The Run Down

This guide takes you on a mini Swedish adventure in Andersonville that works great as a chill Sunday afternoon outing. This is a historically Swedish neighborhood on Chicago's Far North Side, and we'll be doing our best to immerse ourselves into the food and culture. Here are the highlights.

1. Swedish Pancakes @ Svea

2. Swedish American Museum

3. Glögg @ Simon's Tavern


We start off with a traditional Swedish breakfast/brunch at Svea, a cash-only diner in the middle of Andersonville. If you’re wondering what Svea means, based on my extensive Wikipedia research, “Mother Svea” is the female personification of Sweden and a patriotic emblem of the Swedish nation. That’s a nice fact to casually drop to impress your friends.

As far as the actual food goes, the menu is stacked with Swedish-American breakfast options that all have some combination of meatballs, sausage, eggs, potatoes, and Swedish pancakes. Here are a few Swedish breakfast items you’ll find.

1. Falukorv Sausage – A bit like a large seared hot dog
2. Lingonberry Sauce– a sweet and tart jam that pairs well with Swedish pancakes and meatballs
3. Limpa Toast – a dense rye toast that does a good job soaking up the gravy that coats the meatballs

2. Swedish American Museum


Andersonville’s Swedish roots are an important part of the neighborhood’s identity. Less than a block away from Svea is the Swedish American Museum. The museum has exhibits on three floors. On the first floor is a rotating exhibit, and the theme of this showcase was around what makes home a home, and visitors are encouraged to leave notes and pictures with their answers.


On the second floor is an exhibit that details the history of Swedish immigrants in America with special focus paid to the original Swedish communities in Chicago.

There are a series of small displays examining different parts of the immigrant experience. The stories are incredibly fascinating and you learn a lot about why so many Swedes decided to leave their homeland, what they did to survive in a new country, and ultimately how they helped shape Chicago.

Like many immigrant communities today, the first Swedish immigrants were a very tight-knit forming their own schools, social clubs, and sports leagues.


The Brunk Children’s Museum of Immigration is located on the third floor and has been ranked as one of the best interactive children’s museums in the country. The children‘s museum includes a replica Swedish farmhouse where kids can milk cows, bring in wood, or set up a dinner table.

3. Simon’s Tavern

Simon’s Tavern, perhaps the most iconic bar in Andersonville, is our last stop in this guide. It’s history dates back to the 1920s when Simon Lundberg, a Swedish immigrant who was granted citizenship after fighting for the U.S. in World War 1, turned his grocery store basement into a speakeasy den.

For years, bootleggers would smuggle in whiskey through his grocery store, but after prohibition ended, he was able to end the charade and turned his shop into the bar we’re visiting today.

Now that we’re here, let’s talk about their famous Glögg.  If you aren’t familiar, Glögg is a Swedish mulled wine made from port wine and spices, like cardamom and cinnamon. It might also include some added liquor that you can’t really taste when you drink it, but you can definitely feel afterward. You can get it frozen or hot depending on the mood.

In terms of the vibe, Simon’s has a divey feel but without the sticky floors or smell of stale beer. Like all the great dives in Chicago, it is cash only–but they do have an ATM at the bar.

Most days, you can find the owner, Scott, engaging in conversation with both regulars and new patrons alike. If you ask (and perhaps even if you don’t), he’ll give you a tour of the bar––complete with the history of the neighborhood and how Simon’s came to be. I won’t spoil any of it here, but definitely ask about the portrait hanging just inside the door.