Mayfair's quaint residential feel and convenient accessibility makes for a perfect spot for first-time homebuyers and young families looking to embrace the vibrancy of city living at an affordable price. Located near the “Green Belt” of the Chicago River, bountiful verdant spaces are steps away from this northwest side neighborhood. Having ample outdoor breathing room is certainly a plus for any urban dweller, but Mayfair covers all the bases with a delicious dining scene and specialty markets that hail from around the globe. Mayfair residents have no trouble finding hard-to-get items for those less conventional recipes, and when not in the mood to slave over a hot stove, local folks can pop into any of the neighborhood restaurants. The menus here offer something for every taste, from all-American fare to classic Korean dishes.
Location: about 10 miles northwest of the Loop
Bordering Neighborhoods: North Mayfair, Jefferson Park, Albany Park, Old Irving Park, Portage Park
Boundaries: Lawrence Avenue to the north, Pulaski Road to the east, Montrose Avenue to the south and Cicero Avenue to the west
Crime Statistics: Go to CLEARMap for crime stats on specific Chicago neighborhood, intersection, address or police beat.
Then and Now
Mayfair grew from the former suburb of Montrose, which was booming outside of Chicago’s city limits at the turn of the 20th century. It was around that same time that Chicago annexed the property turning the suburb into a neighborhood, with a name change to boot. Like its northerly sister neighborhood—North Mayfair—farming communities settled the area, creating close communal bonds among residents. Today, Mayfair retains much of the same close-knit, family appeal and neighborly character.
Like many of its surrounding neighborhoods, Mayfair shines as an ethnically diverse area of the city. Albany Park to the east brims with influences from Korean, Guatemalan and Mexican immigrants, and much of this eclectic diversity is also reflected in Mayfair’s unique restaurants and overall neighborhood vibe. North Mayfair’s historic charm also spills over into Mayfair, where a number of old brick bungalows can be seen dotting the quiet tree-lined streets.
Urban green space is never far away in Mayfair, where residents are just minutes from the 39 acres of rehabilitated wetlands at Gompers Park (4222 W. Foster Ave, 773-685-3270). While Gompers technically lies within the boundaries of North Mayfair neighborhood, Mayfair residents like to hang out across the border in the fresh open air—that is, when they’re not too busy having fun in their own neighborhood parks.
The aptly titled Mayfair Park (4550 W. Sunnyside Ave, 773-685-3361) dates all the way back to 1913 when the Irving Park District ordered a survey of a small area along Sunnyside Avenue. It took more than a decade for the park to become fully operational, but by 1930, the two-and-a-half acre space boasted a baseball field, separate boys’ and girls’ playgrounds, a wading pool, and a fieldhouse designed by Clarence Hatzfeld, a notable Chicago architect. A few decades later, the park acquired some classic leisure time activities like horseshoe, shuffleboard, and tennis courts. The park’s landscape was redesigned in order to expand its athletic fields in 1970, and in 1989, the playgrounds were resurfaced.
Today Mayfair Park is the recreational hub of the community. It offers summer day camps for Mayfair’s six to twelve-year-olds, as well as a 'Little Kickers Clinic' for children age four and five. Start your little athlete out on the right foot, and stay to watch the action—because if you’ve never seen a dedicated group of kindergartners have at the ball—it is quite an amusing, and chaotic, event. Throughout the summer, the park also hosts outdoor movies which we’ll tell you more about later on.
Mayfair (the neighborhood, not the park) is also reasonably close to the LaBagh Woods Forest Preserve, which includes hundreds of acres of open grassland and thick forests. It’s an ideal spot for a stroll, or even a picnic.
Mayfair Real Estate
Mayfair’s demure character shines through its quaint streetscapes jutting out from Montrose and Lawrence avenues (the neighborhood’s main east-west thoroughfares). With North Mayfair boasting its own historic bungalow district, Mayfair takes a less classic yet still appealing approach to its housing character. While residents and families will find much of Mayfair offers no frills living options, the difference is made up for with community charm and inviting neighborhood warmth.
Many of the residences in Mayfair are one- and two-story vintage brick homes and traditional frame houses with comfortable front porches and freshly cut lawns. An array of two-flat apartments and large brick residential buildings also dot the area. Many of these older constructions are rehabbed and modernized, catering to young families who want a contemporary look and clean new living space. In recent years even new model townhouses and single-family homes have made their way into the Mayfair housing lineup.
