This charming neighborhood, embedded within the Ravenswood area, holds a rich culture overloaded with charm, amazing food and a continuing respect for the community's Old World heritage. Lincoln Square is one of those subsections of Chicago that has a distinctive feel all its own. Infused with a Bavarian allure, the neighborhood reveals specks of German culture in its annual festivals and the hearty foods of mother Deutschland (bratwurst and schnitzel). Encircling the neighborhood's main business and entertainment district, which is basically a single street lined with quaint storefront shops and restaurants, are rows of three- and four-flat buildings with a few single-family homes tucked in among the multi-unit brick and stone residences. A vintage movie theater and the city's oldest bowling lanes find their home in Lincoln Square, as does Oktoberfest, where Chicagoans come every year to celebrate their German roots and, of course, drink beer.
Then and Now
Like many Chicago neighborhoods, Lincoln Square was farmland until being soaked up by the growing metropolis to the south. The area, once a big producer of crops like celery and pickles, provided a haven for residents who wanted to escape the polluted city center and live away from the hustle and bustle. In 1907, the area began to take shape after tracks for an elevated train (now known as the Brown Line) reached the remote, sparsely populated land. Near the train, houses sprung up rapidly as people ventured north and discovered ample land to build. Within a short time, German, Greek, and other immigrants began moving in.
By 1923, the Lincoln Square neighborhood became an official part of the city of Chicago. This part of town was bustling in its early days, so much so that it was one of the few areas of the city not affected by the Great Depression, due to a successful business district complete with banks, a hotel, and a wide variety of shops.
In 1956, a statue of Abraham Lincoln was placed at the intersection of Lincoln, Western, and Lawrence avenues. Sculptor Avard Fairbanks designed the statue to resemble Lincoln at the time he visited Chicago during the 1850s. Over half a century later, and with a recent facelift, this distinctive monument stands at the center of the community, helping to define the small Chicago neighborhood.
In 1991, artist Lothar Speer gathered local students to paint a 3,000-square-foot mural on the Northern Home Furnishings building at the corner of Lincoln and Leland avenues. The enormous fresco captures charming German landscapes of the Black Forest and Lake Constanze while a multicultural group of children play together in the foreground—a symbolic homage to the current mix of ethnicities present in Lincoln Square neighborhood today.
A 30-foot maypole was erected on the same corner—near the mural—a collaboration of efforts and funds from the Hofbraeu Brewery of Munich, the Glunz Brewery family, the Himmel family and the German Day Association. This pole honors the rich German heritage that helped found the Chicago neighborhood and is used in celebration every year with two huge festivals: Mayfest and the German-American Fest.
Lincoln Square Real Estate
The residential layout of Lincoln Square circles the Lawrence/Lincoln/Western commercial district. Single-family homes are far outnumbered by brick and stone, two- and three-flat buildings. Still, some homes boast expansive porches and sizeable balconies. Trees are plentiful in the Lincoln Square neighborhood, most rivaling the height of the nearby homes.
A few bungalows can be found along these streets, but the majority of Lincoln Square real estate are two- or three-story structures with multiple units. Check out our Lincoln Square home sales statistics to get an idea of the real estate market trends in this neighborhood.
What's on the Menu?
For such a small area, there's plenty of unique Lincoln Square restaurants worth visiting—and revisiting—that will satisfy all kinds of cravings.
At the top of our list is the Chicago Brauhaus (4732 N. Lincoln, 773-784-4444). This is one of the most popular German restaurants in the city. Heavy foods like schnitzel, bratwurst and beef roulauden fill the menu, and strong beers choices like Hofbrau, Stiegl, Bittburger and Spaten flow from the taps. The servers are dressed in customary Bavarian garb and every night a live band belts out traditional German dance music. The Chicago Brauhaus is perfect for groups of people large and small who are looking for a fun experience that is one-of-a-kind.
If you're in the mood for good wine and contemporary American fare, try Fork (4600 N. Lincoln, 773-751-1500). It'll seem like a high-end restaurant, but here they just charge a lot less. They have an impressive wine list, but don't worry, you don't have to settle. You can get a wine flight and keep your options open. Patrons rave about the garlic cilantro fries and goat cheese truffled eggs.
