Best Local: Mingle in Wrigleyville

Nevermind the Cubs. Let’s Eat, Drink, Shop and People Watch

Yeah, we know. You’ve had a long day. Well guess what. Tough. We’re here to get you up and out. We’re taking you to Wrigleyville. Wrigleyville is sort of a sub-neighborhood of Lakeview, which is just east of Lincoln Park, right along Lake Michigan. Home to Wrigley Field and about 8,000 bars, Wrigleyville is one of the North Side’s most popular local stumbling grounds.

During baseball season, overserved Cubs fans wander through the streets, hooting or sulking, depending on the Cubs’ performance. After a win, Wrigleyville feels like one humongous block party. After a loss, there’s just a lot of quiet drinking. (There’s been a lot of quiet drinking lately, but Theo-retically, that’s about to change).

But there’s way more to Wrigleyville than just the Cubs.  As mentioned above, there are many places to satisfy your thirst. It can be said of just about any Chicago neighborhood that there’s a bar on every corner.  In Wrigleyville, there are often two or three bars on a corner. Seriously.

Wrigleyville is also Chicago’s ground zero for cheap eats. You’ll be hard pressed to find a restaurant serving any entree over $15.

(Torta de Asada [steak sandwich] at El Jardin)

What you will find are great Mexican joints like El Jardin (3335 N. Clark)…

…good cheap Thai spots like Rice Bistro (2964 N. Lincoln)…

…outstanding greasy pizza like Ian’s Pizza (3463 N. Clark)…

…and most of all, lots and lots and lots and lots of Irish Pubs. Our favorite is O’Hagans (3374 N. Clark). Try Lizzie’s Irish Stew with a side of Guinness.

Ok, so baseball, drink and food aside, Wrigleyville’s melting pot of skate punks, college kids, and young families make for excellent people watching.

There’s the tattooed, purpled haired, pierced and vaguely angry kids that hang out at Clark and Belmont. You have the young moms and sorority girls roaming the streets of Addison and Southport. And polo wearing dudes slamming beers and burgers at Sheffield’s (corner of Clark and Sheffield).

Needless to say, there’s something new and interesting at every intersection.

Now, let’s talk shopping.  While most people don’t think of Wrigleyville as a place to shop, there are some great finds you need to check out.

(Belmont Army)

Start your shopping tour at Clark and Belmont, where you can perfect your rebellious look at Belmont Army (855 W. Belmont) with a tethered utility jacket and matching pair of Converse. Or kick it old school with a used army jacket.

Stock up at Strange Cargo (3448 N. Clark). Specializing in vintage Chicago sports gear, they also have a variety of other vintage and custom tees. The most popular are the ones with witty sayings, like “Don’t Hassle Me, I’m a Local!”

Make some new punk, alternative, goth or rocker friends at The Alley (3228 N. Clark) which has everything you need to clothe and accessorize your dark side. An infamous “landmark” destination for Chicago’s subcultures, they have leather jackets that are more rebellious than trendy, studs on clothes meant for intimidation, not beauty, and pieces of metal that should never be put anywhere near your face, yet are. They also employ some of the best custom tattoo artists in Chicago.

Class things up at Addison and Southport, where young stroller-pushing, Lululemon-wearing moms pass by sorority girls gearing up for a night out at upscale boutiques like M2 (3527 N Southport), which sells unique, high quality women’s accessories and handbags. Right next door is M4 (3252 N Southport) which caters to men with sporty clothing and gadgets.

Other stores like Cerato (3451 N. Southport) provide one of a kind clothing in a small boutique setting. You can also find popular chain stores like Anthropologie (3532 N. Southport) and its younger, bohemia sibling, Free People (3447 N. Southport).

(Cerato Boutique)

There’s also Clark Street Sports (3465 N. Clark) nearby and Wrigleyville Sports (959 W. Addison) right around the corner on Addison.

So don’t peg Wrigleyville as just crying over the Cubs and drinking. Whether you want to grab a bite, get a little shopping done or just wander and sight see, Wrigleyville is about as good as it gets. And it’s just a short El ride from downtown CSN locations and an easy commute from suburban locations.

Red Line stops: Sheridan, Addison, Belmont.
Brown Line stops: Belmont, Southport, Irving Park, Wellington, Addison, Diversey.
Purple Line stops: Sheridan (only on Cubs game days), Belmont, Wellington.
How to Get There
  • From Riverwalk Place (301 N. Riverwalk Dr., Buffalo Grove): From the Buffalo Grove Metra Station, take the NCS train towards Union Station. Once at Union Station, walk to the Quincy/Wells Brown Line and take towards Kimball. Hop off at Southport. Commute: 2 hours.
  • From Presidential Towers (555 W. Madison): Take the Washington/Wells Purple Line (towards Linden) to the Belmont Purple Line. Commute: 30 minutes.
  • From Iroquois Club (1101 Iroquois Avenue, Naperville): Take the BNSF Metra from the Naperville Metra Station towards Union Station. Once you reach Union Station, walk to Quincy/Wells Purple Line stop and take towards Linden. Hop off at Belmont and you’re there. Commute: 1 hour 45 minutes