The average sales price for a one- or two-bedroom condo or attached multi-unit home in the Mayfair neighborhood is around $190,000, with units selling for as much as $285,000. The average price for a three-bedroom single-family detached home is about $356,000, although you can still get a place this size for under $300,000. Add another bedroom and the average sales price goes up to $405,000.
What’s on the Menu?
Despite its small size, Mayfair serves up an eclectic slice of cross-cultural dining options. From pizza to panko-crusted scallops, Mayfair’s restaurants touch on all spectrums of culinary craftsmanship.
We suggest starting your epicurean journey with a historic Mayfair classic at Marie’s Pizza, Dining Room and Lounge (4127 W Lawrence Ave, 773-725-1812). The timeless 1960s-style restaurant has been serving the same thin crust pizza since the 1940s—and it is one of the few remaining dining spots on the north side where carryouts are encouraged. Enter through a liquor store, hang a right and travel back in time to a dimly lit dining room that exudes immeasurable cheer. The best part? Marie’s famous thin-crust ‘za only sets you back about $15—with the works, mind you. Other noteworthy neighborhood pizza joints include Rasmus Pizza (4788 N Elston Ave, 773-202-9485), a not-so-ordinary pizza nook that features an eclectic salad menu (in addition to pizzas, of course). Other healthy finds to accompany your pie are the cabbage or fresh mozzarella salads. Also try the Bosnian burger, seasoned with Eastern European spices that give it a kick. Rasmus also offers 20 specialty pizzas that skew the norm, including the tuna pizza (fresh tuna, artichoke, anchovy, onion, garlic and tomato). Hmmm … we’ll let you try that one for yourself.
The large Korean community in Mayfair makes its own culinary contribution with Nok Yon House (4201 W. Lawrence Ave, 773-282-8605), which established one of its three locations here on the northwest side. The dining room is fairly small, so a good portion of its business comes for the take-out. Guests will find all the Korean menu staples here, including a fantastic kimchi, a fermented vegetable dish made from Napa cabbage and seasoned with chili peppers and salt. Again, we might let you have at that one on your own. Something about fermented veggies just doesn’t sound right.
Taste another spectrum of spice at Ay Ay Picante (4569 N Elston Ave, 773-427-4239), the neighborhood’s only Peruvian restaurant. The colorful dining room is adorned with pre-Columbian murals from the Peruvian Nazca culture. Many of these giant images were mysteriously created by the Nazca and can still only be seen from an airplane in the native land. Fortunately Mayfair folk can have a look at the eye-catching imagery without having to leave their own neighborhood, and all while feasting on the authentic culinary delights of Peru. Ceviche, a traditional cold, citrus soup, is a flavorful menu standout that we come back for again and again. Another seafood specialty at Ay Ay is the cau cau de mariscos seafood casserole cooked with boiled diced potatoes in special Peruvian ground spices.
When in Mayfair, we satisfy our all-American cravings at Susie’s Drive-In (4126 W Montrose Ave, 773-283-6544), a classic burgers ‘n fries joint with a whole lot more. This drive-up grill echoes America’s muscle car past, with most guests simply cruising up, giving their orders through a window (sorry, no fancy radios here) and getting on their way. With the indoor counter only seating three diners at a time, Susie’s is a popular summertime spot for the outdoor dining set. The lot boasts several picnic tables ready made for burger indulgence. We suggest trying one of Susie’s 54 flavors of shakes and malts—some of which tip the scales at 64 ounces! Classic sodas like Green River still make an appearance here, along with all the grill time basics—burgers, chilidogs, pizza puffs and even bleu cheese fries in an edible bowl.
Every neighborhood needs a place we can get a morning pick-me-up or an afternoon fix, and in Mayfair that spot is none other than Dunkin’ Donuts (4045 W Lawrence Ave, 773-427-9777). This classic franchise serves one of the best cups of joe on the planet and can usually be found open at all hours of the night.
