website here

Best gift shop in West Town

Goods & Services, West Town No Comments »

RR#1 Chicago

Very high sense and not too expensive, gift shop RR#1 Chicago is the spot for me in the past ten years since I moved to Chicago. For any age range and gender, they have a wonderful selection. Plus, they wrap your gift so beautifully, so you don’t have to hustle around for wrapping supplies—it’s ready to go. The dimmed light and wooden shelves with beautiful and natural color goods make you feel like just staying there to look around longer. Inspiration…

814 N. Ashland, 312.421.9079,

—Ayako Kato, dancer/choreographer (Players)

Best of Chicago 2015

Best place to become an urban cowboy

Goods & Services, West Town No Comments »

Alcala’s Western Wear
In the wild wild West Town neighborhood, Alcala’s offers the largest collection of cowboy boots in the city. The selection amounts to more than 8,000 boots, made from exotic animal skins like alligator, ostrich, lizard, stingray, snake, eel and smooth leather. Saddle up the family because they sell boots for all sizes, ranging from infant-sized booties to full-grown adult sizes. The shop, which feels like an old-time hangout in a western movie, stretches room after room, each one housing specific items. While the majority of the rooms are dedicated to boots that come in every cut and color under the sun, the store also sells shirts, jeans, vests, belts, belt buckles and hats. The selection is beyond impressive; from cowboy boots to motorcycle boots, from felt rodeo hats to rhinestone-studded belts and metal buckles to horse equipment, Alcala’s seems to have it all. The staff is attentive, friendly and knowledgeable, taking care of customers in every step of the process, from finding the right fit to picking out the perfect color. The kicker: Alcala’s will clean and condition boots purchased from the store for as long as the wearers own them and it offers boot repair services. Free alterations are available for clothing bought at the store as well. If that’s not enticing enough, maybe the bucking horse statue in the neon sign at the entrance (along with the horse statues scattered throughout the store) will be enough to draw you in.

Alcala’s Western Wear, 1733 West Chicago, (312)226-0152,

Best of Chicago 2012

Best place to buy geometric accessories made by local designers

Goods & Services, West Town, Wicker Park No Comments »

Eskell and Dovetail
Both places carry pieces from cool designers such as Banner Year, Cities In Dust and Laura Lombardi. If you wanna quickly update your look while supporting the local economy these shops will have a piece for you.

Eskell, 1509 North Milwaukee, (773)486-0830,; Dovetail, 1452 West Chicago, (312)508-3398,

Best of Chicago 2012

Best butcher shop

Audience Choice, Goods & Services, North Center, West Town No Comments »

Butcher & Larder
Owner Rob Levitt is one of the most deliberate, intelligent chefs in Chicago, and yet he’s also got that ineffable humble “guy” quality of an old-school butcher. His housemade sausages honoring local legends including New Glarus Spotted Cow cheese curd brats or Cemitas Puebla taco arabe links are both inspired bits of marketing and tasty chow. Though maybe nothing Levitt makes is better than the mineral-rich bone-marrow-infused burger patties he often serves up on weekends. Grill a few up and you’ve just turned your house into the best burger joint in Chicago. His butchery seminars with food writing legend Michael Ruhlman and charcuterie guru Brian Polcyn have also been the local food-lovers events of the year.

Butcher & Larder, 1026 North Milwaukee, (773)687-8280,

Audience choice: Paulina Meat Market, 3501 North Lincoln, (773) 248-6272,

Best of Chicago 2012