Quiet streets, tree-shaded homes, scenic riverside landscapes, and a mix of cultural backgrounds contribute to the charm of this north side Chicago neighborhood. Sprouting from the site of a pickle farm which was Chicago's primary pickle supplier in the mid 1800s, Budlong Woods has developed into a beautiful setting to raise a family. The large wooded expanse of Legion Park is on its western edge, a wonderful place for short hikes or nature sightings. And many of Budlong Woods' properties boast sizeable private lots that are ideal for letting the kids play outdoors and expend some of that never ending energy. Up on Lincoln Avenue, residents will get their fill of the outside world with convenient grocery stores and an international array of dining options.
Budlong Woods Facts
Location: About 10 miles north of the Loop
Bordering Neighborhoods: Ravenswood, North Park, Arcadia Terrace, Bowmanville, Rosehill Cemetery
Boundaries: Bryn Mawr Avenue to the north, Western Avenue to the east, Foster Avenue to the south and the North Branch of the Chicago River to the west
Crime Statistics: Go to CLEARMap to search specific streets and areas for crime incidents
Then and Now
It's probably safe to say that Budlong Woods is the only Chicago neighborhood named for pickle farmers. The first non-native settlers arrived in what we know today as Budlong Woods back in the 1850s and 1860s. Most were farmers from Germany, Sweden, and Luxembourg. Two of these settlers, Lyman and Joseph Budlong, started growing cucumbers, and in 1857 they founded the Budlong Pickle Farm and Factory, one of the area's first major employers. The business took off, and the factory became the primary supplier of pickles and pickled beets in the Chicago area. (Who knew pickles and beets were in such high demand?) The Budlong Brothers later opened Budlong Greenhouses in 1880 to grow flowers year-round.
There were some other farms in the area, and cow pastures also dotted the landscape. Immigrants from the city came to work in the fields, traveling down Western Avenue in horse cars, and later in streetcars.
Despite good public transportation and available jobs, only a few homes had been built in the area by 1900. Workers commuted to their farm jobs and then returned to their homes in the city. But change was on the way. After the Great Chicago Fire in 1871, the rural locale became more attractive to city dwellers who wanted to move away from urban crowding. In 1907, the Ravenswood branch of the Northwestern "El" train (so-named for its elevated tracks) was built in the area, and the same developers who funded the train construction also began snatching up parcels of land for residential construction.
The next decades were ones of amazing growth in Budlong Woods and neighboring communities. Red brick bungalows, large apartment buildings, and two- and three-flats sprung up, many along the North Branch of the Chicago River (Budlong Woods' western border). Numerous businesses set up shop along Lincoln and Western avenues. Entertainment options for the burgeoning population included a stable at the intersection of Berwyn and Western avenues that offered horseback riding. Residents also flocked to movie theaters in nearby Ravenswood, Bowmanville and Lincoln Square to see the latest from Hollywood.
Over the years, waves of immigrants flooded the community—Germans, Greeks and Koreans to name a few. Today, Budlong Woods is home to many ethnic groups, each of which has enriched the community's culture and expanded its identity to include customs and traditions from around the world. The neighborhood's residents take pride in their diversity, and to this day, the pleasant and attractive neighborhood continues to draw people from all walks of life.
Budlong Woods is surrounded on all sides with greenery, picturesque river beds and even an enormous cemetery that is nothing but peace and quiet. But within the neighborhood borders, Budlong Woods has its very own unique park that is the pride and joy of these north side residents.
Legion Park (W Peterson Ave to W Foster Ave at the Chicago River) stands on a 50-acre stretch of the North Shore Channel's east bank. The North Shore Channel is a man-made drainage canal connected to the Chicago River's north branch. In fact, Chicago's only waterfall, a four-foot-high wonder, is located where the river drops into the channel. Created in 1930 to promote recreation along the channel and the river, the park was named Legion Park to honor World War I veterans. It features four playgrounds, two tennis courts, basketball courts, and a roller hockey area. A lovely fountain adorns the park, making a great place to meet up with friends for a fun day in the sun.
Today, concrete walkways, bike paths, and playgrounds line the length of the park, making it a beautiful place to get a dose of summer sunshine near the river's edge. We've even spotted canoes paddling by on the water while strolling along the banks of the serene landscape. Not to mention ducks, geese, and even the occasional heron. Fishermen are another common sight in Legion Park, though we haven't yet spotted any hauling a big catch.
Budlong Woods Real Estate
Leafy trees and lush lawns edge the residential neighborhood lanes of Budlong Woods. Perfectly shaped hedges and colorful flower beds dot the front of homes, while the rear gives way to some fairly large back yards—and most likely a summertime barbeque or two. Attached garages are a common amenity in this north side Chicago neighborhood and the mix of housing designs presents an eclectic architectural charm. Good-sized two-story brick homes, traditional bungalows, two-flats, frame cottages, split-levels and several apartment buildings—many built after World War II—line the neighborhood's beautiful side streets. Recent years have seen many apartment buildings rehabbed and converted into condominiums, and several brand-new developments have been built. While there are many modest dwellings in Budlong Woods, a portion of the properties are high-end real estate.
