East Village is a charming, charismatic west side neighborhood that seamlessly blends old brownstones with new buildings, and Eastern European residents with new inhabitants. Modern townhomes and condominium developments have been built next to 100-year-old, vintage walkups, encouraging a fresh generation of Chicagoans to move to the area and make this Old World neighborhood home. Foodies will find the East Village lacks nothing in the way of culinary supremacy and the nightlife is just as full with hip clubs, lovable dives and even a hookah bar. East Villlage shopping should not be overlooked — music, fashion, gift items and any offbeat accessory you could want are all right down the street from your front door.
East Village Facts
Location: About 2 miles northwest of the Loop
Bordering Neighborhoods: Wicker Park, United Center Park, Ukrainian Village, Noble Square, West Loop
Boundaries: Division Street to the north, Ashland Avenue to the east, Grand Avenue to the south and Damen Avenue to the west
Then and Now
Like so many of its West Town counterparts (Wicker Park, Ukrainian Village, Noble Square, etc.) East Village saw the largest population boost after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, when refugees began to make their new homes west of downtown. The name East Village comes from being situated east of Ukrainian Village. Clever, eh? In fact, it was originally considered part of Ukrainian Village.
East Village's population continued to expand in the late 1800s, as the Logan Square and Humboldt Park Rapid Transit lines were completed and the Paulina Street trolley was installed. East Village's proximity to the "El" trains (so-named for its elevated tracks) caused the area to be more densely populated and working-class than its West Town neighbors. East Village began to gain its own identity as older buildings were rehabbed and re-inhabited, and small mom-and-pop shops and restaurants appeared on the Village streets in the early twentieth century.
Through the years, East Village has seen demographics ebb and flow, and crime rates soar and then drop. But one thing has stayed consistent: the Eastern European influence is still evident.
East Village Real Estate
East Village real estate is characterized by a slew of brown- and greystones that are at least 100 years old. But the neighborhood is hardly one-dimensional when it comes to real estate. If you can't snag one of the historical homes (a few of which are designated official Chicago landmarks), you can find housing options that range from classic two-flats to Eastern European-inspired, small cottage-style single-family houses, to brand new condos. Modern townhomes have sprung up next door to vintage walk-ups, but still East Village's residential rows maintain a continuity that seamlessly blends the old with the new.
Whatever your housing preferences, you'll likely be settled on a quiet, tree-lined street filled with families, artists and entrepreneurs, some who have been in the neighborhood for generations and others who have just arrived. Regardless, we'll guarantee that they all really love their charming, peaceful and quiet urban neighborhood.
What's on the Menu?
An East Village morning spot is Atomix (1957 W Chicago Ave, 312-733-2701), a coffee bar whose environment combines 1950s Donna Reed with the space-age theme of Star Trek. Though Atomix is open at night too, our perfect day begins with a fluffy Atomix waffle and one of their killer espresso drinks. Afternoon and evening fare features sandwiches, vegetarian chili and hummus.
Another great spot for breakfast and lunch in East Village is the Breakfast House (1800 W Grand Ave, 312-997-2400). Open seven days a week, what's not to love about getting a good early morning meal at a reasonable price? They have everything from French toast, huevos rancheros, and a good succulent burger.
If you've got a sweet craving, head over to La Fama Bakery (1751 W Chicago Ave, 312-421-2002) for a Mexican twist on traditional baked goods, with specialties like apple empanadas. The staff begins whipping them up at 3:45 a.m., and the best part is you can pay for these yummy treats with the change you find in between your couch cushions! With that being said, this little bakery is a cash-only place, so leave the plastic at home. With a Chicago Avenue bus stop three steps from the doors, La Fama is a morning ritual for many East Village commuters.
Sticking to south-of-the-border cuisine, Dona Naty's Tacos (1815 W Chicago Ave, 312-243-2209) stands out in a sea of inexpensive taco stands. Why? Their steak and rib-eye tacos are succulent, the tortilla chips are freshly fried, the salsa is homemade, and the prices are shockingly low. Keep their number on speed dial, because the best news is they deliver.
