The ethnically diverse and well-kept Belmont Central is a sizeable yet understated neighborhood, speckled with affordable housing and an international array of restaurants to suit every taste and craving. With a passionate Chamber of Commerce always on the job to enhance Belmont Central homes and businesses, this northwest Chicago neighborhood is making a name for itself. Historic houses have been passed down from generation to generation while new model condos are emerging along the residential blocks in recent years. Convenient corner stores and groceries stock the daily essentials, but Belmont Central's shopping district is the place to go for fashion, furniture, footwear and giftables. The mix of family-run establishments and national chains is right on par with the strong community values that have shaped Belmont Central into a close-knit Chicago neighborhood.
Belmont Central Facts
Location: About 10 miles northwest of the Loop
Bordering Neighborhoods: Monteclare, Portage Park, Cragin, Hanson Park, North Austin
Boundaries: Roscoe Street to the north, Central Avenue to the east, Dickens Avenue to the south and Narragansett Avenue to the west
Then and Now
Many of the outer neighborhoods of northwest Chicago evolved from pit stops for merchants and travelers heading along the plank roads, to and from the city. Belmont Central is not much different. In the 1830s, its plank road, Grand Avenue, served as a convenient route for people looking to bring their goods to Chicago.
Belmont Central shares much of its history with the next door Cragin neighborhood. Cragin became mainly an industrial zone between the 1890s and 1930s, providing work for many blue collar Chicagoans. The area that is now Belmont Central was nearby and provided plenty of land to serve the residential needs of many of these workers as the manufacturing industries grew.
By the 1940s, a healthy commercial district (which still stands today) began to develop in Belmont Central, as stores and shops opened up. In 1953, St. Patrick High School moved out of its downtown location and into the Belmont Central neighborhood in the hopes of growing its student body. The plan worked and the school thrived in its new location. St. Patrick’s, originally founded in 1861, is the oldest Catholic school in the city and has improved its facilities and competitiveness year after year, making it one of the neighborhood’s most significant and historic sites.
Through the 1980s and 1990s, the population of Belmont Central has grown steadily. These days the Belmont Central Chamber of Commerce is working fervently to improve businesses and residences. The neighborhood has very few vacant storefronts and charming homes are under frequent revival. New lighting fixtures and trees are being added to give the streetscape a fresh and pleasant feel. And Riis Park, the community’s oasis of green, is always alive with activity.
At 55 acres, Riis Park (6100 W Fullerton Ave, 312-746-5363) dominates the Belmont Central neighborhood. The park was named for photojournalist Jacob Riis, who was an advocate for the development of playgrounds in inner city neighborhoods. In 1916, Riis Park was founded by the Northwest Park District and was later taken over by the Chicago Park District in 1934. Outside of the obvious amenities of Chicago parks, such as baseball diamonds and tennis courts, Riis has paths for walking, jogging, and biking. While in winter residents young and old lace up the skates and hit the Riis Park ice rink. (If your skating skills are anything like ours, we suggest strapping on some knee pads and wrist guards, too.) Barbequing with the family in the meadow or just reading a book by Riis Park’s lagoon can be a great way to spend a summertime weekend afternoon.
Belmont Central Real Estate
In the 1930s in order to meet the flourishing housing needs, home construction accelerated, resulting in a neighborhood characterized by a variety of architectural designs. Quaint brick bungalows, Queen Anne-style houses, two-flats, and Cape Cods sprung up along the residential streets, lined with trees and trim front lawns. A good number of the homes remain in the area today, giving Belmont Central a mature yet fresh quality that carries through the scenic green avenues. Many of these houses have stayed in the care of their original owners and their families, passed down from generation to generation. The majority of these properties have been exceptionally cared for over the years and many were recently rehabbed as part of a movement spawned by the neighborhood chamber of commerce.
Among the historic homes, new-construction two-stories and some raised ranches have been built, giving Belmont Central a touch of modernity which draws new families to the area. The blend of long-time residents and first-time homeowners is a welcome mix that adds a liveliness to the community makeup.
