Alcalas Chicago western wear

As a former resident of West Town, I fully endorse the recommendations by Nora O’Donnell and Cassie Walker for dining and shopping along Chicago Avenue, especially Hoosier Mama and the new West Town Public Library. But I do have a few vital additions:

* Habana Libre (1440 W. Chicago Ave.): Looks kitschy, but they’re serious about their meat, especially the ropa vieja. One of my favorite restaurants in the city.

* Cafe Central (1437 W. Chicago Ave.): A hearty, old-school Puerto Rican restaurant that’s been around since 1952. It’s Miguel Del Valle’s favorite restaurant.

* Flo (1434 W. Chicago Ave.): My favorite weekend brunch spot, which specializes in well-priced, hearty New Mexican cooking. The house-mixed green and red chile Bloody Marys are recommended, as is the house Intelligentsia blend, which still might be the best coffee I’ve ever had.

* Taqueria Traspasada #2 (811 N. Ashland Ave.): My favorite place in the city for quick, cheap food–and if you’ll allow me to be heretical, I prefer it to the august La Pasadita empire just up Ashland. I like to stop in for a taco or two and follow it up with dessert and coffee at Hoosier Mama. On weekends they serve birria.

* Chipp Inn (832 N. Greenview Ave.): An old, modest neighborhood establishment tucked away in a cul-de-sac from the Chicago Avenue traffic. A fine alternative to the flash of Beauty Bar.

* Alcala’s (1733 W. Chicago Ave.): Even though I can’t pull off the dude look, I still enjoy looking around in this palace of western wear.

* Chi-Slam Table Tennis Club (1647 W. Chicago Ave.): I can’t personally recommend this, table tennis not being my sport. But I thought you should know you have the option.


Photograph: Adrián Flores (CC by 2.0)