Rogers Park is the northern border of Chicago — the wild-eyed inheritor of uninhibited lakefront, swamps become beaches, and the beauty of Chicago bricks. There may be no better place to experience the casual riches the city has to offer, with several miles of parks and beaches, and quiet blocks of breathtaking apartments and homes.
This article also includes Edgewater, the more reasonable counterbalance to its neighbor (fewer calamities, and a few terrific bars), and West Ridge, home to several ethnic communities, including nearly a mile of great Indian restaurants and stores.
When Philip Rogers arrived in Chicago for the first time in 1834, he immediately began making plans to leave. There was mud everywhere, the narrow streets were choked and chaotic, and the winters were brutal. But he was stuck in Chicago because the waterways back to New York were frozen, so Rogers had to wait out the winter; by the spring, he had a line on a pretty good team of oxen, so he headed as far north as he could, past the limits of the city and its fringe settlements, out to wild swampland where Indian villages were still resident — and there began Rogers Park.
The nature of Rogers Park is calamity amid beauty and the equality of impulse toward each. In this way, many of the neighborhood's key events can be understood: the secession of the West Ridge area (sometimes called West Rogers Park) over whether to incorporate as a village (which they did anyway); the 1894 "Home-Made Transfer War," in which Rogers Park residents stuck it to railroad tycoon Charles Yerkes by refusing to pay extra to ride the northern extension of his streetcar line, and tried to pass off the transfers they'd made at home on the conductors; and the "Cabbage Head War" of 1896, in which a Rogers Park politician gave unsophisticated West Ridge farmers an unflattering nickname, and they proved him wrong by putting cabbages on poles and marching on his house.
With regular floods from the wild and swampy beaches to the east, annexation to Chicago and its sewage services proved a strong temptation. As the city surged north, a building boom followed, and Rogers Park was blessed with a gorgeous stock of residential and commercial buildings; West Ridge wound up with long blocks of lovely, modest Prairie-style bungalows. Only one famous name is still in the area (Frank Lloyd Wright's Emil Bach House), but the routine beauty of the architecture in Rogers Park and West Ridge is still incredible.
The diversity, too, is unrivaled in a notoriously segregated city. Rogers Park has always been the most beautiful place in Chicago where basically anyone could afford to live — silent Irish generations still fighting the Cabbage Head War in their sleep, and immigrants newly arrived from Serbia, from Jamaica, from the Sudan. For a visitor, special mention has to go to the Indian community on Devon Avenue. Between roughly 2200 W and 2700 W Devon, among thriving import stores that specialize in saris, spices, and the latest Bollywood dreams, there are a number of amazing Indian and Pakistani restaurants that will almost certainly spoil you for the stuff back home (assuming "back home" is anywhere but the Indian subcontinent). The only day not to go is Tuesday, when many businesses and restaurants are closed.
Edgewater, on the other hand, is remarkably laid-back. It was originally demarcated as part of the Uptown community area, but when that area went into economic decline, Edgewater residents swiftly seceded and established their own neighborhood. Today, it segues neatly into Andersonville to the south, with a few gay cultural institutions and several nice restaurants, coffee shops and bars.
The CTA Red Line runs from the Loop to Edgewater (Berwyn, Bryn Mawr, Thorndale, Granville) and Rogers Park (Loyola, Morse, Jarvis), eventually terminating at Howard Street on the border of Evanston. (There is a major bus terminal adjacent to the Howard station — see below.) The dilapidated, urine-soaked Morse and Jarvis were two of the worst stations in the CTA 'L' system before their renovations. Travelers with disabilities should plan to disembark at Howard, Loyola or Granville and use a bus to cover any remaining distance to their destinations.
The CTA Purple Line runs from Evanston to Howard, continuing non-stop southward to the Belmont station in Lakeview during weekday rush periods.
The CTA Yellow Line from Skokie ends at Howard.
The Metra  Union Pacific North Line stops in Rogers Park (at Lunt Ave) before moving on to Evanston. Not every train serves that station, though, so check signs or schedules before boarding.
- #11 Lincoln/Sedgwick travels Lincoln Avenue and then cuts over to Kedzie through West Ridge, passing by the Lincoln Village shopping mall ending at Howard/McCormick near the Skokie North Shore Sculpture Park.
- #22 Clark runs all night along on Clark Street through Rogers Park and Edgewater, and on to Andersonville, Lakeview, and the rest of the North Side.
- #36 Broadway runs through Edgewater and on to Uptown, connecting with the Red Line at Granville.
- #49B North Western starts at the Western Brown Line station in Lincoln Square and passes by the Indian restaurants on Devon ending at the Howard Street, the city limits.
- #84 Peterson runs between the CTA Red Line at Bryn Mawr and the northwest side at Central/Caldwell primarily along Peterson Avenue.
- #92 Foster connects with the Red Line at Berwyn and is the best way to reach Andersonville from the train. It runs along Foster Avenue, the border between Edgewater and Uptown. It also ends up west at the Jefferson Park Blue Line station.
- #93 California/Dodge runs between the northern end of the CTA Brown Line at Kimball in Albany Park and the Davis Purple Line Station in downtown Evanston primarily along California Avenue.
- #96 Lunt runs between the Morse CTA Station and Devon/Kedzie makes stops at the Rogers Park Metra and the Lincolnwood Town Center. This line runs on weekdays only, at half hour headways.
- #97 Skokie runs from the Howard CTA Station through south Evanston & Skokie, connecting with the CTA Yellow Line and ending at the Old Orchard Shopping Center.
- #147 Outer Drive Express runs express on Lake Shore Drive to and from the Magnificent Mile, becoming all-stops for Edgewater and Rogers Park.
- #151 Sheridan is a local route from downtown, running all-stops down Sheridan Road. It's an all-night route.