Along the neighborhood’s main thoroughfares are the majority of Belmont Central’s multi-unit housing options. Mostly older, low-rise brick condominiums, there are also some new model condos available in the neighborhood. Generally, the average sales price for a one- or two-bedroom condo is around $186,000, although you can get a unit for as low as $65,000 and the higher-end is in the mid $200,000s. The average sales price for a single-family detached home with three bedrooms is a little over $300,000. If you add another bedroom, the average price goes up to $330,000. There are also some large homes in the neighborhood with five or six bedrooms that sell for under
$500,000, so you can really get your money’s worth out here.
What’s on the Menu?
We certainly find it difficult to starve in Belmont Central, with its splendidly appetizing restaurants that run the culinary gamut from Far East cuisine to south-of-the-border specialties.
A fabulous place to visit in the neighborhood for authentic Chinese Schzewan food is Hong Huah (5924 W Fullerton Ave, 773-889-4800). Though the dining area may be a little small and not much to look at, customers frequent this mainstay for the high quality food. Around lunchtime, people crowd in to take advantage of the $5 entree deal. Start with appetizers like shrimp toast, stuffed crab claws or 75 cent chicken wings. Then dig into delicious Mongolian beef and mu shu chicken, which are one of the many highlights of the menu. Servings are plentiful, so be prepared to share. On those cold winter nights, or rainy spring days, we understand if you’d rather stay in than head out into the elements for a meal. Good thing that no matter what Mother Nature throws at us, we can order in with a quick call to Hong Huah’s. And even if you don’t live in Belmont Central, their delivery range is vast, extending outside of the neighborhood boundarie, so go ahead and pick up the phone.
Not in the mood for Asian cuisine? How about Puerto Rican fare then? For excellent traditionally prepared Puerto Rican food we like to stop over at Borinquen Restaurant (3020 N Central Ave, 773-622-8570). This Belmont Central spot is one of a small local chain, which prides itself as the 'Home of the Jibarito', a sandwich comprised of beefsteak and fried green plantains. This creation, conjured up by the restaurant owner, is their claim to fame, but there is a plethora of other delicious choices on the menu that are just as popular with the regulars. The sancocho is a culinary adventure, a stew with pig’s feet, yucca, and banana, trust us, it’s better than it sounds. But, if you’re not sold on the idea, you may want to try the mofongo ball instead, a superb dish that consists of your choice of meat wrapped within plantains. In addition to some tasty entrees, Borinquen has many flavorful salads to choose from, such as lobster, fruit, octopus, and shrimp.
After years of having a successful location on Milwaukee Avenue, Congress Pizzeria (5925 W Diversey Ave, 773-745-3800) has expanded into the Belmont Central neighborhood. Along with the basic selections of thin, pan, and stuffed pizza, Congress has specialty pies like the Taco Pizza with ground beef and cheddar or the Congress Millennium with eggplant, broccoli, zucchini, and more. If we need to feed a large group of people, the Congress Stadium (21 inches by 31 inches) usually does the trick. In search of something other than pizza, Congress has a large menu of alternative dinner options like chicken, crab legs, ribs and pastas.
La Oaxaquena Restaurant (6113 W Diversey Ave, 773-637-8709) is our top pick for Mexican food in Belmont Central. The southern state of Oaxaca, Mexico is the influence behind this mole-heavy menu of top secret recipes. Dig into some grilled cactus to start or try the octopus, shrimp, and onions. Top-notch salsa, tacos, fajitas, and flan are served along with specialties like the red snapper in tomato sauce or half of a chicken covered in mole sauce. Daily specials and a pleasant plant-filled environment help round out the dining experience at this Belmont Central neighborhood favorite.