Best Shopping Stops
Mayfair boasts an array of small plazas and strip malls, many of them filled with nail salons, tax preparers and the occasional drug store. However, a few retail storefronts stand out amidst the mundane, including Discovery Clothing Co. (4723 N Pulaski Rd, 773-478-4500). This affordable fashion stop proves that dressing trendy doesn’t require the big bucks. Geared toward women 21 to 35, Discovery’s shelves and racks are chockfull of halter tops, tube tops, pennant necklaces and enormous hoop earrings. Many items are priced between $7 and $20, making it the perfect shop to get the 'look' for less. And don’t think for a second that Discovery forgot about footwear, because we all know—the shoes can make or break an outfit. Have no fear, this Mayfair fashion outlet also carries a variety of chic slip-ons and sandals with equally affordable price tags. The nearby Dangerous Curves Apparel (4751 N Pulaski Rd, 773-463-2878) offers similar trends to those in Discovery, except these cater to fuller figured women and girls.
For real bargain hunting in the Mayfair neighborhood, hit up Village Discount Store (4635 N Elston Ave, 773-286-2312). Here, shoppers find everything from vintage lamps and books to comfy sweaters and jeans. Make sure to take your time to look around—this place is packed with stuff, and only the most diligent bargain browser will be rewarded.
Sometimes neighborhoods shy away from building up hip shopping districts in exchange for a more old-fashioned marketplace that suits the residents’ needs a bit better. Mayfair is one of those places, offering plenty of specialty grocery stores and ethnic food markets to keep the local palates pampered.
For the full market—and sometimes, dining—experience, check out the glossy digs of The Fishguy Market (4423 N Elston Ave, 773-283-7400) where owner Bill Dugan ices down the freshest catches of the sea. Inside his blue-bathed storefront, Dugan slices the kind of cuts favored by the city’s best chefs. On Thursdays, he converts the market into a dining space he calls 'Wellfleet,' where a few of his on-premise chefs prepare fresh soups, salads and sushi to a reservation-only lot. The prix fix menu doesn’t come cheap at $100 per person, but we can vouch that we’ve never tasted fresher dishes, even in some of the city’s best restaurants.
For something a little lower key, we suggest Bosnia Market (4776 N Elston Ave, 773-205-3850), a small shop brimming with Eastern European pastries, spices and pickled delights. The market also carries of number of stock goodies and limited produce. Other small grocery finds in Mayfair neighborhood include Randee’s Food Store (4321 N Milwaukee Ave, 773 685-5844) and Royal General Merchandise (4782 N Elston Ave, 773-202-8448), which both offer convenient grab’n go items for a late night snack or stock kitchen item ('Honey, we’re out of salt!')
Night on the Town
In tune with its close-knit community atmosphere, many of Mayfair’s nightlife regulars know each other. Local watering holes reign in this easy-going neighborhood, which prefers low-key pubs over amped-up nightclubs.
One of the neighborhood’s most interesting taps is located inside the Irish American Heritage Center (4626 N Knox Ave, 773-282-7035). Fifth Province Pub thrives as an authentic Irish pub catering to all backgrounds and bloodlines. The bar offers 'pub grub' like fish and chips and Irish sausages in addition to classic adult drink choices. Once darkness falls, a fireplace illuminates the space and heats up the evening while a live Irish band revs up the crowds at 9 pm nightly. Aside from Guinness (of course), Fifth Province offers 13 bottled beers and plenty of Irish cheer. For a more mainstream taste of local nightlife, we suggest Sidekicks (4424 W Montrose Ave, 773-545-6212), where karaoke is king. The nightly event usually kicks off between 9 and 10 pm and is always free—that is, if you don’t considered having to listen to a few off-key ballads payment. This homey neighborhood tap boasts 10 television sets and juicy hamburgers and chicken sandwiches to complement your brew du jour.
While Mayfair isn’t home to any formal cinemas or theaters, Mayfair Park (4550 W. Sunnyside Ave, 773-685-3361) hosts the annual 'Movies in the Park' series during the summer on various nights. The films are usually family-oriented, inviting much of the neighborhood population to come down and spend an evening watching the stars—while under the stars. Recent movie screenings have included Happy Feet and Nanny McPhee, but check the schedule on the Chicago Parks District website for full listings. And, just a note: This 'theater' is BYOB (as in Bring Your Own Blanket). Otherwise you’ll have to park it on the bare grass.
Mark Your Calendar
Okay, get out that calendar right now and flip to July because there is a particular festival in Mayfair you’ll want to take note of—it happens to be one of the biggest cultural events in the city of Chicago.
