Best of the ‘Burbs

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The Best of Arlington Heights

BEST ETHNIC MARKET
MITSUWA
The word “market” doesn’t come close to describing the mind-boggling variety of goods available at this sprawling emporium: imported Japanese beauty products and packaged foods; a bookstore; a liquor store; a bakery; a selection of made-fresh-daily specialty items like kimchi, seaweed salad, and sushi; a Japanese video-rental store; and a nook of Japanese ceramics. The food court offers top-notch ramen and gabutto burgers (gourmet Japanese burgers and fries), both worth the trip. 100 E. Algonquin Rd.; 847-956-6699, mitsuwa.com

BEST STORE FOR ALL AGES
PJ’S TRICK SHOP
This Arlington Heights institution is a small paradise with its selection of prank- and magic-related delights in near every category: masks, costume makeup, gently mocking novelty birthday gifts (check out the charming volume You Know You’re Over Thirty When . . .), retro greeting cards, how-to books, guides to every sort of sleight of hand, manipulative gags, T-shirts, miscellaneous tchotchkes, and an adults-only novelty section, tucked discreetly away. 1300 N. Rand Rd.; 847-392-5280, pjstrickshop.com

BEST BARGAIN SHOPPING
EILEEN FISHER OUTLET
The spacious, clean, tranquil white dressing rooms and neat, alluring, color-coordinated rows of sweaters, tops, dresses, pants, and skirts at the Eileen Fisher Outlet are a respite from the dim strip mall in which the store resides. The styles are three months to a year behind the current collection and generously discounted at 60 percent off or more. 228 E. Golf Rd.; 847-593-6330, eileenfisher.com

BEST ICE-CREAM PARLOR
ASHBY’S ICE CREAM
With a few tables and aging posters touting the wares that beckon sweetly from giant cardboard tubs nestled in the long freezer case, Ashby’s in downtown Arlington Heights has ice cream to please the whole family on a long, sweaty summer’s night—Play-Doh, Bubblegum, and Superman in alarming shades of neon and a rich, rummy spumoni so thick it renders a plastic spoon nearly useless. 5 E. Campbell St.; 847-255-7642, ashbysicecream.com

BEST FREEBIE
ARLINGTON HEIGHTS MEMORIAL LIBRARY
One must assume that there is nary a Netflix subscriber amongst the lucky residents of Arlington Heights given the library’s rich DVD collection—foreign films, organized by language, span an entire wall, and the library stocks multiple copies of new releases. Be sure to look through the small selection of discarded and donated items always on offer to find the occasional gem; we spotted Denis Johnson’s latest novel, Tree of Smoke, for only 50 cents. 500 N. Dunton Ave.; 847-392-0100, ahml.info

BEST BAKERY
CAKE BOX
Run by the same family since it opened in 1949, Cake Box offers all the usual bakery fare—photo cakes, sprinkle-bedecked butter cookies, éclairs, glistening coffeecakes in a dozen flavors, fresh breads, and the strange but delicious Betsy brownie, a frosting-wrapped brownie on a stick. 1617 W. Campbell St.; 847-255-9120, arlingtoncakebox.com