Best Shopping Stops
On the northeastern edge of Belmont Central is a shopping district with stores selling items that range from music and books to home furniture and clothing. These stores are mostly family-owned and operated, allowing for their selections to be more unique. For the little one’s footwear needs, head down to Euro Children’s Shoes (5734 W Belmont Ave, 773-205-2559). Euro stocks dress shoes, sandals, winter shoes and clogs for babies, so no matter how fast they grow out of them, you’ll have a convenient spot to shop for the next size up. Women’s clothing and apparel can be hunted down at places like Yolanta Studio Design (5611 W Belmont Ave, 773-804-0297) or Stilo (3146 N Central Ave, 773-622-0706).
Athletes will find that Belmont Central provides a great assortment of sporting goods at places such as Paco Sportswear Inc (5618 W Belmont Ave, 773-205-5660), Bowlers Custom Pro Shop (3107 N Central Ave, 773-202-0492), and Rave Sports (5643 W Belmont Ave, 773-622-3460). In search of something for around the house? Then try home and garden specialists Baco Linen & Fashions (5618 W Belmont Ave, 773-202-0085), or furniture pros Sibilano Furniture (5727 W Belmont Ave, 773-622-3700). As an added bonus, Belmont Central’s commercial zone offers a large parking lot that holds over 200 vehicles in order to accommodate the heavy shopping traffic.
Belmont Central is certainly not a traffic-laden neighborhood. Driving and parking is relatively easy and generally free (no permits are needed for street parking). The neighborhood is smack dab in between two of the city’s major expressways. Three miles up Austin Avenue to the north lies I-90 (the Kennedy Expressway), which will deliver you to the airport, suburbs, and beyond. Meanwhile, three miles or so to the south along Austin Avenue travelers can find I-290 (the Eisenhower Expressway), which is the quickest route to get downtown via automobile.
If you want to leave the car at home or are in the habit of taking public transportation due to not having a vehicle, the best option for getting around is the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) bus lines. CTA train service does not reach the Belmont Central neighborhood, so to get to the downtown area commuters have the convenience of the #65 Grand Avenue bus, which will take you directly into the Loop. Another way to reach the bustling downtown area would be to take the #91 Austin, #85 Central or #86 Narragansett buses south to the Green Line
'El' train where you can transfer for free.
What about getting to the lakefront? Three simple choices: the #77 Belmont, #76 Diversey, and the #74 Fullerton buses all traverse the city, straight to Lake Michigan’s outskirts. These same buses can get a person west to Harlem where a transfer and a ride north gets you to the Blue Line 'El' (in case there’s a flight out of O’Hare in your near future).
School’s in Session
Belmont Central neighborhood has a number of schools including esteemed institutions such as St. Patrick High School and Notre Dame High School for Girls where families can send their little scholars. For information on other Chicago area schools, visit our Chicago Guide Schools page.
Belmont Cragin Elementary School 2456 N Mango Ave (773) 534-2900
Burbank Elementary School 2035 N Mobile Ave (773) 534-3000
Chicago Academy High School 3400 N Austin Ave (773) 534-0146
Lyon Elementary School 2941 N McVicker Ave (773) 534-3120
Notre Dame High School for Girls 3000 N Mango Ave (773) 622-9494
St Patrick High School 5900 W Belmont Ave (773) 282-8844
Whether you have just moved into the neighborhood or are a long-established resident, it’s nice to have a list of places where you can get your bare necessities, from Band-Aids to jogging paths.
