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A Guide to Chicago Avenue

ELECTRIC AVENUE: Once a stark thoroughfare, West Chicago Avenue is transforming into a stellar destination for BYOs, bars, and more

Map of Chicago Avenue

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Chicago Avenue photo gallery
PHOTOS »

Great places to shop, dine, and play

THE INSIDER »
Urban Source owner Jenny Rossignuolo tells us her favorite spots

SEVEN MORE PICKS »
including Cuban food, table tennis, and western wear

MORE NEIGHBORHOOD GUIDES »

Chicago Avenue’s gentle buzz has become a cacophony, with an influx of new bars, restaurants, and shops that embody the strip’s indie spirit. One of the best perches for people-watching in the city is Beauty Bar (1444 W. Chicago Ave.; 312-226-8828), a national nightlife chain with a percolating roster of DJs and bands. On a recent night out, we caught a midnight set by the local sibling duo White Mystery, whose wailing garage sound and carefully constructed style perfectly complement the ethos on the sidewalk outside. Before you visit the neighborhood, consult our guide below.

TEN EXCITING NEW FACES:

1. Lush Wine and Spirits
Lush’s latest outpost recently added a snacks menu, which makes this well-curated wine shop feel a bit more like a sleek wine bar. We really love the free-delivery policy to nearby BYOs. (The wine shop next door, Noble Grape, will deliver all the way to Western Avenue for a mere $2 per bottle.) 1412 W. Chicago Ave.; 312-666-6900, lushwineandspirits.com.
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2. Seek Vintage
Need a fondue pot? Embellished highball glasses? Although the store’s housewares, clothing, and accessories span decades (XXIII Olympiad commemorative plate, anyone?), there’s a faint eau de Mad Men in the air. 1432 W. Chicago Ave.; 312-526-3164, seekvintagechicago.com.
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3. Leopold
This Belgian haven boasts one of the best moules-and-frites deals in town—just $12 for a generous helping. The beer list features Belgians, natch, but we’re stoked about the cocktail menu starring small-batch liquors from the Colorado distillery Leopold Brothers. 1450 W. Chicago Ave.; 312-348-1028, leopoldchicago.com.
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4. La Farine Bakery
This ain’t no Wonder loaf: The master bread maker Rida Shahin kneads a daily selection of hearty sourdough, ciabatta, multigrain, and foccacia, but it’s his bread pudding special that lures us in on chilly Saturday mornings. 1461 W. Chicago Ave.; 312-850-4019, lafarinechicago.com.
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5. West Town Public Library
What once was old is new again: The historic Goldblatt’s department store building is now a glossy book repository with a well-stocked children’s section. 1625 W. Chicago Ave.; 312-743-0450, chipublib.org.
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6. Arami
It’s on a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it stretch of Chicago Avenue, which somehow makes this design-forward sushi spot even more hip for locals in the know. Bonus: a signature ramen bowl in a town where good noodles are hard to come by. 1829 W. Chicago Ave.; 312-243-1535, aramichicago.com.
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7. Parlor 836
Sisters Vanessa and Jessica Maya pooled their gentle beautician talents and opened a homey, retro-chic salon that specializes in nails, waxing, threading, and massage. 836 N. Damen Ave.; 773-850-0508, parlor836.com.
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8. Black Dog Gelato
Chefs around town have been singing the praises of Jessica Oloroso’s unusual flavor combos for some time now. The only thing we wonder is why the mastermind behind such treats as whiskey gelato on a stick took so long to open up her own shop. 859 N. Damen Ave.; blackdogchicago.com.
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9. Ruxbin Kitchen
This congenial neighborhood hole in the wall leaves an impression with its bistro-meets-bunker vibe and curious marriage of Korean, French, and Latin foodstuffs. 851 N. Ashland Ave.; 312-624-8509; ruxbinchicago.com.
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10. Butcher & Larder
The chef couple Rob and Allie Levitt take the whole-hog concept to a whole nother level with this spartan butcher shop that doubles as a no-frills counter-service café. 1026 N. Milwaukee Ave.; 773-687-8280.
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FIVE TRIED-AND-TRUE PLACES:

1. Green Zebra Veggie-inspired fine dining (1460 W. Chicago Ave.) Back to map »

2. R.R. #1 Quirky and brilliant gifts (814 N. Ashland Ave.) Back to map »

3. Hoosier Mama Pie Company Savory and sweet pies by a master baker (1618½ W. Chicago Ave.) Back to map »

4. Permanent Records A groovy music selection (1914 W. Chicago Ave.) Back to map »

5. Sprout Home Urban-minded plant experts (745 N. Damen Ave.) Back to map »

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