A Guide to Highland Park: Where to Eat, Shop, and Play

INSIDER’S GUIDE: A rock-star teashop on the North Shore? Yes—and more


Clockwise from top left: Baker Boys, Ooh-La-La, Real Urban Barbecue, and Ravinia Wine Shop. For more photos, launch the gallery »
 

When Billy Corgan announced last December that he was planning to open a 1930s-style Chinese teahouse in Highland Park, he got heads scratching. But the Smashing Pumpkins frontman and suburb resident was onto something. Slated for an April unveiling, Zuzu’s, or more formally Madame Zuzu’s Tea House [1] (582 Roger Williams Ave.), will be the latest in a flurry of new ventures joining longtime favorites in the century-old community—making this the perfect time to visit the North Shore. Tea, anyone?

BAKER BOYS
[2] Founded in 2010 by childhood pals, this dessert destination calls its cheesecake the best in the world. Sweet teeth can compare the Boys’ cupcakes with those of two more new joints: Marla’s Sweet Bites (478 Central Ave.) and Turtle’s (469 Central Ave.). 733 St. Johns Ave.; 847-433-0430, bakerboysbakery.com

CD CITY
[3] Didn’t like that new Springsteen album? If you bought it at this charming old-school record shop, you could return it. 593 Elm Pl.; 847-432-4344, thelastrecordstoreonearth.com

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HIGHLAND PARK THEATRE
[4] No slasher flicks here, just slashed prices. The 86-year-old movie theatre screens first runs at $7 a pop—yesteryear prices. 445 Central Ave.; 847-432-3322, highlandparkmovies.com

M
[5]
On the menu at this eight-month-old eatery from Kentucky native Missy Crovetti: fried chicken, confit pork shank, and one of the best bourbon selections north of the city. 675 Central Ave.; 847-748-8954, mrestaurant.net

NIETO’S
[6]
The husband-and-wife team behind Carlos’ bade au revoir to their acclaimed French bistro on New Year’s Day, then reopened in February, serving more casual fare. The downside? Tables may be harder to come by than in Carlos’ heyday. Book ahead. 429 Temple Ave.; 847-432-0770, nietosrestaurant.com

OOH-LA-LA
[7]
Surrounded by 200 hat forms, with a vintage fainting couch at the ready, the former costume designer Lisa Farrell creates chic chapeaus custom-fitted to patrons’ noggins. 441 Central Ave.; 847-433-5646, parishats.com

RAVINIA WINE SHOP
[8]
When Sharon Mackin-Norberg isn’t running Corgan’s teahouse, she’s down the block managing this wine shop. Opened last spring, the store specializes in small-batch selections (Cirelli Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2009, $14.99) and offers sit-down tastings for small groups. 597 Roger Williams Ave.; 847-432-9463, raviniawineshop.com

REAL URBAN BARBECUE
[9]
Texas, Memphis, the Carolinas: This year-old hot spot takes its inspiration from barbecue capitals, as interpreted by Jeff Shapiro. A second RUB location, opening later this year in Vernon Hills, should cut down on the wait for a table. 610 Central Ave., Ste. 177; 224-770-4227, realurbanbbq.com

2ND STREET BISTRO AND 2ND STREET ENOTECA
[10]
At this bistro (opened in 2011) and wine bar (added in February), Michael Gottlieb serves farm-to-table delicacies that top out at an affordable $20. Bonus: BYO, no corkage fee. 1825 Second St.; 847-433-3400, 2ndstreetbistrohp.com

TITLES INC.
[11]
Getting lost in this shop is as satisfying as getting lost in a good book. Recent holdings have included a first edition of Catch-22 signed by Joseph Heller ($7,500). 1821 St. Johns Ave.; 847-432-3690
 

FOUR DON’T-MISS RAVINIA CONCERTS
Esperanza Spalding, the jazz bassist and singer who beat out Bieber for 2011’s Best New Artist Grammy, plays the festival for the first time June 25. . . . Sarah McLachlan makes her own debut June 30. . . . Patti LuPone, Broadway diva, joins the Chicago Symphony Orchestra July 21. . . . The CSO returns for Mozart’s The Magic Flute August 16 and 18, with the actor Michael York narrating. Ravinia [12], 418 Sheridan Rd.; 847-266-5100, ravinia.org

ON THE HORIZON
In May, John des Rosiers (Inovasi) plans to launch a new Italian restaurant, Moderno, that will “change restaurants in the suburbs forever.” 1850 Second St., Ste. 110A; 847-433-8600, modernohp.com

 

Photography: Travis Roozée

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