Chicago Boystown (Lakeview) and Andersonville Gay Guide and Gallery

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    The (GLBT) Center on Halsted, Lakeview

    ••• photo by Andrew Collins

    For tips on where to eat and play in Chicago, visit the Boystown Chicago Gay Bars Guide and the Andersonville Gay Bars Guide.

    At the northern end of the Boystown section of Halsted Street, the Center on Halsted (3656 N. Halsted St., 773-472-6469) is Chicago's extremely impressive, beautifully designed GLBT community resource center and all-purpose hangout, complete with myriad programs and events. The center's website has tons of information for GLBT visitors to the city, and it's along a stretch of gay-friendly shops and restaurants that include Kit Kat Lounge & Supper Club and Leather Sport boutique.

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    Big Chicks, Uptown (North of Lakeview)

    ••• photo by Andrew Collins
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    Ann Sather Cafe, Lakeview

    ••• photo by Andrew Collins

    With three locations around Chicago, all of them with a significant if in some cases fanatic gay and lesbian following, Ann Sather restaurants and cafes (pictured here is the 3415 N. Broadway locale, 773-305-0024) serves exceptionally tasty Swedish-American fare in the diner-luncheonette style. Breakfast is arguably the most popular meal - note the humongus cinnamon rolls. Other morning dishes of note include crab cake Benedicts, Swedish pancakes swimming in lingonberry syrup, pecan French toast with hazelnut cream, and eggs with Swedish potato sausage. At lunch, try the chicken-avocado club sandwich, A big reason for the success of these restaurants is the cheerful, proficient service. In operation for more than 60 years, the restaurant is owned by local, openly gay politician Tom Tunney. The cafe is a fixture on North Broadway, near several other cheap and simple spots, such as Melrose Restaurant and Joy's Noodles.

    The other Ann Sather locations are 909 W. Belmont Ave. in Boystown...MORE and 1147 W. Granville Ave.,  in Edgewater.

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    Minibar, Lakeview

    ••• photo by Andrew Collins
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    Progress Bar (formerly Cocktail), Lakeview

    ••• photo by Andrew Collins
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    Unabridged Bookstore, Lakeview

    ••• photo by Andrew Collins

    One of the nation's foremost gay-friendly and independent neighborhood bookstores since it was opened by Ed Devereux in 1980, Unabridged Bookstore (3251 N. Broadway, 773-883-9119) has a superb selection of gay and lesbian titles, plus a strong representation of travel, children's, and general literature (both contemporary and classic). It's one of Lakeview's great community gathering spots, and a wonderful asset and resource for Chicago's GLBT population. If in Andersonville, check out the excellent Women and Children First bookstore.

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    Tulip boutique, Lakeview

    ••• photo by Andrew Collins

    With the romantically old-fashioned name of Tulip (3448 N. Halsted St., 773-975-1515), this thoroughly modern, women-owned boutique on Halsted Street (there's also a branch in Andersonville at 1480 West Berwyn Avenue, 773-275-6110) sells all kinds of gifts and toys that make lovin' fun - vibrators, dildos, lingerie, lube, books on tantric sex, harnesses, videos, and more. The helpful staff is happy to make suggestions and chat frankly and cheerfully about which cock ring might suit which occasion, or what to look for in pair of latex hot pants. Tulip also does a brisk online and over-the-phone (877-70-TULIP) business.

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    The Closet gay bar, Lakeview

    ••• photo by Andrew Collins
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    Best Western Hawthorne Terrace hotel, Lakeview

    ••• photo by Andrew Collins

    With reasonable prices, a friendly staff, and a great location in the heart of Lakeview, the Best Western Hawthorne Terrace (3434 N. Broadway, 773-244-3434) is one of the best lodging options in the city for gay travelers. The attractive 59-room hotel has plenty of perks - refrigerators and microwaves in rooms, free Wi-Fi, relatively affordable parking. Just keep in mind that the hotel tends to book up quickly, especially in summer when baseball's Chicago Cubs are in town, as the hotel is a short walk from Wrigley Field. The hotel has a great location on North Broadway, not far from The Closet, Unabridged Bookstore, Ann Sather Cafe, and Joy's Noodles.