- #155 Devon connects with both the Morse and Loyola Red Line stations, and travels through the length of the Indian neighborhood on Devon.
A few Pace suburban routes depart from the Howard Street bus terminal.
- 215 Crawford-Howard runs west down Howard Street, ending up at the Old Orchard shopping complex in Skokie.
- 290 Touhy travels through the Orthodox Jewish community in West Ridge, crossing into the suburbs and later back to the Far Northwest Side.
The best way to reach Edgewater and Rogers Park by car is the fabled Lake Shore Drive, which ends at Sheridan and Hollywood in Edgewater. The Edens Expressway has exits at Peterson and Touhy just west of the two neighborhoods.
The intersection of Sheridan and Devon can be confusing if you're trying to follow directions. Coming from Rogers Park, although it looks as though Sheridan continues south past Devon, that's where it becomes Broadway; Sheridan actually veers left at that point and then right along the lake. From the other direction, this is the eastern border of Devon Avenue, even though it looks like it continues further east — that's where the Sheridan name has taken over.
Parking is generally no problem in Edgewater and West Ridge, but Rogers Park is never easy. Watch for permit-only streets near Loyola University, and check street signs on Sheridan before parking overnight there. They're usually full, but there are meter parking lots near the beach at the end of Touhy and between Lunt & Greeleaf, and on the western side of the L tracks on Glenwood.
The Ghost Pilot of Rogers Park
Calvary Catholic Cemetery, across Sheridan Avenue from Juneway Terrace Beach at the border between Chicago and Evanston, has a few notable names buried within, including White Sox owner Charles Comiskey (inexplicably interred on the Cubs' side of town) and "Hinky Dink" Kenna, a legendarily corrupt alderman from the former vice district who left $33,000 in his will for a mausoleum and received an $85 tombstone from his heirs instead.
But one of the best-known stories about Calvary comes from someone who isn't buried there. Legend has it that "Charlie," an Air Force pilot doing training exercises over Lake Michigan during World War II, crashed and drowned. According to one version of the story, Charlie wanted badly to get back to his plane, and would pace around near the cemetery gates, until one night a forgetful keeper left them open — and Charlie was never seen again. According to another, Charlie wants back in: his ghost "is still seen today" getting out of the lake sopping wet, covered in seaweed, and crossing Sheridan to get some rest in Calvary.
The Glenwood Avenue Arts District is a nice idea that someone had at some point, and it's still optimistically advertised by banners up and down the street (between Pratt and Touhy), but there isn't much going on. Most of the storefronts are vacant (or appear to be). Occasional group shows are held at the Greenleaf Art Center  (1836 W Greenleaf).
For a better check on the artistic pulse of Rogers Park, check out the block-long concrete bench between Pratt Beach and Loyola Beach (facing the lake and the jogging trail), which is divided up into short segments and re-painted every year by members of the community and a few local businesses, musing on the neighborhood, the city, outer space, and whatever else is on their minds — a good mix of the memorable and the inexplicable.
- Emil Bach House, 7415 N Sheridan Rd (Jarvis Red Line). This is the only survivor of the two homes Frank Lloyd Wright built in Rogers Park, commissioned by a local brick magnate. (Chicago, as you'll notice, was a good place to be in the brick business.) After years of neglect, a new owner has scrupulously restored the house, but it's not open for tours — you'll have to content yourself with exterior views of the home's late Prairie School style, and the ingenuity of Wright's design that copes with the small lot and the busy street facing the house.
- Gerber/Hart Library, 1127 W Granville Ave (Granville Red Line), ☎ +1 773 381-8030, . W-Th 6-9PM, F-Su noon-4PM. Currently in the process of moving to 6500 N Clark St, and closed during construction of the new space. Free.
- Leather Archives and Museum, 6418 N Greenview Ave (Loyola Red Line), ☎ +1 773 761-9200, . Th-F 11AM-7PM, Sa-Su 11AM-5PM. Not a collection of informational exhibits about making clothes from the hides of cows. This is an adults-only collection of sex and fetish-related books, with S&M artifacts and photo exhibits of gay male erotica by notable names such as Robert Mapplethorpe. $10.
- Mess Hall, 6932 N Glenwood Ave (Morse Red Line), ☎ +1 773 465-4033, . Sometimes busy nearly every day of the month, and other times silent for weeks on end, the Mess Hall is an "experimental cultural center" that represents a Rogers Park tradition of agitprop eclectica — art exhibits, lectures, films, and people showing up with food. There's a schedule on the website, but you might as well just stop by to see what's going on.
- Madonna della Strada Chapel, 6525 N Sheridan Rd (Loyola Red Line), ☎ +1 773 508-2200, . M-F 7:30AM-8PM, Sa 7:30AM-noon, Su 7:30AM-10PM; masses M-F 8AM & noon, Su 10:30AM, 5PM, 9PM. Art deco style meets religious devotion in the spectacular Madonna della Strada Chapel, built in 1938 on the grounds of Loyola University's campus. Thanks to a recent renovation, the chapel is sparkling like new, and the pipe organ is the largest in the city. Free.
Loyola University Chicago  has its flagship campus here, with 15,000 students. In 1991, it absorbed Mundelein College, a pioneering women's school. Loyola University athletics haven't been up to much since the 1963 NCAA basketball championship, but Rogers Park would still go nuts at the first signs of life from the Ramblers — Loyola basketball tickets ($5-10) are a cheap way to catch some local flavor and have fun.
This area isn't well-known for theater, but it should be — there are some exceptional companies here. The Heartland Cafe (see Eat) is event-happy, and there are a few great music venues to check out (see Drink).
- Lifeline Theater, 6912 N Glenwood Ave (Morse Red Line), ☎ +1 773 761-4477, . Performs original work and adaptations of adult ("A Room With A View") and children's ("The Stinky Cheese Man") literature; their motto is "big stories, up close." $10 KidSeries, $14-26 other shows.