Habana Libre (1440 W. Chicago, 312-243-3303) is a garlic-lovers paradise. Serving up authentic Cuban fare, villagers are abuzz over their ropa vieja (spiced shredded beef), red snapper, Cuban paella and empanadas. Bring along that tin of Altoids-the garlic is delicious, but potent.
Jumping continental cuisines, Bob San (1805 W Division St, 773-235-8888) is a great spot for traditional Japanese food and raw fish dishes. The waterfall sculpture, metallic sushi bar, and trendy clientele give this East Village fixture a chic vibe, and the high-quality fish is super fresh-any Bob San fan will tell you the House Crunch roll is a must-try.
If it's pizza East Villagers want, it's Pizza Metro (925 N Ashland Ave, 773-772-3267) they get. We're huge fans of their buttery crust and unique toppings such as gorgonzola cheese, red peppers and rosemary potatoes. But don't worry. You can still get a slice of plain old cheese if you like, and it will still knock your socks off.
Best Shopping Stops
Music lovers will find East Village a shopping haven, thanks to the presence Permanent Records (1914 W Chicago Ave, 773-278-1744), which specializes in harder-to-find material. Their light blue walls, plastic chairs and homemade CD bins make us feel like we're digging through a friend's collection of tunes. Come and look for that album you have been dying to have or just chill out and enjoy the atmosphere.
Sometimes you just need to pick up a new comic or two. Vigilante Press (1931 W Chicago Ave, 312-423-6774) is the place to go in East Village if you are in dire need of a new DC comic. Need a newly released comic? This shop is the place for you to stock up and add to your collection.
If you're looking to add a little green to your new place, Sprout Home (745 N Damen Ave, 312-226-5950) is the gardening stop in East Village. They have home accessories, tableware and gardening supplies indoors, while the outdoor garden contains rows of plants and flowers. Got lots of sun? A shady bedroom? The experts here are ready to help you select the best plant for your living conditions. If picking up a gorgeous arrangement is more your speed (or having one delivered to that special someone) stop by Cattails (1935 W Division St, 773-486-1621) where you can get everything from simple red roses to ornate orchids, lilies and peonies in price ranges that suit all budgets.
Aesthetic Eye (1520 W. Chicago, 312-243-1520) blends the feel of a gallery with the selection of an eclectic boutique. They offer affordable art, gift ideas and home accessories that combine form and function. You'll find many affordable items but also stumble upon that $100 glass piece.
Need a quick gift? Housed in a former pharmacy, RR #1 (814 N Ashland, 312-421-9079) gives and old-fashioned vibe, with modern-day gifts. This little gift shop provides customers with hawks original jewelry, home decor, bath/body items, homeopathic remedies, and other gift-able items that you'll buy for others and end up keeping for yourself.
They say that knitting is trendy these days, which is why Nina (1655 W Division St, 773-486-8996) is one of East Village's most popular shops. Dubbed "a well-knit shop," Nina hawks a wide variety of yarns and knitting supplies, modern knitting and pattern books, and also offers both group classes and private lessons for both novices and vets. After you've knitted something for everyone in your life, you'll need pretty gift cards for your stockpile of birthday, Christmas, Chanukah, wedding, anniversary and graduation presents.
Where can you go to add to your closet? Head over to Penelope's (1913 W Division St, 773-395-2351) for a fun and youthful style. The styles here are cute, hip, fun and flirtatious-even for the men's clothing. Besides apparel, they carry shoes and accessories for both men and women, and throw in some gift-y items, too, like notebooks and candles.
Let's jump all the way to the other end of the fashion spectrum (and the other end of East Village) to Alcala's Western Boots (1733 W Chicago Ave, 312-226-0152). This is one of the largest retailers of western wear in the Midwest. Pick up cowboy boots, hats, buckles, jeans, belts and anything else with a splash of out-west flair. Alcala's has been a Chicago staple since 1972, proving that a little cowboy/cowgirl gear never goes out of style.
Night on the Town
Whether you feel like wearing a sparkly tank top, a well-loved white T-shirt, or anything in between, East Village has a bar to suit your particular mood.