With a surplus of inexpensive little burrito houses scattered throughout the city, we're happy to say that, arguably the best one, is in the heart of Lincoln Square.Garcia's (4760 N. Lincoln and 4749 N. Western, 773-769-5600) burrito choices are many and the price is just right. Garcia's has space for a good number of diners to sit down, but we tend to use the carry-out option to take our burritos to-go. For those late-night out-on-the-towners, this Lincoln Square restaurant stays open until 1 am during the weekdays, 3 am on Fridays and 4 am on Saturdays.
Northern Italian fare is the area of expertise at La Bocca Della Verita (4618 N. Lincoln, 773-784-6222), which translates to 'the mouth of truth.' This romantic little Lincoln Square eatery has many specialty pastas to choose from: the veal scaloppine or spinach and baby Mediterranean both make for exquisite meals that will leave your taste buds in heaven. Just a word of advice—save room for the homemade desserts like sorbetti and tiramisu, these should not be passed up. La Bocca's wine list is extensive and changes frequently, but the staff is always willing to suggest a suitable complement to your meal. During the summer, patrons have the option of sitting on the sidewalk. And with the Davis Theatre only steps away, the cliché dinner-and-a-movie combo seems like a dynamic duo to us.
You'll find delicious Mediterranean cuisine at Barba Yianni Grecian Taverna (4761 N. Lincoln, 773-878-6400), a romantic restaurant decorated with colorful paintings of Greek island settings. On the menu we discover both vegetarian-friendly and meat-eater choices; no matter what your food preferences, the adventurous types will love starting off the meal with flaming saganaki or cheese. Entree highlights are the broiled octopus, mousakas (a vegetarian dish with eggplant, goat cheese, and more), and of course, the gyros plate.
Butting up against one of Lincoln Square's notable plazas, visitors at Café Selmarie (4729 N. Lincoln, 773-989-5595) have the luxury of additional outdoor patio seating and wonderful scenic views—provided by the next door Kempf Plaza whose lovely fountain is in plain view of the diners. A full wall of windows, stretching the length of the restaurant, produces abundant natural light to accentuate the work from local artists decorating the walls. And a front counter display accentuates something else—dessert! Quiche, tilapia and goulash star on the dinner menu, but Café Selmarie's character lies in its bakery. Dozens of delicious tortes and cakes are crafted in the kitchen, making this spot particularly popular with the sweet tooths.
Veering away from the Lincoln Avenue strip, Opart Thai House (4658 N. Western, 773-989-8517) is one of three in a small local chain. This Lincoln Square restaurant is conveniently located moments from the Western Brown Line stop—so visitors from surrounding neighborhoods can make a quick trip out to get this must-try Thai food. The menu takes forever to look through with noodle and rice dishes, curries, soups, seafood and more entrees abound, and all for a very reasonable price. Like many Thai places, there is a BYOB policy here, so don't forget to pick up a bottle of wine or a six-pack on your way.
Best Shopping Stops
Again, Lincoln Square is a tiny neighborhood—but this little spot packs it in.
The Lincoln Square shopping district is a small area with a considerable variety of goods and wares.
In a family-centric neighborhood like this, it's good to know there are a few good stores geared exclusively toward kids. Marbles: The Brain Store (4745 N Lincoln, 773-784-7991) is a unique shop with games that train your brain. Everyone from mom and dad to grandpa and the kids can find something interesting to play with here.
Timeless Toys (4749 N. Lincoln, 773-334-4445) is another great place to browse for the little ones. Although, on more than one occasion, we've spotted some toys we want for ourselves. Don't expect to find the latest Barbie or the new Pirates of the Caribbean action figures here, while some mainstream items stock the shelves, most of the selection are small market goods. Sock puppets, tricycles, coloring books, educational toys and children's books are a few of the things found amidst this treasure trove of fun, imaginative gifts.
The Book Cellar, Inc. (4736-38 N. Lincoln, 773-293-BOOK) is an independent Lincoln Square bookstore where you can sit back and drink a glass of wine while you read in a comfy chair. An attached café also serves sandwiches and snacks for shoppers who get a little hungry. Along with the bestsellers you can find a sizable selection of local and first-time authors as well as a slew of children's books. The week is peppered with events like readings, discussions and live musical performances.
