A Guide to Lincoln Square: Where to Eat, Shop, and Play
INSIDER’S GUIDE: A beloved music venue’s expansion is one reason to revisit this North Side neighborhood. We’ve got 13 more
Clockwise from top left: Goosefoot, Timeless Toys, Amy’s Candy Bar, and Laurie’s Planet of Sound. For more photos, launch the gallery »
The two biggest influences on Lincoln Square? Its German heritage and the 55-year-old Old Town School of Folk Music , which, since moving to the neighborhood in 1998, has helped make the area a hot spot for pre- and postconcert dining and nightlife. In January, the venue opened an $18 million 27,100-square-foot classroom and performance facility directly across Lincoln Avenue from its headquarters—providing a great excuse to spend a day soaking up the enclave’s charming vibe.
ASH’S MAGIC SHOP, MAGIC INC.
 The professional illusionist Mr. Ash estimates he has at least 15,000 tricks stashed in his cramped shop and warehouse. Nearby Magic Inc. , founded in 1926, offers instruction and a lecture series, plus thousands of supplies for would-be Houdinis. Ash’s: 4955 N. Western Ave.; 773-271-4030, ashs-magic.com. Magic Inc.: 5082 N. Lincoln Ave.; 773-334-2855, magicinc.net
 When a Les Nomades vet gets a bee in his bonnet to open a contemporary American BYO, he can call it whatever he wants. At presstime, foodies citywide were drooling in anticipation of Chris Nugent’s December launch. 2656 W. Lawrence Ave.; 773-942-7547, goosefoot.net
LINCOLN SQUARE LANES
 This 12-lane bowling alley located above a hardware store hasn’t modernized much since 1918—which is why we love it. Open bowling runs $3 to $5 per hour during the week and $40 on weekends, with frequent appearances by the Polkaholics, an oompah-rock band. 4874 N. Lincoln Ave.; 773-561-8191
 A new façade reflects the ongoing revival of this German American cultural center, which offers language classes, film screenings, and an open house, or Stammtisch, every third Friday in the Skyline Lounge. For more German brews, head to the cozy Huettenbar  (4721 N. Lincoln Ave.). 4740 N. Western Ave.; 773-561-9181, dankhaus.com
GENE’S SAUSAGE SHOP & DELICATESSEN
 Two-year-old Gene’s carries on the tradition of the now-departed Delicatessen Meyer, with homemade pierogi and specialty meats, such as venison and boar. The rooftop beer garden will reopen after Memorial Day; call for updates. 4750 N. Lincoln Ave.; 773-728-7243, genessausageshop.com
TIMELESS TOYS, QUAKE COLLECTIBLES
 For creative (and mostly nonelectronic) playthings, head to Timeless Toys. For a walk down memory lane, check out Quake’s vintage action figures and comics . Timeless Toys: 4749 N. Lincoln Ave.; 773-334-4445, timelesstoyschicago.com. Quake: 4628 N. Lincoln Ave.; 773-878-4288, quakechicago.com
 Founded by a pharmacist in 1875, this gem stocks holistic remedies and bath products, including Vinolia soap (used on the Titanic) and Diptyque candles (which the shop ships to rock-star dressing rooms). 4716 N. Lincoln Ave.; 773-989-0900, merzapothecary.com
A candle from Merz Apothecary
LAURIE’S PLANET OF SOUND
 Revered among vinyl lovers, Laurie’s carries some 2,000 new releases (Wilco, the Black Keys, Adele), plus another 5,000 used records for sale. 4639 N. Lincoln Ave.; 773-271-3569, lauriesplanetofsound.com
 The unofficial greenroom for Old Town School’s performers and teachers, this pub quenches thirsts with 75 beers and 60 whiskeys and hosts an Irish jam session on Sundays. 4530 N. Lincoln Ave.; 773-271-9000, thegrafton.com
AMY’S CANDY BAR
 Last summer, the French Pastry School grad Amy Hansen realized her dream of opening her own confectionary. Look for her caramels alongside sublime Dutch licorice. 4704 N. Damen Ave.; 773-942-6386, amyscandybar.com
FOUR DON’T-MISS CONCERTS AT OLD TOWN SCHOOL
Ladysmith Black Mambazo: the a cappella sounds of South Africa (Feb. 3) . . . Solas: a fresh take on traditional Celtic music (Feb. 17) . . . Laura Veirs: gossamer melodies in one show for kids and another for adults (Feb. 19) . . . Bettye LaVette: torrid vocals ranging from classic rock to soul (Feb. 24). 4544 N. Lincoln Ave.; 773-728-6000, oldtownschool.org.
Photography: Travis Roozée