- No Exit Cafe, 6970 N Glenwood Ave (Morse Red Line), ☎ +1 773 743-3355, . The No Exit Cafe was first opened here in 1967, going through chess, jazz, Go, and other phases along the way. Today, it has a stage in regular use (mostly weekends) for performances of all kinds, including political dance, theater, and sketch comedy, some of which have been highly acclaimed. It's run by the owners of the Heartland Cafe, which means that food and coffee are available.
- Raven Theatre, 6157 N Clark St (22 Clark bus), ☎ +1 773 338-2177, . Iconoclasts by default, the resident company at the Raven has the courage to tackle classic American plays without putting a post-modern spin on the material or thrusting technology into the staging. It's kooky, but it works. Non-resident companies also find room to debut new works on the well-designed stage here. $15-20.
- The Side Project, 1439 W Jarvis Ave (Jarvis Red Line), ☎ +1 773 973-2150, . They're new in the neighborhood, but the Side Project is quickly becoming one of Chicago's best storefront theaters. Shows include world premiere dramas and well-chosen revivals of overlooked plays, with committed actors and innovative staging that has the audience in the midst of the action. $10-15.
As with the rest of Chicago, the official swim season runs from Memorial Day to Labor Day, 9AM-9:30PM daily. However, the parks along the lakefront are open year-round (6AM-11PM daily), and fill up with picnics at the first sign of spring. And the piers on Pratt Beach are favorites with people taking the "polar plunge" on New Year's.
- Hollywood Beach (Osterman Beach), 5800 N Lake Shore Dr (Thorndale Red Line), ☎ +1 312 747-0832, . This beach earned its original name (Hollywood Beach) from being at the end of Hollywood Avenue. The Lake Shore Drive high-rises in the background of this nice, long beach could have been an inspiration for the city of Miami Beach. It's extremely popular with Chicago's gay and lesbian community, and also with Edgewater families. There are paths for rollerblading and running near the beach. Note the huge pink Edgewater Beach Apartments high-rise building in the skyline — they were originally part of a larger pink hotel built in 1927.
Pratt Beach in the winter
Rogers Park is lined with pure lakefront glory. From Loyola all the way north, nearly every block east of Sheridan ends in a public beach and park. Some are little more than a building's length wide, and others run much longer. During the summer, these are very popular with locals, but they're also a great place for a walk during the fall and even the winter, when most turn into moonscapes.
From south to north:
- Hartigan Park & Beach, 1031 W Albion St (Loyola Red Line). Close to the university and the student housing. There's some picnic space here and a big, new playground with jungle gyms and slides. It's connected by a strip of sand to North Shore Beach to the north.
- Pratt Beach, 1050 W Pratt Blvd (Loyola Red Line). Aside from the tennis courts and the jogging paths, there are lots of interesting features to be found here: weeping trees left from this area's original incarnation as a swamp, a giant concrete sculpture for climbing, tennis courts, random public art installations, and best of all, the long pier leading out to an old lighthouse. Pratt Beach includes North Shore Beach and Columbia Beach to the south, and it segues into Loyola Park & Beach to the north with the long art wall, making them the longest public beach in Chicago.
- Loyola Park & Beach, 1230 W Greenleaf Ave (Morse Red Line). Wide open spaces are here: room for soccer, basketball courts, and a public field for baseball (along with one non-public field). The Heartland Cafe operates a concession stand during the summer, and there are a few small piers. It ends in the Leone Park & Beach to the north, a training beach for Chicago lifeguards.
- Jarvis and Fargo Beaches, 1208 W Jarvis (Jarvis Red Line). Less crowded than their neighboring beaches. Jarvis Beach is more popular with younger swimmers as they are under the watchful gaze of the Chicago Junior Life Guard program. It also offers some open space to toss a Frisbee or people-watch. Fargo Beach is a real gem with its community garden of native beach grasses, decorating the sea retaining wall that separates the beach from the property to the west. Don’t miss the wonderful plantings in the “tree box” at the end of Fargo Ave. The local take ownership for this beach and it shows. Be careful; many a local “outdoorsman” has been known to illegally launch a kayak from this public beach, and the dogs off leashes can get a bit “hairy” at times. Sherwin Beach, connected to the south of Jarvis Beach, is a small sand spit that offers a chance to sneer at the adjacent private beach.
- Howard Beach, 7519 N Eastlake Terrace (Howard Red/Purple/Yellow Line). There's a pretty good playground here, and a modestly-sized beach.
- Rogers Beach, 7705 N Eastlake Terrace (End of Rogers Ave). The perfect size for a beach, with tennis courts and a cliff for contemplative strolls, picnic space and a modest strip of sand for swimmers.
- Juneway Terrace Beach, 7800 N Eastlake Terrace (at the curve of Sheridan). This is it: you've reached the end of Chicago, and it's a nice one, with lots of green space and a fun jump down to the sand. Daredevils can swim to Evanston, the immediate northern suburb.
Events & Festivals
- Glenwood Avenue Arts Fair, 6900 N Glenwood Ave (Morse Red Line), ☎ +1 773 262-3790, . Annual festival in August to celebrate the neighborhood and throw some light on the Glenwood Avenue art galleries, food & drink, performances, and events for kids. Free.
Outside of Devon Avenue and a couple of cowboy fashion shops on Clark, there are only a few notable places to shop in this part of the city.
- The Armadillo's Pillow, 6753 N Sheridan Rd (155 Devon Bus), ☎ +1 773 761-2558, . Su-F noon-8PM, Sa 10AM-8PM. This is a warm, goofy, cluttered bookstore with an unpredictable collection of used and rare books, guided by laid-back, book-loving staff. The worn, comfortable couches and self-serve coffee make it nice to stick around for a while.