Soccer fans can go to Chicago Soccer (4839 N. Western, 773-271-2255) for an extensive collection of apparel, equipment and more. The Lincoln Square shop is one of five stores in the Chicagoland area. Chicago soccer club gear can be hard to find, though its popularity is ever growing. To indulge the son or daughter needing an AC Milan or Chicago Fire jersey, a trip to Chicago Soccer is in order. Bags, guards and pads, and, of course, soccer balls, are available here along with proper attire for a serious game of what the Europeans call 'football.'
The Chopping Block (4747 N. Lincoln, 773-472-6700) is a marvelous store to hit up for all your cooking needs. Specializing in high quality kitchenware, the Chopping Block can meet most any home chef's needs. Featuring a schedule of cooking classes and demonstrations, it's a great hands-on opportunity to improve your skills in the kitchen and extend the catalog of one's personal recipes. Flavor dynamics, candy making, knife skills, and bread workshops are just a few of the available programs at this Lincoln Square shop.
When in need of the perfect bottle of wine to go with dinner, Fine Wine Brokers (4621 N. Lincoln, 773-989-8166) can provide not only quality vintages, but also very helpful service. The Lincoln Square shop seeks out rare wines that have garnered rave reviews throughout the U.S. and Europe. They also have monthly wine clubs, one of which is called the Organic Connection. It provides its members three bottles of organic wine every month, hailing from all over the world. These guys aren't messing around—their club was named one of the seven best in the country by Food & Wine magazine.
If we need something different from the conventional pharmaceuticals at the neighborhood Walgreens, Merz Apothecary (4716 N. Lincoln, 773-989-0900) has a huge selection of herbal and homeopathic remedies. This shop has been in the area long before Lincoln Square was recognized as part of the city, and is heavily frequented to this day. Even if you're not out to buy herbal supplements or all-natural pain-killers, Merz is the type of place that deserves a visit—just to take a look around.
Night on the Town
Moviegoers need not travel far since the low-priced Davis Theater (4614 N. Lincoln, 773-784-0893) is very near. This theater was built after World War I, as you can see from its vintage decor. Typically, the Davis shows first-run films that have been out for a while—so the tickets are a little cheaper than other places. The amenities aren't exactly up to speed with the downtown cineplexes, but Lincoln Square residents continue to fight to keep this distinctive, antiquated theater from being turned into condominiums.
Bowling fanatics should check out Lincoln Square Lanes (4874 N. Lincoln, 773-561-8191), a medium-sized bowling alley situated above a hardware store. Besides being the only bowling alley in the city that's on the second floor of a building, it's also the oldest bowling alley in the city, first opened in 1918. The place is still without computer scoring capabilities, but sometimes it's fun to keep score on your own—just watch those math skills. Once we're all bowled-out, there's plenty of room at the bar to wait for friends to finish their game. There's also an indoor balcony, affording a bird's eye view of the competition. And if you're planning a big birthday bash or other celebration, Lincoln Square Lanes is available for private parties.
At restaurants like the aforementioned Chicago Brauhaus and Barba Yianni, dinner can easily turn into an entire night out without having to go anywhere else. Other nearby Lincoln Square bars make for an enjoyable evening experience as well. One in particular, the Huettenbar (4721 N. Lincoln, 773-561-2507), is catty-corner from the Brauhaus—so if you don't decide to stay for a few drinks after eating, head over and get your fix of German drafts at this fun Eastern European bar. Getting a seat by the Bavarian-style windows in the front of the room is a huge bonus during the summer when they open them up to let in the breeze.
The Atlantic Bar & Grill (5062 N. Lincoln, 773-506-7090) fits the bill for those who favor hanging out at an Irish pub. As you would expect to see in any legitimate Irish establishment, the flat screen televisions are usually tuned in to rugby and soccer matches, drawing shouts and fist-slamming from the regulars. Not that you'd notice them if you're into the game on TV, but the walls are decorated with some cool prints of the motherland (Ireland) and panoramas of the northern Atlantic coastline. If you work up an appetite from yelling at the TV set, or just feel like munching on an appetizer with your beer, the kitchen serves up tasty menu options with a seafood flair like crab cakes and fish—in addition to traditional favorites: burgers and fried.