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    Firefly bistro, Lakeview (closed)

    ••• photo by Andrew Collins
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    Anteprima Italian restaurant, Andersonville

    ••• photo by Andrew Collins
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    Las Mananitas, Lakeview

    ••• photo by Andrew Collins

    Head to festive Las Mananitas (3523 N. Halsted St., 773-528-2109) for inexpensive, well-prepared Mexican food. The cheery, always-busy restaurant that often features live music doles out fairly standardized Mexican-American favorites, and in good-size portions. Other nearby affordable eateries include the Chicago Diner, Pie Hole Pizza, and Nookies Trees.

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    George's Ice Cream & Sweets, Andersonville

    ••• photo by Andrew Collins

    Easily one of Chicagoland's best bets for homemade ice cream, George's Ice Cream & Sweets (5306 N. Clark St., 773-271-7600) sits along Andersonville's main drag and is a favorite stop following dinner at one of the neighborhoods many excellent restaurants. The stellar ice cream served here is actually produced by the renowned Madison, Wisconsin-based Chocolate Shoppe company, which has been around since 1962 and has a huge following throughout the Midwest.

    Formerly known as Sweet Occasions, George's has that nostalgic feel of an old-fashioned ice cream parlor and serves such vaunted Chocolate Shoppe ice cream flavors as strawberry-banana twist, maple nut, peanut-butter cookie dough, blueberry cheesecake, and Zanzibar dark chocolate, plus wonderful sundaes like the Grasshopper (with mint-chocolate chip, Oreos, and fudge). The shop also serves excellent panini sandwiches and crepes, specialty coffees and lattes, and a wide variety of cakes, cupcakes, homemade fudge,...MORE and other sweets - it's a nice dessert option following dinner at Anteprima or Hamburger Mary's. For tasty ice cream in Lakeview, try Bobtail.

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    Halsted's Bar + Grill, Lakeview (closed)

    ••• photo by Andrew Collins
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    Roscoe's Tavern and Cafe, Lakeview

    ••• photo by Andrew Collins
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    Swedish Bakery, Andersonville

    ••• photo by Andrew Collins

    Andersonville has been one of Chicago's traditional Swedish strongholds for generations, although it's becoming less the case these days as the neighborhood's population continues to diversify (and gentrify). Swedish Bakery ( 5348 N. Clark St., 773-561-8919) is an old-school, long-running Andersonville institution that opened in 1929 and, like Ann Sather, carries on the tradition of tasty Scandinavian food (although, in fact, the sweets of every ilk are prepared here). Check out the fruit-topped cheesecakes, raspberry buttercream cakes, cardamom sugar rings, zucchini bread, and toska tortes. It's up the street from some other good sources of sweets, including A Taste of Heaven.

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    He Who Eats Mud, Lakeview

    ••• photo by Andrew Collins

    Cleverly named and irreverently stocked, He Who Eats Mud (3247 N. Broadway St., 773-525-0616) is one of the many fun boutiques along North Broadway (also check out Unabridged Bookstore, Coffee & Tea Exchange, and Wiggleyville) catering to Lakeview's fun-loving, witty customers. Shop for silly cards, quite sophisticated stationary, offbeat T-shirts, and other amusing novelties and gifts.

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    Home Bistro, Lakeview

    ••• photo by Andrew Collins
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    Bobtail Ice Cream, Lakeview

    ••• photo by Andrew Collins

    On the southern edge of Lakeview, the Broadway outpost of Bobtail Ice Cream (2951 N. Broadway, 773-880-7372) is a great little spot for a sweet treat - Bobtail produces a number of tasty flavors, from merlot (try it with dark-chocolate chips) to peanut-butter-chip. Bobtail has four locations around the Chicago area, including two branches in Grant Park.

