A Guide to Old Town: Where to Eat, Shop, and Play

INSIDER’S GUIDE: From bars to boutiques, a flurry of recent additions keeps this hood feeling as new as ever

Notable places in Old Town
Clockwise from top left: Old Town Pour House, a sandwich from La Fournette, Elaine’s Coffee Call, and Arch Apothecary
 

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Though Old Town’s roots (as swampy farmland full of German-Catholic immigrants in the 19th century) are humble, the picturesque oasis on the North Side has a lot to boast about.

ARCH APOTHECARY
[1] This beauty boutique stocks a fine mix of candles, soaps, and cosmetics, both familiar (theBalm) and not (French phenom By Terry). Helpful stylists do a bang-up job with waxing, facials, and even crystal-tipped lash application. 1359 N. Wells St., 312-291-9750, archapothecary.com

ELAINE’S COFFEE CALL
[2] La Colombe espresso drinks draw java aficionados to this smart Hotel Lincoln café. Eggy crêpes and fruit-flecked pastries courtesy of Paul Virant (Perennial Virant) are just another perk. Hotel Lincoln, 1816 N. Clark St., 312-254-4665

ELEMENT WELLNESS
[3] A deep tissue massage at this spa and juice bar focused on health, wellness, and alternative medicine may just cure your holiday stress. 233 W. North Ave., 312-229-0031, element233.com

Small Old Town map
Click to view the full map.

J. PARKER
[4] Hotel Lincoln’s rooftop bar was the hottest spot in the city this summer, but with balmy nights a mere memory, the action has moved to the 60-seat indoor space. Seasonal cocktails and views of the ice-capped lake still lure a well-heeled crowd. Hotel Lincoln, 1816 N. Clark St., 312-254-4747, jparkerchicago.com

KAMEHACHI
[5] In late 2011, the sushi standby moved to larger digs and, in the process, expanded its bar program. The cozy upstairs lounge offers unique cocktails from mixologist about town Adam Seger. 1531 N. Wells St., 312-664-3663, kamehachi.com

LA FOURNETTE
[6] Alsatian-bred baker Pierre Zimmermann and his staff bid a hearty bonjour to every customer. Tender cheese kouglof, delicate crêpes, and traditional baguette sandwiches are a Francophile’s ambrosia. 1547 N. Wells St., 312-624-9430, lafournette.com

Old Town Oil
Old Town Oil

MAMA MILANO PIZZA BAR
[7] The family of the fabled Papa Milano, who once had 13 Chicagoland restaurants, has brought the sauce to Wells Street with their Neapolitan-style ’zas. Stone ovens cook crackery-crusted pies like the Milano, crowned with sausage, green peppers, mushrooms, and onions. 1421 N. Wells St., 312-787-3710, mamamilano.com

MERCY BEAUCOUP!
[8] Armani, Tory Burch, and other designer finds abound at this resale boutique, and there’s a bonus: A portion of the proceeds on every stylish purchase supports the Mercy Home for Boys & Girls. Mercy Home participants also staff the shop, garnering on-the-job skills. 1545 N. Wells St., 312-202-6794, mercyhome.org/mercybeaucoup

OLD TOWN OIL
[9] It’s pantry staples gone wild at this compact shop of olive oils and balsamic vinegars (flavors include blood orange and blackberry ginger). Customizable gift packs should thrill the foodie on your holiday shopping list. 1520 N. Wells St., 312-787-9595, oldtownoil.com

OLD TOWN POUR HOUSE
[10] Sure, with flat screens covering every wall, the bar brims with bros, but this bi-level gastropub has become the place to grab a beer. Skeptical? There are over 90 brews on tap—Chicago’s largest collection. 1419 N. Wells St., 312-477-2800, oldtownpourhouse.com
 

NEW SPOTS IN THE NABE

November brought some much-buzzed-about businesses to the North Side. Glunz Tavern (1202 N. Wells St.), a historic bar that was shut down during Prohibition, emerged from its 90-year hiatus just last month. Also in November, Luxury Garage Sale, an online consignment bazaar for vintage clothing, shoes, and accessories, opened its first brick-and-mortar boutique (1658 N. Wells St., luxurygaragesale.com).

ON THE HORIZON

The Michigan-based specialty grocer and apothecary Plum Market plans to put down roots in Old Town (1233 N. Wells St., plummarket.com) next spring. . . . Construction has already begun on a brand new Target on the former Cabrini-Green site at the corner of Division and Larrabee Streets, slated to open fall 2013.

 

Photography: Travis Roozée

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