Banana Curry and Goat Cheese Cashew Caramel
Atomix Cafe: micro-roasted coffees, vegan-friendly selections, indie vibe, lots of seating and the requisite wifi... the hallmarks of a hip neighborhood spot
The Winchester: This sunny gem of a cafe, on a mainly residential stretch along Augusta Avenue, serves up rustic American fare at all hours — a pretty plate of avocado toast at brunch, a hearty burger for lunch and simple stunners like whole trout for dinner
Forbidden Root: A restaurant and brewery that fuses botanicals into its house beers... think natural ingredients like ginger, honeybush, lemon myrtle, juniper berries, licorice root, marigold flowers and magnolia petals.
Arami: The Bib Gourmand honoree by the Michelin Guide is sushi at a great value and without the gimmicks... fresh seafood and simple ingredients shine
Yuzu Sushi & Robata Grill: Japanese BYOB which lives up to its name with over-the-top maki rolls and traditional grilled skewers
West Town Bakery & Diner: Decadent, bite sized Cakeballs are just one reason to stop here, meat eaters and vegans alike come for comfort food fare with dishes (Fried Chicken & Waffle, Short Rib Benedict and Vegan Biscuits & Gravy)
Bricola: With a name that translates to "breadcrumbs", this Italian trattoria is a perfect place to break bread with friends, families and neighbors
The Cotton Duck: A restaurant and art gallery hybrid where both menu and exhibits rotate in tandem every few months, ensuring a different yet always eclectic experience with each visit
Bar DeVille: This late-night haunt (open til 3 am on Saturdays) was opened by a few local bar pros and has a winning formula down: great cocktails up front, a pool table to chill by in the parlor lounge, and a dance party in the back room
Happy Village: A dive bar that knows how to have fun: cheap booze (PBR is the drink of choice) and a back patio with picnic tables and an indoor rec room with ping pong
Anchoring the Area
In its heyday, Chicago Avenue was a premier shopping district and the original Goldblatt's Department Store that set up here in the 1920s was where locals came to buy shoes, clothing, furniture and appliances. Fast forward to modern times: the original white terra cotta exterior was in disrepair and the interconnected interior spaces were vacant. But in a victory for local preservationists, it was designated a Chicago landmark in 1998. Locals come here now for books — the historic building is living out a new chapter as the West Town Public Library.
East Village doesn't have the concentration of churches as its neighbor Ukrainian Village. But a spiritual home for Russian immigrants, St.George Cathedral is nestled among homes on quiet Wood Street. You'll find a mix of parishioners attending service here, which is, in varying parts, delivered in English and Slavonic (the language of the Russian Orthodox Church).
Locals Who Live Here
Condos for sale are booming in East Village. Lots of single professionals, post-college couples and younger families are moving in alongside the modest single family homes inhabited by generations of immigrants. The pulse of the neighborhood has been steadily growing in buzz, and the pace of development has followed suite: classic 2- and 3- flat buildings are full of renters, and new buyers wanting a piece of the West Town pie can find a new duplex for sale or modern townhouse for sale just about on every block. There are also new luxury mid-rises coming onto the scene with apartments for rent in East Village.