I used to pass through this part of town alot when I lived at Division and Damon. When I decided to start blogging about Chicago neighborhoods, I just KNEW I would have to include Webster Ave.
It was on this morning that I began to understand the "shopping" experience and yet it's what I've been doing for years now... and that's having fun. It became very clear to me that what people want to do is have fun and see nice things and just indulge the senses... and I can't think of a better place for a mid-morning indulgence than Webster Ave.
I started at Halstead and headed West. It's about four blocks before you get to the area I'm going to talk about, but it's a beautiful segueway from the bustle of Halstead to a blissful row of some Chicago's greatest under-the-radar hot spots. There's superb architecture to look at, tree-canopied sidewalks and it just makes for a picture perfect stroll in one of the best parts of Chicago.
There are a few sports bars that you'll come across and are probably worth skipping. If you need a haircut there are more salons than you can shake a stick at!!! There's also a yoga studio, a sports fan store and then Vrai Amour- a great little wine and craft beer shop. The interior is rustic and comfortable, the owners Dave and Matt are very knowledgeable. The selection is more than adequate and most of the wine is priced under $20! I found a light, sparkling Moscato for $15.99 that I would pair perfect for Webster St. You can also find all kinds of single bottles of specialty beer that you can mix-n-match and make for the perfect gift for a real beer lover... just ask for help and Dave can hook you up with the perfect drink for you and yer friends.
A little further up, is the Webster Ave. location for McShane's Exchange Consignment Boutique(1141 W. Webster). This location is the "lesser" of the two Lincoln Park locations (815 W Armitage), but don't let that stop you from checking out what they have, it's sometimes fun to find something that others have looked over. I found lots of great Kate Spade shoes and bags and a great pair of Gucci sandals, all in good condition. A few doors down is Havana Gallery (1139 W. Webster). It's a Contemporary Cuban Art Gallery. I'd recommend stopping in and having a look around. If you don't know much about art then it is a great place to go that is not intimidating to the art novice. The staff of young women are very candid and friendly and happy to answer questions. The art is reasonably priced and you can also pick from a variety of prints. (There's also a ticket box office in the back in case you were looking to go to a Blackhawks game or a concert?)
Staying on the south side of the street and moving a little further along there a few more boutiques and places to eat. You simply have to go into Kaveri (1211 W. Webster). It's Interior is VERY spacious and comfortable and contemporary! The lighting is low and calming. I felt really good in this space. It was drizzly and fairly cool out the Saturday morning I went and it seemed to be the perfect place to be. The young woman working stayed busy and out of my way, but attentive and ready to answer any questions I had. The clothing was a perfect selection of "staple" pieces that you could feel good about investing in for the sophisticated woman's closet. There's a "Little Black Dress" rack... and everything seemed to be very safe and traditional, but of a really high quality and great materials. A perfect find! Note: there were sample carmels from Floriole Cafe and Bakery (1220 W. Webster) that were to die for!!! ...and that's all I'm going to say :D
There are two places on Webster that were so excting and one of them is Local Lookbook (1211 W. Webster). It opened 3 weeks ago and is owned by Halli Mulei. She is so nice and is passionate about fashion and has a great eye for trends and tradition. She is a risk-taker and an inspirational woman who knows her stuff!!! Her space is a quaint little box with a nice selection. What makes her boutique so special is that she celebrates (and she really does!) Chicago designers. I immediately was drawn to the Marisa Swystun rack without knowing anything about her. Marisa recently won the FGI Rising Star Award 2010 and is featured in the current CS magazine with a full article about herself. So... I have to say that if you like being ahead of the curve, you MUST get over to Local Lookbook and pick up what Halli is throwin' down! *There's also a "Student" rack, where Halli lets students showcase individual pieces and she can give you a personal story for every one of them. This is the kind of place that makes yer shopping experience well worth it! Thanks again H.M. for doing what you do!
The second exciting place, yer going to love this, is erin gallagher custom jewelry boutique. I was SO ready to not even go in this place and dismiss it as a mediocre jewelry store. (I'm a guy! what do I care about looking at jewelry?!?!) On my way back towards Halstead, something made me decide to look anyways. erin gallagher (1013 W. Webster) is a concept boutique that is truly original and embodies the shopping/fun experience to it's greatest potential!!! I am so serious about this place! I had no idea what they do here, but as I looked around Christie asked what I was up to and I gave her my usual response of "Pleasure!" and I told her I was blogging about the street and she began to reveal to me the wonder that is erin gallagher custom jewelry boutique. She showed me some of the jewelry on the walls and in the display cases and ...eh! not too interesting to me, and then she told me about the other cases that were filled with little compartments of various gems and stones and she explains that all of the designs are interchangable with the variety of silver and gold and topaz and rubies and really that's just the starting place. You can "play" with the designs anyway that you want and become yer own designer of fine jewelry. We'll go ahead and talk price and get it out of the way... the pieces start at around $40 and up, but they don't get very expensive unless you start using more precious materials, which if they don't have in stock they can order. Now back to the experience, as a I sat at a high counter in bar-stool seat pearing into the glass top counter, Christie began showing me the differences in unfinished rubies and finished rubies and all the various pearls and it was an instant love connection as my curiosity sparked an hour long conversation... well, maybe it wasn't a real love connection, but definitely an inaugral meeting of our new mutual admiration society! Christie was very fluent in jewelry talk and made me so comfortable to be there and it was through our conversation that we both were able to really turn a slow, dreary Saturday into a little bit of enlightenment! Do yerself a favor-- get a friend or two and bring yer jewelry consultant a croissant too, and sit down and indulge in the erin gallagher "experience", whether it's for a wedding party or just a dreary Saturday morning that would be wasted on the same old brunch with mimosas that you normally do, try injecting some meaning into what you wear and design some jewelry. After the design is settled, they'll make the piece and snap a picture and name it after you for the lookbook.
At 1013 W. Webster is Sal's Deli!!! A Boar's Head Deli that is going to give you the custom, personable service that we love so much. It's local, and uses some of the finest ingredients available. I used to work at Marty's Deli (Harvard Ave. @ Comm. Ave.) in Boston and Sal's took me back to being 19 and my education of fine gourmet meats and cheeses, along with fresh breads. This is what a deli should be... scratch made specialty salads and mouthwatering hoagies. Get what you want, but get it at Sal's... then take yer lunch and cross the street and watch the kids play at Trebes Park.
It doesn't matter where yer from, local or visiting... Webster Ave. is YOUR neighborhood. The service is impeccable, the concepts are flawless and it's MY new favorite local Chicago spot that's under the radar. After yer visit, yer gonna have hard time keeping it a secret!