NFT Chicago East Lakeview

East Lakeview

Essentials
A.K.A. Boystown thanks to its highly visible gay community, East Lakview is brimming with great shopping and dining. The Chicago summer festival season piques in Boystown with the annual Pride Parade and the equally flamboyant Halsted Street Market Days. The neighborhood quiets down a bit in the beautiful gray- and brownstone-lined blocks south of Belmont.

Sundries/Entertainment
East Lakeview's nightlife is unquestionably the most fun you'll have in the city. Dining options run the gauntlet from ultra chic to comfortably casual. The neighborhood is stacked with gay nightclubs and bars like Roscoe's and Sidetrack. No Saturday night visit to Boystown is complete without a drag show. You'll go (Lady) Gaga for the queens at the Kit Kat LoungeSee more.

>. Parking is rough in this busy borough, but it's a cinch to hail a cab at any hour.




         


This Neighborhood Featured in...
Adventures in Resale & Vintage Shopping

By Keidra Chaney
Clothes other people have worn?! Who buys that? Keidra Chaney does--from hoity toity vintage minidresses to a wide assortment of 90s Japanese tees. Don't forget to check for bed bugs.

Read More...
The Cheapskate's Guide to Chicago

By Dana Kaye
Dana Kaye sure said it straight when she declaimed: "You don’t have to be gay to enjoy all the drink specials on Halsted." But you do have to be on a budget. Chicago is no city for the thrifty, but Dana Kaye is not one for following the rules. Take heed as she stealthily discloses the secrets to getting by with no money.

Read More...

On Our Radar:

Posted By:  Sarah Enelow
Photo:  Sarah Enelow

Rainbow Flowers
It's tempting to buy cheap orchids at Trader Joe's, I've done it myself, but next time consider a local florist. There's a lot to understand about flowers, whether they're potted or cut, and most of us don't know the half of it. Besides, orchids aren't supposed to be as cheap as carnations! Nor are they supposed to be growing in pots the size of thimbles. Try Rainbow Flowers in Lakeview; it's a small storefront but they have a healthy rotating collection, and they'll stop you from taking those sunflowers uncovered into 20-degree weather and freezing them until they turn black. The folks at Rainbow are lovely and will discuss anything from plants to dating, the U.S. Army, and colonoscopies (!), reminding me that Chicago is a fantastic place to patronize an independent business.



Posted By:  Sarah Enelow
Photo:  Sarah Enelow

Bookman's Corner
This bookstore is about the experience, not about finding the third edition of The Brothers Karamazov with the translator's note by so-and-so in less than five minutes. To say that this store is unorganized is a massive understatement: books are loosely grouped by subject matter (see the index cards taped to the shelves), they're spilling out from every shelf, every corner, and they might even be erupting out of the floor. But who cares? You never know what you'll find, maybe a 600-page volume about the insects of Eastern Siberia, or a gorgeous book of photography, or a rare novel by that author you always meant to check out. Especially for a neighborhood where the Borders has been swallowed up by a long-protested Walmart, Bookman's Corner is a real gem.



Posted By:  Brendan Keating
Photo:  Brendan Keating

Intelligentsia Coffee
Chicago might be known as the Second City, but Intelligentsia has ambitions of serving nothing short of the best coffee in the world. One of their baristas was named the best in the world in 2010, they recently opened their first location in LA, and they've switched over from French press to new, fabulous Clover coffee makers. There are other coffee shops in the city that might have better atmosphere, or that might have more options, better prices, or a more eclectic vibe, but smart money is on Intelligentsia to serve simply the best cup of coffee money can buy. This is an outfit that takes its coffee so seriously, they stopped serving skim milk and large sizes because they thought it changed the taste of their brew. But, Intelligentsia has channeled their pretension into perfection. In the course of globalization, several famed Chicago brands have gone extinct: Marshall Fields, Bank One, and Montgomery Ward, to name a few. Intelligentsia might be one of the green shoots that will help define the city in the years to come, so raise your cup of Joe and toast to perfection attained, and to the future.



Posted By:  Brendan Keating
Photo:  Brendan Keating

Cloud 9
You're going to love Xue Hua Bing. The Taiwanese delicacy, translated as "snow ice" in the States, looks like a slice of Viennetta with toppings on it and tastes like a sunny Sunday afternoon. The concoction, shaved from a block of milk, sugar, and fresh fruit, is light and fluffy, yet melts like ice cream. Cloud 9, in Lakeview, is Chicago's first snow ice emporium. The basic flavors they offer: vanilla, mango, green tea, and strawberry, come with a variety of toppings and sauces. Apart from the tastiness of their offerings, there are a lot of reasons to feel good about eating at Cloud 9. Everything is made from fresh ingredients. It's family owned. And snow ice is rich in taste and texture but poor in fat and calories. Cloud 9 is so heavenly, it's sure to become a new dessert staple.



