Chizakaya: A Local Delight

December 6, 2010 at 11:42 am

Melissa Graham


I moved to Roscoe Village in 2002. It was a year before I got pregnant with my son, but my husband and I were hoping to soon start a family. So when we were looking for Chicago neighborhoods, we wanted to find one that was “kid-friendly.” Eight years later, the neighborhood that calls itself as a “Village Within the City” fits the bill for good and for bad.

We’ve got a terrific library, kid activities planned throughout the year, kid-friendly businesses, and family restaurants. But it’s the last in the series that make us in the Graham family a little batty. I find it little ironic that kid-friendly in Roscoe Village tends to mean restaurants that give little care to their sourcing, especially meat. There are a few exceptions, but because of this phenomenon, most of our restaurant trips are outside of driving distance.

When construction began on a former bakery on a particularly desolate stretch of restaurant desert on Lincoln Avenue, I didn’t give it much thought. But then I heard the buzz about the place – two L20 alums opening a restaurant serving Japanese pub food. Given its proximity to our ‘hood, we figured it was worth a try.

Early on a weekday evening, my husband, the little locavore, and I visited Chizakaya for the first time. Opening the menu, I knew was in for a treat. On the back page, they listed their suppliers, an honor roll for local foods, including Growing Power and Dietzler. We’ve been there three times, ordered a broad variety of items on the menu from the snacks, yaki, and noodles, and have been very pleased. While I’m not sure they’d be pleased about being billed as “family-friendly,” the restaurant’s casual vibe certainly isn’t off putting to families with children. Their small plate approach makes it easy for us to get Thor to try a number of different items, though must haves for him are the delicious baked sweet potato fries and one of the seasonal noodle dishes. We’re simply tickled that we’ve acquired another restaurant in our neighborhood that fits our values, deliciously.