Check out our Budlong Woods home sales statistics here to get an idea of the real estate market trends in this neighborhood.
What's on the Menu?
Gyros, sushi, empanadas – Budlong Woods' ethnic diversity is certainly reflected in its assortment of restaurants.
An ethnic gem in Budlong Woods is Hub's Restaurant (5540 N Lincoln Ave, (773) 784-4240). This north side neighborhood boasts one of the highest Greek-speaking communities in Chicago, so it's no surprise that Greek food is easy to find. Hub's owner, John Thanoukos, emigrated from Greece in the 1970s, worked in several Chicago restaurants, and then opened his own casual eatery combining his love of Greek food with American tastes.
The result: an extensive menu that includes Greek chicken, shish kabob, beef kabab, chicken kabab, ribs, spinach pie, baklava, burgers, salads, soup, chili, deli sandwiches, and more. The memorabilia on Hub's walls commemorates its other claim to fame. In the early 1990s, the restaurant achieved national recognition when it inspired sketches on NBC's Saturday Night Live. The sketches showed employees talking about the restaurant host's affinity for "the juice," resulting in the catchphrase, "You like-a da juice, ah?" For fast carryout service, just call in your order. Hub's also has a catering menu, featuring large portions of all of its food at reasonable prices.
For a fine dining experience, try Goosefoot (2656 W Lawrence Ave, (773) 942-7547). The restaurant is named for the goosefoot plant family that has a lot of meaning to the culinary world. Signifying a desire to craft a restaurant that emphasizes the highest quality of food in an environment designed for optimal enjoyment, Goosefoot is classic yet modern restaurant that offers an approachably elegant dining experience.
Chef Chris Nugent's food is carefully designed and made from only the best ingredients – the result is more of an artistic experience than a dining one. With a nine course-tasting menu, you are sure to relax and enjoy a meal that you won't soon forget. Diner's say that "you can really tell that everyone, from the owner/chef's to the wait staff, want you to have a great experience and that they really care about every single element they are putting in front of you."
For traditional Japanese food served in an authentic Japanese setting, visit Midori Japanese Restaurant (3310 W Bryn Mawr Ave, (773) 267-9733). Midori means "green" in Japanese, and the name is a good fit for the refreshing tastes and feel of this restaurant. Visitors to Midori rave about the Roberto Special, and the menu is full of traditional Japanese favorites and an extensive collection of Sushi and Sashimi. The Tatami rooms bring a little of Japan to the Chicago area, and your group will love the experience of the padded rooms, low tables, and the sliding doors.
Mekato's Columbian Bakery (5423 N Lincoln Ave, (773) 784-5181) bills itself as the first and the only Colombian bakery in Chicago and the Middle West – and we'll take their word for it. The bakery, owned by the Bohorquez family, is much more than cakes and breads. Mekato's serves homemade empanadas, filled with meat or chicken, meaty chicharrones (fried pork rinds), arepas (grilled cornmeal cake), and chorizo (pork sausage). Need something really different for your next cocktail party? Try the bakery's hors d'oeuvres, which include mini-empanadas, mini-bunuelos, guava mini-chicharrones, as well as different kinds of sandwiches and delicious pasabocas.
Of course, Mekato's Bakery has a wide range of Colombian breads and sweets, too. Traditional desserts include sugared roscados, brazos de reina, panecillos, tortas, roscones, piononos, cakes made with chocolate, and Colombian tarts. Overwhelmed by the selection, we neglected to ask what all of the aforementioned are, but take it from us – they all look extremely delicious.
Mekato's also offers beverages to accompany its bakery goods, including café columbiano, cappuccino, cortadito, café espresso, and an interesting assortment of Colombian sodas (gaseosas). The favorite among visitors seems to be the chicken empanadas, but you'll want to try everything once you get there. You can even fool your friends into thinking you just came back from a Colombian adventure by picking up "souvenirs" from the bakery's assortment of Colombian ponchos, shirts, hats, and key chains.
Night on the Town
Warm up your voice and get ready to bust out your pipes because Karaoke is taken to whole new level at Lincoln Karaoke (5526 N Lincoln Ave, (773) 895-2299). You can go way beyond your usual standards with the incredibly wide selection of songs, and fun props like light-up tambourines help you take your performance up a notch. The venue is decorated with flat-screen TVs and comfortable sofas, making this the perfect place for a group to go out and cut loose.
