I personally get the feeling that Noble Square/West Town is the least-known neighborhood combo (I put them together because they are each pretty small) in the near north/west part of Chicago. This is totally unscientific, but it’s just that I never hear people talking about Noble Square or West Town as neighborhoods. This is a shame because there are some great restaurants and bars, unique architecture and a very “big city” feel with the mix of residential/commercial/industrial spaces in the area.
NSWT (isn’t that a fun acronym) is wedged right in between Wicker Park/Bucktown and the West Loop geographically and in terms of feel. It contains some of the converted industrial vibe of the WL with some of the neighborhood feel of WPB, too. The purpose of this post is to inform the reader about what there is to see and do (including the restaurant that Anthony Bourdain inadvertently saved from dying) as well as go over some of the real estate trends in the area.
Where to go out in Noble Square/West Town:
1. For the star-struck: Emmitt’s Pub, this is where Matt Damon was recruited by George Clooney in Ocean’s 11.
2. For the lesser star-struck: The Silver Palm, Anthony Bourdain had the Three Little Pigs (which is awesome, however the rest of the experience was a bit lackluster) here and the TV time kept the place from going under. It’s in an old train car.
3. Cheapskates: Five Star Bar, has pretty standard bar food, but great specials and a decent beer selection.
4. Gastro-Pubbers #1: Paramount Room, is a very close second for my favorite burger in Chicago.
5. Gastro-Pubbers #2: Red Canary, a solid experience all around. The outside eating area is very nice.
6. Upscale American Dining, but Not Super Pricey: West Town Tavern, a Michelin Bib Gourmand recipient.
7. Excellent Mexican Brunch: Flo, this place gets a lot of love from people in the neighborhood who like food.
8. Eco-conscious, Beer Snobbing Hell’s Angels (Yeah, You Read that Right): Twisted Spoke, excellent beer and whiskey selection with organic bar food that’s surprisingly good. The website is…interesting.
10. Mexican Seafood Extravaganza: El Barco, the whole fried red snapper is pretty awesome. This place is packed for any holiday so plan around that.
Walking around the neighborhood can be appetizing by itself: there are bread and chocolate factories that give the air an unusually pleasant quality when the winds are blowing right.
So, how has the area fared in terms of its real estate values? Let’s see:
1. In Noble Square/West Town, condos and townhomes that are not in a short sale or foreclosure situation have lost value in the last two years, but have done well relative to the rest of the city. These neighborhoods are great for public transportation and didn’t get quite as caught up in the real estate boom as others.
2. It’s kind of hard to tell how single-family homes are doing because there are not that many of them in the area.
3. The value proposition does not seem to matter based on the size or number of bedrooms.
In short, we have neighborhoods with some really interesting places to go and a relatively stable, but not overpriced real estate market that has easy public transit and highway access. This is why Noble Square/West Town is on my list of neighborhoods that could be the next big thing. Of course, every building and situation is different, but overall there are some real positives.