Category Archives: Lost in Chicago

Lost in Chicago: Logan Square Blue Line Logan Square

This is the pulsating heart of Logan Square.

Most of these recommendations are within a  five minute walk of one another.

Best Place for Ears: The Whistler has DJs. Not necessarily for dancing, but to facilitate chilling out in an upbeat manner. If you are someone who appreciates a good, thoughtful cocktail, come here.

Ears Honorable Mention: Nothin’ Less Coffee House. They have poetry, jazz, performance art and other events here all the time. (See the video at the bottom of this post.)

Best Place for Eyes: I Am Logan Square has rotating art displays and events. For example, Melissa Stanley of Niche Realty gave a talk “Artist as Landlord” that was interesting and informative.

Eyes Honorable Mention: The Logan Theater. Newly renovated, they screen old classics, like The Warriors and Pee Wee’s Playhouse.

Best Place for Noms: Longman & Eagle. Have the white whiskey flight, everything on the menu, and then pour yourself to bed in one of their boutique hotel rooms.

Noms Honorable Mention: Boulangerie. Bring your iPad and enjoy a croissant or any other of the wonderful freshly baked goods they make. Then go a few doors down for cute toys or to get a mani-pedi.

Best Place after a Long Day: Telegraph has a great font to start off with. The wine is superb, and the service there is as wonderful as a butler: there when you need it, blending into the woodwork when  you don’t. I’m sure the food is also excellent.

Long Day Honorable Mention: The Whirlaway on Fullerton and Kedzie is cash only, as all charming and homey bars should be. They have some nice bottled beers, and a Spanish language exchange meets once per week. Sometimes there’s a trivia night.

Best Place for Brain: Uncharted Books. This place just opened this year, and the decor will make you feel exactly what you want to feel when you walk into a used bookstore: like typewriters might suddenly become relevant again.

Best Place for Coffee: New Wave has great coffee, some bizarre and mismatched furniture, a ton of flyers, and Super Nintendo video games. It’s almost impossible to get a seat here on the weekends. The Caddyshack is a popular sandwich, as is the Flashdance.

Coffee Honorable Mention: Nothin’ Less. Get an Italian soda and a sandwich, sit by the window, and people watch from your comfortable chair. In the video below, Elena of Nothin Less talks about Logan Square.

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Lost in Chicago: California Blue Line Logan Square

Some call this area “West Bucktown” some call it “Logan Square.” Either way, here’s what to do:

Best Place for Ears: The Congress Theater is actually a music venue. Like may Chicago music venues, it’s very pretty-ugly inside. It used to be splendiferous, and now is looking a bit worn, a neighborhood staple with noise violations.

Best Place for Eyes: No art galleries around here (yet.) There’s a store front on the 2300 block of Milwaukee that has weird art-things in the windows, like enormous origami paper cranes.

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Best Place for Noms: Taqueria Moran. The mouth waters thinking of this place. So good. Get the sope with the pollo desembrado. Because there’s mole sauce. This place also has beer! It’s cheap, no frills, delicious. I hope it stays here forever.

Noms Honorable Mention: The tie is between the Boiler Room and Revolution Brewery. Boiler Room wins because they manage to make pizza not boring, and even if they don’t make their own beer like Revolution, they win because they don’t have sports on TV. Be advised that it’s cash only.

Best Place after a Long Day: The Two Way at Fullerton and Milwaukee. There’s a great mix in this bar- everyone drinks here. Sometimes there’s a special: a pitcher and two shots for $8.

Long Day Honorable Mention: Cole’s Bar. Grungy, hoodie, feels familar even if it’s your first time there. Plus, pool tables.

Best Place for Brain: Go to the corner store and practice your Spanish reading skills. They’ve got interesting candy and food there, and exposing your brain to new things makes you smarter.

Brain Honorable Mention: Sorry, you’re out of luck. Vas Foremost Liquors has a great selection to help you kill it.

Best Place for Coffee: Cafe Mustache. Because it’s the only place for coffee (besides Cozy Pancakes and Taqueria Moran), and their website is very cute.

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Lost in Chicago: Western Blue Line Bucktown

This is the western border of Bucktown.

Best Place for Ears: The Mutiny. Crappy low ceiling, great place to see bands.

Best Place for Eyes: Ipsento Coffee has a rotating art display all the time. Prints, drawings, and photographs. Also, the decor and bold use of color will inspire you.

Best Place for Noms: Belly Shack blows everything else away. If things on the menu sound weird, try them. Nothing here could be improved upon, everything is excellent/amazing.

