East Village
  • Exterior of Alliance Bakery.
  • Exterior of Ad Hoc.
  • Posters inside Atomix Cafe.
  • Interior of Atomix Cafe.
  • Exterior of Atomix Cafe.
  • Exterior of Maxwell Colette gallery.
Photos by Quinn Schoen

Nestled between Wicker Park and West Town, the East Village offers an approachable respite from its competitively hip, farm-to-table obsessed neighbors, the lax atmosphere perfect for an afternoon trip. Installation galleries, cold-brew coffee and house-made gelato abound, all squeezed into the neighborhood’s cozy radius. With the makings of a hipster haven: boutiques with clothes sourced from Brooklyn vendors, community gardens and eco-friendly outdoor seating, but with a casual, easy, less-pretentious vibe, the East Village is a little neighborhood worth the trip.

Maxwell Colette Gallery

908 North Ashland Ave.

On a less dense stretch of North Ashland, Maxwell Colette Gallery displays an urban, post-street contemporary selection of art, with new exhibits rotating every few months. Their upcoming exhibition, "Mint & Serf: Support, Therapy, and Instability," opens on Nov. 7 and is a raw, gritty collection from New York-based graffiti writers Mint & Serf. If you start a gallery-hopping adventure here, make sure to check out the permanent pieces on display from artists like Bansky, Keith Haring, Bast and more.

Atomix Cafe

1957 West Chicago Ave.

The epitome of a slow-drip, naturally sourced, fair-trade cafe stereotype, Atomix Cafe is an easy spot for a cup of coffee or a study break. With the usual accoutrements of a hip coffee shop (vegan, organic and locally sourced food options, a minimalistic logo, an in-house podcast) and a great cappuccino, Atomix delivers in its genre of curated, hip cafes, a welcome break from the burnt coffee scene of Norbucks.

Ad Hoc

1948 West Chicago Ave.

A rotating gallery, event space and boutique, Ad Hoc is a new spot in the East Village – it opened just this year. What the space lacks in age it makes up for in merchandise, with a carefully curated selection of clothing, accessories and household objects from artists in New York, L.A. and more. Although a bit expensive, Ad Hoc is a spot where you can buy a glass cup with male or female stripper decals, artisan tobacco-scented candles and intimidatingly sleek leather jackets in one place, so what else can you ask for in life?

Alliance Bakery

1736 West Division St.

If you find yourself walking past a window with a life-size Chucky cake staring at you (complete with bloodied knife), make sure to stop in. Alliance Bakery, located on the busiest street in the East Village, West Division St., is a necessary spot for any sweets – macarons, rows of cookies, enormous cupcakes and custom cakes filling the small shop. Before autumn wraps up and Polar Vortex part two kicks in, make sure to grab a Pumpkin Spice Macaron – ’tis the season?

Getting There

Truthfully, getting to the East Village can be a bit of a doozy. By El in the morning, your best bet is to take the Purple Line to Clark & Lake and transfer to the O’Hare-bound Blue Line for 3 stops until you reach Division. Alternately, at night you can take the Purple Express Line to Chicago & Franklin, then board a 66 bus to Pulaski and get off at Chicago & Wood, or in non-rush hours you can board the 66 bus after taking the Red Line to the Chicago stop.

If you are willing to spend a couple bucks more and face a couple less transfers, the Metra is an easier option. Leaving less frequently from Davis in Evanston, the inward-bound Metra is only a 20-minute ride to Clybourn. From Clybourn you can grab a 9 bus down a few stops to Ashland & Thomas, or you can take a lengthy but manageable walk that winds you through a beautiful residential area.


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