Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Hometown Hearts: Chicago, IL

 Hello! My name is Hails and I've been living in Chicago for just shy of 6 years. I grew up in the 'burbs but my family has lived in and outside the city since they came over from Europe generations ago. I'm about to turn 26 (eek!) and work for a website because I'm obsessed with all things internet. I have a blog (, a tumblr ( and a twitter (, obviously. 
I live in Logan Square with my boyfriend, a male roommate and my diabetic cat. It's a gentrifying neighborhood on the northwest side of the city with the largest and fastest growing collection of hipsters. Chicago is known for being cold and windy but no matter the weather, we always find time to get out and have fun. I still have yet to see so many sides of this city, but here are the places that I like the most and that get most of my hard-earned money.

 Alice's Lounge 

This bar is the BEST place to do karaoke in the entire city. The KJ (that's Karaoke Jockey), Fred, is fair, has a huge song selection, and has a bag full of props at his disposal. He also does some pretty good harmony and backup. There are usually free snacks, drink specials, and did I mention the smoke machine and laser lights? Karaoke is 4 nights a week and I'm usually there for at least one.

 This vintage store specializes in 80's/90's/00's fashion and unlike your run of the mill thrift store, they pick and choose only the best and will even fix a garment or accessory if it's broken before selling it. The owners are super friendly and will remember what you like and what to recommend the next time you stop by. I got an amazing vintage Swatch watch and Prada shoes so far, but my collection grows almost weekly. And they always remember my Patrick Nagel obsession.

Rudy's Roundup
 This tiny little store of awesome is a variety shop in every sense of the word. From paper goods, to perfumes, to clothing, to every little knick knack you can think of. They offer many vintage items as well as items from local Etsy sellers. I've found some amazing stationary here as well as all sorts of other things I had no idea I needed. They run their own etsy as well but the store if a real treat if you are in the area.

Small Bar Logan
 This is the closest bar to us that also sells food and we're lucky that it's also really sweet. They have a huge tap list consisting of almost exclusively micro brews, with a few imports thrown in. The kitchen is tiny (hello, it's a "Small Bar") but they consistently pump out tasty bar grub. The boyfriend and I have become regulars and are on a first name basis with at least one bartender so we are always given great service with a smile. 

The Whistler
 So you want a fancy drink? This here is the place to go. They have zero tap beers because this dark bar is made for cocktails. They have seasonal menus with different cocktails made with all types of liquor. The price is always $8 a drink and for the amount of booze you get, it's quite a deal. The bar also serves as a music venue and the owners run a record label as well. Just get there early or you'll be waiting outside!

Belly Shack
 This restaurant previous was an amazing brunch spot and I mourned it's disappearance when they lost their lease. But thankfully this latin/asian fusion BYOB popped up in it's place and I've yet to be disappointed. This tiny spot under the loud train offers a rotating menu of dishes of Puerto Rican and Korean influence. Which sounds nasty but is so delicious you will want to try everything. Also, it's BYOB which means it's nice and cheap!

Logan Theater
 My grandma told me that she used to go to this theater when she was a kid. Yeah, it's that old. And it's still awesome. This is a second-run theater, so that means nothing is exactly new but all the movies are only $4, which for Chicago is basically free. I think it's been run by the same family for decades and it's rarely crowded. In fact, usually we show up a mere 10-15 minutes before the movie with time to get snacks and great seats. Go if for no other reason than the "ladies lounge", a total throwback to the bathrooms of yore.

Labrabbit Optics 
I am kind of biased since the owner is a friend of mine but if you wear glasses (or sunglasses), you need to visit this shop. The owner, Coyote, is a certified optician and while he isn't an eye doctor, once you have your prescription he can hook you up with some amazing frames and a variety of lenses. He specializes in vintage frame, deadstock, as well as rare brands that you won't find at your local Lenscrafters. He is quick to cut a deal and will always be honest if those frames make you look totally awesome or like a total tool.

Smart Bike Parts
Before I started dating the equivalent of a free bike parts bin, this was my go to shop. The owner, Eric, is amazingly high energy and most likely has not one, but two bluetooth phones going at the same time. He's honest, fair about prices, and will remember every minute detail (he always asks how my mom is doing because he met her one time!) It's a tiny storefront but they do most of their work online and can order any crazy part you can think of, usually without paying shipping. It's a true service based shop which is rare these days.

Barbara & Barbara 
This hair salon is the newest on my list but has already won a place in my heart. It's a small three chair shop, independently ran, and you usually have to make an appointment. It's pretty no-frills but the prices are right on the money: $20 for cuts, $30 for extra long hair, and bang trims are a mere $7 . That's it. Simple. The music is always great, it's right on the square so the people watching is fantastic, and you are in and out without any pressure to buy product. Oh and the stylists always listen to you and I have only had great cuts since.

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Thank you so much Hails for showing us another side of Chicago!

If you would like to share your hometown with the world, please email us:
windshielddiaries at gmail dot com


  1. Great post! I want to visit Chicago SO BAD!

  2. I love Rudy's Roundup and the Whistler!


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