Above:Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art Photo: Courtesy of the Museum
Only about half a square mile, Ukrainian Village manages to serve as a shopping hub, hipster haven, cozy neighborhood for the stroller set, and, yes, outpost for immigrants from Ukraine. As you wander along Chicago Avenue, you’ll see storefront signs in Ukrainian, no English in sight, even though the original population has dwindled to a couple of thousand from its one-time high of around 30,000. Indeed, the rest of the city has discovered the well-maintained housing stock and double-wide sidewalks of Division Street—welcoming features that in 1983 prompted Mayor Jane Byrne to designate Ukrainian Village an official neighborhood, the first in Chicago.
1. Commercial Club Park
This micropark—just 1.36 acres—packs in three jungle gyms and a massive terra cotta alligator for kids to climb on.
2. Holy Trinity Orthodox Cathedral
The minimalist stucco exterior belies the gilded interior. Its ornate chandelier was designed by architect Louis Sullivan (yes, that Louis Sullivan), who loved the fixture so much he forfeited half his fee so the church could finish it.
3. Presence Saints Mary and Elizabeth Medical Center
The building’s polarizing straight-out-of-Brazil design—an example of Chicago modern—impressed the future pope John Paul II when he visited as a cardinal. Critics call it St. Mary of the Dustbuster.
4. Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art
A recent exhibit at this eccentric little gallery showcased works by people with neuropsychiatric disorders. Before going inside, pause to admire the curving façade by noted architect Stanley Tigerman.
5. Ukrainian National Museum of Chicago
Get a dose of history at this jewel box of a museum featuring WWI helmets, old-time swords, and intricately decorated eggshells that, according to Ukrainian legend, protect their recipient from evil. Whew!
6. Ad Hoc
If you smell leather in this edgy boutique (think AllSaints but cheaper), it’s because designer Alex Sandoval crafts bags in the back.
7. Paperish Mess
You’ll never shop at Hallmark again after coming to this eclectic paper, candle, and craft shop, which stocks cards, posters, and cocktail accessories.
The affable owners sell classics such as heavy flannel shirts and boldly patterned Samantha Pleet dresses.
9. Sprout Home
Succulents, pots, terrariums—basically, the store’s got all things green for your place, inside and out. Its wares have been featured in Better Homes and Gardens and on HGTV. (Check out the sister kitchen store across the street, too.)
Eat & Drink
10. A Tavola
Look closely or you’ll miss this tiny Italian restaurant nestled in a classic Chicago walkup. There’s a reason Forbes ranked it No. 1 on its list of America’s 10 best “secret eats”—probably the pillowy handmade gnocchi.
11. Bite Cafe
This BYOB serves comfort food with a twist, such as grilled cheese with tomato-fennel soup.
12. Clever Rabbit
The menu may be legume-centric at this new resto, but it’s the carrot margarita that’s killer.
13. Hoosier Mama Pie Company
At this spot, with its flawless Rosie the Riveter aesthetic and crazy-strong coffee, pies of all sorts are on rotation: savory, fruit, cream, chocolate. Don’t miss the chicken pot pie.
14. Kasia’s Deli
Everyone from Bill Clinton to Martha Stewart has come to this corner joint, where you can get fluffy pierogi, thick borscht, and the best damn Polish sausage you’ve ever had.
15. Rainbo Club
This rumored former speakeasy with red vinyl booths was the epicenter of Chicago’s alt-rock scene in the ’90s—and one of Nelson Algren’s favorite hangs a few decades earlier.
Through February:Bluegrass, gunfire, and a Romeo and Juliet–style romance collide in Hatfield & McCoy at Chopin Theatre.
February 21:Learn how to compose the perfect terrarium (plants and bowl included with the $75 registration fee!) at Sprout Home.
Did You Know?
An uninhibited Liz Phair flashed the Rainbo Club’s photo booth for the cover of her 1993 epochal album Exile in Guyville.