- Broadway Antique Market, 6130 N Broadway St (Granville Red Line or 36 Broadway Bus), ☎ +1 773 743-5444, . M-Sa 11AM-7PM, Su 11AM-6PM. Two floors of antiques in Edgewater. The first floor has plenty of interesting Chicago ephemera, but the nifty full-room set-ups on the second floor are fun to explore whether or not you plan to buy anything.
- Lost Eras, 1511 W Howard St (Howard Red/Purple/Yellow Line), ☎ +1 773 764-7400, . M-Sa 10AM-6PM. This cavernous costume shop can, at turns, resemble a collection of haunted antiques — this stretch of Howard Street has several dusty old Jazz Age buildings, and this is one of the few that's open without having been scrubbed clean. Their costume selection is terrific, but it's worth the visit just to have a look around.
- Taste Food & Wine, 1506 W Jarvis Ave (Jarvis Red Line), ☎ +1 773 761-3663, . M-F 3-9PM, Sa noon-9PM, Su noon-6PM. A lovely little wine shoppe, with a nice spread of moderately-priced wines, some beers and ciders, and various tasty nibbles. (Prosciutto? Roasted figs? Cornichons? Oh, yes.) The wines don't favor any one geographical location overmuch, and tend to lean towards a pleasantly high quaffability quotient instead of veering towards either pole of self-pickling (musty snobbery on one end, and "get me loaded up on that box o'vino" on the other). The Monday and Friday tastings are a treat, as are conversations with the friendly staff.
- Unan Imports, 6971 N Sheridan Rd (Morse Red Line), ☎ +1 773 274-4022, . M-Sa 11AM-7PM. This tiny, wonderful shop stocks African imports ranging from clothing, jewelry and masks to beauty products and djembe (drums from Mali). Dr. Alphonsus Ntamere, a Nigerian studying in Evanston started this store almost twenty years ago after getting distracted from his post-doctoral studies, and it's still a highlight of shopping on the North Side.
Walking down Devon Avenue will make you feel as if you have traversed into a region of India and the Middle East. Saris, thawbs, rugs, jewelry, suitcases, phone cards, spices, Bollywood movies, and more thawbs and saris — Devon Avenue is a great place to shop. Bargaining is generally welcome, so don't be shy to make a counter-offer.
- Fiza Palace, 2407 W Devon Ave (155 Devon or 49B North Western Bus), ☎ +1 773 973-3492. Even if you've never seen a sari before, you'll feel welcome shopping for men's, women's, or children's Indian fashion in this friendly store. Bead-centric jewelry is also available.
- Iqra Book Center, 2751 W Devon Ave (155 Devon or 93 California/Dodge Bus), ☎ +1 773 274-2665, . 11AM-8PM daily. An impressive collection of books on Islam and Muslim culture, with plenty of dual-language books and toys for teaching children Arabic. There are some nice gifts, too. If they don't have what you're looking for, try the smaller Islamic Books and Things at 2601 W Devon.
- Patel Brothers Gifts, 2600 W Devon Ave (155 Devon Bus). 11AM-8PM daily. There are at least three stores by this name on Devon, so check the address. If you're at this one, you'll find a glorious clutter of Indian gifts — if these are cheap tourist statuettes, for example, they certainly don't look like it.
- Raj Jewel, 2652 W Devon Ave (155 Devon Bus), ☎ +1 773 465-5755, . Of the many jewelry shops on Devon, Raj Jewel has the most flash and class, with uniformed employees on hand to show off a substantial collection of gold and diamond jewelry.
- Regal, 2616 W Devon Ave (155 Devon Bus), ☎ +1 773 973-1368. There is the requisite selection of beautiful saris, but fans of pastel men's dress shirts will fall silent with awe at the treasures to be found here.
- Sahil, 2605 W Devon Ave (155 Devon Bus), ☎ +1 773 338-3636, . W-M 11AM-8PM. This is the height of retail elegance on Devon — the two sparkling floors of Sahil wouldn't look out of place on the Magnificent Mile. They have dazzling Indian fashion and everyday wear for men, women, and children, and accessories to match. If you don't mind spending freely, you'll leave with some amazing outfits.
- Taj Sari Palace, 2553 W Devon Ave (155 Devon Bus), ☎ +1 773 338-0177. W-M 11AM-8PM. There are nice saris for women and juniors at this long-standing boutique, but the craft-minded will delight in the reams of colorful fabric sold here, suitable for making saris, men's suits, and home decorations. Al-Raheem at 2655 W Devon also sells reams of fabric.
- Hamachi Sushi Bar, 2801 W. Howard (on the corner of California), ☎ 7732936904, . Mo-Thu 11am-9pm, F 10.30am-2pm, Sat 8.30pm-midnight, Su 2pm-10pm. If you're looking for original sushi on the North Side, this is the place to go. Certified kosher, vegan-friendly. $9-16.
- Annapurna, 2608 W Devon Ave (155 Devon bus), ☎ +1 773 764-1858. 11AM-9PM daily. Devon Avenue can boggle the mind of the weary vegetarian not accustomed to having this many choices. Annapurna is a hole in the wall and the menu is geared toward Hindi speakers, but this is a good place to try something new — or just ask for samosas and chaat, and you shall receive. $1-5.
- Argo Georgian Bakery, 2812 W Devon Ave (155 Devon or 93 California/Dodge bus), ☎ +1 773 764-6322. M-Sa 9AM-7PM, Su 9AM-6PM. If you haven't had Georgian food, your culinary life has yet to begin. Drop everything you are doing and head straight to this bakery to try khachapuri, a mouth wateringly-flaky cheese-filled pastry. Try some Borjomi sparkling spring water too. The bakery's hours seem subject to managerial whim (and the Georgians are whimsical folks), so it's wise to call ahead before visiting. Georgian is the only language spoken, so practice saying Hah-chah-poo-ree and Bohr-joh-mee. $.50-4.
