Located just south of the Gold Coast and very close to the Mag Mile, this particular stretch of the Near North Side can be overlooked thanks to its much more famous neighbors. As is to be expected from the area, you have many expensive clothing chains, some ritzy hotels and bars of every make and model. However, there are also a lot of other fun spots that shouldn’t be lost in the cracks. Getting off the Red Line at either the Clark/Division or Chicago stops puts you only a few minutes’ walk away.
Mister J’s Dawg ‘n Burger
822 N. State St.
Quite popular with students coming from Loyola University Chicago’s Water Tower Campus nearby, the cheap menu of Mister J’s provides a welcome reprieve from the expensive places nearby. Chicago-style hot dogs, gyros and the half-pound Dagwood burger are but a few of the choices (many items come with a side of fries and soda). Of particular note is the Italian beef sandwich with a side of hot peppers, a favorite among the regulars. Vegetarians or dieters should look somewhere else, but if you are in the area for lunch – or if you happen to be stumbling around late at night – you can find some cheap, greasy and satisfying options here.
1133 N. State St.
The interior of Flight 001 resembles a large airline, befitting the collections of luggage and travel-related items sold here. There are a variety of useful items available, from travel-sized bottles of various toiletries to an adaptor designed for use in almost any power outlet in the world to modular luggage designed to make packing a breeze. The collection of sleep masks is particularly cute. This would be a great place to swing by prior to returning home for a break or for picking up supplies before you head off to study abroad.
This small slice of park is located between East Bellevue Place and the intersection of North Rush and North State streets, giving Mariano its triangular shape. You’ll find a mix of people here, from shoppers taking a break to couples holding hands to the occasional poor soul asleep in his or her seat. Whispers Coffee & Tea sits on the southern end of the park at 1031 N. State St. This small stand (which is just that, no interior to sit in) is a nice place to grab coffee, juice or gelato before sitting near the fountain and taking a quick breather. They are highly selective with their coffee beans and the small-batch roasting process creates a high-quality brew. Whispers also provides a welcome Wi-Fi hotspot. Finding somewhere to relax outside before the leaves and temperatures plummet is a nice treat.
50 E. Walton St.
The long line outside of Sprinkles attests to the quality of their cupcakes. This small shop, tucked in near a massive Urban Outfitters and American Apparel, offers a huge variety of cupcakes as well as a smattering of hot and cold beverages. Flavors rotate out, with some available every day and some only on certain days. So check out the website if you don’t want to miss out on something. They always have standards like dark chocolate and red velvet, but they also get more adventurous with pumpkin, ginger lemon or chai latte (Fridays only!). There are also some seasonal flavors, so get down soon if you want to try s’more or caramel apple.
945 N. Rush St.
It would be remiss of me not to mention the reason why I decided to come to this area. While Suitsupply is a global chain, they have very few brick-and-mortar stores. Menswear fanatics should be grateful for this Chicago location. The suits are of a more European style, which tend to be slimmer than American cuts, and are modern enough to look sharp without running the risk of going out of style. The sales staff are very friendly and knowledgeable, and thanks to on-site tailoring, you can have your suit fit perfectly in an hour. While suit shopping isn’t something many college students have to do, especially not the budget-conscious, the top-notch experience of Suitsupply might make you consider the value of a well-fitting suit.