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Welcome To St. Ben's

Named for the 100-plus year-old parish at its center, St. Ben's is a strong family-oriented neighborhood offering attractive residential streets and tantalizing cuisine within its scenic borders. Elegant, well-preserved Victorian homes are an example of St. Ben's old-school architecture that is injected with a sense of modernity by newer construction condominiums and loft conversions. Rows of two-flat, brick buildings are also commonplace in this north side Chicago community. Instead of big box stores and chain eateries, you'll find a pleasing number of beloved, independent neighborhood haunts, always packed with regular clientele and smiling faces. Every year, St. Ben's residents pull out all the stops for BenFest, a two-day block party that is heavy on the family fun. And Ribfest is not to be missed either, especially if you are on a mission to find the best slab of ribs in Chicago.  

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St. Ben’s Real Estate

Part of the majestic beauty of St. Ben’s neighborhood is the existence of much of the community’s original architecture. Elegant Victorians are intact and well-preserved, while brick two-flats and single-family homes line the streets offering residents a more modest housing option. Taking a stroll through the neighborhood, one may see several older homes being renovated at a time, however, new developments are also popping up—including condos, townhomes and loft conversions. This is one Chicago neighborhood with no shortage of greenery. Rows of trees shade the residential blocks where sizable lawns and landscaped yards abound.

Check out our St. Ben's Home Sales Statistics to get an idea of the real estate market trends in this neighborhood.



St. Ben’s Facts

Location: Within the neighborhood of North Center, approximately 5 miles north of the Loop
Boundaries: Berteau Avenue to the north, Damen Avenue to the east, Grace Street to the south and the Chicago River to the west
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St. Ben's Home Sales Statistics

Then and Now

The history of this Chicago neighborhood is closely related to that of North Center because St. Ben’s is bound on three sides by the larger North Center community. St. Benedict’s Parish (2215 W. Irving Park, 773 588 6484) is the institution for which the area acquired its name. Around the turn of the 20th century, German Catholic families living in the vicinity sent their children a mile-and-a-half to St. Matthias, the closest Catholic school at the time. The commute was difficult, so families in the community felt a need to establish a neighborhood school of their own which led to the founding of St. Benedict’s.

Shortly thereafter, St. Benedict’s opened its doors to these road-weary students. Over the years, the church has made improvements and expansions, continuing to attract Chicago residents from all over to worship and learn.

Today, St. Ben’s Parish is a still a respected co-ed elementary and high school that continues to grow in enrollment.

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What’s on the Menu?

St. Ben’s neighborhood may be small, but there’s plenty of room for tasty restaurants and great eating.

For good barbeque, we frequent Smokin’ Woody’s (4160 N. Lincoln, 773 525 5733). Their hearty sandwiches and entrees can be consumed in their dining area (a big outdoor patio is available during the warm weather months) or ordered to go. Aside from their special recipe sauce, the rib-tips and the jumbo turkey legs are big hits. Woody’s also allows patrons to create a platter, combining three choices of meats that are sure to satisfy any carnivorous craving. We also love the fact that Smokin’ Woody’s owner is often around either grilling it up or just making sure his customers are enjoying themselves.

Some mornings scream for a big, diner breakfast.  Danny’s Egghead Diner (2012 W Irving Park, 773-857-0171) was made for those mornings. The menu features diner fare, with a bit of a twist. Danny's is known for their Chillaquelles, which have been described as “fantastic, excellent, and the best I’ve ever tried.”  Go there, and try to finish a cup of coffee before someone comes around to refill it.  It might be harder than you think - the service is so quick on its feet.

There aren’t a ton of pizza places within St. Ben’s boundaries, but one very popular spot makes up for the neighborhood’s lack of pizzerias—that would be Pete’s Pizza (3737 N. Western, 773 463 7770). A great place to order delivery, Pete’s also has a comfortable and roomy dining area with a balance of high-tops, low tables and booths filling the tidy space and giving customers their seating preference. With this kind of accommodations, Pete’s serves much more than just pizza, of course—a full menu is available with pastas, salads, and wings to name a few popular items among the regular clientele. We must admit though, the pizza is what really draws a crowd. Pete’s Pizza even made a top ten Chicago pizzas list on the 'Rachael Ray Show' in 2007.

Corner 41 (4138 N Lincoln Ave, 773-327-3500) was created for those who want to experience the traditional Chicago steakhouse.  The signature dish, Al’s Baby-Back-Ribs, is a five-time winner of the North Center’s Rib Fest People’s Choice award, and that’s just the start of this amazing menu.  A full bar with great beer pours compliments what’s on the grill, and visitors rave about the casual ambiance.

If you are in the mood to try something that you maybe haven’t tried before, consider Lazzat Euro Asian Cuisine (2245 W Irving Park Rd, 773-654-3797).  Combining elements of Asian Fusion with Russian cuisine, the owner, Abdumutal Kholmatov, who is originally from Uzbekistan has the goal of continuing his family traditions through his restaurant.  He offers his customers a chance to experience a captivating taste of Central Asian and European cuisine: items like kebabs, stuffed dumplings, and lagman, which is a hand-pulled noodle.  Great for the carnivore and the vegetarian, this is a chance to truly experience something unique.

