In the last decade, Chicago’s near west side has transformed from a junky industrial corridor to a destination for dining, shopping, and nightlife. Bordering Greektown to the south, Ukrainian Village to the west, the Loop to the east, and Wicker Park to the north, the burgeoning neighborhoods of West Loop and West Town have become the source of the city’s current creative pulse.
1 HOOSIER MAMA
An Indiana native, Paula Haney worked as a pastry chef for more than ten years before turning a quaint storefront into a ’40s-inspired pie shop. 1618 1/2 W. Chicago Ave.; 312-243-4846, hoosiermamapie.com
2 RELAX LOUNGE
Brian Eldridge, a pipe fitter–turned–interior designer, opened this candlelit, pharmacy-themed bar in 2007. On Thursdays, Dale Levitski, a Top Chef contestant, serves three-course meals for $30 to $35. 1450 W. Chicago Ave.; 312-666-6006, relaxlounge1450.com/
3 BOTTOM LOUNGE
This spacious and unpretentious underground rock bar boasts a 2,000-square-foot outdoor deck with a gorgeous city view. Coming up: Shellac (June 27-28). 1375 W. Lake St.; 312-666-6775, bottomlounge.com
Montana natives Brad Rowley and Ty Best specialize in handmade furniture, art, and objects. Rowley runs the studio’s front, while Best designs from a Big Sky Country workshop. 521 N. Halsted St.; 312-432-0717, castedesign.us
5 PICCOLO SOGNO
The rustic Italian menu is built around locally grown produce, Mediterranean fish, and house-made breads and pastas. But the real reason to visit is the lovely outdoor patio. 464 N. Halsted St.; 312-421-0077, piccolosognorestaurant.com
6 PARAMOUNT ROOM
Housed in a former speakeasy, this dimly lit, two-level tavern serves up microbrewed beers and solid late-night grub. Looking for a deal? A $10 Kobe-burger-and-a-pint special is available anytime. 415 N. Milwaukee Ave.; 312-829-6300, paramountroom.com
7 MARIA PINTO
Pinto may have gotten her start designing wraps and shawls, but of late she has come to worldwide attention for outfitting First Lady Michelle Obama. Her illustrious yet minimal boutique showcases her recent collections and eveningwear. 135 N. Jefferson St.; 312-648-1350, mariapinto.com
The executive chef/owner Randy Zweiban (Nacional 27) hasn’t just hopped on the green dining trend; he’s on the cutting edge. He sources produce from Green City Market and seafood from sustainable fisheries—and he does it all out of a LEED-certified building that once housed the Chicago Transit Authority. 161 N. Jefferson St.; 312-669-9900, provincerestaurant.com
9 PERMAN WINE SELECTIONS
Using a personal, semiweekly e-mail newsletter to connect directly to his clientele, the former Alinea sommelier Craig Perman stocks his new shop based on regular customers’ wants and needs. 802 W. Washington St.; 312-666-4417, permanwine.com/
This brainchild of the restaurateur Angela Hepler-Lee (De Cero, Sushi Wabi) dishes out traditional Indian cuisine with an American twist. Signature cocktails such as the Bengali Tiger help douse the heat from spicy dishes such as chicken tikka masala, baigan bharta, and masoor lentils. 844 W. Randolph St.; 312-491-0844, veerasway.com/
Minimalist design, custom-made modular furniture, and space-age bachelor-pad ambiance are trademarks of this 5,000-square-foot West Loop club, which opens its doors on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. 839 W. Fulton Market St.; 312-733-2222, lumen-chicago.com
12 THE PUBLICAN
This Fulton Market gastropub aspires to be a true European beer hall—and it comes close, with 100 brews and more meat dishes than you’d think possible. 837 W. Fulton Market St.; 312-733-9555, thepublicanrestaurant.com/
1444 W. Chicago Ave.; 312-226-7600
This futuristic club radiates a 2001: A Space Odyssey vibe and celebrates the fine art of the DJ.
842 W. Randolph St.; 312-563-1224
This cozy Japanese enclave has been going ten years strong.
1235 W. Randolph St.; 312-226-8227
Ina Pinkney cooks up out-of-the-ordinary comfort food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
1452 W. Chicago Ave.; 312-243-3100
Vintage and reworked clothing
111 N. Carpenter St.; 312-421-2800
That French bistro setting that Woody Allen is always alluding to in his films
814 W. Randolph St.; 312-455-8114
A modern-day taquería
1819 W. Grand Ave.; 312-829-6122
Midcentury mod furniture mixed with vintage home goods and contemporary art and design
1321 W. Grand Ave.; 312-226-COAL
Some of the best Neapolitan pizza west of New York City
JUICY WINE CO.
694 N. Milwaukee Ave.; 312-492-6620
A cross between your local wine and cheese shop and your favorite spot for downing a bottle of pinot
TESA CIGAR CO.
464 N. Halsted St.; 312-929-3075
The specialty here is Nicaraguan stogies; the shop charitably gives back to the small Central American town where they are manufactured in small batches.