A Hip Hood with Historical Roots
If you are buying a house in Chicago and considering Ukrainian Village, use this West Town neighborhood real estate guide for an insider's take before you purchase a home. Chicago's Ukrainian Village is a hot area with condos for sale, duplexes for sale and single family homes for sale.
Quiet blocks filled with architectural charm: from artful Old World churches to historic homes constructed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Main streets move people to and fro, but its more of a low key "business as usual" vibe than the frenetic energy of Wicker Park nearby. And that's the way locals like it. The elderly ladies at the deli, the cast of characters at the local tap, families catching up outside of church — a snapshot into life here has been the same for decades. Ukrainian Village is still a melting pot. And whether you've been a neighborhood resident for life, or are a newbie, it makes no difference. All are welcome.
Ukrainian Village, like its neighbors East Village and Noble Square to its east, is part of the West Town community area. The main commercial district is centered on Chicago Avenue between Western and Damen Avenues. With Wicker Park, its neighbor to the north, It shares the boundary Division Avenue.
Trains don't run within Ukrainian Village boundaries, so this West Town neighborhood doesn't have stations in walking distance. However, the #66 Chicago bus is frequented by commuters to get to a full suite of CTA lines: the Blue Line Chicago station at Milwaukee Avenue, the Brown/Purple Line Chicago station at Franklin Street and the Red Line Chicago station at State Street.
Many residents also travel by car since garage and free street parking is easy enough to come by. Biking is another option, with the busy bike path on Milwaukee Avenue providing a route into the Loop, and Divvy stations providing an alternate connector to train stations.
History and culture have been thoughtfully preserved in Ukrainian Village. Mixed in among the residential blocks of this community are ten churches and one synagogue within one-quarter square mile. Take a walk and there's one basically just around the corner. These brick buildings are the physical expressions of the faith, traditions and ethnic identity of the immigrants who first settled here. First Germans, followed by various European ethnic groups including Poles, Russians and ultimately, Ukrainians.
A rich legacy is carried through the architecture, but stories old and new are also told through three highly-regarded neighborhood institutions: the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art, Ukrainian National Museum and Ukrainian Cultural Center.
Culinary traditions are also carried out through European-style cafes, bakeries and delis scattered along the commercial streets: Chicago, Western, and Damen Avenues. These storefronts intermingle with a non descript mix of neighborhood basics: dry cleaners, law firms, insurance shops, nail salons, banks, dentist offices, etc. Nestled among these necessities, the local gems feel tucked away. There is an air of authenticity, as if these are spots only insiders know about. You get the same sense at underground music haven The Empty Bottle, a dive bar haunt since 1992 that Rolling Stone went so far as to name it one of "The Best Rock Clubs in America". Hit it up for cheap "Music | Friendly | Dancing" seven nights a week and see up-and-coming acts ranging from indie rock to alt country.
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The Essentials: Eat & Drink
A multi-cultural heritage is the lifeblood of the restaurants, bakeries and delis that harmoniously coexist in Ukrainian Village. From Polish to Ukrainian to American, here are several options old and new:
Kasia's Polish Delicatessen: Looking for Polish home cooking? They have the pierogis that have been honored as the best in town (locals love the potato and cheese, or sweet blueberry) among other soups, stews and salads that live up to their sign "Old World Goodness"
Rich's Deli: Whether it's Polish kielbasa or Ukrainian beer that you want (or buckets of pickles), they have every European pantry item you could want
Ukraina Deli: A small operation to stock up on meats, cheeses, dairy and other Ukrainian staples
Ann's Bakery and Deli: This is your one-stop-shop corner store with assorted European groceries, a hot buffet bar, deli cases filled with smoked fish and sausages, and of course a bakery with fresh loaves, sweets and cakes
Old Lviv: This small storefront restaurant opened in 1990 — four years after the owner arrived from Lviv, Ukraine — and it continues to serve up heaping helpings of varenyky, kraut and stuffed cabbage at the buffet, plus big bowls of borscht
Tryzub Ukrainian Kitchen: A stylish newcomer to the block, they add a modern twist to traditional fare, with outdoor seating and a quick serve takeout window to boot
Fatso's Last Stand: Far from your typical hot dog stand, this neighborhood establishment takes greasy comfort food to another level and is a late night haunt, offering Fatso burgers, charred sausages and fried shrimp — not to mention a 2 lb. Po'Boy challenge
Sunrise Cafe: No-frills breakfast staples like buttermilk pancakes, cheese omelettes or steak and eggs, without the fuss of the uber-trendy brunch bistros, and minus the long waits too
A Tavola: In an unassuming brick house, an Italian restaurant took up residence and draws customers to its intimate dining room with homemade gnocchi and tagliatelle
Bite Cafe: Homestyle for the hipster, this Empty Bottle-adjacent eatery caters to "veggie peoples" with Tofu Tacos and Vegan Pozole; a late night clientele (kitchen open to 1 am); and the hungover the next morning (Breakfast Poutine and the Hangover Salad are sure cures)
Leghorn Chicken: Hip cash-only spot that is devoted to doing one thing very, very well... the fried chicken sandwich
Pub Royale: If you fancy a bowl of curry or a refreshing stout, come here to explore international food culture and pub traditions with a mashup of British-Indian eats
Rainbo Club: This neighborhood fixture has a reputation that precedes it; slip in under the classic neon outside and experience it for yourself... the stiff drinks, cool crowd, dark interior, pinball machine and photobooth are all part of the quintessential dive bar experience
Tuman's Tap and Grill: Old timey patrons may be sentimental for the divey tavern that was, but this revamped version is still respectable with its moderately-priced drinks, broad menu and welcoming sidewalk cafe
Anchoring the Area
Since 2002, the Ukrainian Village District has been a designated Chicago landmark and it honors the very core of this community: finely-crafted homes carefully maintained by generations of ethnic immigrants. Feel a sense of place as you walk among the well-preserved collection of workers cottages, single-family houses, Chicago-style flat buildings, and small apartments.
Among the area churches, Holy Trinity Orthodox Cathedral (1903) is one of three standouts. Diminutive and simple in its silhouette, the design by Louis Henri Sullivan is one of his most inspired small-scale works. It is also the only church in the world by the seminal architect. For its first parishioners, it was a symbol of their homeland Russia and the Russian Orthodox community. Sullivan's inspiration? A small wooden church in a rural mountain village in Siberia.
The three green cupolas topped with gold crosses rising 167 feet into the sky are striking features of St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral (1915). Inside, beautiful mosaics are set against a sky blue and gold background This house of worship was modeled after the 11th-century St. Sophia Cathedral in Kyiv, Ukraine.
New and incredibly grand, Saints Volodymyr & Olha Ukrainian Catholic Church (1973) is a gold-domed sanctuary. Signature circular patterns and rounded edges give it its distinctive look, one that is modeled after Byzantine-Ukrainian style of the 11th-13th centuries.
Locals Who Live Here
Generations of Ukrainian Village residents carry on the cultural identity of this West Town pocket, and they are joined by young professionals who found affordability and families who found a strong sense of community. Those themes rang true when Ukrainian Village was named Hottest Neighborhood in the Country by Redfin in 2016.
Where to live? New construction condos for sale are popping up regularly, with a mix of move-in ready duplex condos for sale and townhouses for sale. Multi-unit condos for sale include 2-flat and 3-flat buildings in rehabbed turn-of-the-century graystones and brownstones. For those who have their heart set on a historic home with vintage character and charm, detached single family homes for sale come in the form of sturdy brick cottages.