Hello! And welcome to the shiny, first-ever edition of the new Saturday Series. If we haven’t met yet, my name’s Carolyn, and I’m Liz’s creative assistant. Thank you, by the way, for the incredibly kind comments and words of welcome—I can’t wait to get to know more of you over the next few months. In addition to creating graphics and helping with social for Sequins & Stripes, Liz has kindly (bravely) granted me permission to publish a blog post every Saturday about whatever I want. That kind of liberty can be overwhelming, so I thought I’d start off doing what I learned in my first few days of copywriter training: writing what I know.
I’ve put together a little guide to my favorite area in Chicago, Lincoln Park. It’s where I live, and it’s where Liz, Dave and Charlie lived before they moved to the suburbs (and before Jack came along!). If you’re not from Chicago or if you need a refresher—I know I have issues with geography—Lincoln Park is a charming neighborhood on the near-north side of Chicago. It’s close to the lake, easily accessible from downtown, and home to countless cute shops, restaurants, and historic homes. If you find yourself with an open weekend or a free few days on vacation, I definitely recommend that you wander over to Lincoln Park. And here’s what I would suggest that you do!
– For lovely ambiance: Floriole is so warm, light-filled and inviting. It’s rarely crowded on weekdays, and one of my favorite spots for getting some work done.
– For a hip afternoon: Heritage General Store. If you like good coffee and good branding, Heritage is for you. They also serve up some of the prettiest toast I’ve ever seen.
– For a great chai latte: CityGrounds Coffee Bar. Pick one up before a walk around the park!
– For some workday motivation: La Colombe on Armitage Avenue. La Colombe has a few spots around Chicago, but it’s consistently one of my favorite almond milk lattes in the city. Their Black & Tan (cold brew topped with their draft latte) is the perfect summer coffee drink.
– For the best pancakes: Toast. I discovered Toast during a summer internship while still in college, and it’s still one of my favorite breakfasts in the city. Their blueberry pancakes are just the bomb, and they always have a fun seasonal flavor on the menu.
– For when you really want lunch: Blue Door Farm Stand. Blue Door was closed for way too long last year, but they reopened in the most gorgeous space on Armitage and Halsted. You just can’t go wrong here, and all the food is served on the prettiest blue and white china. My go-to is a sandwich-salad combo with the brussels and kale salad and the fig and arugula grilled cheese.
– For a trendy Instagram: Summer House Santa Monica. Enjoy inventive omelet combinations, drink kale-infused cocktails and pretend like you live in California. Especially wonderful for when it’s less than twenty degrees outside.
– For a quick bite (or when you’ve had a late night) Chicago Bagel Authority. I’m not sure how CBA’s ‘steamwiches’ would hold up against NYC bagel standards, but they are darn good, and guaranteed to bring you back to life after having too much fun the night before.
– For pizza: Homeslice will always be a favorite (and it’s where I watched the Cubs win the world series!) but Pizzeria Bebu has been a close contender lately. Their broccoli rabe and mushroom pies are great take-out options for movie night.
– For classic Italian: Riccardo Trattoria. Homemade pasta and a family-owned restaurant. What else do you need?
– For a healthier option: Range. I’m always surprised that this restaurant isn’t more crowded. It’s all locally sourced, and a great option for when you want to get together with friends but still feel like eating on the healthier side. Don’t miss the buffalo cauliflower appetizer.
– For a burger fix: Farm Bar. Another locally-sourced and sustainable restaurant, Farm Bar may serve the best burger in Chicago (yes, I said it). They just have really interesting flavor combinations, and a great drink/craft beer menu.
– For a group dinner: Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba. Who doesn’t love tapas? You get to try everything!
– For when you’re feeling old-fashioned: Annette’s. There’s always a line going down the sidewalk here and for good reason—it just isn’t summer without Annette’s.
– For when you want to go all out: Sweet Mandy B’s is a dessert-lover’s dream. Check out their double doozie, two chocolate cookies with buttercream frosting in between, or keep it simpler with a classic cupcake. Oh, and you have to celebrate your birthday with a cake from Sweet Mandy B’s at least once.
– For when you’re feeling adventurous: Jeni’s Ice Cream. Yes, another ice cream spot, but a different kind of ice cream…Jeni’s seasonal flavors are always interesting (don’t skip over the sweet potato), and there is absolutely zero judgment for trying all the flavors.
– Worth mentioning again: Floriole for the buckwheat scone, cookies at Summer House Santa Monica (try the oatmeal scotchie) and carrot cake at Blue Door Farm Stand. Does it seem like I’ve done my research in this category, haha?
– For summer Saturdays: Green City Market. Nothing makes me happier than strolling to the farmer’s market on a Saturday morning. They are also open on Wednesdays, and have a free outdoor yoga class every week in the summer!
– For kids: Lincoln Park Zoo. The zoo never gets old. It’s completely free, and even has a number of indoor exhibits for winter. Since I’ve lived in Chicago, they’ve welcomed a baby camel named Alexander Camelton and a baby gorilla named Bella—so cute!
– For warmth in winter: Lincoln Park Conservatory. The conservatory is also free, delightfully warm, and incredibly beautiful. The orchid room is amazing.
– For shopping: Stroll east down Armitage Avenue, take a left on Halsted and then walk back west along Webster. It’s essentially endless window shopping, but some of my favorite stores in the area include Art Effect, All She Wrote, Marine Layer, Paper Source, Warby Parker, Monica + Andy, Lululemon, Club Monaco, Bluemercury, and Monograms on Webster.
– For staying active: I can’t neglect to mention Lincoln Park, itself! It’s connected to the lake, and the perfect place for long walks, picnics, and running off all that Sweet Mandy B’s. I played on a Chicago Sport & Social kickball league that met every Friday night in Lincoln Park, as well as a beach volleyball team that played right there on Oak Street Beach. I love biking from my apartment and through the park to get to the lakefront path, and I play tennis at the courts along the lake (or at nearby Oz Park, if I can’t get a spot). With the park right there, it’s hard to find an excuse not to get outside.