Everyone knows that Chicagoland is the undisputed deep dish king, but ground zero in the local deep dish debate might just be Morton Grove, home to both Pequod’s Pizza and Burt’s Place. Regardless of your preference, you’re sure to hear the pan-style crust is caramelized, not burnt.
But there’s so much more than great pizza here.
With —the median price as of May 2023 was $360K—Morton Grove offers charming suburban living with easy access to Chicago. Sandwiched between Skokie, Glenview and Niles, Morton Grove is near the city’s northwest side, O’Hare Airport and Interstates 94 and 294.
Morton Grove doesn’t have a traditional downtown but drive along Dempster, where many restaurants are located or Lincoln Avenue to find local institutions like Bringer Inn, a Chicago-style bar known for its burgers, thin-crust pizza and large outdoor patio.
Here are 10 things we love about Morton Grove.
Dueling Deep Dish Pizza
Pequod’s Pizza has a cult following for a reason. Its pan-style, deep dish pizza is known for its caramelized crust. Order it with Italian sausage, meatballs and onions on a pie that’s gooey with cheese. Then be prepared to wait about 45 minutes. It’s worth it! A lot of Chicagoans know Pequod’s from its Clybourn Ave. location in Lincoln Park location, but it all started in Morton Grove.
Less than a quarter-mile away is Burt’s Place. This pan-style deep dish pizza is also known for its thick-yet-light caramelized crust. The spicy pepperoni goes with the sweeter sauce. The original owner, Burt Katz, was a legend, who even prompted a visit from Anthony Bourdain, “No Reservations.” Bourdain famously stated, “Burt’s was the only deep dish pizza I ever loved.”
The backstory: In 1989, Katz, the original founder of Pequod’s, opened Burt’s Place. The battle about who has the best pizza has raged ever since.
Many people don’t realize Morton Grove’s storied history. The city is named after railroad financier Levi Parsons Morton, the U.S. vice president under president Benjamin Harrison, who also served as an ambassador to France.
Morton Grove was once home to the largest greenhouse operation—and wholesale floral production in the U.S. The Poehlmann Brothers Company set up shop in the 1880s and became known for its roses, earning first prize in the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair.
During Prohibition, a stretch along Dempster became known for “roadhouses,” speakeasies in an area known as “Little Bohemia.” Visit the Haupt-Yehl House, a farmhouse built in 1888 where the Morton Grove Historical Museum is housed. Prior to the 1830s, Morton Grove was inhabited by the Potawatomi Nation and the Miami.
The North Branch Trail
Bike, jog or walk through forests, fields, residential and commercial areas along the paved North Branch Trail.
More than 20 miles span the entire North Branch Trail System of the Chicago River that runs through the middle of Morton Grove. Locally, the trail goes through Miami Woods and Linne Woods, but you can take it all the way north to reach the Chicago Botanical Gardens in Glencoe. This map offers a good outline of where to go.
With 38 lanes, Classic Bowl offers late-night bowling (open every day 9 a.m. to 1 a.m.) with a bar, pool tables, darts, video gaming, lots of high-definition televisions for catching games and an outdoor patio.
There’s also a restaurant, Boba Burger, connected to the lobby of the bowling alley. It serves up burgers, hot dogs and sandwiches with an Asian twist. Grab a Tokyo Dog, a tempura-fried hot dog with wasabi aioli, nori, pickled vegetables and sriracha ketchup.
Harrer Park and Pool
This incredible park offers a lot of family fun for kids and adults.
During the summer, soak up the sun in a lounge chair or grab some shade under big yellow canopies near Harrer Pool. Swim laps in a 50-meter pool, dive off 1- and 3-meter diving boards, plunge down a couple of water slides or take the littles to a zero-depth entry tot pool. There’s also a splash “spray” pad.
Once you’ve had your fill of water activities, head to Harrer Park, a 22-acre park with athletic facilities, walking paths, picnic shelters and two playgrounds. Play baseball and softball on multiple fields, challenge your friends to a tennis or pickleball match, or hit the sand volleyball court. There are also free summer concerts on Tuesdays.
Morton Grove Days
Every summer, the city of Morton Grove gets together for Morton Grove Days, a multi-day celebration around July 4th that includes a carnival, parade, concerts, children’s activities, beer garden and food court. Walk the Midway while eating a strawberry-and-cream drenched funnel cake or jump on a ride. The event culminates with traditional 4th of July fireworks.
Kappy’s American Grill
Kappy’s American Grill (7200 West Dempster St. Morton Grove, Ill.) is a Morton Grove institution known well beyond the city limits. With breakfast all-day, this third-generation, family-run restaurant’s mantra is “flap jacks to nightcaps.” Former Chicago Tribune food critic Phil Vettel named this restaurant one of his “Top 10 Spots for Breakfast.”
Get breakfast all-day plus a variety of savory options at this local diner. Try house-made specialties like the matzo ball soup, Friday night fish fry, skirt steak, Athenian Chicken, eggs benedict, crepes and blintzes, fried chicken or French toast. Some of the waitstaff has worked here for decades.
Great Parks + Park District
In addition to the aforementioned Harrer Park and Pool, Morton Grove maintains one of the best park districts in the Chicagoland suburbs. Facilities include 14 parks, four field houses and a museum. Plus, there’s a full roster of year-round programming and events for all ages from pre-K to seniors. Among the highlights:
The Prairie View Community Center (6834 Dempster St.), has a fitness center, gym and aerobic dance studio, plus rooms available to rent on the second floor.
Oriole Park Aquatic Center (9200 Oriole Ave., Morton Grove, Ill.) offers a 25-meter outdoor pool, plus a 1-and 3-meter diving board and drop slide, as well as a zero-depth kiddie pool that includes a slide and floating lily pad walk. There’s also basketball, volleyball and tennis courts as well as a playground.
Dog-friendly Austin Park (8336 Marmora Ave, Morton Grove, Ill.) also has a volleyball and basketball court as well as a baseball diamond and a playground that’s good for toddlers and older kids.
Part of the Cook County Forest Preserve, Linne Woods offers an outdoor experience for every kind of nature lover. There’s a variety of wooded trails through oak and hickory trees and 30 acres of tallgrass prairie. Go cross-country skiing in the winter or launch a canoe and kayak and paddle on the North Branch of the Chicago River during the summer. There are also several picnic grove shelters and horse trails.
Try hiking along the North Branch Trail’s 3.1-mile yellow-and-tan loop. It’s an easy hike that goes past deer-filled woods and prairie fields filled with wildflowers.
Dining on Dempster
Drive down Dempster Street and you’ll find a variety of global fare. Grab some Pad Thai, spring rolls or green curry at Lai Thai Restaurant (7168 Dempster St.), a kid-friendly spot that includes vegetarian and vegan options. Have pork chops, gyros or kabobs at Greek-inspired Charcoal Flame (6800 Dempster St.), a restaurant known for its generous portions and good food. Eat tandoori chicken, vegetarian samosas, chicken tikka masala, garlic naan or other contemporary Indian fare at Tava (7172 Dempster St.) Or enjoy a celebratory dinner at Cooper’s Hawk Winery and Restaurant (6731 Dempster St.) with a glass of wine.