Above: Andersonville Farmer’s Market Photo: Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune
You don’t have to crumble knäckebröd into your filmjölk for breakfast to appreciate the Swedish influence in Andersonville. From the abundant blue-and-yellow awnings to the telling moniker (Andersson is a popular Swedish surname), the nabe’s Scandinavian roots run deep. When Swedish immigrants settled the area in the 1850s, it was a cherry orchard. Now it has the second-largest gay population in the city (behind Boystown), and its Clark Street shopping district, with many early-20th-century buildings, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. June brings Midsommarfest, an annual celebration of the neighborhood’s cultural heritage—complete with a maypole.
1. Dala Horse
This fiberglass sculpture at the corner of Clark and Farragut replicates the wooden original, moved inside the Swedish American Museum after Chicago winters wreaked too much havoc on it.
2. Simon’s Tavern
Some say the former speakeasy, with its façade modeled on the luxurious SS Normandie, is haunted (boo!), so go on a slow afternoon and ask owner Scott Martin for a tour. 5210 N. Clark St.
3. Swedish American Museum
Learn everything you ever wanted to know about Swedish immigration and handcrafted finery and the Scandinavian lineage of astronaut Buzz Aldrin (who knew?). Sweet gift shop, too. swedishamericanmuseum.org
4. Alleycat Comics
Duck into a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it passageway next to Starbucks to find this excellent comic shop, which hosts a board game night every Thursday (Settlers of Catan, anyone?). alleycatcomics.com
5. The Brown Elephant
Before the recent renovation: huge, filled with bargains, kinda janky. After: huger, filled with more bargains, jank-free. howardbrown.org/brown-elephant
This charming little spot must be the best card/print/frame/jewelry/porcelain kitten and puppy/alligator-head shop in the city. foursided.com
7. Milk Handmade
Local, handmade clothes, jewelry, accessories, and candles. What’s not to love? (The owner’s greyhound, Sauvie, is also pretty darn nice.) milkhandmade.com
Find everything from cool midcentury bookcases to 50-pound industrial table lamps. (Hey, if it’s good enough for Tom Skilling, it’s good enough for you.) scoutchicago.com
9. Women & Children First
This independent feminist bookstore and neighborhood institution has drawn such luminaries as Maya Angelou, Alice Walker, Gloria Steinem, Annie Leibovitz, and Hillary Clinton. womenandchildrenfirst.com
Eat & Drink
10. Big Jones
There’s nary a misstep on the menu, but if you bypass the fried chicken made with ham drippings and clarified butter, you’re probably doing it wrong. bigjoneschicago.com
11. The Coffee Studio
Java isn’t the only star at this chill spot, which also serves cocktails and craft beers. And here’s a tip: caramel latte. You’re welcome. thecoffeestudio.com
Come for the immaculately curated list of 400-plus beers, poured into brew-specific glasses for maximum authenticity. Stay for the Belgian-inspired cuisine, such as the ridiculously tasty mussels and frites. hopleafbar.com
13. Jin Ju
The top-notch cocktails and contemporary Korean fare—think lightly battered tilapia with eggplant in a ginger-mustard soy sauce—earn this hip, black-walled joint a recommendation from Chicago’s dining critics. jinjurestaurant.com
We’re not saying this cozy spot has the best breakfast in the city. But after demolishing the impossibly fluffy pancakes and delish bacon-wrapped baked eggs with polenta, we’re not not saying it, either. mhenry.net
Wednesdays More than 30 vendors bring straight-from-the-soil produce to the Andersonville Farmer’s Market on Berwyn between Clark and Ashland.
June 9 Andi Zeisler, cofounder of Bitch Media, talks about the state of feminism at Women & Children First.
June 10 to 12 The glögg will flow and the music will be loud at the 51st annual Midsommarfest.
June 16 Scandinavian suds will be on tap at the Swedish American Museum’s Skål! Beer Tasting.
June 18 Local writer and director Jim Vendiola screens two of his recent works at Chicago Filmmakers.
Did You Know?
In 1954, an escapee from Cook County Jail, Gus Amedeo, was gunned down by police in the middle of Clark Street outside the Calo Theatre, which now houses the Brown Elephant.