This cozy little neighborhood with a Swedish past and a diverse future (home to a vibrant LGBTQ population) almost feels like it isn’t in Chicago—not surprising since it is so far north (10 miles) from the Loop, it’s almost not in the Windy City. Here, residential streets are rimmed with colorful Victorian homes and the main drag (North Clark Street) features independently owned antique and home décor shops, farm-to-table eateries, bakeries, and even a small cultural museum. To reach this part of Chicago from the Loop, public transportation takes about 45 minutes, but is well worth the trek.
WHERE TO EAT
In the spring, Andersonville welcomed Goddess and Grocer. Like its other Chicago locations, to-go sandwiches and salads, as well as sweets such as slices of rainbow layer cake, are locally sourced when possible. Owner Debbie Sharpe cut her culinary teeth catering for musicians like Adam and the Ants and Paul and Linda McCartney. Open since 2012, Acre serves nightly dinner and weekend brunch, relying on comfort foods like deviled eggs, grilled pork chops, and sides of mac-n-cheese, plus a raw bar. At Big Jones, the lunch, dinner, and brunch menus skew Southern and local, including housemade pickles, grits, gumbo, and shrimp. Skip dessert and opt for Marzariners or Toska tarts at Swedish Bakery. Or, drop by for a slice of pie at First Slice, which is open until 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. It’s a bakery that gives back: proceeds from “subscribers” (who receive pie deliveries) and patrons are used to make meals for the homeless and needy. From Michigan sour cherry to French Silk, it’s hard to order wrong.
WHERE TO DRINK
Whether your vice is pour-over coffee or craft beer, Andersonville’s got you covered. Locals hang with their laptops at The Coffee Studio sipping drinks crafted from Chicago’s own Intelligentsia beans. Kopi: A Traveler’s Cafe is a boho-chic spot to not only have a soy-milk latte and slice of pie but to dream about your next vacation, thanks to travel guidebooks and colorful Fair Trade relics sold in back. For proof that Chicago is in a craft beer renaissance, pull up a bar stool at Hopleaf or The SoFoTap, where local beers from micro breweries like 5 Rabbit and Dovetail are on draft.
WHERE TO SHOP
Andersonville owes its uniqueness to the lack of chain store offerings (except Starbucks, of course). Instead, indie shops thrive here. From curated antiques to a modern lamp for your home, the neighborhood’s boutiques straddle quite a few design themes. At Brimfield, it’s all about prep and plaid, with striped Hudson’s Bay wool blankets folded into cubbyholes, and vignettes of nautical antiques mingling with wooden tennis rackets and retro barware. Midcentury-design fans from across the city know to drop into Mercantile M or Scout frequently in hopes of scoring a teak salad bowl set, refurbished industrial cart or Art Deco chrome server. The Swedish American Museum’s gift shop is packed with little wonders (like kitchen gadgets) you’d normally have to hop a plane to Sweden to buy. One of the city’s last remaining indie bookstores, Women & Children First, hosts author readings and signings all week long, but even browsing the stacks is a treat. And at Milk Handmade , goods from small-batch artists (from coffee body scrub to copper-patina earrings) are sold.
WHERE TO STAY
Andersonville’s lone boutique hotel is The Guesthouse Hotel, a 25-unit dog-friendly property that opened in 2014. It has a clean and crisp vibe with warm wood and white walls. One-, two- and three-bedroom suites have access to in-room massages and a rooftop deck (new this summer). Rates for a one-bedroom suite start at $300 and book up quickly. While there is no on-site restaurant, the room-service menu incorporates three local culinary concepts. A nearby bed-and-breakfast, House 5863, has five rooms, each with its own bath, and range from $99 to $189. Rates include access to a kitchen plus daily continental breakfast.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's Chicago Guide