Grab a bite for dinner at Jane's, located near Wicker Park.
draws throngs of visitors in and around the famous downtown Loop, and so do the renowned Art Institute of Chicago
, Shedd Aquarium
, Sears Tower
and Navy Pier
But travelers who choose to venture beyond the city’s central tourist attractions will enjoy the memorable, if more subtle, charms of its thriving neighborhoods, each of which has its own personality.
Start your day at Toast in Lincoln Park
. After 9 a.m. on weekends, the wait gets long—so come early or not at all—and be sure to try the marscapone-stuffed French toast.
Lincoln Park is the neighborhood immediately north of the Gold Coast and home to the city’s stroller-and-yellow-Lab set. You’ll love it for its convenient boutique shopping (and its proximity to Wrigley Field
). Fun stops here include the handbags of 1154 Lill Studio
, high-end chocolates at Vosges
and the Serge Lesage artisan rugs of Tabula Tua
Once you’re feeling hungry, say goodbye to Lincoln Park and take a cab to Wishbone
, just a block from Oprah’s Harpo Studios in the West Loop. The staples of Southern cooking are done right here. The crowd is refreshingly diverse, simultaneously a reminder of the city’s fascinating past and exciting future.
After getting your fill of blackened salmon and crawfish cakes, head up to playwright and novelist Saul Bellow’s old stomping grounds: Wicker Park. Arguably the hippest neighborhood in the city, Wicker Park is home to the city’s young, creative set. Everything here drips with irony, from the hipsters’ mustaches to their carefully chosen retro getups. The people-watching is great. The boutique shops along North, Damen and Milwaukee Avenues are open late. If you like rock 'n' roll, see who’s playing at The Double Door
in the evening. If not, there are plenty of places to stop for a drink or coffee as you stroll along. Once you are refreshed and have found something new to wear at one of the fabulous shops, it’s time for dinner.
Avoid the celeb chefs, megarestaurants and megaprices downtown, and hit up Jane’s
near Wicker Park; it’s the kind of neighborhood gem-trendy foodies are always overlooking. The fare here is eclectic and upscale, usually with a few comfort-food staples done with a twist. Ingredients are fresh, and preparations are simple. In this smallish-sized bistro, you’ll want to snag a window seat if you can. They sit two steps above the rest of the room, perfect for a romantic tête-à-tête. A reservation is highly preferred.
For drinks, take another short cab ride north is The Green Mill
, a Chicago institution. A classic mobster hangout, The Green Mill has for years been a home to the city’s thriving jazz scene. The dim lighting and eccentric crowd make for a rich atmosphere—the perfect place to share a late-night secret over cocktails.
This article has been adapted from the original, which was published by MSP Communications.