Better Know a Neighborhood: Boystown
Photos by Arielle Schwartz / North by Northwestern

Looking for a new and exciting quirky neighborhood to explore? Take the Purple Line to the Red Line and then get off at the Belmont station. Once you get off the L, you’ll find Boystown, Chicago’s premiere “Gayborhood.” The streets are lined with kinky shops, unique thrift shops, dinghy theaters and a bountiful amount of mixed cuisine restaurants. If you want to be entertained, definitely head over to Boystown. I promise that you won’t be disappointed.  

Hollywood Mirror

So, you have a themed party coming up and you have absolutely nothing to wear. You ask your friends, but they also have nothing for you to borrow. You decide you can’t go to the party until … you go to Hollywood Mirror! This unusual thrift shop has everything you can think of from Hawaiian shirts to vintage plush toys to grungy '90s accessories. Each section of the store has a different theme, which makes it fun and easy to find anything that you are looking for, especially themed party attire. Currently, they’re displaying St. Patrick’s Day themed racks – a perfect place to go to buy cute, cheap clothes for the parade!

The Annoyance Theater and Bar

Obviously Second City reigns Chicago when it comes to comedy clubs; however, if you’re looking for somewhere a little more low-key and a little less expensive, check out The Annoyance Theater and Bar. This theater hosts comedy sketches and short-term plays, but it is most famous for its improv shows. One improv show going on now – which definitely encompasses the “Gayborhood” culture – is Baby Wine, which is described by its website as an “all-gay improv supernova” dealing with “complex relationships with manipulated gender roles.” 


Naf Naf and Olive Mediterranean Grill in Evanston may be your go-to Mediterranean pick-me-up, but do either of these grills allow you to put on your own toppings?  Falafill allows customers to pick either a pita bread sandwich or a rice bowl with a choice of meat or falafel (even both!). Once you get your sandwich or bowl, there is a bar full of toppings where you can douse your food in hummus, cucumbers and tzatziki, to name a few.  The restaurant has little seating, but Falafill is perfect for when you’re on-the-go.  

Krung Thep Thai Cuisine

After seeing a show at The Annoyance Theater and Bar, you may find your stomach growling loudly.  You look at your watch and see that it’s midnight.  Most restaurants are closed by now, but one restaurant remains open.  Krung Thep Thai Cuisine, which sits on the corner of North Halsted St and West Belmont Ave, is perfect for a late night Thai food fix.  The classic pad thai is served in a portion just enough to feed one person.  Their menu doesn’t include anything too out of the ordinary, so you will get what you’re expecting but with an extra flavor-kick. Krung Thep is also a great place to eat for single diners.  Its small, cozy environment definitely gives off a homey feel.  

The Chicago Diner

Sometimes, being vegan or vegetarian can be a major pain.  You constantly have to cook for yourself and it often gets repetitive and expensive. Catered to vegans, The Chicago Diner offers all of your favorites. Even if you’re not looking to eat a meal but are looking to have a small snack, the diner has a vegan bakery filled with delicious baked goods. This diner is seriously heaven for vegans. Definitely order the Reuben while you’re there. The combination of seitan and melted cheese will leave your tummy satisfied but wanting more.


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