It isn’t much to look at from the outside. Schwa restaurant sits on a non-descript stretch of Ashland, just south of North Avenue. The decor inside the 400 square-foot space won’t land itself inside the pages of Architectural Digest anytime soon either.
But that’s not what makes this arguably the toughest restaurant to get into in Chicago. It has everything to do with the food — and perhaps, the mystery behind the owner/chef Michael Carlson.
It’s the same Michael Carlson who GQ devoted a feature to earlier this year that read like a mini-novel. It documented his quirky, eccentric nature, and his dramatic stress-induced breakdown that led him to close and reopen the restaurant a couple of years ago, and the copious amounts of drugs and alcohol involved.