- Capt'n Nemo's, 7367 N Clark St (Howard Red/Purple/Yellow Line or 22 Clark Bus), ☎ +1 773 973-0570, . M-Sa 11AM-7PM. One of Chicago's best sandwich and soup deals. Wide variety of fresh made toasted subs and soups — including their famous chili. Every person entering is immediately offered a taste sampling of any of the day's soups. $4-8.
- Caribbean American Baking Company, 1547 W Howard St (Howard Red Line), ☎ +1 773 761-0700, . M-Sa 10AM-7:30PM. Take-out only, but Howard Beach is right down the block — sun, surf, Jamaican bread and Jerk chicken patties are what the north pole of Chicago is all about. (Vegetable patties are available, too.) $2-7.
- The Dagel and Beli, 7400 N Greenview Ave (Jarvis Red Line), ☎ +1 773 743-2354. M-F 6AM-8PM, Sa-Su 7AM-8PM. Steamed bagel sandwiches with free Spoonerisms. Attached to Charmers Cafe, from which drinks can be ordered. $5-7.
- Deta's Cafe, 7555 N Ridge Blvd (97 Skokie 201 Central/Ridge or 215 Crawford Howard bus), ☎ +1 773 973-1505. 10AM-11PM daily. The culinary diversity of Rogers Park extends as far as Montenegro. This small, friendly cafe offers soups, salads, and burek (stuffed rolls of fried dough) that are as close to home-made as you can get — Deta loves to show customers her kitchen. $2-8.
- The Fish Keg, 2233 W Howard St (97 Skokie 201 Central/Ridge or 215 Crawford Howard bus), ☎ +1 773 262-6603, . Su-Th 8AM-midnight, F-Sa 8AM-1AM. If the stomach that sits within you is no shrinking flower, the fried walleye, fried shrimp, and hush puppies at this renowned fish shack will do very well by you.
- Ghareeb Nawaz, 2032 W Devon Ave (155 Devon bus), ☎ +1 773 761-5300, . 24 hours daily. The name, meaning "protector of the poor", is a reference to the Sufi saint Moinuddin Chishti, who was best known for feeding the hungry. This isn't the gourmet Devon experience, but how's this sound: naan or chapatis, chicken biryani, and a mango lassi to drink for less than $5. Interested? Come and carry-out, or try the family room. $2-6.
- Harold's Chicken Shack #44, 6952 N Clark St (22 Clark bus), ☎ +1 773 465-2300. M-Th 11AM-1:30AM, F-Sa 11AM-2AM. Hark! Harold's has come to Rogers Park!
- Noon Hour Grill, 6930 N Glenwood Ave (Morse Red Line), ☎ +1 773 338-9494. Su-M 8AM-3PM, W-Sa 8AM-7PM. It doesn't look like much from the outside, but where else are you going to have to choose between a hearty diner breakfast (bacon, sausage, eggs), Korean home cooking (bi bim bop, Yook Gue Jung soup), or the point at which they meet (Korean spaghetti, bulgogi and kimchee omelettes)? Potential patrons should be aware the restaurant has been accused of refusing to serve lesbians and gay men. $5-8.
- Taste of Peru, 6545 N. Clark St. (22 Clark bus), ☎ +1 773 381-4540, . M-Sa 9AM-10PM, Su 9AM-10PM. Restaurant serving Peruvian cuisine, that was featured on Guy Fieri's Diners, Drive-In's, and Dives. Be sure to try their ceviche and lomo saltado $.50-4.
- Wolfy's, 2734 W Peterson Ave (93 California/Dodge or 84 Peterson bus), ☎ +1 773 743-0207. M-Sa 10:30AM-9PM, Su 11AM-8PM. Hot dogs and Polish sausages are a powerful, ancient tradition in West Ridge, and while there are still plenty of fast food shacks in the area, Wolfy's is the last of the old-school, pilgrimage-worthy hot dog proprietors. For a bit of hot dog history, sneak a peek at the hot dog sculptures behind the now-closed U Lucky Dawg (formerly Fluky's) a short distance east at 6821 N Western.
Most restaurants on Devon specialize in cuisine from specific regions of India, which can vary quite a bit. Southern Indian cooking will be less familiar to most, but it's also remarkably friendly to vegetarians.
- Arya Bhavan, 2508 W Devon Ave (155 Devon bus), ☎ +1 773 274-5800, . M 5:30-9:30PM, Tu-Th noon-3PM,5-9PM, F noon-3PM,5-9:30PM, Sa-Su noon-9:30PM. The first thing you notice is the pink handkerchiefs, floating over the tables like butterflies. Arya Bhavan has a small but lovely dining room, serving mostly northern Indian food (and a weekend buffet) for vegetarians and vegans. As a bonus, it's open most major holidays. $6-12.
- Nan On Devon, 2241 W Devon Ave (155 Devon bus), ☎ +1 773 262-.7676. Noon till 8 am, Friday Special Hyderabadi style Buffet. Authentic Hyderabadi style cooking. $8-12.
- Khan BBQ, 2401 W Devon Ave (155 Devon or 49B North Western bus), ☎ +1 773 338-2800. Sa-Th noon-11PM, F 2-11PM. If you've had it with vegetarians, this is where to get some meat on your plate. Khan BBQ serves the best kabobs on the street, charcoal-fired and caramelized, and they're busy from open to close. $8-12.
- Mysore Woodlands, 2548 W Devon Ave (155 Devon bus), ☎ +1 773 338-8160, . M-Th 11AM-9:30PM, F-Sa 11AM-10:30PM, Su noon-9:30PM. Purely vegetarian Southern Indian cooking, with a spacious dining room. If you've never tried dosai, which is somewhere between a burrito, a crepe, and a horn-of-plenty, they have several cheap, filling varieties here. $8-10.