Mayfair’s largest neighborhood festival is also one of the largest in the city of the Chicago. Held every year in mid-July, the Irish American Heritage Festival (Irish Fest) takes over the community’s Irish American Heritage Center (4626 Knox Ave). The three-day festival brings together thousands of Chicago families, celebrating the vibrant culture of Ireland through traditional food, music, dancing and exhibits. Proceeds from the event benefit the Irish American Heritage Center, and it annually attracts 10,000 people from all over the Midwest.
Aside from hosting the annual neighborhood festival, the Heritage Center has a number of events for families and residents throughout the year. Kids can enroll in summer art camps while parents can volunteer at the center. IAHC’s early childhood music programs are some of the most elite in the city. They also host an annual golf outing in early September and a 'Second Sundays' concert series throughout the year, where live Irish bands perform on—you guessed it—the second Sunday of each month.
Bike, train, car, bus—getting around Mayfair neighborhood is easy, considering its accessibility by both train and highway.
For motorists, Mayfair is easily accessibly via the Edens and Kennedy expressways (I-90/94) which cut through the southwest corner of the community. Take the Montrose Avenue exit and you’ll be mere blocks from the heart of this northwest side Chicago neighborhood. Residents who own a car should note that some areas require permits for parking (especially overnight) while others are free of regulations.
Don’t have a vehicle, or prefer to take public transportation? No problem. The closest Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) train station is located at the neighborhood’s Montrose Avenue stop. Here you can catch a ride on the Blue Line 'El' (nicknamed for the system’s portions of elevated tracks) which travels southeast to the Chicago Loop, or westward to O’Hare International Airport. There’s another nearby Blue Line 'El' stop just west of Mayfair at Old Irving Park Road. From here commuters can take the CTA #53 Pulaski Road bus which runs north/south between 31st Street and Peterson Avenue. Also handy is the #81 Lawrence Avenue bus route which travels east/west along the southern border of the neighborhood.
School’s in Session
While the Mayfair neighborhood has limited public education facilities of its own, there are many additional schools located in nearby Albany Park, Irving Park and North Mayfair. For those families who opt to enroll their children in private education, St. Edward School (4343 W. Sunnyside Ave, 773-736-9133) thrives in the heart of the Mayfair community. This kindergarten through eighth grade educational facility offers full sports and music programs, reading specialists who serve advanced and struggling students, and even foreign language classes beginning in pre-school. For more information on public and private school options in or near Mayfair or in other Chicago areas, visit Chicago Public Schools or Great Schools.
St. Edward School 4343 W. Sunnyside Ave. – (773) 736-9133
We’ve compiled a list services and resources to fulfill your basic needs, conveniently found just minutes from your Mayfair residence.
CVS 4540 N. Pulaski Rd – (773) 283-5777
Walgreen’s 4728 N. Pulaski Rd. – (773) 286-0309
Ravenswood Health Care Ctr. 4211 N Cicero Ave. # 205
Medex Inc 3217 N Kilpatrick Ave.
Bosnia Market 4776 N Elston Ave – (773) 205-3850
The Fishguy Market 4423 N Elston Ave – (773) 283-7400
Randee’s Food Store 4321 N Milwaukee Ave – (773) 685-5844
Royal General Merchandise 4782 N Elston Ave – (773) 202-8448
Xsport Fitness 4677 N Elston Ave – (773) 202-9800
Irish American Heritage Center 4626 N Knox Ave – (773) 282-7035
Dangerous Curves Apparel 4751 N Pulaski Rd – (773) 463-2878
Discovery Clothing Co 4723 N Pulaski Rd – (773) 478-4500
Village Discount Store 4635 N Elston Ave – (773) 286-2312
Susie’s Drive-In 4126 W Montrose Ave – (773) 283-6544
Dunkin Donuts 4045 W Lawrence Ave – (773) 427-9777
Nok Yong Cuisine 4201 W Lawrence Ave – (773) 282-8605
Ay Ay Picante 4569 N Elston Ave – (773) 427-4239
Rasmus Pizza 4788 N Elston Ave – (773) 202-9485
Sano’s Pizza 4469 W Lawrence Ave – (773) 725-9863
Marie’s Pizza, Dining Room and Lounge 4127 W Lawrence Ave – (773) 725-1812
Fifth Province Pub 4626 N Knox Ave – (773) 282-7035
Sidekicks 4424 W Montrose Ave – (773) 545-6212
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 Mayfair 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 Mayfair, 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 Mayfair, all without ever having to go anywhere.