Say hello to University Village!
Sometimes referred to as Little Italy, this Chicago neighborhood is rich with charm, fun, and much more. Located on the Near West Side of Chicago, its boundaries are Ashland Ave. on the west, Interstate 90/94 on the east, the Eisenhower Expressway on the north, and 18th St. on the south.
It is home to the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Jane Addams’ Hull House was founded in University Village in 1889.
There’s no shortage of great eats in this neighborhood. From brunch staples to great burgers to upscale Italian, you’ll find just what you want, no matter what you have a hankering for. Check out these hot spots as a perfect introduction to what people love most about this area.
1) Davanti Enoteca
1359 W Taylor St
This wine bar focuses on traditional Italian eats and small plates inspired by the chefs’ travels to the country. You won’t want to miss their specialties and crowd favorites, including the Truffle Egg Toast, anything utilizing ricotta, and the Riccio di Mare e Granchio, a linguini dish with sea urchin and crab.
2) Sweet Maple Cafe
1339 W Taylor St
This intensely popular brunch joint is a local favorite. It opened in 1999 and has been churning out standard but delicious breakfast, brunch, and lunch fare ever since, serving a diverse clientele. Family recipes and unique specialties make up this menu’s offerings, including popular items such as cheddar grits and corned beef hash. Pull up a chair!
3) Mario’s Italian Lemonade
1068 W Taylor St
A summertime staple, Mario’s Italian Lemonade offers shaved ice to happy customers day in and day out. Get it while it’s hot, though—literally; Mario’s is only open during the warm months.
4) Three Aces
1321 W Taylor St
Food and drink specials abound at this neighborhood hot spot. Featuring great burgers, a diverse beer selection, and craft cocktails, it’s a casual hangout that you’ll love stopping for. Fan faves include bolognese fries, the Ace Burger with aged cheddar, bacon jam, and all the trimmings, and duck fat chips.
5) Stax Cafe
1401 W Taylor St
Competing lines at Sweet Maple Cafe and Stax Cafe keep these brunch spots going head to head every weekend, and this local gem offers up mini waffles, chocolate chip bacon pancakes, and an entire menu that will have your mouth watering.
6) Joy Yee’s Noodle Shop
1335 S Halsted St
Bubble tea fanatics go wild for this eatery, which features a full menu of Asian signatures as well as a complex list of smoothie and slushy flavors that are available with or without the famous “bubbles.”
7) Jim’s Original Hot Dog
1250 S Union Ave
Whether you come here for a casual lunch or some post-bar noshing, Jim’s Original promises to hit the spot. It opened more than 70 years ago and has fast become a neighborhood icon. Find out for yourself why this long-standing hot dog stand is known for being one of the best.
8) Al’s Beef
1079 W Taylor St
Another gold-standard Chicago tradition, Al’s Beef has been cooking up Italian beef sandwiches and more since 1938. Here, get hand-cut fries, spicy giardiniera, or sweet peppers to accompany your lunch.
9) The Rosebud
1500 W Taylor St
Classic Italian in the heart of Chicago, this old-world eatery shows off the dishes you love. Calamari specialties, veal or chicken parmesan, a host of pastas, and a delectable wine list means no one will be going home hungry.
10) County Barbecue
1352 W Taylor St
If you’re looking for a meat fix, you’ve found it here. Diners love their pulled pork, corn pudding, and garlic fries, but you can also sample fried chicken, ribs, hot links, brisket, and you can choose from an extensive beer and bourbon list to wash it all down.
If you’re looking for a nightcap, a great date place, or just a comfortable hangout for friends, this neighborhood has something for everyone. These are some of the most popular watering holes in the University Village area. Do you have a favorite that we missed? Let us know about it!
1) Ph. D. Pub
1257 S Halsted St
You won’t want to miss this pub’s beer garden when it’s nice out. A casual bar frequented by students and locals alike, Ph. D. pub has something for everyone.
1358 W Taylor St
Slink on into this wine bar and piano lounge and enjoy a fine vintage over candlelight. Perfect for a date or just a great glass of red, you’ll love living near this spot.
