Ada Street Cafe
Off the beaten path, Ada Street Cafe is well worth the drive (or Uber/Lyft ride) to get there. It’s basically in the middle of an industrial zone in far east Wicker Park, just east of the Kennedy Expressway, and easy to miss if you’re not specifically looking for it. The restaurant “oozes cool,” as I like to say, with its brick-walled lounge and a turntable playing albums behind the bar. When you walk down a narrow corridor to get to the dining area, you come across an area that features hundreds of LPs, from which you can select your all-time favorites and they’ll gladly play them for you. It’s a perfect spot for a date, or just to enjoy a different vibe. A cozy decor and ambience make you feel like you found a great secret among the many restaurants Chicago has to offer.
My friend and I sat at the bar, where Ed provided exceptional service. When the ‘Perfect Stranger’ cocktail I ordered had far too many cinnamon notes (from the Becherovka liqueur), he asked me what type of drinks I like, and created a new one for me, which was delicious. I know when I look at a menu and I want to order everything on it, that I’m in a good place! We asked Ed for his food recommendations, and he suggested the Forbidden Black Fried Rice ($11 – with asparagus, english peas, radish kimchi, cured egg yolk) and the Grilled Baby Octopus ($16 – with popped amaranth, tequila glaze, ground cherries.) We ordered both, plus another dish, the Golf Shrimp Chopped Salad ($14 – with skewers of grilled shrimp, heirloom carrots, avocado green goddess dressing.) These are smaller plates for sharing, which gives diners the option to try several different things. The Forbidden Black Fried Rice had so much flavor it was heavenly. The dessert, Chocolate Ganache ($9 – with a blob of the most decadent chocolate ganache I’ve ever tasted, served on toast brushed with tuscan olive oil, sea salt) was off the charts. It was the best chocolate ganache I’d ever had. We asked for additional toast points so we could devour every last bit of the chocolate ganache.
The restaurant also has a fully enclosed open-air courtyard for dining al-fresco when the weather is nice. Complete with Astro turf and a ping pong table, it’s thoroughly different and fun.
Ada Street Cafe is Michelin Bib Gourmand rated: A Bib Gourmand rating means the restaurant is a Michelin inspector’s favorite for good value. For $40 or less, you can enjoy two courses and a glass of wine or dessert, not including tax and gratuity.
Open at 5:30 p.m., Tuesday though Sunday; closed Monday