When people generally think of Chicago's Lakeview neighborhood, two images come immediately to mind: the Chicago Cubs' Wrigley Field and the fantastically flamboyant area known as Boystown. But there's so much more, particularly a vibrant little section called the Southport Corridor.
Within the last several years, the area's gained momentum as a trendy shopping district, offering a nice mix of popular chains as well as independently owned specialty shops and boutiques. The corridor, of course, gives out-of-town shoppers a chance to stray away from the Mag Mile shopping district and into a real Chicago neighborhood. Those looking for lodging in the area may choose from the likes of Chicago Guest House, City Suites Hotel, Old Chicago Inn, and The Willows Hotel.
The target shopping audience in the Southport Corridor is mostly female but also comprised of the upwardly mobile, fashionable and family oriented. These shoppers are also fiercely dedicated to supporting local businesses, which is why we decided to spotlight the best Chicago-owned boutiques in the area. And because no bona fide power shopper can sustain on adrenaline alone, we've also included a guide for best bets on where to dine and drink in the area.
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There’s somewhat of a Gymboree vibe at this specialty boutique catering to babies, children, and women. Apparel is colorful and offbeat, and though there are familiar brand names on the racks, owner Vanessa Rodriguez also showcases Pink & Blue are the New Black--her designer label for children. Her clothing is unique enough that it allows kids to express their individuality, but not so out there that it turns off parents. A portion of the proceeds from each item sold from Pink & Blue benefits the Neonatal Intensive Care Units. In addition to apparel, Babydolls sells trendy jewelry from local designers.
3727 N. Southport Ave., 773-525-2229
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The Southport Corridor’s very dog-friendly, which is why you’ll find treats and bowls of water outside most shops. Bentley's Pet Stuff takes the pooch-pampering to the next level by offering everything canine-related, from stylish threads to comfortable beds. The boutique also features special packages for owners truly obsessed with their pets. Get all the dogs in the neighborhood together for “yappy hour” celebrations ranging from $100 to $350. And the dog who’s too fabulous for a common dog house can have his/her very own custom-designed “mansion” for $10,000.
3657 N. Southport Ave., 773-857-7600
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Snappy apparel and accessories can be found at this women’s-only boutique catering to an upscale clientele. Just to give you an idea of who shops here, star actress Jennifer Aniston will snap up an item or two when she’s in town. Krista K’s loyal followers don’t mind dropping a couple hundred dollars on a pair of J. Brand zipper leggings, but when the store holds one of its infamous, blowout sales they transform into the ultimate bargain hunter.
3458 N. Southport Ave., 773-248-1967
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Accessories-obsessed fashionistas can easily get lost in this cutting-edge shop focusing on handbags, jewelry, gifts and more. Many items, especially the hand-crafted jewelry, are in small supply and may be hard to find elsewhere. Owner Melissa Nelson wisely added a men’s component when the space at 3525 N. Southport Ave. became available next door.
M4Men is equipped with several television monitors so guys can tune in to their favorite sports games (as they wait for their significant others shopping at M2 Boutique). The store also grabs their attention with typical guy gadgets as well as watches, unique flasks, vintage t-shirts, sports memorabilia, and cufflinks.
3527 N. Southport Ave., 773-248-9866Continue to 5 of 6 below.
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Jewelry designer Angela Gianfrancesco sold her wares in boutiques all across the city until she opened a flagship boutique in 2010. Here, shoppers will find her exclusive jewelry line, plus vintage and estate finds. She also works with natural gemstones from Chrysoprase to Sleeping Beauty Turquoise. Some "staple" pieces are named after song titles from the likes of Michael Jackson and The Grateful Dead.
3714 N. Southport Ave., 773-883-2583
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Where to Dine and Drink
From coffee lounges and brunch gems to a gourmet pizza parlor, here are our favorite spots for dining and drinking in the Southport Corridor:
- Asado Coffee Company: Gourmet coffee drinking in a stylish setting.
- Coda di Volpe: Southern Italian fare from the family behind The Gage.
- Coalfire Pizza: Inventive thin-crust pizzas from a custom-designed coal-fire oven.
- Crosby's Kitchen: American-focused eatery is ideal for family-friendly brunches.
- Rise Sushi & Sake Lounge: Long-time sushi favorite never disappoints.
- Southport Grocery and Cafe: The stroller and shopping sets find much pleasure at this upscale venue offering small-batch and artisan delights.
- Southport & Irving: Casual coffeehouse transforms into wine bar during the evening.
- Tango Sur: The insanely popular BYO is chef-driven and focused on special preparations of classic Argentine entrees.
- Toon's: Popular neighborhood sports bar.
- Tuco and Blondie: Vibrant establishment serves classic Mexican fare and margaritas in colorful environs with a roomy patio.