Noms Honorable Mention: Ipsento Coffee House. Delicious sandwiches named after authors. Try the Garrison Keilor.

Ipsento Coffee

Best Place after a Long Day: Green Eye right by the stop. Dark wood, dark lighting, snarky signage, a local feeling. It’s cash only.

Long Day Honorable Mention: Quenchers. The reason this place comes second and not first is because there’s a 10 minute walk north from the Western Stop. Sometimes there’s music. They probably have a beer that you’ll love, and if not, you can satisfy yourself with the free popcorn.

Best Place for Brain: Bucktown Music has music lessons that will help your brain work better.

Brain Honorable Mention: The Teacher Store has tons of art supplies, paints, stickers, maps, and ESL workbooks. Yes these things are for kids, but having fun making an art project will stimulate your creativity and make you think differently, helping your brain become more plastic.

Best Place for Coffee: Definitely Ipsento Coffee. Get the Ipsento with cayenne. Inside the Western Blue Line Stop, there’s a Dunkin’ Doughnuts, and across the street there’s a McDonald’s. But who cares. Go to Ipsento.

Luis and Jessica Solares on why Bucktown’s a great place to live and work.

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Lost in Chicago: Damen Blue Line Wicker Park

This is “The Heart of Wicker Park,” the Six Points, the land of  boutiques, bars, restaurants, salons, and spas as far as the eye can see.

There’s a lot going on. Don’t worry! Start with these places.

Best Place for Ears: Double Door. It reminds me what I imagine Wicker Park used to be. There’s a downstairs bar as well. Eighty percent of the time there’ll be great music. But bring ear plugs.

Best Place for Eyes: For some reason, there’re a lot of eye exam/glasses dispenseries in Wicker Park. But I’ll say that the Flat Iron Arts building is the best place for eyes. First Fridays of the month studios open up and visiting artists hang their work in the hallways.

Best Place for Noms: There’re a ton of places to get bar food in Wicker Park.

Meh.

Other options abound. Bin Wine Cafe offers a civilized alternative. You can get a flight of bloody Marys (which is almost the same as food) or mimosas if you don’t want to commit to just one drink. The food’s delicious.

Noms Honorable Mention: Sultan’s Market is wonderful for quick, cheap, and delicious. Get the lentil soup and falafel sandwich. There’s also a smoothie bar. And you can grab booze from across the street at W Grocer- Sultan’s Market is BYOB.

Best Place after a Long Day: This is really hard. There’re so many great places to grab a drink. Big Star and Violet Hour have a lot to offer, but I’m so tired of hearing how wonderful they are- those places belong more to the city now than Wicker Park. Salud Tequila Lounge has tasty as well as interesting drinks. If you don’t like tequila, you will when you leave.

Long Day Honorable Mention: Piece has good pizza and brews their own beer. Have a Golden Arm and get a white pizza with mashed potatoes, bacon, and spinage. Yes, seriously.

Best Place for Brain: Myopic Books is gloriously claustrophobia-inducing in some areas, luxuriously lofty and open in others. You can get coffee here and relax, as being surrounded by books will lull you in to a state of mmm. The check out desk makes you feel like you’re in kindergarden because it’s so high up the employees can look down on you. Hopefully, there will be a new cat there in the future. The old one was adopted by a regular to be taken care of in peace for its last few months of life.

Brain Honorable Mentions: I didn’t say Quimby’s first because you have to walk a little further, but it’s really hard to walk in and not buy something. There’s little zines, interesting books, and lots of flyers to let you know what’s going on in the area.

Best Place for Coffee: I have to give it to Wormhole. At Wormhole, old technology and dorky stuff are embraced like a fun, friendly robot pal. Super Nintendo detrius, Star Wars posters, and plastic figurines decorate the place, but it doesn’t feel like an ironic nod or fake nostalgia or  like kitchy Jimmy Johns décor. It’s an acknowledgement of the role old tech played in our lives and how it continues to be something we can connect with. Also, they have a Delorian!

Coffee Historical Mention: Filter. (I think they still use the same ratty furniture from the original store in the 90s-this is a homey coffee shop.) The coffee’s good, warm lighting, exposed brick, and the delicious, soft clattering of Mac keyboards provide a comforting atmosphere. Please ignore the chains, Starbucks and Caribou.

Jaime, owner of the Circle Salon (a 10 minute walk from the Damen Blue Line) talks about Wicker Park.

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