Livin’ La Vida Local: Getting Around West Town

The Wonderful, Wonderful West

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Tourists think Chicago is the Loop. They think it’s Sear—er, Willis Tower. They think it’s the Millennium Park bean. You know better. There are dozens of uniquely wild and wonderful neighborhoods in this city, and you want to get out and explore them.

Venture out to West Town, the designated community area northwest of the Loop at the meeting of Wicker Park, Humboldt Park, Ukrainian Village, River West and a few more smaller neighborhoods. Why go West? Well…

The trendy buzz bar Bangers and Lace (1670 W. Division St.) resides in the WT vicinity. Grab craft beer and sausage between walls with a Midwestern lodge feel. For a hearty meal before the brew, make a stop at Grange Hall Burger Bar (844 W. Randolph St.). The burgers are from grass-fed cattle, the ice cream is fresh-churned, and the pies are handmade.

The Chicago Dramatists Theatre (1105 W. Chicago Avenue)—“the creative home for new and established playwrights”—gives a worthy way to kill time for those after a bit of cultural entertainment. After parking yourself in a theater seat for a few hours, stretching your legs at Smith Park (2526 W. Grand Ave.) will be your muscles’ remedy. The park covers 9.82 acres, housing a field house with gymnasium plus an outdoor expanse containing a swimming pool and various athletic fields.

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Think again if you’re about to leave without a souvenir. Drop in Elevenzees (1901 W. Division St.), a sweet little gift boutique for your one-of-a-kind West Town takeaway. But you may not be gone for long. On Saturday, Aug. 25 and Sunday, Aug. 26, the Food Truck Social will dominate Chicago Ave. between Wood St. and Wolcott. The second annual affair brings celeb chefs to West Town, live entertainment provided by the Empty Bottle, and, of course, the tastiest food truck fare in town.

Feel free to let the tourists roaming the Loop know about the wonders of West Town. Give them directions. Give them tips. Give them the impression you’re a local; they’ll never know.