WICKER PARK — A busy corner where a shuttered currency exchange stood for several years will finally see new life with the opening of The Hat, a casual eatery offering Chicago-style street food such as hamburgers, hot dogs, Polish sausages, gyros and more.
"We want to get the community out to look at our new venture, to enjoy a different kind of food than what we offer at Hollywood Grill," said The Hat's owner Christine Liakopoulos, whose family also owns Hollywood Grill, an iconic 24-hour diner across Ashland Avenue from The Hat, which opened in 1995.
Located at 1604 W. North Ave., The Hat offers 38 main dishes, including homemade Italian beef, burgers, Vienna Beef hot dogs, Polish sausages, gyros, rib tips, chicken and more.
Meatless options range from vegan burgers to falafel, fish filet, grilled tuna and pepper and egg sandwiches. Desserts include milk shakes and soft-serve ice cream cones.
Side orders include chili, tamales, pizza puffs, onion rings, and "Fabulous Fries," served crinkle cut style and available plain or with garlic, or topped with chili and cheese, or "loaded," with Merkts cheddar, sour cream and bacon bits.
"Obviously, this is not health food. Our focus is what has made Chicago famous: red hots, Polish sausages and gyros," Liakopoulos said.
About nine months in the making, the eatery — at the northwest corner of North and Ashland avenues, just west of the Kennedy Expressway — offers counter "pick up and eat" service, with space for around 35 people inside and an additional 30 seats on a back patio.
The Hat's manager Milagros Gonzalez said the restaurant, which hopes to open in July, will bring up to 15 new jobs to the area.
"People have been peering in the window and telling us they can't wait to get a good gyro in the neighborhood. We are very excited to open," Gonzalez said.
The Hat (website coming soon), 1604 W. North Ave. Hours are 10:30 a.m. to 3 a.m. Monday-Thursday; 10:30 a.m. to 6 a.m. Friday-Saturday; 11 a.m. to 3 a.m. Sunday. Free parking. Delivery and take-out available. Ph: 773-342-5000.