International House of Pancakes – 5737 W Belmont Ave – (773) 622-3822
The Parkview Grill – 6058 W Fullerton Ave – (773) 237-5573
The Chinese Chef’s Kitchen – 2637 N Central Ave – (773) 836-8009
Tony’s Peking Garden Restaurant – 5819 W Belmont Ave – (773) 637-2717
Hong Huah – 5924 W Fullerton Ave – (773) 889-4800
Red Ginger – 3103 N Narragansett Ave – (773) 552-5432
Oak Mill Bakery – 5616 W Diversey Ave – (773) 889-7171
Dunkin Donuts – 5643 W Belmont Ave – (773) 622-3460
Euro Cappuccino Inc – 5759 W Belmont Ave – (773) 622-3443
Tony’s Finer Foods – 2500 N Central Ave – (773) 804-1556
Dog Stop – 6100 W Belmont Ave – (773) 283-8722
El Gordo – 5746 W Belmont Ave – (773) 286-8608
La Oaxaquena Restaurant – 6113 W Diversey Ave – (773) 637-8709
Taqueria Los Cuates – 5940 W Diversey Ave – (773) 237-7570
Congress Pizzeria – 5925 W Diversey Ave – (773) 745-3800
Papa Turhano’s Pizza – 5648 W Diversey Ave – (773) 237-2376
Tanelli’s Chicago Style Pizza – 5806 W Fullerton Ave – (773) 622-4244
Puerto Rican Cuisine
Borinquen Restaurant – 3020 N Central Ave – (773) 622-8570
A & G Fresh Market – 5630 W Belmont Ave – (773) 427-7432
Queen’s Pharmacy – 6213 W Belmont Ave – (773) 622-2331
Osco Drug – 2722 N Central Ave – (773) 804-1692
Queen’s Pharmacy – 6213 W Belmont Ave – (773) 622-2331
Walgreens – 5650 W Belmont – (773) 777-4425
Aldi – 2828 N Central Ave
Alexandra Foods 3304 1/2 N Central Ave – (773) 283-5440
Fresh Market Place – 2600 N Central Ave – (773) 385-8900
Garden Fresh Fruit – 5701 W Belmont Ave – (773) 622-1188
Oscar’s Foods – 6135 W Belmont Ave – (773) 622-6822
Tony’s Finer Foods – 2500 N Central Ave – (773) 804-1556
Xsport Fitness – 6420 W Fullerton Ave – (773) 237-5730
DK Cafe – 6140 W Belmont Ave – (773) 286-9260
Fantasia Club – 6211 W Belmont Ave – (773) 637-1305
Jedynka Club – 5616 W Diversey Ave – (773) 889-7171
John Fela Tavern – 5811 W Fullerton Ave – (773) 889-9695
New Polina Club – 6101 W Belmont Ave – (773) 237-0571
Stanley’s Bar – 5717 W Fullerton Ave – (773) 637-1326
Aiello Playlot Park – 2133 N. McVicker – (312) 746-5363
Riis Park – 6100 W. Fullerton – (312) 746-5363
Alan’s Fashions – 6326 W Grand Ave (773) 622-8110
Artel Jewelers – 5605 W Belmont Ave (773) 237-1466
Baco Linen & Fashions 5618 W Belmont Ave (773) 202-0085
Bowlers Custom Pro Shop – 3107 N Central Ave (773) 202-0492
Euro Children’s Shoes – 5734 W Belmont Ave (773) 205-2559
Paco Sportswear Inc – 5618 W Belmont Ave (773) 205-5660
Payless Shoe Source – 5607 W Belmont Ave (773) 622-4922
Rainbow Apparel – 5619 W Belmont Ave (773) 889-7383
Rave Sports – 5643 W Belmont Ave (773) 622-3460
Siblano Furniture Co – 5727 W Belmont Ave (773) 622-3700
Stilo – 3146 N Central Ave (773) 622-0706
Vestments by Visti – 5823 W Fullerton Ave (773) 237-7772
Yolanta Studio Design – 5611 W Belmont Ave (773) 804-0297
Zacatecas Western Wear – 5718 W Diversey Ave (773) 622-5987
Chicago Transit Authority – (888) 968-7282
Sometimes it makes more sense to view the city of Chicago as a bunch of separate neighborhoods-especially when it comes to real estate. Whether you are in the market for a loft, condo, townhome, or house, it is just as important to inspect the surrounding area as it is to inspect the home’s foundation. Belmont Central neighborhood is just one Chicago community with an abundance of residential properties, and a life all its own. From where you send your kids to school to where you dine at night, the information we provide is an essential piece of the puzzle when you’re trying to decide whether or not to buy that beautiful loft or adorable house in Belmont Central.