The Run Down
For this guide, we're keeping it low-key and spending the afternoon in Ukrainian Village for a Sunday Funday. We start the afternoon by making our way to a tiny, back alley pizza joint, but with seating at a premium, we head down the street to a backyard bar that we all wish we had at our own house. The rest of the afternoon is spent here scarfing down pizza and sipping on house cocktails.
1. Pizza Friendly Pizza
I usually avoid alley ways, but tell me someone’s back there selling food, and I’m down to hangout. Well, I got news, there’s someone selling Sicillian style pizza in an alley and that’s where we start this guide.
In the alley behind the Empty Bottle is Pizza Friendly Pizza, the latest addition to the Ukrainian Village neighborhood. It’s a walk-up pizza shop from the mind of Noah Sandoval whose former ventures snagged him a few Michelin stars under his belt.
The entrance is right near the corner of Western Ave. and Cortez St. Head east on Cortez and look for this sign get you going in the right direction. Swing into the alley and you’ll most likely see a a few folks waiting patiently by the dumpsters. That means you’re in the right place. When you’re ready, line up and make your way into this small garden oasis that they’ve created. The menu is simple with a few pizza options, two types of sandwiches, and a few side salad options if you’re so inclined.
The thing about serving pizza out of a walk-up-window is that the set up is made for social distancing. Queue six feet apart, and then spread out in the alley while you wait for your pizza.There are a few tables along the walls of the alley, but get your food to-go, because we’re going to enjoy in a bigger outdoor space just right down the street.
2. Sportsman’s Club
Less than a five minute walk from Pizza Friendly Pizza is our next stop. We’re at Sportsman’s Club. No, this isn’t a sports bar. Rather, it looks more like a refined hunting lodge with a wonderful backyard patio especially suited for social distancing. You wouldn’t know it from just walking by, but through a narrow side entrance, you’ll come upon Sportsman’s Club’s backyard patio. Here are a few logistics tips to keep in mind.
– They’ve got a 2 hour time limit just to keep things moving.
– Hand sanitizer stations available up front and near the bathroom.
– Like all places, parties are limited to a max of 6 people.
– You can book a reservation in advance. On a late Sunday afternoon, we just walked right in and there were only a few different parties there.
– Bringing your own food is encouraged.
A host is up front to check you in and give you the lay of the land in terms of how we’re going to have a good time and be respectful of the situation. Now let’s talk about the backyard space itself. This is where backyard dreams are made. For those who dig that rustic, art deco style of design, you’ll want to come here just for design inspiration.
A couple of two-top tables line the perimeter. All spaced nicely apart I might add. Getting back to one of the reasons we’re out in the first place. It’s this pizza. There’s a reason why food critics have named this the best slice in Chicago.
I’ll let that article do this pizza justice, but I will tell you this. We got one slice each, and in less than five minutes, every single bit, down to the last crumb, was gone. Luckily, we were only down the street, and you know we made a second pizza run. Get at least 3 slices for yourself. I’ll leave you with this final picture of the space from right inside the main bar.