Thursday, February 26, 2009

Chicago - Day 4

I spent pretty much all day Wednesday walking around the Bucktown/Wicker Park area. It was recommended to me by Nate and Linds M. the night before as a neighborhood I should check out.

You wouldn't probably think of going there from the looks of the train stop - it kind of looks like the sketchy hood. But remarkably, it isn't. It was very trendy in a boutique-y/artsy kind of way. For the D.C., readers I would say it looked like Adams Morgan with a U St./14th St. feel. I really wish I had been dressed a little funkier - you know, to fit in - but I'm telling myself that cowboy boots can be different and alternative too. I certainly got a lot of looks, anyway.

According to a Chicago magazine (of course I picked one up) the area is characterized by, "...trendy boutiques, coffeehouses, restaurants, galleries, nightclubs and storefront theaters are centered around the intersection of Damen, Milwaukee, and North avenues, and create a vibrant atmosphere."

I can see that.

But not until I walked the right way down those streets! After walking several blocks trying to figure out the area, I decided to turn around because it looked pretty bland. I thought, surely this can't be what everyone wanted me to see! So, I consulted some Starbucks barristas, who were helpful in giving me a lay of the land.

There were definitely lots of fun, unique boutiques, funky little stores and coffeeshops, and even an Urban Outfitters and a couple other more mainstream stores. Mostly, however, it was all pretty original.

I settled in at the Gallery Cafe, a cute little coffeeshop, for a latte and some free Internet - something the Marriott O'Hare didn't offer. Hungry, I went on a hunt for some food - specifically sushi. I wanted really, really awesome sushi. A shopkeeper told me to try Coast, also written up in this little magazine, but after walking forever trying to find it (which I eventually did and it was closed) I came back to the streets I "knew."

I decided to try the Earwax Cafe (that's for you Jonna... haha), which had a really fun vibe - like an old sideshow circus kind of vibe. I ordered the Earwax Garbage Salad and settled in.

I intended to go back to the hotel, change, and make my way downtown for dinner, but decided to hang out at the hotel bar and do some work. It is, afterall, a work trip, right?

The Earwax...

An interesting wall hanging...

The booths, which I think are fun. I was in a little side table though...

There were lots of other delicious things in here like dried cranberries, sunflower seeds and blue cheese. Who knew garbage could be so tasty?


MOM said...

What a strange name for a cafe. I wonder where that thought came from for an eating establishment:) The salad looks yummy. It sounds like a fun area.

icancarryallthebagsandthebabiestoo said...

I agree with your mom. What a weird name for a place to eat!!!! In NJ there's a really fancy restaurant called Ebola... and I could never eat there.

I've never been to Chicago, but I love finding little neighborhoods like the one you describe. I like the town of Portsmouth, NH for that reason. It's packed with adorable little shops and interesting looking people.

Also, I feel like I am constantly the plain Jane in a crowd of hipsters. I used to feel that if I put a dress on over pants... it would up my artsy factor a notch... but now... well, I've given up.