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Best Shopping Stops

Within the small boundaries of St. Ben’s neighborhood, there are few shopping options.  And while the shopping in St. Ben’s is limited, shop-aholics don’t need to panic.  A couple blocks outside the neighborhood borders awaits North Center’s numerous antique stores, and less than a mile north on Lincoln Avenue are an abundance of charming little shops in Lincoln Square. Want more? Go southeast three-fourths of a mile, and you’ve got Lakeview’s eclectic shopping spots.

Within the small boundaries of St. Ben’s neighborhood, you'll find Simmons Pro Shop (2147 W. Irving Park, 773 267 0926). It's a nondescript storefront that is frequented by people seeking a gift for that special bowler in their life, or looking to improve their own bowling game. Simmons has bowling balls and accessories for sale. They also specialize in re-drilling and resurfacing balls that can help add a few points to the average.

For the cyclist, there is Easy Rider Bike Shop (4119 N Lincoln Ave, 773-549-1240).  This small, neighborhood shop can get you up and running again after a flat and can also handle more significant repair.  A big draw is the free air hose, where you can pump up your tires at all times, even when the shop is closed.

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Night on the Town

Don’t be mistaken by this Chicago neighborhood’s name—this 'saintly' zone has enough bars and nocturnal hangouts to fulfill the indulgences of St. Ben’s residents, with a variety of activities to keep you busy while you imbibe. 

According to our keen observation skills, the most popular place to go for a night out in St. Ben’s would be O’Donovan’s (2100 W. Irving Park, 773 478 2100). The original bar that occupied this spot was called Schulien’s. It was one of the oldest bars in the city, surviving over 110 years, and the building itself is currently the longest operating tavern in Chicago (est. 1886). Today, O’Donovan’s has extensive drink and food menus with flavorful salads, wraps, ribs, and more. Their regular dining menu goes until 10 pm, when they switch over to a minimal—yet tasty—late-night menu. O’Donovan’s has four separate rooms, three bars, and a vast outdoor beer garden to accommodate its guests. Even though the place can get pretty crowded, it’s not too hard to find room for you and your friends or family. Mondays, however, can be different. We try to get there before 6 pm to take advantage of the awesome burger specials.

If you like bowling to go with your beer, you are going to love Timber Lanes (1851 W Irving Park Rd, 773-549-9770). Conversely, if you’re a bowling purist, who likes to keep your own score on your own, then this is definitely the place for you.  An unassuming bowling alley hosts a great time, and visitors sum up the experience as “Great service, great jukebox, so much fun.” 

Sometimes beer just tastes better when you’re drinking it in a basement.  At least that’s the theory behind Save More (4060 N Lincoln Ave, 773-281-1444), a dive bar that feels like it’s in your friend’s parent’s basement.  On the plus side, it’s a cool basement, with a pool table and a killer jukebox, but make sure you hit the ATM beforehand because this place is cash only.  Another dive spot in St. Ben’s to check out is Grace Street Tap (3759 N Western, 773-463-7120).  This place boasts a large beer selection, a tasteful jukebox and a well-kept pool table, and what else do you really need?

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Mark Your Calendar

Every summer in July, St. Benedict’s hosts BenFest (2215 W. Irving Park, 773 868 3010). The event lasts two days and is held in the parking lot of the school. Live music, beer, food, and family activities like bingo and blackjack highlight the neighborhood party. Donations are requested upon entry, but the proceeds go directly to the school.

Every year we look forward to Ribfest (4000 N. Lincoln), probably St. Ben’s most popular event. Restaurants from in and around the area do battle to see who has the best ribs—leaving it to the people to vote for their favorite. We must admit, this is a difficult decision. Smokin’ Woody’s, Cy’s, and the Gale Street Inn (located in Jefferson Park) are only a few of the heavy hitters that compete in the June event.

Other awards are given for the best food item, giving restaurants that do not serve ribs their shot at glory. Aside from the food, there are many little tents that sell an array of goods and a variety of bands play on two separate stages. Older folks can retreat to the Senior Oasis to get away from the crowds and play some bingo. Depending on how hot it is, you might find us taking refuge out in the Oasis, too!

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Getting Around

It doesn’t take long to traverse the St. Ben’s neighborhood. You can walk from one end to the other in about ten minutes, taking in the lovely architecture of both century-old homes and contemporary constructions as you stroll.

Even though the place is small, St. Ben’s residents have some options to get around. Public transit is nearby with several handy bus routes: #80 goes east and west on Irving Park Road, #49 heads north/south on Western Avenue, and #50 is another north/south along Damen. We are in Chicago, so the alternative to taking the bus is, of course, taking the 'El.'

The CTA elevated train Brown Line stops at Irving Park Road, just east outside St. Ben’s boundaries.

