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A Field Guide to

Rogers Park

Where to play, shop, and eat in Chicago’s most diverse neighborhood

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Above: Mayne Stage  Photo: Stephanie Barto

Spend just a few minutes in Rogers Park, the northernmost neighborhood in Chicago, and you’ll see why its bohemian vibe draws both creative and academic types. The area is on an upward swing: In the 1970s (when I was growing up there), Morse Avenue was a sketchy street to be avoided at all costs. Now it’s home to a versatile music venue, pizzeria, taqueria, florist’s shop, coffeehouse, and two bars. But perhaps the best part of Rogers Park is a world away from its businesses: the lakefront. At underrated gems such as Leone Beach, you can rent a paddleboard and admire the skyline from the water—in six months, that is.

Emil Bach House
Emil Bach House  Photo: Claudiu Voichin

1. Emil Bach House

Have $1,295 lying around? Then sleep over in the only Frank Lloyd Wright house available for rental in Chicago. Thrifty? From May to October, you can tour the century-old manse for $12. emilbachhouse.com

2. Jackson-Thomas House

Ridge Boulevard and its historic houses, including this 1873 Italianate stunner, were built along Lake Michigan’s prehistoric shoreline—about a mile from where the coast is now. 7053 N. Ridge Blvd.

3. Leather Archives & Museum

Oy vey! Check out original fetish art and wander through eight galleries (hello, dungeon room) inside this former synagogue. leatherarchives.org

4. Madonna della Strada Chapel at Loyola University

Attend a daily Catholic Mass or just bask in the otherworldly quiet of this beautiful art deco chapel steps from Lake Michigan. luc.edu

5. Mayne Stage

Head to the in-house pub for a build-your-own burger ($11.50) before catching a live WBEZ podcast. maynestage.com

6. Mile of Murals

Bucolic country scenes. Expressive portraits. Floating sewing machines. It’s all there among 14,000 square feet of murals in this ongoing community project. mileofmurals.com

7. Robert A. Black Golf Course

For a mere $22 on weekends, you can hit this par-33 nine-hole course, with a backdrop of condos poking over its tree-lined fairways. robertblack.cpdgolf.com


8. The Armadillo’s Pillow

The staff specializes in helping bookworms track down hard-to-find used tomes. armadillospillow.com

9. The Fish Keg

Locals line up to stock their fridges with fresh Lake Superior whitefish and Australian lobster tails. thefishkeg.com

10. Lakeside Treasures

Browse three rooms of eclectic collectibles and antiques—furniture from Austria, local art—while chatting with the charming owner, Betty McDaniel. 773-262-9354

Eat & Drink
BobNGrill’s Umami Burger
BobNGrill’s Umami Burger  Photo: E. Jason Wambsgans/Chicago Tribune

11. BopNGrill

The kimchi fries ($7.15)—caramelized kimchi drenched in cheese and bacon—are a glimpse of savory nirvana. bngrill.com

12. Cunneen’s Bar

You’re just as likely to see barflies grading papers as shooting the breeze at this 43-year-old watering hole. cunneensbarchicago.com

13. Heartland Cafe

Sure, you can get meatloaf ($11) at this veg-head institution these days. But it’s made with turkey, natch. heartlandcafe.com

BobNGrill’s Umami Burger
Sauce and Bread Kitchen  Photo: Anna Knott

14. Sauce and Bread Kitchen

Foodies swear by the organic egg and maple sausage breakfast sammy at the only café/bakery/hot sauce company in the city. sauceandbread.com

In January

Through January 10 The Theo Ubique production My Way puts a cabaret spin on Sinatra tunes.

January 1 to 30 Top Chicago and New York playwrights debut more than a dozen 10-minute works at the Side Project’s Tail Eats Snake: Part Deux.

January 10 Get local farmers’ fare at the indoor Glenwood Sunday Market.

January 12 Classically trained singers mix arias and ales at the Red Line Tap’s Opera on Tap.

January 15 to 31 Lifeline Theatre’s Fillet of Solo Festival brings 14 storytelling collectives to venues throughout the neighborhood.

January 28 to February 20 Discover rising stars at Loyola University’s annual student art competition.

Did You Know?

The nabe is named for Philip McGregor Rogers, who bought 600 acres for $750 in 1835 and set up a Native American trading post.

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Tour Rogers Park with Joel Reese

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If You Want to Live Here

Population Median houshold income Median sale price (condo)
(39% white, 27% black, 25% Hispanic, 6% Asian)
$39,400 $177,000

Listing of the month

1309 W. Fargo Ave.

1309 W. Fargo Ave.
Photo: Courtesy of VHT

Asking price $499,900

Specs 2,000 square feet, three bedrooms, two baths

The lake is literally right outside your window in this first-floor gem, which also has hardwood floors, outdoor parking, and in-unit laundry. But seriously: The lake is right outside your window.

NOTE Real estate data are from October 2014 through October 2015. SOURCES: Census Bureau, Zillow
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