Above:Quiet Company performs at Martyrs Photo: Jamie Bernstein
We don’t blame North Center residents if they suffer a slight identity crisis. Their oft-overlooked nabe is wedged among Lincoln Park, Lake View, and Lincoln Square. (Even the name is difficult—the area’s chamber of commerce has it as one word, the City of Chicago as two.) But it’s plenty bustling in its own right, with eclectic theaters, popular concert venues, high-end restaurants, and the city’s first cider bar. Keep your eyes open when you stroll through the neighborhood: Cubs utility player Ben Zobrist moved in last year—and signed autographs outside his house the day after the World Series win.
1. Claremont House
Privacy takes a back seat to aesthetics at this red-brick modernist abode, designed by the firm behind the Racine Art Museum: It features floor-to-ceiling windows that let passersby see through the first floor.
Beck, Bob Mould, Los Lobos, and Pete Townshend have all performed on the former post office’s low stage, which is practically part of the audience.
3. CIBC Fire Pitch
It’s both an indoor and an outdoor soccer facility, just not at the same time: A gigantic inflatable dome covers the fields in cold months.
4. St. Benedict Parish
Built in 1918, this imposing structure features stained glass imported from Munich and hand-carved stations of the cross from Oberammergau, Germany.
5. Welles Park
Sure, there’s a playground here. But with logs and rocks begging to be climbed, the new 15-acre nature area encourages rugged adventures.
6. The Dizzy Cow
The kids can poke through the adorable toys at this cozy curiosity shop while you stuff your backpack with vintage candy like Zagnut (yum), Pop Rocks, and Pixy Stix.
7. Embellish Boutique
The sunny storefront checks all the right boxes: local boho jewelry, socially conscious goods from all over the world, and eco-friendly everything.
Two Hazels reign on one block: One has smart Chicago-made gifts, such as jewelry and candles. Farther west, you’ll find casual yet trendy clothes for both men (Original Penguin slim-fit button-downs) and women (flowy Cut Loose tunics).
9. Laskey + Lenart
After more than a decade on the Chicago art fair scene, two local artists opened this boutique, which features affordable jewelry made with materials such as Lake Michigan beach stones and colorful glass enamel.
Chicago flag aficionados, this local-focused shop is your nirvana: The four-star design adorns everything from flasks to salt and pepper shakers to cutting boards.
Eat & Drink
11. The Globe Pub
Soccer (er, “footie”) fans gather here at ungodly hours to nosh on beer-battered fish and chips while watching their favorite teams. Psst: It often has Zombie Dust on tap.
12. Half Acre Beer Company
This wildly popular brewery (Daisy Cutter sound familiar?) now has a restaurant next door that serves upscale bar food and beers by the bazillion.
There’s a reason this Iliana Regan venture, which transforms Midwestern ingredients with Japanese techniques, was named one of Chicago’s best new restaurants this year: Almost everything—from the tofu to the soy sauce—is made in-house.
14. The Northman
With its belt-driven ceiling fans and red velour walls, the city’s first cider pub has a decidedly French feel. And the food, mon Dieu! Don’t miss the white bean cassoulet.
15. Resi’s Bierstube
This beloved German spot serves mammoth steins of German ale and delicious Wiener schnitzel.
Through December 3:Southern Gothic meets horror meets … football (?) in American Theater Company’s Welcome to Jesus.
November 7:Broaden your musical horizons with Beirut native Yasmine Hamdan, who brings her modern take on Arabic pop to Martyrs’.
November 14:Ghostlight Ensemble does its always awesome Live Movie Reading at Celtic Crown, with members performing classic episodes of WKRP in Cincinnati, Friends, and How I Met Your Mother.
November 16:Soul band Orgone brings California chill-funk to Martyrs’.
November 17:Get a double dip of literate indie pop when Chicago scenesters Larry O. Dean and Dann Morr play Silvie’s Lounge.
Did You Know?
Abe Saperstein, founder of the Harlem Globetrotters, began his basketball coaching career with an amateur neighborhood team at Welles Park.