Friday nights at Big Joe's (1818 W Foster Ave (773) 784-8755) offer the chance for a unique experience: turtle racing. Watch the turtles go and cheer for your favorite, and you could win with the raffle tickets that come free with the drinks. Patrons describe Big Joe's as a relaxed, fun place with great drink specials, but warn that the place is cash only, so hit the ATM before you go. Friday and Saturday nights can get a little crazy, but people agree that it's something you should try at least once.
Budlong Woods residents have an array of commuting options. The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) #11 Lincoln/Sedgwick bus route has a stop in the neighborhood at Lincoln and California avenues. The bus takes riders south down Lincoln Avenue to three different rapid transit (train) stations, each of which follows a different route to downtown Chicago and beyond. So take your pick of the Western Brown Line station, the Fullerton Red Line station, and the Clinton Blue Line station. The end of the line going north on the #11 bus is Howard and McCormick, near both Skokie and Evanston.
As much as we like taking public transportation, when we've got a car parked in the garage at home, it's hard not to use it, especially for traveling about the city. From Budlong Woods, neighborhood drivers have less than a three-mile trip down Foster Avenue to Lake Shore Drive which is a quick route to downtown Chicago and the Loop. Motorists can also get to the Edens Expressway (I-94) in a matter of minutes by heading west down Foster Avenue to the entrance ramp just east of Cicero Avenue. Just a word of warning: Chicago is a big city with a whole lot of traffic, so if you plan to drive during rush hour, give yourself some extra time to get to your destination – especially if you take the highways.
School's in Session
Schools in Budlong Woods include public and parochial elementary schools and a college-prep high school. In addition to the following list, you can find more information on Chicago neighborhood schools at our Chicago Guide Schools page.
- Lyman A. Budlong Elementary School – 2701 W Foster Ave – (773) 534-2591
- North Shore Adventist Academy – 5220 N California Ave – (773) 769-0733
- Northside College Prep High School – 5501 N Kedzie Ave – (773) 534-3954
- St. Hilary School – 5614 N Fairfield Ave – (773) 561-5885
- St. Philip Lutheran – 2500 W Bryn Mawr Ave – (773) 561-9830
We've compiled a sampling of some of the places you can get your bare necessities in Budlong Woods, from refrigerator staples such as milk and butter, to literary classics like Dickens and Twain.
- Hilltop – 2800 W Foster Ave – (773) 989-9100
- Hubs Restaurant – 5220 N Lincoln Ave – (773) 907-9155
- Mulligans – 5155 N Lincoln Ave – (773) 561-7511
- Da Rae Jung – 5220 N Lincoln Ave – (773) 907-9155
- Yes Thai – 5211 N Damen Ave – (773) 878-3487
- Rolls 'N Bowls – 5501 N Lincoln Ave – (773) 728-2939
- San Soo Gab San – 5247 N Western Ave – (773) 334-1589
- Mekato's Bakery – 5423 N Lincoln Ave – (773) 784-5181
- Sweet Collective – 5333 N Lincoln Ave – (773) 293-0888
- Bel Ami – 5530 N Lincoln Ave – (773) 878-2808
- Mekato's Bakery – 5423 N Lincoln Ave – (773) 784-5181
- Aztecas Mex Taqueria – 5421 N Lincoln Ave – (773) 506-2052
- La Cabana de Don Luis – 5157 N Lincoln Ave – (773) 271-5176
- Pueblito Viejo – 5429 N Lincoln Ave – (773) 784-9135
- Café Latin Bliss – 5515 N Lincoln Ave – (773) 275-8888
- Hidden Cove – 5336 N Lincoln Ave – (773) 275-3955
- Big Joe's – 1818 W Foster Ave – (773) 784-8755
- Café Muppet – 5155 N Lincoln Ave – (773) 728-2354
- Dominick's Finer Foods – 5233 N Lincoln Ave – (773) 728-4100
- Galter Life Center – 5157 N Francisco Ave – (773) 878-9936
- Chicago Public Library Budlong Woods Branch – 5630 N Lincoln Ave – (312) 742-9590
- Swedish Covenant Hospital – Foster & California Aves – (773) 878-8200
- Chicago Transit Authority – (888) 968-7282
Our neighborhoods guide is meant to give potential homebuyers a general overview of what every Chicago neighborhood has to offer and what makes it unique from the rest, and believe us, no two neighborhoods are the same! Searching for a new home isn't just about finding that prefect condo or house, making sure the setting fits your style and needs is just as important. And whether Budlong Woods neighborhood is your ideal locale to settle down, or you've found the scene here just isn't your cup of tea, we're here to help you find the right place to make sure your home purchase a is total success. From the type of restaurants to the outdoor venues to the local schools, every detail is an essential factor in what makes a property of dream home. By utilizing our comprehensive accounts of each community, such as this one for Budlong Woods, we hope to provide a detailed picture of not only the residential real estate available in the area, but also the additional features of the neighborhood. A quick glance and you'll know exactly what shopping, dining, entertainment and resources are in Budlong Woods, all without ever having to go anywhere.