Posted By:  Nina Williams
Photo:  Nina Williams

Wallace E. Dunn
Taxes are a necessary evil, but they can also be painless with this small Lincoln Park office. With tax day right around the corner, it's imperative to find a place that isn't going to charge you an arm and a leg. They'll do your personal or businesses taxes even if you're an artist in the city with lots of little receipts tucked away in an envelope. The pricing here is reasonable and the staff is friendly and accommodating. This is one of the best accounting and tax offices in Chicago.



Posted By:  Jill Jaracz
Photo:  Jill Jaracz

Reckless Records
After a couple of decades near Belmont, Reckless Records packed up and moved across the street and a block south. The new digs are bigger and more open, which allows for a much better music browsing experience. And browse here you must. You never know what sort of music you'll find. Along with CD's, Reckless has a good-sized vinyl department with a pretty large punk selection. You can also find a few cassettes and, believe it or not, 8-tracks. A good portion of the store is devoted to DVD's and VHS movies, and you'll even find a small selection of music books, as well as a 'zine rack. Although you can find new releases, most of their products are used, so if you're looking to make a few bucks, bring in your old stuff. They'll look through their databases, and if they can add it to their inventory, they'll give you cash or store credit in return.



Posted By:  Jill Jaracz
Photo:  Jill Jaracz

Jewel-Osco
Look. If you want to broadcast you don't know Chicago, say you're "going to Jewel." A native never says this when referring to this grocery chain. To shake your newbie image, you have one of two options: Either, "I'm going to the Jewel," or, "I'm going to Jewels." I have no idea why we add the "the" or pluralize it, but we do. Sure, the Jewel is a big chain store, but as far as groceries are concerned, it's not horrible. The preferred card discount is usually decent, and at times you can get some quality produce. This particular Jewels is a time capsule from when grocery stores weren't humongous, which translates to not that much choice. Also, the aisles aren't all that wide, so do everyone a favor by making sure you don't park your cart in the middle of them so no one can get by. Still, you shop there because it's close and the deals are decent. Life could be worse.



Posted By:  Jill Jaracz
Photo:  Jill Jaracz

Buffalo Exchange
Recession woes got you so down you'd sell the shirt off your back? Well, you might be able to at Buffalo Exchange. Bring in your gently used clothes, and their expert buyers will examine them up and down to make sure the items are clean, have no rips or holes, and things like zippers function properly. If they can sell it, they'll let you know what they'd charge for the item. If you want cold cash, they'll give you 35% of their price, but if you want to trade for store credit, you'll get 50%. Designer labels do pay out a little more, but well-cared for and trendy duds can usually net you a few bucks. If you're into low-cost shopping, the store is a well-organized mass of men's and women's clothing and accessories at really reasonable prices. Selection varies, but you can usually find something cool and cheap here.



Posted By:  Jill Jaracz
Photo:  Jill Jaracz

Fast & Fresh
When you look at this place, the name might puzzle you. After all, it looks like your typical hole-in-the-wall hot dog stand, so how could the food be "fresh"? In most people's books, "fresh" means "healthy," which means that a hot dog is about the furthest thing from that. Well, this is not your average hot dog joint. Along with the standard dogs, burgers, and gyros, Fast & Fresh has a long list of Mediterranean favorites like mousakka, falafil, couscous, hummus, and a ton of different kebabs. There's so much to choose from you may have a hard time picking just one entree. The menu also includes several vegetarian options. Fast & Fresh lives up to its name too, with freshly cooked meals and speedy, pleasant service. Eat in, and your food comes on real plates, which makes it a little classier experience. Plus, you can enjoy Turkish satellite television (including a lot of soccer) while you eat.



Posted By:  Jill Jaracz
Photo:  Jill Jaracz

Phoebe's Cupcakes
Just when I thought the cupcake trend was played out, along comes Phoebe's, a cute little shop founded by Phoebe Walters, an executive pastry chef who's been featured on The Food Network. Even though Phoebe is a little late to the game, her cupcakes are dangerously delicious. They come in a variety of flavors--the standard chocolate, yellow, and red velvet for example--but some specialty flavors are added to the mix every week to spice it up. I tried a delicate lemon and lavender cake that smelled almost too good to eat, but somehow I managed to devour it and look for more. Besides cupcakes, Phoebe's has muffins and cinnamon rolls in the morning, and cookies in the afternoon. You can even get freshly baked dog treats for your pup. The bakery also has a small, cozy seating area with free Wi-Fi, so you can indulge in a treat and get some work done at the same time.



