By Antonio Basada
Booming since the early aughts, the dual hotspots prove they’re only just heating up.
Like the twins of astrological sign Gemini, Bucktown and Wicker Park are practically inseparable—the districts bleed into each other so seamlessly, it’s hard to know where one ends and the other begins. But to call Wicker Park and Bucktown Chicago’s hot new ‘hoods is to ignore the last decade of steady development. Cultural institutions like the Flat Iron Arts Building, Quimby’s Bookstore, and music venues like Subterranean have secured Bucktown-Wicker Park’s reputation as a hub for artists and creative types. Indeed, even as they become more accessible to young families and professionals, the neighborhoods maintain an innovative vibe. With walkable strips of galleries, boutiques, bars, and restaurants, the buzzy burghs just 15 minutes from the Loop draw tourists and locals alike.
Start your adventure at an intersection of three streets—Damen, North, and Milwaukee—which, like the spoke of a wheel, acts as a central axis for exploration. From there, pick a direction and you’re bound to find an indie music shop, balanced cocktail, or life-changing taco—all in one afternoon.
For an experience that’s a tad more luxe—but no less exciting—head to Division Street. Located above the Spanish-infused Black Bull, Bordel is a luxurious homage to Bohemian revelry. In this modern speakeasy, sexy sells, from lush velvet curtains and vintage damask wallpaper to visiting cabaret, flamenco, and musical acts. While you soak in the atmosphere, don’t forget to try star mixologist Liz Pearce’s crafted classic cocktails. The brains behind downtown’s The Drifter, here, Pearce applies her keen sense of technique to three different Old Fashioned riffs, but doesn’t shy away from serving up a more raucous party in the form of large format, flavorful concoctions, like the cinnamon-infused pisco punch.