Situated on the North Side of Chicago, the East Lakeview neighborhood is itself a part of the larger Lakeview area. A vibrant community with plenty of sights and smells to take in, East Lakeview is an ideal location to escape the doldrums of campus. While signs of gentrification are everywhere – including multiple Chipotle locations within several city blocks – plenty of unique stops remain. The area is accessible via the Red Line at the Belmont stop; simply transfer from the Purple Line at Howard.
3126 N Broadway St
With three stores in Chicago, including the original Lakeview location, which opened in 1988, Reckless Records is one of the city's most enticing and enduring vinyl shops. This location is the chain's largest, with over 10,000 records on display. The store constantly plays a fresh variety of tunes, and employees are always happy to point you in the right direction, or just shoot the breeze about anything music related. When I went, I came home with a Smiths single, a Duke Ellington record, the soundtrack to Woody Allen's Manhattan and a couple CDs. All in all a solid haul.
2943 N Broadway St
Serving customers since 1995, the Soupbox proved to be the ideal spot to pause and enjoy some people watching. Free samples actually made my decision harder, as both the Colorado Green Chili Chowder and Lobster Bisque tempted my tastebuds. Ultimately, I settled on the Bisque, which proved to be a savory and flavorful decision. While a bit pricey for some students – I spent $7 for 12 ounces of soup, which definitely wasn't easy to swallow – every order does come with a free side of sourdough or multigrain bread, which considerably sweetened the deal.
3123 N Broadway St
Long a Chicago classic, Intelligentsia is known for brewing some of the purest, sharpest coffee around the world. In recent years, their coffee has won nationwide acclaim, showing up on several best-of coffee lists in Zagats and Roast Magazine. Again on the pricey side – sadly a theme at many businesses in this neighborhood – the pick-me-up was well worth the $3.50. I ordered the Otoño Blend, a delicious roast with hints of praline, dried plum and dark chocolate. At least, that's what the description said, as if I could pick up on that. Served in a 16-ounce mug with the extra coffee in a container on the side, the brew was pleasant without cream or sugar, providing a needed caffeine bump before heading into the rest of the afternoon.
3251 N Broadway St
New books everywhere you turn. Shelves upon shelves of reprinted, classic texts. A good-sized section devoted to gay literature. These are some of the joys of Unabridged Books, which has been an East Lakeview standard since 1980. With over 40,000 different titles, across a wide range of genres and prices, Unabridged brings out the book nerd in anybody. In addition to its normal store, Unabridged also works with other venues to host events in Chicago, including a book signing and standup by Nick Offerman, star of the NBC sitcom Parks and Recreation, this Friday at 6 p.m. at the Music Box Theatre.
812 W Belmont Ave
Part vintage store, part Halloween supply and part Room of Requirement, Hollywood Mirror is the place to find everything you didn’t know you needed. For example, should the many nights falling asleep alone become too much to bear, the Mirror can supply a lovely, stuffed Starkist Tuna mascot to ease the pain. In addition to the more out-there items, the store also sells a good mix of inexpensive clothing, including copious flannels, cardigans and jeans. Well worth the stop, I came away with a sharp-looking Boy Scout shirt for a Moonrise Kingdom Halloween costume.