A couple miles west of the neighborhood is the Irving Park Road entrance and exit to the Kennedy Expressway which makes for a quick car commute downtwn. Generally driving in this Chicago neighborhood isn’t bad, however congestion does occur during rush hours along Lincoln Avenue near Irving Park Road. Cabs frequent the Lincoln/Damen/Irving Park intersection, which we find convenient for those times we don’t feel like driving. Metered parking spots are easy to find on Irving Park Road and Lincoln Avenue. Side streets are free of permit parking for the most part, while one- and two-car garages are a handy amenity available to most St. Ben’s residents. 

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School’s in Session

Families in St. Ben’s have no trouble finding a place to send their kids to school—the neighborhood’s namesake parish provides an excellent education for first through twelfth graders. In addition to the following list, other school options—both public and private—can be found at our Chicago Guide Schools page.

John C. Coonley Elementary 4064 N Leavitt St – (773) 534-5140
St. Benedict’s Elementary and High School 3900 N Leavitt St – (773) 588-6484

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Basic Needs

When looking to fill a prescription or round out your week with a cardio class, this list of what St. Ben’s neighborhood has to offer may be helpful.

Post Offices

The UPS Store 4064 N Lincoln Ave – (773) 871-1400

Transit

Chicago Transit Authority – (888) 968-7282

Pharmacies

CVS 3944 N Western Ave – (773) 279-7600
Greenbriar Discount Pharmacy 4345 N Western Ave – (773) 561-1280
Walgreens 2301 W Irving Park Rd – (773) 267-8410

Dancing Classes

Belle Plaine Studios 2014 W Belle Plaine – (773) 935-1890

Gyms

Ravenswood Fitness Center 1958 W Montrose Ave – (773) 784-0732
Thrive Fitness 1965 W Montrose Ave – (773) 789-8980
Creative Motion Chicago 1922  W Montrose Ave – (773) 458-8292

ENTERTAINMENT

BenFest 3900 N Leavitt St – (773) 588-6484
Rib Fest 4000 N Lincoln Ave – (773) 525-3609
North Side Summerfest 4050 N Lincoln Ave – (773) 665-4682

SHOPPING

Embellish Chicago 4161 N Lincoln Ave – (773) 525-4400
Tilly Boutique 4164 N Lincoln Ave – (773) 744-9566
Easy Rider Bike Shop 4119 N Lincoln Ave – (773) 549-1240
Play it Again Sports 2101 W Irving Park Rd – (773) 463-9900
Simmons Pro Shop 2147 W Irving Park Rd – (773) 267-0926

DINING

Coffee
Starbuck’s 4015 N Lincoln Ave – (773) 348-5776
Red Eyes Cafe 4164 N Lincoln Ave – (773) 327-9478
Dunkin’ Donuts 4010 N Western Ave – (773) 604 4433

Bars/Restaurants

Laschet’s Inn 2119 W Irving Park Rd – (773) 478-7915
O’Donovan’s 2100 W Irving Park Rd – (773) 478-2100
Browntrout 4111 N Lincoln Ave – (773) 472-4111
Sticky Rice 4018 N Western Ave – (773) 588-0133
Cho Sun Ok Restaurant 4200 N Lincoln Ave – (773) 549-5555
Lincoln Lodge 4008 N Lincoln Ave – (773) 251-1239
Resi’s Bierstube German Tavern 2034 W Irving Park Rd – (773) 472-1749
Corner 41 4138 N Lincoln Ave – (773) 327-3500
Borinquen Lounge 3811 N Western Ave – (773) 442-8001
Windy City Inn 2257 W Irving Park Rd – (773) 588-7088
G & L Fire Escape 2157 W Grace St – (773) 472-1138

Pizza
Pete’s Pizza 3737 N Western Ave – (773) 463-7770
Armand’s Pizzeria 4159 N Western Ave -- (773) 463-5200

Italian Cuisine
Riggio’s Cafe Pranzo 4100 N Western Ave – (773) 588-6181

German Cuisine
Laschet’s Inn 2119 W Irving Park Rd – (773) 478-7915
Resi’s Bierstube 2034 W Irving Park Rd – (773) 472-1749

American Cuisine
Browntrout 4111 N Lincoln Ave – (773) 472-4111
O’Donovan’s 2100 W Irving Park Rd – (773) 478-2100
Lincoln Restaurant 4008 N Lincoln Ave – (773) 248-1820
Smokin’ Woody’s 4160 N Lincoln Ave – (773) 525-5733

Asian Cuisine
Sticky Rice 4018 N Western Ave – (773) 588-1020

Community

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Sometimes it makes more sense to view the city of Chicago as a bunch of separate neighborhoodsespecially when it comes to real estate. Whether you are in the market for a loft, condo, townhome, or house, it is just as important to inspect the surrounding area as it is to inspect the home’s foundation. St. Ben’s neighborhood is just one Chicago community with an abundance of residential properties, and a life all its own. From where you send your kids to school to where you dine at night, the information we provide is an essential piece of the puzzle when you’re trying to decide whether or not to buy that beautiful loft or adorable house in St. Ben’s.

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