One of East Village's older bars is Ola's Liquor (947 N Damen Ave, 773-384-7250). Whether you're stopping by to grab a sixer, or sidling up to the bar for a brewsky, this place will never cease to amaze with its layers of dive qualities: dirt cheap drinks, jukebox stocked with Polish hits, and a communal sink outside the bathrooms for hand-washing.
Continuing with the East Village dives, we spend a lot of time at Inner Town Pub (1935 W Thomas, 773-235-9795), or ITP to locals, across the street and down a block. They have free pool, a dart board, a jukebox that pits alternative hits like R.E.M and Wilco next to country legends like Johnny Cash and Hank Williams, a photo booth, and a cable TV playing some great movies while you drink. No fancy martinis here-the ITP crowd digs their beer, and they have seven different kinds on draft.
Across the street from ITP is one of East Village's best beer gardens. Happy Village (1059 N Wolcott Ave, 773-486-1512) boasts a giant back patio, complete with plants, a goldfish pond, and plenty of picnic tables. The uber-casual joint draws mainly a neighborhood crowd, who down cheap drinks among vintage posters and slot machines. But this isn't Vegas, so don't expect a payout.
Pinching pennies these days? We are too, which means we've been spending a lot of time at Gold Star Bar (1755 W Division St, 773-227-8700). Make sure you have the cash on you though, because this place does not take cards. As you listen to Tom Waits, the Beatles, or Jesus Lizard on the jukebox and enjoy your dirt-cheap beer, try to take in the history. This joint has been around since the Prohibition era.
Heading down to Chicago Avenue be sure to hit up Cleo's (1935 W Chicago Ave, 312-243-5600). The dark, candlelit room makes a good date spot-or somewhere to go on those nights we don't feel like putting on makeup and doing the hair. The kitchen pumps out better-than-average bar food, and neighbors line up on Sundays for their brunch. Check the attitude at the door because the regulars here won't have it.
Down the street at High Dive (1938 W Chicago Ave, 773-235-3483) you can slip into velvet booths and stare up at plasma screen TVs, all while listening to a jukebox stocked with indie-rock goodies. The bar food is greasy, but we'll bear the extra calories for just one more encounter with their amazing ranch fries.
For those of you who get nostalgic at the mere mention of Tetris (or for those who were secretly playing it at work today), Club Foot (1824 W Augusta Blvd, 773-489-0379) may be your perfect East Village bar. In addition to Tetris, Club Foot has a pool table, oodles of drink specials, black-and-white rock posters on the walls, and eclectic DJs who spin everything from punk to pop to rock to hip hop. The best part? Club Foot attracts those who want to shake their groove thing, so you don't even have to head to a glammed-up downtown club to dance.
East Villagers find having a car incredibly easy in their neighborhood. There's little to no permit parking, plenty of open spaces, and the area is in close proximity to the Dan Ryan Expressway (I-90/94). But for those who prefer the public transportation of the CTA, East Village has plenty of options for that method as well.
The Blue Line 'El' (referring to the train's partially elevated tracks) stops at Division Street, where a quick walk west will bring you to stores, restaurants, and bars galore. The El is great, but when in East Village, we like to take the bus. The #70 Division Street bus will take you further west towards Humboldt Park or east to the Rush/Division shopping and bar area. A terrific option for getting down to the lakefront, or to Water Tower Place in the heart of the Magnificent Mile is the #66 Chicago Avenue bus. The #50 Damen bus is happy to shuttle you up north towards Lakeview, Roscoe Village, Wrigleyville or Lincoln Square, or down south towards Bridgeport, Beverly or Midway.
When it's nice out, we try to travel via our own two feet, and East Village is perfect for that. Being a small neighborhood, it's easy to walk everywhere, and Wicker Park, Ukrainian Village, Bucktown and other happening west side neighborhoods are just a hop, skip and a jump away-literally. And with all the peaceful, tree-lined streets in the East Village vicinity, we can assure you it will be one beautiful walk.
School's in Session
East Villagers can send their school-age children to class at any of the neighborhood schools, or to other educational facilities throughout the city. For more info on these and other Chicago area schools visit our Chicago Guide Schools page.
