A recurring column about the hottest things to do outside of the Chicago Loop!
Anyone who has ventured outside of the Chicago Loop area will have stumbled--either intentionally or somewhat by accident--upon one of the city’s liveliest neighborhoods: Lake View. Geographically amorphous, Lake View mostly covers the area east of the Chicago River and west of Lake Shore Drive, while being bordered to the south by W Diversey Pkwy and north by Irving Park Blvd. However, nestled in those boundaries are baseball fanatics’ Wrigleyville and Chicago’s LGBTQ mecca, Boystown. Nevertheless, no matter what you are looking for, Lake View has something for everyone.
Take the redline CTA train up to Belmont and head east until you reach North Broadway. There you’ll find great independent restaurants and some pleasant coffee houses. Grab a hot mocha and a window seat at the Chicago-born Intelligentsia Coffee (3123 North Broadway). While you could use the space and time to study for winter exams, it’s much better to flirt with the cute Chicagoans traversing by.
For a late lunch or dinner, check out DMK Burger Bar (2954 N Sheffield Ave). Try the crispy prosciutto or aged cheddar in classic beef, turkey, bison, or a thick portobello, with a side of jazzed up fries adorned with Amish blue cheese and smoked bacon or parmesan, truffle cream. Cap off your meal with a craft beer. If burgers aren’t your thing, check out the small, but very popular, Crisp (2940 N Broadway), serving up some of Chicago’s best and crispiest (get it?) Korean fried chicken doused in signature sauces. Also part of the draw are the eatery’s bibimbop rice bowls and BYOB laissez-faire attitude.
To wash down the fried chicken or to continue the pre-game, head over to Sheffield’s Beer and Wine Garden (3258 N Sheffield Ave), a neighborhood staple, where you can drown yourself in the flavors of over 30 draft beers, an extensive craft beer menu, and featured brews of the month. Don’t stay too long or you’ll get swallowed up by the noise of the young and rowdy crowd. Instead, head to Bobtail Ice Cream (2951 N Broadway), serving up classic homemade ice cream in an old time shop. Check out the Tuesday special for a discount on one of the creamiest milkshakes you’ll ever have!
For some organized entertainment, grab a ticket to one of the many improv comedy shows at the Annoyance Theatre & Bar (851 W Belmont Ave). Particularly great is the weekly show “Messing With a Friend” (Thursdays, 10:30pm, $5), featuring Susan Messing and a rotation of Chicago’s top improvisers from legendary improv houses like Improv Olympic and Second City, among others. If you want something even more ambiguous, catch Blue Man Group at Briar Street Theater (3133 N Halsted St; tix from $35 w/ student ID). Founded in 1991, Blue Man Group has garnered a reputation for combining music, technology, and comedy into performances that have been heralded as innovative and entertaining all around the world.
If you’re just getting started, stroll up North Halsted and get your dance on at one of the many bars and dance clubs along the Boystown Strip from Belmont to Addison. A favorite is Sidetrack Video Bar (3349 N Halsted St), a large modern venue showcasing reasonably priced drinks and theme nights featuring the hits of popular artists like Beyonce and Madonna (Beyonce Night is March 15th!). Sidetrack will once again be the venue for this year’s annual #PinkParty in May, hosted by the OUTreach LGBTQ student organization at Chicago Booth.
John is always exploring pockets of awesomeness all over the great city of Chicago. Join him!