Where to Eat:
· Lady Gregory's: It's newer to the scene, but this Irish pub has all the dark wood and on-tap beers you desire for an evening. Plus it's hard to deny the allure of a good place that offers "Ultimate Grilled Cheese."
· Acre: Brunch brunch brunch. Oh, how we love brunch, especially here. Pass the undulating bar and its craft brews to grab a booth and go for the corn cakes with pork and chorizo hollandaise or house-cured salmon burger. Oh yes, and they offer the infamous brunch "beermosa."
· Great Lakes Pizza: It's not something that can be explained, waiting an hour or more to sit down at a pizza place. You just have to go experience it once and you get it. Great Lakes is currently enjoying crazy press right now because when Kanye & Jay Z's "Watch the Throne" tour hit Chicago in November, the two headliners plus Beyonce couldn't even get seats here. They were made to wait like everyone else, and you know they aren't having that.
· Vincent: When Kanye, Jay-Z and B were denied an immediate table at Great Lakes, they came here to drink and wait for their takeout pizza. Luckily, this Dutchified American bistro is awesome on its own and affordable; a 3-course Dutch dinner is only $25.
· Swedish Bakery: You can't properly stroll up Clark Street without peering into the windows of this neighborhood mainstay. Since you'll likely be full up from the other places mentioned above, we add Swedish Bakery to this list as the best place to grab some nosh to snack on later.
Where to Drink:
· Marty's Wine and Martini Bar: They don't know how to make complex cocktails, but that isn't their thing. Marty's knows martinis and they can make you a proper large cosmo or a killer lemon drop. The art nouveau decor and chill scene is just an added bonus.
· In Fine Spirits Lounge: This is a wine and liquor store that had the cool idea to take over the space next door and become a place that pours it all too. One long bar is staffed by bartenders who unironically sport beards, and tables all around allow you to order some pretty excellent plates for a bar/lounge. The butternut squash soup we just had was some gourmet stuff, and enough to feed three people.
· Hopleaf: Hands down, Hopleaf is the most mentioned, most often recommended watering hole in the area. That's probably because it boasts more beers on draft and in bottles than is possible to easily count. Here's just what's on draft. The focus is Belgian, and we personally get major cravings for the tart Van Honsebrouck. Wear flannel here, but not flannel from Urban Outfitters.
Where to Chillax:
· Kopi Travelers Cafe: We've already given this cafe its own story, it's that great. Plus, it's travel-themed and hasn't become a place to see-and-be-seen like other Chicago coffeeshops. Oh, and they serve excellent food (much of it vegetarian).
· The Coffee Studio: This place is what Starbucks would be like if Starbucks didn't go corporate, had any cool factor left, and actually served quality coffee. The beans are Intelligentsia, the furniture is Eames-inspired, the crowd is all local, young creatives on Macbooks and the WiFi is free (with purchase).
· Yoga Tree: Whether you're from the area or just visiting, a yoga pro or newbie, Yoga Tree is more than worth checking out. Classes are $16 drop-in, the studio is small and your fellow yogis unpretentious. We recommend their Gentle Yoga and Candlelight Yoga classes, but the full schedule and online sign-up is here.
Where to Shop:
· Room Service: Mid-century modern furniture? Check. Design/lifestyle accessories (like antique Polaroid cameras or felt storage cubes) that'll make your friends constantly ask "where'd you get that?" Check. One-of-a-kind, handmade pieces from local artists? Check. We can't say enough good things about this place, really, and it helps that the owners both have amazing taste and an enduring love for the neighborhood.
· Brimfield: Cozy is the word. This Olde Englishy lifestyle store goes heavy on the Pendleton wool and rustic accessories, like all its shoppers are ice fishermen with a penchant for fine scotch. Just check it out, trust us. If you don't buy half the store, you'll be wanting to regardless. Plus they had an old United Airlines pilot tie bar in the window last time we dropped by.
· Women and Children First: This independent bookstore has been here seemingly forever, and nearly 1/3 of its shelves are devoted to Gender Studies, Gay and Lesbian fiction and non-fiction, and children's books.
· T-Shirt Deli: C'mon, who doesn't love a unique T-shirt store? The "Andersonville is for Lovers" shirt above is all their work.
· Tulip: Andersonville is a sex-positive neighborhood, and Tulip reinforces this. It's the best sex shop in Chicago, upscale and education-focused, where it's totally cool to loudly discuss the merits of one harness or lubricant over another and not be embarrassed.
Where to Boogie Down (LGBT-friendly):
· Mary's Attic: Drinks are cheap, the crowd is accepting of everyone, and the architectural details are interesting enough to use as conversation starters in this upstairs bar/club above Hamburger Mary's.
· The Call: When it's hopping, it's hopping and when it's not, more space for you at the bar. This is where to come if you're a dude and you want to dance.
· Big Chicks (technically in
Lakewood Uptown, but walking distance away): So you want to nod along to Rihanna and Lady Gaga songs, but want to chat it up at a bar that feels more like 1930s Chicago cocktail den than douchey lounge. You've found it.
A normal Andersonville street in late autumn
[Photos: Cynthia Drescher]