People like to grumble that hipsters have taken over Wicker Park, but that doesn’t stop them from coming back for all the neighborhood has to offer. There are so many things to check out, you could easily spend a day (or more!) getting a taste of one of the most-happening neighborhoods in the city. Here’s what a visit to Wicker Park might look like on a budget.
Getting There: Damen Blue Line
If you’re coming from the Loop, it won’t be hard to find a CTA Blue Line train to hop on, then hop off a few stops away on Damen. The commute is quick, but an Uber or Lyft wouldn’t be an expensive option either.
Breakfast/Brunch: Stan’s Donuts
Granted, $4 for a specialty doughnut at Stan’s Donuts aren't cheap, but they're so good that you won’t even flinch while sliding your credit card. If you’re looking for the cream of the crop, try their cinnamon-sugar, chocolate-covered pretzel doughnut—it’s sinfully sweet.
Lunch: 5411 Empanadas
There are so many delicious restaurants to try in Wicker Park, but 5411 Empanadas gives you the opportunity to sample a variety of flavors without breaking the bank. The bacon, dates and goat cheese empanada is a must try.
Shopping: Thrift Stores Galore
It wouldn’t really be a trip to Wicker Park without a little bit of thrifting. Though there are many options to choose from, Crossroads Trading is a tried-and-true chain. If the dress of the locals is any indication, there’s a lot of possibility within the store’s walls!
Entertainment: Double Door
Lease troubles and the surge of gentrification mean Double Door will likely not remain in Wicker Park, though people recognize it as a neighborhood staple. Inside this concert venue, you’ll find some of the cheapest beer in Wicker Park, not to mention a wide range of musical talent. Make sure to check out Double Door before it closes its doors on its Wicker Park home.
Dinner: Furious Spoon
Furious Spoon made headlines for their "Year of Ramen" Kickstarter reward, when people pledged a certain contribution level to launch the initial restaurant. Though they’ve expanded to several other locations in the city, Furious Spoon's Wicker Park spot is the original location. Definitely give their signature Furious Ramen a try—it’s spicy without overdoing it.
Drinks: The Violet Hour
OK, I won't pretend that Wicker Park’s hidden “speakeasy,” The Violet Hour (across the street from the famous and fabulous taco joint Big Star), is cheap. At $14/drink, it certainly can become expensive to knock down drinks all night long. But since their cocktails are created by masters as well as loaded with alcohol, two drinks might be all you need to feel good for the rest of the night. Give this James Beard award winner a try. Just make sure to put your phone away, as per their house rules—soak up your surroundings and your drink of choice instead!
Chicago locals, are there any must-hit spots I missed in Wicker Park? Let me know in the comments.