- Sabri Nehari, 2502 1/2 W Devon Ave (155 Devon bus), ☎ +1 773 743-6200, . noon-midnight daily. This Pakistani restaurant is one of the busiest on Devon, filled with local families. They do wonders with chicken, especially the monumental chicken charga, in which an entire bird is deep-fried and marinated with secret spices. $9-13.
- Tiffin, 2536 W Devon Ave (155 Devon bus), ☎ +1 773 338-2143, . 11:30AM-3PM, 5-10PM daily. Possibly the fanciest restaurant on Devon, with a space-age ceiling and decor that calls to mind an expensive hotel lobby. Tandoori dishes are the specialty, and there's a lunch buffet seven days a week. $10-20.
- Udupi Palace, 2543 W Devon Ave (155 Devon bus), ☎ +1 773 338-2152, . Su-F 11:30AM-10PM, Sa 11AM-10PM. This is one of the most popular restaurants with visitors on Devon, offering a Southern Indian-style vegetarian menu that packs its fair share of spice. $9-12.
- Uru-Swati, 2629 W Devon Ave (155 Devon bus), ☎ +1 773 262-5280, . Su-M,W-Th 11:30AM-9:30PM, F-Sa 11:30AM-10:30PM. The aqua walls and cafe-like atmosphere make Uru-Swati a relaxing place to stay, and their vegetarian menu covers a lot of range — you can pair standbys like naan with new finds from northern and southern India. $9-12.
- Viceroy of India, 2518 W Devon Ave (155 Devon bus), ☎ +1 773 743-4100, . 11:30AM-2:30PM daily, Su-Th 5-10PM, F-Sa 5-10:30PM. It's currently covered in scaffolding with no sign, but visitors and locals still seek out the Viceroy for its mighty chicken, lunch buffet ($8-9), and long wine list. The menu is primarily northern Indian. This is a great place to go with a big party. $12-20.
- Broadway Cellars, 5900 N Broadway St (Thorndale Red Line), ☎ +1 773 944-1208, . M-F 5-10PM, Sa 10AM-10PM, Su 10AM-9PM. Neighborhood bistro in Edgewater with plenty of wine to sample, either while splashing out on dishes like the duck lasagna or keeping calm with a simple nosh platter. $10-19.
- Ethiopian Diamond Restaurant & Lounge, 6120 N Broadway St (Granville Red Line), ☎ +1 773 338-6100, . Su-Th 11AM-10:30PM, F-Sa 11AM-11:30PM. Ethiopian cuisine in Edgewater, equally friendly to carnivores and vegetarians and best enjoyed with a group to share a platter. $11-20.
- Gino's North, 1111 W Granville Ave (Granville Red Line), ☎ +1 773 465-1616, . Kitchen Su-Th 4-11PM, F-Sa 4PM-12:30AM; bar Su-F 3PM-2AM, Sa 3PM-3AM. Virtually unknown in the annals of Chicago pizza lore, Gino's North — not East, as in the famous city-wide chain — is, nevertheless, a great love of all who know it. The key is to confirm that Peggy is working that day; if she's in the kitchen, make tracks to enjoy the work of one of the finest pizza auteurs of our time.
- Heartland Cafe, 7000 N Glenwood Ave (Morse Red Line), . Kitchen M-Th 8AM-2PM and 5PM-9PM, F-Sa 8AM-11PM, Su 8AM-10PM; bar M-Tu,Th 8AM-10PM, W,F 8AM-2AM, Sa 8AM-3AM, Su 11AM-10PM. There's almost always something going on at the hippie-friendly Heartland Cafe: open mic nights, live rock/jazz/blues, plays, and art/photo exhibits. While vegetarian-friendly, the menu is a bit overpriced and sub-par — you are paying for the ambiance. The outdoor seating is a pleasure in the summer. Check out the "kozmic" bookstore (and the photobooth) while you're waiting for a table. $10-18.
- Jamaica Jerk, 1631 W Howard St (Howard Red/Purple/Yellow Line), ☎ +1 773 764-1546, . Tu-Th noon-9PM, F-Sa noon-10PM, Su noon-8PM. Jamaican and Caribbean cuisine, with free parking and kid's menus to boot. It's right outside the Howard CTA station, fronted by the facade of the old Howard Theater. If it's too crowded, try Good to Go three blocks west.
- Leona's, 6935 N Sheridan Rd (Morse Red Line), ☎ +1 773 764-5757, . M-Th 11:30AM-11PM, F 11:30AM-12:30AM, Sa 10AM-12:30AM, Su 10AM-10:30PM. Good all-around Italian and American fare; plenty of meat, but vegetarian-friendly as well, including the terrific big vegan burger. This location has a big, padded kids room with animated movies to keep them occupied during Sunday brunch. $12-18.
- Moody's Pub, 5910 N Broadway St (Thorndale Red Line), ☎ 5910 N Broadway St, . M-Sa 11:30AM-1AM, Su noon-1AM. An Edgewater institution since 1959, serving beer and monster Moodyburgers. The dark, cave-like interior is a great refuge in the winter, while the sizable beer garden takes equal advantage of summer. $9-12.
- Summer Noodle & Rice, 1123 W. Granville (Granville Red Line), ☎ +1 773 761-8500, . M-Th 11:30AM-10PM, F-Su 11:30AM-10:30PM. One of the great hidden Thai restaraunts of Chicago, the staff at Summer spare no effort in making your meal enjoyable and beautiful. Tucked beneath the Granville El station, Summer offers reasonable, delicious, and beautiful food in interesting and very colorful surroundings. It is also BYOB with no corking fee, so bring along your favorite wine or beer and enjoy! $7-15.
