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A Guide to Wicker Park: Where to Eat, Shop, and Play

INSIDER’S GUIDE: New spots like the Emporium Arcade Bar and the Purple Cow preserve the neighborhood’s trendy rep

Clockwise from top left: Quimby’s Bookstore; Monique Meloche Gallery; Asrai Garden; a dish from The Savoy

The always edgy neighborhood is still home to iconic shops (Reckless Records, Myopic Books) and infamous rock clubs, but these veterans now share the sidewalk with some exciting newcomers. Sasha Hodges of the vintage boutique Kokorokoko says that while national retail chains also call Wicker Park home, “they’re sprinkled together with businesses like ours, so it still has an urban flavor. It’s a good mix.”

[1] Come for the smells—from flowers to soaps and candles—and stay for the artisanal housewares at Elizabeth Kitchen’s floral shop, which is sprinkled with hand-sewn art objects and faux taxidermy busts. 1935 W. North Ave., 773-782-0680, asraigarden.com

[2] Designed by the same team that turned a former bank vault into the Bedford cocktail lounge in April 2011, this weeks-old southern-tinged resto is heavy on the sweet corn and fried green tomatoes. 1700 W. Division St., carriagehousechicago.com

Small Wicker Park map
Click to view the full map.

[3] With games ranging from 1978’s Space Invaders to 1992’s Street Fighter II, this four-month-old arcade features electronic childhood memorabilia from nearly every generation of its drinking-age clientele. 1366 N. Milwaukee Ave., 773-697-7922, emporiumchicago.com

[4] You can still find JanSport fanny packs and pogs at this ’90s-themed vintage shop. after September’s expansion, owners Sasha Hodges and Ross Kelly now have four times as much floor space to stock with funky-patterned street wear from ocean pacific, Body Glove, and Cross Colours. 1323 N. Milwaukee Ave., 773-252-6996, kokorokokovintage.com

[5] October marks the second anniversary of optician Coyote Degroot’s eyewear studio, which specializes in contemporary and never-worn vintage frames ($75 to $350) from as far back as the 1900s. 1104 N. Ashland Ave., 773-957-4733, labrabbit.org

[6] Illinois artist Joel Ross was the first to exhibit at this gallery when it opened on Fulton Market in 2001. He returns to Meloche’s new space with collaborator Jason Creps to show Alleys and Parking Lots, largescale photographs with integrated signage (through October 27). 2154 W. Division St., 773-252-0299, moniquemeloche.com

An ice cream sandwich from The Purple Cow
A treat from The Purple Cow

[7] A haven for lovers of handmade zines and rare comics since 1991, this indie institution carries thousands of quirky titles, from the practical (Soup and Bread Cookbook) to the conceptual (The Sylvia Plath Cookbook). 1854 W. North Ave., 773-342-0910, quimbys.com

[8] With its walkup window and sidewalk picnic tables, this family-owned ice-cream parlor has been sweetening Division street with its 20-plus flavors and housemade cheese and caramel corn since it relocated from Uptown in July. 1740 W. Division St., 773-697-9252

[9] this new nautical-themed seafood restaurant is smooth sailing in the front (raw bar) and party boat in the back (1920s lounge and smoking patio). the absinthe-happy bar boasts 14 signature cocktails alongside specialty beers and ciders. 1408 N. Milwaukee Ave., 773-698-6925, savoychicago.com

The famed Coyote Art Festival, showcasing works from more than 100 painters, sculptors, and other artists, returns to the Flat Iron Arts Building September 28 to 30 (1579 N. Milwaukee Ave., 312-550-4166, chicagoartistsmonth.org) . . . . Performance art takes over the streets every Friday night through October 12 at Out of Site Chicago (for locations, outofsitechicago.com). . . . Jackson Junge Gallery hosts neighborhood street artists in Off the Streets, October 1 to 28, with an opening reception October 12 (1389 N. Milwaukee Ave., 773-227-7900, j2gallery.com).

The Renegade Craft Fair Holiday Market returns December 1 and 2 at the field house in Pulaski Park (1419 W. Blackhawk St., renegadecraft.com). . . . Lettuce Entertain You starts construction of two new restaurants this fall (1815 W. Division St.).


Photography: Travis Roozée


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