Mark Your Calendar
Throughout Chicago, Lincoln Square is known for two all-out parties celebrating the neighborhood's rich cultural heritage and strong ties to tradition. Every spring and at the beginning of fall, residents throw gigantic festivals, attracting crowds from around the city to their small community for Mayfest (Lincoln & Leland Ave) and German-American Fest (Western & Lincoln Ave).
German-American Fest (sometimes called Oktoberfest, or just German Fest) is the larger of the pair, that—despite its nickname—typically takes place in September. Aside from a bigger draw, a sizable parade is the main distinguishing factor between the two Lincoln Square fests. Both offer live music and dancing. Both offer healthy-sized servings of beer (usually one domestic and one German import). And both keep the bratwursts sizzling throughout the day and night. Kids and adults can enjoy the carnival games. People from all backgrounds, young and old, come out for the experience—it's almost guaranteed we run into old friends and family here.
The Summer Concert Series (Lincoln & Giddings Ave) is held in Kempf Plaza one or two nights a week starting in June. Performers provide a mix of musical acts and choreographed dance routines for residents who haul out their lawn chairs to enjoy the open air entertainment. The shows are always free (hosted by the Lincoln Square Chamber of Commerce) – just another little bonus we love about this friendly Chicago neighborhood.
Since Lincoln Square is such a small neighborhood, it's easy to walk about and see almost everything. Getting to and from the area is where public transportation really comes in handy. A handful of bus routes cross paths in the center of Lincoln Square: the #81 Lawrence Avenue bus goes east to the lake and west toward O'Hare International Airport, the #11 Lincoln Avenue bus travels northwest to Lincolnwood and southeast to downtown, and the #49 Western Avenue bus heads north to Evanston and south to Merrionette Park. The CTA Brown Line elevated train (also known to locals as the 'El') cuts through the lower half of Lincoln Square with a stop at Western Avenue, dropping travelers off—or picking them up—right in the heart of this little northwest side neighborhood.
Fortunately for anyone with a car, parking in Lincoln Square is not difficult. To get downtown from this northern Chicago neighborhood, you can head east on Lawrence Avenue over to Lake Shore Drive and shoot down to the Loop in a matter of minutes.
School's in Session
For more information on Lincoln Square schools and other Chicago area educational institutions check out our Chicago Guide Schools page.
- Budlong Elementary, 2701 W Foster Ave, (773) 534-2591
- Chappell Elementary School, 2135 W Foster Ave, (773) 534-2390
- Amundsen High School, 5110 N Damen Ave, (773) 534-2320
Though it may be tiny, Lincoln Square has everything you need—all within a few blocks. For your convenience, we've provided a list of some of the bare necessities Lincoln Square neighborhood has to offer.
- Chicago Transit Authority, (888)-968-7282
- Post Office, 2522 W Lawrence Ave, (773) 561-8633
- Walgreens 4801 N Lincoln Ave, (773) 561-2526; 5158 N Lincoln Ave, (773) 907-8490
- Merz Apothecary 4716 N Lincoln Ave - (773) 989 0900
- HarvestTime Foods, 2632 W Lawrence Ave, (773) 989-4400
- Gene's Sausage Shop & Delicatessen, 4750 N Lincoln Ave, (773) 725-7243
- Dominick's, 5233 N Lincoln Ave, (773) 442-1158
- Evolution Personal Training, 2633 W Bryn Mawr, (773) 907-0688
- Lincoln Square Athletic Club, 4662 N Lincoln Ave, (773) 529-2023
- Women's Workout World, 2540 W Lawrence Ave, (773) 334-7341