Posted By:  Jill Jaracz
Photo:  Jill Jaracz

Rocks Lakeview
You might be looking at the photo and wondering who the hell orders green beans with their grilled cheese when you have the option of getting some tasty tater tots, but that's the beauty of Rocks. If you feel like you haven't gotten your daily quota of veg, you can easily do it here because they've got a few ways to liven up your sandwich. Of course, they've got some not-so-healthy but oh-so-delicious ways too, including three kinds of fries, tots, and onion scoops. I won't even mention the deep-fried Snickers bar on the dessert menu. The food here is pretty stellarit's one of the few places where you can get a bison burgerand the microbrew and whisky choices are none too shabby either. The welcoming staff want you to be a regular, and believe me, if it's within stumbling distance of your apartment, you'll find it hard to stay away.



Posted By:  Jill Jaracz
Photo:  Jill Jaracz

Firkin & Pheasant
Step into the Firkin & Pheasant, and you'll feel like you're walking into merry modern England. This pub chain out of Toronto has made it to Chicago, and even though it's both a chain and a take on a British pub, it's not too bad. The decor is cozy, and enough TV's are mounted on the walls so that you'll never miss the big game. The menu includes both sandwiches and entree-sized meals, with a short list of traditional pub fare. If you get the small fish & chips, it's about the closest thing you'll find to a true portion size, which may, considering the amount of food you typically get at a restaurant, actually disappoint you. However it does come served on fake newsprint, so they are trying to be a little authentic. The staff's friendly too, so don't be surprised if you have a firkin good time here.



Posted By:  Jill Jaracz
Photo:  Jill Jaracz

House of Fine Chocolates
When you first walk into the House of Fine Chocolates, it's hard to take in all the options of deliciosity that are in front of you. Do you order some super-rich butter cookies? How about a slice of European-style torte? Maybe a couple of truffles? Or do you just stick with a black-and-white cookie? No matter what you choose, you'll be eating one fine dessert or snack. Three cases make up this small pastry shop. Cookies are on one side, cakes are in the middle, and candies are on the other side. It's all European-style goodness though. Order a cake or a chocolate-dipped strawberry tree, and you'll bring any special occasion to life. Holidays get the special treatment, with a variety of molded chocolates from Santas to Easter bunnies to chocolate Thanksgiving turkeys. But be careful: Once you start celebrating with pastries and chocolates from this shop, you may not be able to go back to anything else.



Posted By:  Lisa Siciliano
Photo:  Lisa Siciliano

Threadless
Television screens with heads of customers perched atop the week's latest tee-shirt selection seduce passersby to enter the Threadless shop in East Lakeview. Threadless, a gourmet t-shirt store, literally just sells shirts and hoodies for both children and adults. The shirts are witty and clever and sometimes a bit dirty, but they always serve as a conversation piece. At first, I thought I was way too uncool to enter the store, but I gave it a go anyway and discovered that figuring out what each t-shirt means is half the fun. Trying on multiple sizes in both male and female shirts is a an excursion in itself, but if you go online, you can see which sizes might fit you best by measuring your own favorite tee and then comparing dimensions. While $18 for a designer tee might sound a little pricey, the quality, fit, and feel of the clothing makes the money well spent. Now there's no excuse for anyone in Chicago to wear anything but snarky clothing every single day of the year.



Posted By:  Lisa Siciliano
Photo:  Lisa Siciliano

The Counter
The Counter on Diversey in Lincoln Park is the Chicago spot of a custom built burger chain that is popping up in all sorts of hip locales across the nation. It’s quite possibly the coolest restaurant I've been to in a long time. The place looks like a futuristic diner with stainless steel chairs and a huge, fully stocked bar. Ordering your meal is a deliciously fun game of picking and choosing that completely depends upon your mood and taste buds. You can decide the type of meat you want (beef, turkey, chicken, veggie), the cheese that will be melted on top, four or more regular and premium toppings including guac, fried onion strings, and honey cured bacon, the sauce you'll slather on like ginger soy glaze and roasted garlic aioli, and the kind of bun that will hold it all together in one gigantic piece. Pair your one-of-a-kind creation with onion strings, sweet potato fries, or cheese fries and a drink from the bar or a shake, and you've created your very own personal masterpiece. The service is fast, the prices relatively cheap for Lincoln Park, and the experience one you'll want to repeat over and over again.



