isn't serving pizzas; they're flatbreads. And they're delicious.
Is hipstertown going upscale? The stretch of Wicker Park once known for wanna-be band leaders and thrift-store fashion is definitely getting a makeover. Has the neighborhood gone over the edge – and, in the process, lost its edge? Stroll down Division Street and find out for yourself.
Best of the nightlife
The swank decor maximizes the beautiful loft space and makes you feel like you're somewhere special and a little off-the-path. Luxurious U-shaped booths lining the walls of the main floor offer plenty of room for cozying up with your group. The back opens up to some quality hangout corners where you'll find a vintage photo booth to immortalize you for $2. A lofted second floor houses a pool table, some extra seating and a balcony where you can scan the scene or ogle the DJ, who floats above the crowd in a dramatically lit alcove. Plasmas overhead screen eye-candy flicks like "V For Vendetta."
Good for groups
A bar-wide discussion of old karate movies is certainly not out of the question, and neither is seeing said flicks on one of the many TVs lining the walls. But upscale accoutrements have not been sacrificed in the name of all things casual: A plush, purple leather booth lines the right side of the space, cutout circles glow on the artsy wall and a circular booth near the back sits beside a flickering fireplace.
For a late-night taco fix after hitting the bars in the area, Picante is the best (and only) game in stumbling distance. The place may take up just half an address, but you can't miss it no matter how drunk you are; its bright red shingle is as big as its front door. The tiny take-out spot offers up tortas, burritos, fajitas, quesadillas and even a White Boy Taco for those who prefer their meat and tomatoes delivered in a crunchy corn shell.
Where to chill
Alliance Bakery and Cafe
The "cafe" part of Alliance Bakery & Cafe got an expansion into the adjacent space a few years ago, bumping up its maximum occupancy to a more comfortable 20-plus. That's a good thing, because the "bakery" part makes a visit mandatory. Hopefully you can find a space to sit among the laptop-wielding army that gathers here daily, because these delectable pastries will make you weak at the knees for sure.
Take note: you come here for flatbreads, not pizza. You won't care what these doughy pieces of organic goodness are called once you lose yourself in toppings like shrimp, bechamel and pico de gallo (the Mexicali Blues) and feta, artichoke, kalamata olives, red onion and tomato sauce (the El Greco). Eat in the bright, metal-and-Formica space indoors, or venture out to the secluded back patio where you'll want to linger all night with a wine or microbrew from the West Coast.
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