- Dank Haus German Cultural Center, 4740 N Western Ave, (773) 561-9181
- Lincoln Square Lanes, 4874 N Lincoln Ave, (773) 561-8191
- Barrel of Moneys Productions, 4432 N Ravenswood Ave, (773) 506-7140
- Hell in a Handbag Productions, 2034 W Farragut, (312) 409-4357
- Green Shirt Studio, 4636 N Ravenswood Ave, (773) 217-9565
- Davis Cinema, 4614 N Lincoln Ave, (773) 784-0893
- Lincoln Square Theatre, 4754 N Leavitt St, (773) 275-7930
- The Book Cellar, Inc. 4736-38 N Lincoln Ave, (773) 293-2665
- Chicago Soccer, 4839 N Western Ave, (888) 271-4220
- The Chopping Block, 4747 N Lincoln Ave, (773) 472 6700
- Enjoy: an Urban General Store, 4723N Lincoln Ave, (773) 334-8626
- Magic Inc, 5082 N Lincoln Ave, (773) 334-2855
- Dark Tower Comics, 4835 N Western Ave, (773) 654-1490
- Turin Bicycle Chicago, 4710 N Damen Ave, (773) 271-3141
- Ravensgoods, 4703 N Damen Ave, (773) 878-1566
- Savvy Seconds, 4724 N Lincoln Ave, (773) 728-8920
- DLR Clothing & Accessories, 4703 N Lincoln Ave, (773) 561-5997
- Coffee Shops and Ice Cream
- The Grind, 4613 N Lincoln Ave, (773) 271-4482
- Dolce Casa Café, 4947 N Damen Ave, (773) 506-0708
- The Perfect Cup, 4700 N Damen Ave, (773) 989-4177
- Beans & Bagels, 2601 W Leland Ave, (773) 649-0015
- Taza Coffee & Deli, 5131 N Damen Ave, (773) 769-1999
- Starbucks, 4557 N Lincoln Ave, (773) 878-5609
- Café Selmarie, 4729 N Lincoln Ave, (773) 989 5595
- Chubby Wieners, 4652 N Western Ave, (773) 769 1394
- Costello Sandwich and Sides, 4647 N Lincoln Ave, (773) 989-7788
- Rockwell's Neighborhood Grill, 4632 N Rockwell St, (773) 509-1871
- Goosefoot, 2656 W Lawrence Ave, (773) 942-7547
- Over Easy Café, 4943 N Damen Ave, (773) 506-2605
- Daily Bar & Grill, 4560 N Lincoln Ave, (773) 561-6198
- Kiko's Market & Restaurant, 5077 N Lincoln Ave, (773) 271-7006
- Drina, 2501 W Lawrence Ave, (773) 275-5568
- Restaurant Sarajevo, 2701 W Lawrence Ave, (773) 275-5310
- Chicago Brauhaus, 4732 N Lincoln Ave, (773) 784-4444
- Himmel's, 2251 W Lawrence Ave, (773) 784-8777
- Barba Yianni Grecian Taverna, 4761 N Lincoln Ave, (773) 878 6400
- Hub's Restaurant, 5540 N Lincoln Ave, (773) 784-4228
- Essence of India, 4601 N Lincoln Ave, (773) 506-0002
- La Bocca Della Verita, 4618 N Lincoln Ave, (773) 784-6222
- Caro Mio, 1825 W Wilson Ave, (773) 275-5000
- Trattoria Trullo, 4767 N Lincoln Ave, (773) 506-0093
- Due Lire Vino & Cucina, 4520 N Lincoln Ave, (773) 275-7878
- Garcia's, 4760 N Lincoln Ave and 4749 N Western Ave, (773) 769 5600
- Los Nopales, 4544 N Western Ave, (773) 334-3149
- La Cabana de Don Luis, 5157 N Lincoln Ave, (773) 271-5176
- El Tipico Mexican Grill, 1905 W Foster Ave, (773) 754-8962
- Aztecas Mex Taqueria, 5421 N Lincoln Ave, (773) 506-2052
- Jimmy's Pizza Café, 5159 N Lincoln Ave, (773) 293-6992
- I Monelli Trattoria Pizzeria, 5019 N Western Ave, (773) 561-8499
- Pizza Art Café, 4658 N Rockwell St, (773) 539-0645.
- HomeMade Pizza Company, 4603 N Lincoln Ave, (773) 275-7600
- Opart Thai House, 4658 N Western Ave, (773) 989 8517
- Jibek Jolu, 5047 N Lincoln Ave, (773) 878-8494
- Isla Pilipina, 2501 W Lawrence Ave, (773) 271-2988
- New Asia, 2739 W Lawrence Ave, (773) 728-2406
- Da Rae Jung, 5220 N Lincoln Ave, (773) 907-9155
- Me dee Cafe, 4805 N Damen Ave, (773) 989-4444
- Yes Thai, 5211 N Damen Ave, (773) 878-3487
- Han Bat Restaurant, 2723 W Lawrence Ave, (773) 271-8640
More Helpful Info
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 Lincoln Square 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 Lincoln Square, 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 Lincoln Square, all without ever having to go anywhere.