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    Chicago Diner, Lakeview

    ••• photo by Andrew Collins
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    Berlin dance club, Lakeview

    ••• photo by Andrew Collins
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    Hydrate Chicago, Lakeview

    ••• photo by Andrew Collins
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    Kit Kat Lounge & Supper Club, Lakeview

    ••• photo by Andrew Collins
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    Jackhammer leather bar, Andersonville

    ••• photo by Andrew Collins
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    Coffee & Tea Exchange, Lakeview

    ••• photo by Andrew Collins

    In 1975, back when little Lakeview was just becoming known as one of the great gay neighborhoods in the country (and certainly well before coffee-drinking became part of the de rigueur American social experience), Coffee & Tea Exchange (3311 N. Broadway, 773-528-2241) opened as an alternative to the crappy bulk coffee sold in most grocery stores and even restaurants. As Starbucks, Caribou, and other chains (and other indies) have sprung up in the area, Coffee & Tea Exchange has continued to thrive. It remains an excellent choice for premium (often fair-trade and organic) coffees and teas from around the world, and you can also order online or by calling the toll-free number (866-266-1936). If you're serious about java or tea, this place is a must. Other good shopping in East Lakeview includes Wiggleyville, Unabridged Bookstore, and He Who Eats Mud.

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    Women and Children First bookstore, Andersonville

    ••• photo by Andrew Collins

    One of the preeminent feminist bookstores in the country and a longtime fixture of the Andersonville community, Women and Children First (5233 N. Clark St., 773-769-9299) has an excellent selection of titles and a knowledgeable, helpful staff to recommend just the perfect read. It's also open til 9 pm many nights (6 or 7 on others), making it a nice spot to linger and browse while you wait for a table at a nearby restaurant. The bookstore does a brisk online/mail-order business and hosts plenty of author events as well as community functions of interest to lesbians, families, and others in this diverse neighborhood. It's near Reza's and A Taste of Heaven, and it's one of the city's best indie bookstores (along with Unabridged, in East Lakeview).

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    Tapas Gitana (formerly Arco de Cuchilleros), Lakeview (closed)

    ••• photo by Andrew Collins
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    Reza's Restaurant, Andersonville

    ••• photo by Andrew Collins
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    Melrose Restaurant, Lakeview

    ••• photo by Andrew Collins
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    Harmony Grill (at Schubas), Lakeview

    ••• photo by Andrew Collins
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    Scarlet (formerly Gentry on Halsted), Lakeview

    ••• photo by Andrew Collins
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    Hamburger Mary's bar and restaurant, Andersonville

    ••• photo by Andrew Collins
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    Joy's Noodle & Rice, Lakeview

    ••• photo by Andrew Collins

    A reliable and affordable, if not especially atmospheric, spot along Broadway for tasty Asian food, Joy's Noodles & Rice (3257 N. Broadway St., 773-327-8330) serves up an impressive roster of mostly Thai and Chinese favorites: spring rolls with tamarind sauce, chicken satay, fried shrimp wontons, coconut curries, cashew chicken, barbecue pork and rice, and so on. Perfect when you're looking to fill up fast and cheaply (for similarly affordable food in the neighborhood, check out Melrose Restaurant and Ann Sather Cafe).

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    Sidetrack gay bar, Lakeview

    ••• photo by Andrew Collins
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    A Taste of Heaven, Andersonville

    ••• photo by Andrew Collins

    Andersonville's cheerful A Taste of Heaven (5401 N. Clark St., 773-989-0151) serves some of the best coffee in the neighborhood and also bakes wonderfully fragrant and tasty breads used in sandwiches, brownies, cakes, and other delectable snacks. It's a fun spot for breakfast of lunch, but desserts are the main reason to check this place out.

