Step away from the hustle and bustle to enjoy this quaint street full of unique shops and eateries
By Jennifer Billock
Feeling weary from the hectic atmosphere of Michigan Avenue or local malls, full of shopper overload and stores as far as the eye can see? Escape to Southport Avenue, in the Lakeview neighborhood just west of Wrigley Field.
A four-block stretch of Southport provides a respite for the Magnificent Mile melee, serving as a Chicago oasis of mellow music, trendy boutiques, theater options and restaurants to set any gourmand’s heart aflutter.
What follows is a mere sampling of some of the great spots to shop and grab a bite to eat. Tip: The Brown line train’s Southport stop is essentially the southern boundary for the majority of the activity here.
Shop for… Beach bags and stylish outfits for a night at a high-class establishment, or trendy clothes for mom and baby at the maternity store down the street.
Atmosphere: The spacious, two-floor boutique is decidedly upper class with a Baja beach feel.
Highlights: See something in a magazine article you loved? Krista K has framed fashion spreads conveniently located on shelves above racks with the actual clothes.
Shop for… Modest prices adorn the items here, which include a bridal section, jewelry, clothes and hats, kids merchandise and some adorably vintage aprons in the window.
Atmosphere: M2’s warm atmosphere is something manager Kat Heil strives for. “We’re more of a friend to our customers,” Heil says, and that is what makes the boutique stand out in a sea of Southport stores.
Highlights: The store holds an ample supply of silver and gold jewelry ready to spice up any outfit.
Location: 3527 N. Southport
Shop for… Francesca’s is perfect for color-coordinated clothes (all the racks are organized by hue), jewelry, bags and a limited supply of home goods.
Atmosphere: Signs all over the store celebrate “you” and “friends,” and the busy yet uncrowded store makes shoppers feel completely at home.
Highlights: Unique, functional products like a cork trivet set and teacup cupcake molds separate this boutique from others on the street.
Location: 3539 N. Southport
Shop for… Get the kids in gear and take them out to Petite Feet for some new clothes, shoes or toys.
Atmosphere: Rowdy children will be reined in by this boutique’s whimsical atmosphere with fairy tale colors — and a special section just for toys.
Highlights: The unique clothing items in the store amplify the selection of shoes. Onesies with a picture of a bottle and the phrase “late night drinking buddy” keep the parents just as entertained as the kids.
Location: 3715 N. Southport
Shop for… Local artists display work for sale on the walls, and jewelry and clothing complement the shoe selection. The goal is to “pair shoes up with clothes so when you leave, you feel beautiful,” owner Paula Eisen says.
Atmosphere: Look for the couches and chairs for a bit of relaxation when trying shoes on in this eclectic, high-energy boutique.
Highlights: Minnetonka moccasins may be the epitome of comfort, but they can also be chic. Click’s Minnetonka line sets you out in comfort and style.
Location: 3729 N. Southport
Cullen’s Bar & Grill
Dining style: Ireland meets America in this traditional pub with deliciously untraditional choices, like a sampling of ethnic meals and modern poppy lounge music. Come for the food and stay for the show, as the historic Mercury Theater is next door. You can access it through a second, smaller bar to the left of the entrance.
Featured dish: A shout out to the neighborhood rests in the Southport pasta dish, an entrée made of bowtie pasta, chicken, onions, green peppers, white wine, fresh herbs, garlic and parmesan.
Location: 3741 N. Southport
Southport Grocery and Café
Dining style: This half diner, half store almost has split personalities. The café is bright and busy, the store is subdued and warm. Get your gourmet foodstuffs and eat them too at this two-in-one Southport gem.
Featured dish: Southport boiled down into sandwich form comes in the Southport Cuban, a sandwich on grilled challah with smoked brisket, ham, Swiss cheese, dijonnaise, Jake’s giard and arugula.
Location: 3552 N. Southport