Posted By:  Jill Jaracz
Photo:  Jill Jaracz

The Counter
Like burgers? Wish you could eat a different burger every day of the week? How about a different burger for the next 312,120 days? That’s at least how many different burgers you can create at The Counter, a West Coast build-your-own-burger joint that's recently landed in Chicago. The menu is a checklist where you choose the type of meat (including a vegetarian option) and the weight. Add cheese, some toppings, a sauce, and your favorite bun, and you'll get a burger made just the way you like it. If the choices are too overwhelming, opt for the burger of the month or a signature burger. The Counter is also known for their thick milkshakes and tasty starters such as fried dill pickle chips and sweet potato fries. Because everyone likes a good burger, you'll find it's loud and crowded, but that lends to the fun atmosphere of people enjoying food.



Posted By:  Lisa Siciliano
Photo:  Lisa Siciliano

Argo Tea
Tired of setting up meetings at coffee shops? Why not set up a tete-a-tete over tea? Argo Tea in Lakeview (with 12 other locales throughout Chicago) is a great place to grab a warm beverage on a chilly Chicago day. While this place can get packed on the weekends without a single seat in sight, it's worth it to find a less busy time during the week and stake out your claim to use their free two-hour Wi-Fi. Argo Tea serves tea, obviously, but also baked goods, tea pots, cups, and loose tea to take back home. They also serve organic, fair trade coffee which they suggest is "so good" their "tea is jealous." The best part about the specialty shop is its signature drinks that range from Red Velvet (red tea, raspberry, and white chocolate) to Tea Squeeze (lemonade and hibiscus tea). They also sell a delicious Charitea (red tea and cherry juice) where 10% of the proceeds are donated to a new local charity every so often. The drinks can either be made hot or on iced depending upon your mood or the season! For someone who doesn’t drink tea normally, I love Argo Tea for its creative combinations of tea, juices, and other delicious flavors.



Posted By:  Lisa Siciliano
Photo:  Lisa Siciliano

Bobtail Soda Fountain
Even with frost and ice all around outside, Bobtail Ice Cream Company's frozen treats are a delicious way to beat the winter blues indoors. This Lakeview location's quaint ice cream parlor is especially important to take advantage of in the cooler months because when summer rolls around, the obnoxiously long line of eager customers trails way outside the front door. Each month the parlor features a new specialty flavor. This month's homemade flavor is chocolate covered strawberry. Other past winter favs included gingersnap, peppermint, and cinnamon. Consistent Chicago-themed flavors from Bobtail include the Lakeview Barhopper (ice cream blended with Jack Daniels!) and Cubby Crunch. This small and cozy restaurant on the corner of Wellington and Broadway offers more than just ice cream: hot chocolate, coffee, tea, shakes, floats and free Wi-Fi! For every season, Bobtail's serves up tasty treats that will keep you warm or cool, inside and out!



Posted By:  Lisa Siciliano
Photo:  Lisa Siciliano

Veg Out
The concept is simple: you choose 1 of 3 different kinds of lettuce, 2 cheeses, 2 meats, and all the veggies your little heart desires; combine with one of several homemade dressings including a delicious spicy chipotle ranch (which you can taste beforehand with carrot dipping sticks); and there you have it, a magnificent melange of pimped-out greens. Unfortunately, it comes with a hefty $10 price tag. And you probably have to take it home. Veg Out has very few seats and is mostly a buy-and-run establishment. While I asked the server to dump everything but the jicama in my container, I still couldn't help thinking I was paying $10 for a salad! The only other food option in the restaurant includes a baked potato ready and waiting for its own plethora of toppings. If you can spare a few Jacksons now and then, stopping by might be a good way to start a New Year's slim down plan. You get a large amount of food that fills you up, not out.



Posted By:  Lisa Siciliano
Photo:  Lisa Siciliano

Hiro's Café
The brand new Japanese restaurant on a block full of Asian restaurants is doing everything it can to get its first customers coming back for more. While I'm not sure how long the special bonuses at this restaurant will last (including free hot tea and a free pancake appetizer), anything free gets me coming back for more, so why not get them while you can? The details in this restaurant were really impressive: decorative wasabi flowers on our plates and beautiful garnishes that made the food more a work of art than I've seen in some time! As a person who only eats unadventurous California rolls, the pictures of the various special rolls in the menu were essential to getting me to step outside the stereotypically Western sushi box. The only thing out of place in this restaurant was the hip hop music playing on loop in the background. I love Rihanna and Beyonce, but I'd rather hear actual Japanese music while I struggle with my chopsticks. Although, I could always just keep beat with the chopsticks instead...




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Restaurants (51)
Nightlife (21)
Shopping (27)
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