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The Grid: West Town’s Eckhart Park shines as a foodie-friendly spot

The stretch of West Town’s Eckhart Park on Chicago Avenue — known for its longstanding fieldhouse — has become a low-key culinary retreat with old-school joints and trendy new restaurants. Sprinkled in are unique and state of the art boutiques and galleries.

Jeong

1460 W. Chicago

After receiving critical acclaim for Hanbun, which closed in a Westmont mall last year, Dave Park and Jennifer Tran are excited about the recent opening of their highly anticipated Jeong. Named after Chef Park’s maternal grandmother, the menu features his reinterpretation of classic Korean flavors.

Chef/Owner David Park making dumplings at Jeong Restaurant. | Brian Rich/Sun-Times

Chef/Owner David Park making dumplings at Jeong. | Brian Rich/Sun-Times

Bar Biscay

1450 W. Chicago

A convivial, relaxed atmosphere, Bar Biscay takes its cues from where the Basque region in Spain meets western France. Seafood and Spanish pintxos (small bites) take the spotlight  but plenty of French brasserie influences, like steak au poivre, are available too.

Bartender mixing cocktails at Bar Biscay. | Brian Rich/Sun-Times

Bartender Gamble Scrantom mixing cocktails at Bar Biscay. | Brian Rich/Sun-Times

Cafe Central

1437 W. Chicago

For more than 50 years, the Cruz family has been providing Puerto Rican comfort foods at this cozy diner. This BYOB establishment is open all day. Popular items at Cafe Central include jibarito sandwiches (made with fried green plantain instead of bread) and mofongo (green plantain balls stuffed with garlic fried pork rinds).

Steak jibarito sandwich at Cafe Central.| Brian Rich/Sun-Times

Steak jibarito sandwich at Cafe Central.| Brian Rich/Sun-Times

Flo

1434 W. Chicago

Flo, which has been operating for two decades, is known for its legendary brunch (try huevos rancheros and red chilaquiles). Focusing on southwestern flavors, the menu has a variety of sopapillas (filled fried pastry), enchiladas and burritos. Dinner entrees include chicken mole and duck confit tacos.

Restaurant contain tortilla chips, black beans, corn, cheddar cheese, pico de gallo, chipotle cream, and guacamole. | Brian Rich/Sun-Times

Flo-chos at Flo contain tortilla chips, black beans, corn, cheddar cheese, pico de gallo, chipotle cream, and guacamole. | Brian Rich/Sun-Times

Beauty Bar

1444 W. Chicago

Since 2010, this retro, beauty-salon-themed club has been a go-to for dancing, comedy, burlesque and magic shows. On select nights, you can get your nails done at Beauty Bar’s “Martinis & Manicures” event.

Opart Thai

1371 W. Chicago

Opart Thai is an offshoot of the original Opart Thai House that closed in Lincoln Square last year after more than three-decades. The family-run business also has a South Loop location. Favorite items include the tiger cry (charbroiled beef) appetizer, poh tak (hot and sour seafood soup) and Thai curries.

Vajra

1329 W. Chicago

Vajra hopes to broaden the perceptions and palates of its diners to include a wider variety of Nepalese and Indian food. Traditional favorites like momo, samosa and tandoori are on the menu along with duck chhoela and tandoori venison.

Dovetail

1452 W. Chicago

In 2008, Julie Ghatan opened the Dovetail boutique with the goal to provide a space for socially conscious shoppers. The clothes, accessories, housewares, shoes, artwork and jewelry are handmade by independent artists or are curated vintage finds.

Julie Ghatan is the owner of Dovetail vintage boutique in Eckhart Park. | Brian Rich/Sun-Times

Julie Ghatan is the owner of Dovetail boutique in West Town. | Brian Rich/Sun-Times

Habana Libre

1440 W. Chicago

Since 2007, this Cuban restaurant has been a fan favorite for its traditional recipes like ropa vieja (shredded beef in tomato sauce), pan lechon (roasted pork sandwich) and empanadas.

Five Star

1424 W. Chicago

Five Star is a neighborhood spot for beers, watching a game and ordering snacks. In the summer, it transforms into a monthly motorcycle hangout. On Mondays, there is a $2 cheeseburger special. For social media buffs, make sure to take an Instagram-ready snapshot with the classic pool table in the back room.

Lush Wine & Spirits

1412 W. Chicago

One of three locations, the West Town’s Lush Wine & Spirits has a snacks menu in the evening. On Sundays, there is free wine tasting in the afternoons. Pick up a bottle with help from the knowledgeable staff or take the time for a leisurely drink.

Various wines served at Lush Wine Bar in Eckhart Park. | Brian Rich/Sun-Times

Various wines served at Lush Wine Bar in West Town’s Eckhart Park. | Brian Rich/Sun-Times