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    Lakeview East, Lakeview

    ••• photo by Andrew Collins
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    Leather Sport boutique, Lakeview

    ••• photo by Andrew Collins

    When it's a leather collar or cockring, or any other accessory or outfit related to leather, S&M, and gay fetishwear, North Halsted's Leather Sport (3503 N. Halsted St., 773-868-0914) boutique is your one-stop. Also check out Beatnix and Tulip, all of which are great retail options along Halsted.

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    Cheetah Gym Chicago, Andersonville

    ••• photo by Andrew Collins

    Part of a small local chain of Chicago health clubs with additional branches in Bucktown and Edgewater, gay-friendly Cheetah Gym Chicago (5248 N. Clark St., 773-728-7777) is reasonably priced, well-equipped, and popular with Andersonville's many lesbians and gays. Daily guest passes are available for $12 per day. With the calories you've burned off, you can treat yourself to a tasty dessert at nearby Taste of Heaven or Swedish Bakery (there are plenty of places to gain calories in Andersonville).

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    Nookies Tree diner, Lakeview

    ••• photo by Andrew Collins
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    Fitness Formula, Lakeview

    ••• photo by Andrew Collins

    The impressive Fitness Formula Halsted (3228 N. Halsted St., 773-755-3232), a gay-popular outpost of the upscale Chicago health club chain, has some of the finest facilities of any gym in the city - it's also open 24 hours during the week, and until 9 pm on weekends. It's steps from many of the city's trendiest gay bars and restaurants (Sidetrack, Minibar), in the heart of Boystown in Halsted. Non-members may work out here for a fee (which is reduced if you're a member of a health club that's part of International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA).

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    North Broadway at West Roscoe Street

    ••• photo by Andrew Collins
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    Batteries Not Included, Lakeview

    ••• photo by Andrew Collins

    Partly a silly store for gay-themed adult novelties and gifts, and partly Chicago's go-to for bachelorette party supplies, Batteries Not Included (3420 N. Halsted St., 773-935-9900) is a fun little stop along any retail browse of Halsted Street, which is also home to such irreverent sources of gay gifts as Beatnix, GayMart, Leather Sport, and Tulip.

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    Beatnix boutique, Lakeview

    ••• photo by Andrew Collins

    Drag queens, club kids, and pretty much anyone seeking a cool costume regularly scour the racks of Beatnix (3400 N. Halsted St., 773-281-6933), a retro-fabulous boutique along bustling gay Halsted Street that's packed with flashy attire, wigs, hats, make-up, and assorted glam-wear. Also check out Batteries Not Included, Tulip, and GayMart for fun gifts and novelties.

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    Man's Country bathhouse, Andersonville

    ••• photo by Andrew Collins
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    Steamworks Chicago, Lakeview

    ••• photo by Andrew Collins
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    Chicago Male Salon, Lakeview

    ••• photo by Andrew Collins

    Chicago Male Salon (3418 N. Halsted St., 773-281-6005) is one of the city's best options for hair care, facials, and body wraps. The sleek shop along bustling North Halsted carries Osmotics, Billy Jealousy, GoSMILE, Truefitt & Hill, and other fashionable products, and men's cuts and shampoos start around $30. Check out some of the other GLBT-oriented shops in the neighborhood, including Ragin' RaeJean's and GayMart.

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    Wiggleyville pet boutique, Lakeview

    ••• photo by Andrew Collins

    Browse treats, collars, beds, toys, soaps, and other goodies for your canine and feline friends at Wiggleyville (3337 N Broadway St., 773-528-3337), a cheerful pet boutique along North Broadway's blocks of great shopping and dining (Coffee & Tea Exchange, Ann Sather Cafe, He Who Eats Mud, and so on).

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    Buck's Saloon (closed)

    ••• photo by Andrew Collins
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    Little Jim's Tavern, Lakeview (closed)

    ••• photo by Andrew Collins
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    Spin Nightclub, Lakeview (closed)

    ••• photo by Andrew Collins