- Gruppo di Amici, 1508 W Jarvis Ave (Jarvis Red Line), ☎ +1 773 508-5565, . Th-Su 5-10PM. An upscale Roman pizza restaurant with a wood-burning oven flown over from Italy and cured for nine weeks until ready. Try one of the Italian style thin pizzas with a cold micro brew, or pair one of the many great appetizers with the daily seafood special. They have a great selection of wines — let the local sommelier / master mixoligist help with selecting a bottle of wine or just sip one of several wonderful cocktails. In the summer, the outdoor seating here is some of the nicest in Rogers Park. $16-24.
- Taste of Peru, 6545 N Clark St (22 Clark bus or Granville Red Line), ☎ +1 773 381-4540, . Su-Th 11:30AM-10PM, F-Sa 11:30AM-11PM. Given the nature of Peruvian cuisine, this one is probably best enjoyed by seafood lovers. Live Peruvian music on the weekends. Reservations recommended, although not necessary if you're willing to wait. (That'll give you a chance to hit the liquor store down the block, as Taste of Peru is BYOB.) $18-22.
There's a few exceptional independent coffee shops with great character (and coffee) in the area.
- Sol Cafe, 1615 W Howard St (Howard Red Line), ☎ +1 773 961-8289 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . M-F 7:00AM-7:00PM, Sa-Su 8AM-6:00PM. Sol is the newest coffee shop, art spot and events venue in Rogers Park. The beautiful industrial chic interior is spacious with an outlet at every seat, offering coffee roasted by Bowtruss and Passion House, plus teas, pastries, soup & sandwiches. Not to mention, Glazed and Infused doughnuts on the weekend! From the sol, for the soul.
- Charmers Cafe, 1500 W Jarvis Ave (Jarvis Red Line), ☎ +1 773 743-2233, . M-F 6:30AM-6:30PM, Sa-Su 7AM-6:30PM. Coffee roasted by Metropolis, plus teas, pies and pastries, smoothies and ice cream in the summer. Sandwiches can be ordered from the Dagel and Beli next door.
- The Common Cup, 1501 W Morse Ave (Morse Red Line), ☎ +1 773 338-0256, . M-F 6AM-8PM, Sa 7AM-8PM, Su 8AM-8PM. This is the potential of Rogers Park: a nicely rehabbed storefront in a classic, anonymous beauty of an early 1900s building, open early for commuters and full of local art, with an eclectic menu (including ice cream) and an unpretentious atmosphere for readers and conversations alike.
- Metropolis Coffee Company, 1039 W Granville Ave (Granville Red Line), ☎ +1 773 764-0400, . M-F 6:30AM-8PM, Sa 7AM-8PM, Su 7:30AM-8PM. Highly acclaimed coffee roasted on-site, with other drinks, baked goods, delicious pastries for breakfast and free wi-fi as well. This is some of the best coffee in Chicago and people know it, so it can get crowded.
Rogers Park and Edgewater have several quality dives where a good time is the one and only priority — save your fashion for another part of the city. Howard Street was a jazz hotspot several decades ago, and while there are no clubs there now, several places near Morse Avenue are picking up steam as live music venues.
If you're hungry, heading down Broadway to raise a glass over a burger at Moody's Pub (see above) is always a sound idea.
- Bruno & Tim's Lounge, 6562 N Sheridan Rd (Loyola Red Line), ☎ +1 773 764-7900. M-F 9AM-2AM, Sa 9AM-3AM, Su 11AM-2AM. Bruno & Tim's is a classic Rogers Park bar, offering booze, television, and long hours for its regulars. Whatever the time of day, it's always late Saturday night inside Bruno & Tim's. There's a fairly big liquor store in the other half of the storefront.
- Cary's Lounge, 2251 W Devon Ave, ☎ +1 773 743-5737, . M-F 10AM-2AM, Sa 10AM-3AM, Su 11AM-2AM. In operation for more than 40 years, Cary's Lounge stakes a claim to the coveted title of best dive bar in Chicago. It's also a haven for serious pool players. There are bands on Fridays, DJs on Saturdays, and a good jukebox for the rest. The beers are cheap, with domestics under $3 and imports topping out at $6.
- Edgewater Lounge, 5600 N Ashland Ave, ☎ +1 773 878-3343, . Su-F 12PM-2AM, Sa 12PM-3AM. A solid neighborhood bar down the street from the fancier digs in Andersonville. There's food and a good range of regional beers and microbrews, and live bluegrass occasionally pops up.
- Morseland, 1218 W Morse Ave (Morse Red Line), ☎ +1 773 764-8900, . M-F 12PM-2AM, Sa 12PM-3AM, Su 11AM-2AM. There's pure class in here. Cocktails, cheap beer, imported beer, and bar food that's good enough for delivery; DJs spin, jazz trios tromp, and a neo-soul atmosphere rules all.
- Oasis, 6809 N Sheridan Rd, ☎ +1 773 973-7788, . M-F 3PM-4AM, Sa noon-5AM, Su noon-4AM. Local dive with late hours. Just a block in from the lake on the busy intersection of Sheridan and Pratt. The Oasis has two rooms, darts (metal ones!), free pretzel rods, specials with time limits, and a menacing late night bouncer. With many an over-served customer, mayhem is known to ensue.
- St Andrew's Inn, 5938 N Broadway St (Thorndale Red Line), ☎ +1 773 784-5540, . M-F 5PM-2AM, Sa 11AM-3AM, Su 11AM-2AM. There's no hurry in the comfortable seating here, even though the place is supposedly haunted by the ghost of a former owner — at least he's motivated to keep you there, and the current owners oblige with live music every weekend plus a great beer and wine selection. Enjoy beer from around the globe (150+ to choose from) in their secluded beer garden where you can take advantage of great weather while at the same time be away from the noisy hustle and bustle of street traffic.
