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Schwa, Chicago, Illinois

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1466 N. Ashland Avenue
Chicago , Illinois
Tel: 773 252 1466
view web site ›'s insider take:

A "schwa" is an unstressed vowel represented by a reversed and inverted letter E, but the restaurant's literary reference is more than a little misleading. From its location on a grimy thoroughfare on the city's northwest side to its decidedly unpretentious ambience, there is nothing fussy about this tiny, 26-seat bistro. For starters, there's no wine list: Like an increasing number of trendy boutique restaurants in town, Schwa is a BYOB joint. Unlike a lot them—BYOB or otherwise—it has Michael Carlson, who was recently voted one of the country's top chefs, in the tiny kitchen. And who cares if the service can be perfunctory and the hip-hop music is often turned up a little too loud? Carlson's artfully displayed entrées—which in the past have included seitan with roasted peanuts, Chinese broccoli, and mushrooms; and sablefish with pineapple, macadamia, taro root, and prosciutto—are so good we'd eat them on the curb in front of the tire shop across the street.

Open Tuesdays through Saturdays 5:30 pm to 10:30 pm.

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