Hans Christian Anderson School - 1148 N Honore St - (773) 534-4276
Talcott Elementary School - 1840 W Ohio St - (773) 534-7130
Wells Community Academy High School - 936 N Ashland Ave - (773) 534-7010
Below is a short list of some places in East Village that will help you cover those basic needs.
Deitch Pharmacy - 1800 W Chicago Ave - (773) 486-1200
Walgreens - 1650 W Chicago Ave - (312) 829-6186
Amish Healthy Foods - 1023 N Western Ave - (773) 278-1717
Dominick's Finer Foods - 2045 W Chicago Ave
Sahar Food & Liquor - 1759 W Division St - (773) 486-3202
Wicker Basket Cafe - 2113 W Division St - (773) 698-8413
Chopin Theatre - 1543 W Division St - (773) 278-1500
Lotus Keep Gallery - 1017 N Western Ave - (773) 315-9866
Paperish Mess - 1955 W Chicago Ave - (312) 265-1497
Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art - 2320 W Chicago Ave - (773) 227-5522
Aesthetic Eye (1520 W. Chicago, 312-243-1520)
Alcala's Western Wear - 1733 W Chicago Ave - (312) 226-0152
Cattails - 1935 W Division St - (773) 486-1621
Comrade Cycles - 1908 W Chicago Ave - (773) 292-2522
Division Street Watch Co. - 2017 W Division St - (312) 788-7510
Labrabbit Optics - 1104 N Ashland Ave - (773) 957- 4733
Nina - 1655 W Division St - (773) 486-8996
Paper Doll - 2027 W Division St -
Penelope's - 1913 W Division St - (773) 395-2351
Permanent Records - 1914 W Chicago Ave - (773) 278-1744
Psycho Baby - 1657 W Division St -
RR1 - 814 N Ashland Ave - (312) 421-9079
Sir & Madame - 938 N Damen Ave - (773) 489-6660
Sprout Home - 745 N Damen Ave - (312) 226-5950
Very Best Vintage - 1919 W Chicago
Ave - (312) 226-5530
Vigilante Press - 1931 W Chicago Ave - (312) 423-6774
Bite Cafe - 1035 N Western Ave - (773) 395-2483
Breakfast House - 1800 W Grand Ave - (312) 997-2400
Fatpour Tap Works - 2005 W Division St - (773) 698-8940
Janik's Cafe - 2011 W Division St - (773) 276-7930
Bob San Restaurant - 1805 W Division St - (773) 235-8888
Atomix - 1957 W Chicago Ave - (312) 666-2649
Cafe Ballou - 939 N Western Ave - (773) 342-2909
Starbucks - 1701 W Division St - (773) 252-5084
Dona Naty's Taco - 1813 W Chicago Ave - (312) 243-2209
El Taco Veloz - 1745 W Chicago Ave - (312) 738-0363
Habana Libre - 1440 W Chicago Ave -
Tecalitlan Restaurant - 1814 W Chicago Ave - (773) 384-4285
Naty's Pizza 2 - 1757 W Chicago Ave - (312) 666-7229
Pizza Metro - 1707 W Division St - (773) 278-1753
Roots Handmade Pizza - 1924 W Chicago Ave - (773) 645-4949
Tortorice's Pizza - 1746 W Grand Ave - (312) 243-4444
Cleo's - 1935 W Chicago Ave - (312) 243-5600
Club Foot - 1824 W Augusta Blvd - (773) 489-0379
Gold Star Bar - 1755 W Division St - (773) 227-8700
Happy Village - 1059 N Wolcott Ave - (773) 486-1512
High Dive - 1938 W Chicago Ave - (773) 235-3483
Inntertown Pub - 1935 W Thomas St - (773) 235-9795
Loop Tavern - 1610 W Chicago Ave - (312) 226-6740
Nilda's Sports Bar - 1858 W Iowa St - (773) 486-4720
Ola's Liquor - 947 N Damen Ave - (773) 384-7250
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 perfect condo or house, making sure the setting fits your style and needs is just as important. And whether East Village 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 and local schools, every detail is an essential factor in what makes a property a dream home. By utilizing our comprehensive accounts of each community, such as this one for East Village, 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 East Village, all without ever having to go anywhere.