- Poitin Stil, 1502 W Jarvis Ave. (Jarvis Red Line), ☎ +1 773 338-3285. M-F 3PM-2AM, Sa noon-3AM. Su noon-2AM. Irish or not, you'll feel like you're knocking 'em back in Galway at this Irish pub. The name (pronounced "poo-chine still") is Gaelic for moonshine. Though there's no kitchen, a free buffet is brought in to help guests cheer on the Bears on Sundays. Billiard table, good jukebox, karaoke, and trivia some nights. Occasionally live music. Great bar staff.
- Red Line Tap, 7006 N Glenwood Ave (Morse Red Line), ☎ +1 773 274-5463. M-F 4PM-2AM, Sa noon-3AM, Su 2PM-2AM. A solid place for a beer, not far from the lake. Food is available from the Heartland Cafe next door. Sometimes $5 cover for live music.
- The Sovereign, 6202 N Broadway St (Granville Red Line), ☎ +1 773 764-8900, . Su-F noon-2AM, Sa noon-3AM. Friendly, comfortable place where the jukebox is just the right volume. For cheap beer and generous mixed drinks, this a great neighborhood bet.
- Uncommon Ground, 1401 W Devon Ave (Loyola Red Line), ☎ +1 773 465-9801, . M-Th 9AM-midnight, F-Sa 9AM-2AM, Su 9AM-10PM. Great food, much of which is grown on the certified organic rooftop farm (near solar panels that heat the water). Though it's best for breakfast, there's a good bar and occasional live music.
- Chicago International Hostel, 6318 N Winthrop Ave (Granville or Loyola Red Line), ☎ +1 773 262-1011. A very basic hostel with kitchen facilities, safebox rental, lockers, huge common room with internet access. The minimum age is 16 and reservations are required, but there's no curfew. It's one block from Loyola University, close to the lake. Grungy inside and out, though. Rooms $25.50.
- Lincoln Inn, 5952 N Lincoln Ave, ☎ +1 773 784-1118. This cousin of the Sin Strip motels is missing the over-the-top neon, but it's in a sedate location within a close walk of the Indian community on Devon Avenue and a shopping center. Rooms from $42 1-10 hours, $52 all night.
The notorious motels of Lincoln Avenue have been listed in Lincoln Square, although some are located close to West Ridge.
- Heart O' Chicago Motel, 5990 N Ridge Ave, ☎ +1 773 271-9181, . checkout: 11am. Want to impress a local? Generations of north-siders have driven past the Heart O' Chicago's famous sign without seeing what's inside — 45 basic motel rooms, as it turns out. Continental breakfast and wireless internet are included. You'll probably want a car if you're staying here, though. Rooms from $79.
- House 5863, 5863 N Glenwood Ave, ☎ +1 773 944-5555, . Bed & breakfast for GLBT travelers in a century-old Victorian home, not far from Hollywood Beach. Rooms from $99. Garage parking available for $20.
- Inn on Early, 1241 W Early Ave, ☎ +1 773 334-4666, . Bed & breakfast with three guest rooms in Edgewater, close to the lakefront. Rooms from $95, plus $25 for more than single occupancy.
- Super 8 Chicago/Rogers Park, 7300 N Sheridan Rd (Morse Red Line), ☎ +1 773 973-7440, . Right down the street from the beach. Amenities include parking and internet. Bit sketchy outside at night, though. Rooms from $120.
- Edgewater Library, 1210 W Elmdale Ave (Thorndale Red Line), ☎ +1 312 744-0718. M,W 10AM-6PM, Tu-Th noon-8PM, F-Sa 9AM-5PM. Free public internet access at a classic 1970s branch, just off Broadway. Closed for renovation.
- Northtown Library, 6435 N California Ave (155 Devon bus), ☎ +1 312 744-2292. M,W 10AM-6PM, Tu-Th noon-8PM, F-Sa 9AM-5PM. Free public internet access, near the culinary glories of Devon Avenue.
- Rogers Park Library, 6907 N Clark St (Morse Red Line/22 Clark bus), ☎ +1 312 744-0156. M,W noon-8PM, Tu,Th 10AM-6PM, F-Sa 9AM-5PM. Free public internet access, a few blocks west of the CTA station (or east of the Metra station).
- La Bella Cafe & Internet, 6624 N Clark St (22 Clark bus), ☎ +1 773 856-7000, . 10AM-10PM daily. Internet access, fax and full-service printing, and webcams/microphones for chats back home. There's coffee, tea, juice, and some basic food. $4/hour.
- Quest Network Services, 7301 N Sheridan Rd (Jarvis Red Line), ☎ +1 773 761-3555, . M-F 11AM-10PM, Sa 11AM-7PM. Conveniently located internet cafe, just a block from the beach.
Ancient beasties by the lake, Rogers Park
Edgewater and West Ridge are low crime areas, but Rogers Park has some rough spots at night. Chicagoans tend to overstate the crime rate there, largely because it's surrounded by neighborhoods where crime is comparatively unknown. By overall city standards, it's not particularly dangerous, but don't carry anything irreplaceable on your person (or in your car) if you plan to go roaming after dark. (That said, trouble by day is virtually non-existent.) Campus police patrol the area near Loyola University around the clock. There are police cameras on the streetlights at Morse and Howard, so wave and say 'hello'.
Wandering the beaches and parks is fine after dark, but don't go swimming after hours, particularly at the smaller beaches--certain property owners thrive on calling the cops on late swimmers. Climbing the breakwater rocks between beaches can be a lot of fun, but it is not allowed by the Chicago Park District lifeguards.
- Evanston is the next city north, offering more beaches, lovely tree-lined residential areas and a thriving downtown.
- Many visitors continue up Sheridan Avenue through Evanston to Wilmette in order to see the spectacular Baha'i Temple.
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