If Chicago is a car, Edgewater is the middle seat. Andersonville and Lake Michigan always get the windows, and Edgewater is stuck in between, with nowhere else to go. But this small neighborhood has plenty of spots worthy of your attention. Here are the best places to eat in Edgewater.
Consider yourself very lucky if you’re in Edgewater because that means you’re close to Huaraches Dona Chio. This tiny spot is one of the best Mexican restaurants in Chicago, and the specialty here is (unsurprisingly) huaraches. But anything involving their housemade masa is delicious - like the tacos, sopes, and mole enchiladas. You get to pick your toppings (with options like pastor, steak, or calabaza), plus your salsa (red or green), and all of it is fantastic. There are only six tables here, but in the summer they also have a cute side patio which is right next to a park.x
There are two very good upscale Ethiopian spots in Edgewater, and they’re right down the street from each other. The good news is, no matter which one you choose you’re going to have a great meal. That said, we’re fans of the long menu of vegetarian options at Ras Dashen - for example, the shirro (a chickpea stew) and the misserana bowmia (lentils and okra in a spicy berbere sauce) are both standouts. Everything is served on a big round of fantastic spongey injera (made fresh daily), which is a way more delicious food-delivery system than a fork.
As we said, there’s no wrong choice between Ethiopian Diamond and Ras Dashen. Both have great food, and the same enjoyable eat-with-your-hands injera situation. But our favorite thing about Ethiopian Diamond is that their menu has a section called the “Taste Of Ethiopia”. This is exactly what it sounds like - a sampling of delicious things like kay wat (spicy slow-cooked beef) or dinich alicha (potato and carrot stew). You can decide if you want meat, vegetarian, or tibs - an assortment of grilled chicken, lamb, and beef. Also important - it comes with two sambusas, flaky pastries filled with meat or vegetables that are our favorite appetizer here.
Mango Pickle is a small neighborhood spot serving some of our favorite Indian food in Chicago. They have some of the best chana masala we’ve ever had, plus seasonal dishes like seared scallops with cardamom beets. The brightly decorated space is cozy, with an outdoor patio that’s great for a casual dinner.
Nothing about this wine bar’s food or atmosphere is like anything else in Edgewater. There’s an upscale small plates menu, with dishes from different regions of Europe - so you’ll find things like coq au vin, a savory tart from Germany, and pastas. It’s all excellent, and the interesting wine list is designed for you to mix and match wines and food from different countries. Income Tax is ideal for grabbing a glass of wine and some dinner by yourself, or for catching up with friends.
Herb has some of our favorite Thai food in the city. It’s a small BYOB restaurant, and the menu is prix fixe, but you get to pick your dishes (you can choose three courses for $38, or five courses for $52). The spicy fish soup is fantastic, with a light coconut broth that has a lot of heat, and even the boring-sounding grilled tofu is delicious, with roasted ground chili, shallots, and mint giving it lots of flavor. The chef will probably come to your table during the meal to make sure you’re happy, and luckily, you won’t have to lie.
It isn’t immediately apparent that you’re in a Southern restaurant when you walk into Pearl’s - the decor doesn’t hit you over the head with a theme, and the large TVs seem like they’d be more at home in a sports bar. But Pearl’s does Southern food very well, serving a mix of Cajun classics like po’boys and jambalaya as well as excellent barbecue. The barbecue is the real star, so be sure to get the pulled pork, ribs, or smoked chicken.
This counter-service Korean spot has some of our favorite chicken wings in Chicago. Other dishes here, like the bibimbap and bulgogi, are perfectly good, but the jumbo wings are what you want. They’re huge, perfectly crispy, and served with a ginger glaze that tastes delicious and never makes the wings soggy.
This is a casual vegan restaurant with great Asian-inspired food. The menu is long, with things like dumplings, seitan satay skewers, and spring rolls. They do a nice job with the vegan proteins - for example, they have a fantastic shrimp substitute that really tastes like shrimp. The food here is enjoyable enough for for non-vegans, too, but be aware that you will be surrounded by motivational quotes like “share the world with all beings.” Also, it’s BYOB.
Every neighborhood should have a dependable casual sushi spot, and Indie Cafe is Edgewater’s. The food here is affordable, and they have you covered when the craving for big, complicated sushi rolls hits. There’s a Thai food menu as well, and while it’s not the best we’ve had, their massaman curry is satisfying, and they have solid noodle dishes, too. There’s also a great patio area for when it’s warm out.
This place is technically a bakery, but we think of it more as a neighborhood coffee shop: there’s great coffee, and it’s perfect for settling in with a laptop and getting some work done. The space is airy, with minimalist Ikea-style decor that some people might find sterile, but it works. On the bakery end, the goods are made on premises and they’re fantastic. They have stellar cookies, savory scones and quiches, and housemade granola that makes a great yogurt parfait. At lunchtime, they also have salads and sandwiches that are worth your time. Essentially, you’ll never have to leave.
You come to Moody’s for two reasons - their burgers and their fantastic patio. This spot has been around since 1959, and the atmosphere doesn’t feel like it’s changed much since then. The food menu is short, focusing on drinks and a small selection of sandwiches and burgers, all of which are solid. But what makes Moody’s particularly special is the space. The patio is huge, with plenty of seating available, and surrounded by large trees and twinkly lights. If you’re here when it’s cold, though, the inside is cozy - it feels like a hunting lodge, with dark wood and two fireplaces. Whenever you’re here, come with a group and plan to stay a while.
Lickety Split is a retro-styled sweets and ice cream shop that makes its own frozen custard fresh everyday. They have candy brands you might have forgotten about, like Necco and Cow Tales, and antique metal signs decorating the space. It’s pretty theme-y and none of this stuff is actually vintage, but it’s still a charming spot. Also, the frozen custard is really good.