NFT Chicago River North / Fulton Market District

River North / Fulton Market District

Criss-crossed by rail tracks, I-90/94 and the Chicago River, this section of the Windy City is quickly turning from industrial warehousing district to indie-hipster home. Cheaper rent lures artsy types and suits alike to the west where The Blommer Chocolate Company pumps sweet, chocolate-coated air into the streets all day. Diabetics, beware.

Savor your summer night with authentic Sicilian on the patio at Piccolo Sogno, or head to Carnivale for Nuevo Latino cuisine and a mile-long tequila list. End your evening at Richard's where the bartender will sell you to-go beers to help fuel your post-3 AM celebration.


This Neighborhood Featured in...
Poetry: Deep in the Heart of Chicago

By Nina Williams
Chicago is home to a series of extremely gifted and innovative spoken word poets, but what is spoken word and how does one find it? Follow Nina Williams around to some of the most interesting neighborhoods in Chicago to find out what this scene is all about.

On Our Radar:

Posted By:  Rob Tallia
Photo:  Rob Tallia

Yup. It's as good as everyone says it is. And louder. And busier. You can wait a while, even if you have a reservation. But so what? The beer selection is so friggin' good that we promise you won't care about waiting a while--it will take you 10 minutes just to decide on your first drink. You'll then also have plenty of time to strategize over the menu; how many pork dishes CAN we order given the number of people in our party tonight? Well...several, of course. But then how much seafood can you order on top of that? Well, you've certainly got to order some oysters and some octopus (because you pretty much have to order oysters and octopus whenever it's offered) to go along with the three-ham plate, the spicy pork rinds (just go ahead and order two of those to start), 1 order of pork schnitzel, and 1 suckling pig. And a sweetbread order. That's minimum for four people, really--I don't see how in good conscience you can order less than that here. Unless you want to live beyond 50. But really, wouldn't you rather eat now and hope for super-Crestor?

Posted By:  Nina Williams
Photo:  Nina Williams

Walk inside and it feels like you've just been invited to a huge Latin gala and now you're eating dinner in an open restaurant on a Caribbean island. This colorful space is absolutely breathtaking with its mustard yellow walls, bright blue bar, and jester-like lamp shades. The food is cooked with a lot of passion (especially the ceviches), which are all extremely tempting. Opt for the tasting, which includes all five. Other flavorsome dishes include the rum-glazed pork shoulder and the seared Ahi Tuna. Carnivale also accommodates those who either can't or don't drink by providing several non-alcoholic drink options including a virgin pomegranate mojito. Yum!

Posted By:  Elissa Pociask
Photo:  Elissa Pociask

Isaacson & Stein Fish Company
If you find yourself in need of some fresh soft shell crabs, or just a piece of salmon that isn’t loaded with food dyes and three days worth of freezer burn, try doing your seafood hunt at L. Isaacson and Stein’s Fish Market. The super fresh and expansive catch of the day draws everyone from professional chefs picking up wholesale monkfish liver to the crazy old lady who saves a buck by making her own fish stock. Quick-handed workers will filet your pick for free and wrap it up, lickety split. Before you leave, take a whiff of the surprisingly fresh air. It’s not so bad for a warehouse brimming with fish carcasses.

Posted By:  Tamara Matthews
Photo:  Tamara Matthews

Iguana Café
Iguana Cafe makes me feel like I’m all growed up. It’s something of a classed up (i.e., European) coffee house you can retreat to nearly anytime of day or night, a far cry away from the crusty, granola-y coffee shops of my misspent college youth. Your latte is brought to you by a waiter, you can order a full plate of pasta al forno, the interior is a sophisticated black and red, and people even conduct business meetings here. Heck, you can even pass on coffee and order a glass of wine instead. It doesn’t get more grown up than that. Of course, there was a time my illusion of maturity was shattered when two youngins sat next to me and started talking professors, thesis papers and frat houses. Drats, foiled again! But one bite of my mozzarella, tomato and basil dish later, accompanied by the sweet sounds of world beat techno, I was back in la-la-adultland again.

Posted By:  David Macey
Photo:  David Macey

Tequila shots were the perfect ending to an absolutely delicious meal at one of Chicago’s best Italian restaurants. Confused? Well let me explain. The restaurant in question is La Scarola and it is a study in contrasts. It is in the middle of nowhere, yet it is so popular that even with a reservation you may be waiting up to an hour for a table. The delicious food is a testament to Italian home cooking, but the restaurant is owned by Chef Armando Vasquez, a Mexican. After honing his chops at Italian restaurants in New York and Chicago Armando finally broke out on his own, and thank god, because he is a born restaurateur. Constantly working the front of house, schmoozing tables, and escorting guests through the packed rooms, he seemed to pay extra special attention to our table of four. Whether it was due to my celebrity status as an NFT web contributor or because our dates are total knockouts no one knows, but we spent the good part of 15 minutes swapping jokes and stories. At the end of the night he swung around and ordered a round of tequila shots for the five of us proclaiming, “I hate to drink alone.” Mi tambien, gracias Armando.

Posted By:  Tommy Newcomb
Photo:  Tommy Newcomb

If you’re looking for Britney Spears or Justin Timberlake posters you won’t find them here. The Spencer Weisz Gallery has original posters with a distinct European flair. Here, they specialize in turn-of-the-century through post WWII European vintage posters. In addition to wall décor, they also have unique furniture and artistic ornamentation that can’t be found at the mall. The knowledgeable staff will help you select, frame, and deliver the vintage lithograph right to your door. Walk in and take a look; it’s a treat to simply browse their extensive collection.

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