3) Drum & Monkey
1435 W Taylor St
No neighborhood is complete without a bustling Irish pub, and we’d be remiss to omit this watering hole. Free shuffleboard, drink specials, and tater tots make this place worth a visit (or three).
4) The Bar 10 Doors
1259 W Taylor St
Casual and inviting, this affordable bar and lounge offers up drink specials every night, plus live music and theme nights. College students and locals alike flock to this establishment, and we can see why.
5) La Taberna Tapas on Halsted
1301 S Halsted St
Get your tapas fix at this small-plate spot. Featured bites include patatas bravas, olives, charcuterie, and more, and don’t forget to order a sangria flight!
Parks and Points of Interest
You’ll need more to do than just eat and drink, of course, and thankfully, Little Italy is home to a lot of great cultural institutions, green outdoor space, and more. Take a stroll around the neighborhood and visit these top picks.
1) Sheridan Park
910 S Aberdeen St
Featuring an indoor swimming pool, gymnasium, baseball fields and more, Sheridan Park is a perfect place to spend a day with the whole family. Sheridan Park also offers Movies in the Park events during the summertime—a citywide favorite.
2) Piazza DiMaggio
1437 W Taylor St
Perfect for the sports fans in your life, this statue of the late, great Joe DiMaggio is surrounded by beautiful views of the city. Get an iced coffee nearby and stroll through on a sunny afternoon.
3) Maxwell Street Market
On Des Plaines St. from Roosevelt S. to Harrison St.
Want to get a feel for the neighborhood? Stop by the Maxwell Street Market on Sundays and check out local food vendors, plus furniture, clothing and collectibles. Spend all day browsing, and if you run out of time, don’t worry—there’s always next week!
4) Notre Dame de Chicago Church
1335 W. Harrison St.
This landmark church is known for its architecture and is also regarded as the “best extant landmark associated with the French in Chicago.” Its beauty and size make it hard to ignore.
5) Jane Addams Hull House Museum
800 S. Halsted St.
Learn more about Jane Addams’ renowned project, Hull House, and what it accomplished during its time. With affordable admission and group rates available, this museum is a Chicago landmark.
6) UIC Pavilion
525 S Racine Ave
This 9,500-seat arena is perfect for checking out the biggest acts of the minute, plus rallies, sporting events, and more. The UIC Pavilion is home to the University of Illinois at Chicago Flames basketball team and is also home to the Windy City Rollers Roller Derby League.
7) National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame
1431 W. Taylor St.
Celebrating 35 years of Italian athletes, this is the perfect place to visit for any sports fan. Rotating exhibitions and galleries keep this place current and focusing on the latest and greatest.
No more teachers, no more books—wait, wrong list!
University Village is named as such thanks to the University of Illinois Chicago campus’ location. It’s also home to other schools, including a college prep academy.
1076 W Roosevelt Rd
Founded in 1869, this private Catholic school has a broad curriculum focused on preparing students for their futures in higher education. It has an enrollment size between 1,300 and 1,400 students as of 2011, and is known for outstanding teaching and a focus on service and leadership.
2) University of Illinois at Chicago
1200 W Harrison St
Known as UIC for short, this public, four-year university is the largest university in the Chicago area with a student body of about 29,000 people. Established in 1858 with larger expansions coming in the 1940s and 1960s, this university is a branch of the University of Illinois, which has two other campuses in Urbana-Champaign and Springfield. It is ranked the 78th best public university in the nation, and is tied for 51st-75th in the area of social sciences.
Your new neighborhood has a lot to love, but part of the reason so many people choose to live in Chicago is its rich cultural landscape, full of different sights, sounds, smells, and more. When you’re ready to duck out of your usual corners, here’s how you can do it.
The CTA’s UIC-Halsted stop on the Blue Line trains will take residents and students most anywhere they need to go, via line transfers or connecting buses.
Bordering areas include West Town, Pilsen (including Chicago’s Chinatown area), and the West Loop, all lively areas with plenty of options for dining, entertainment, shopping, and more. Ease of traveling to other neighborhoods and a rich history make University Village a place worth calling home!
Thinking about purchasing or renting property in University Village? Contact Lofty today to get more information!
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