T+L Reports: A New Wind Blows In Chicago
Now that Lincoln Park and Wicker Park have been discovered, North Southport Avenue is drawing the city's edgy style mavens up to Wrigleyville. Named for the hearththrob in the eighties cult classic Sixteen Candles, Jake (No. 3740; 773/929-5253) is a paean to emerging clothing designers such as James Coviello and Pegah Anvarian. · Live organ music is a prelude to the independent and foreign films screened at the 1929 Music Box Theatre (No. 3733; 773/871-6604). ·The citrus-stuffed French toast with blueberry compote at the Southport Grocery & Café (No. 3552; 773/665-0100; brunch for two $25) can satisfy any sweet tooth. Denim addicts get their fix at Krista K (No. 3458; 773/248-1967), a shop with velvet curtains and more than 20 brands of jeans—from Chip & Pepper to Meli Melo. · Order a plate of bangers and mash along with a Guinness at the Irish pub Mystic Celt (No. 3443; 773/529-8550; dinner for two $20). · At Coobah (No. 3423; 773/528-2220; dinner for two $60), an endless stream of bossa nova music is the backdrop for exotic pan-Latin dishes (try the shrimp piri-piri). · Jalapeño-dusted Mexican maki is just one of the inventive sushi rolls prepared at Rise (No. 3401; 773/ 525-3535; dinner for two $40), a mod Japanese joint with a rocking sake lounge. —AMY TARA KOCH
Rise Sushi & Sake Lounge
The lowered ceilings, recessed lighting, and plain wooden tables in Rise's dining room channel attention to the sleek bar area, where the sake display is illuminated by pendant light fixtures encircled by whimsical wire loops. Having the bar as the focal point is apropos at Rise considering that the restaurant’s impressive sake selection has become well-known in the Lakeview neighborhood. The fresh sushi receives rave reviews, as well, particularly signature rolls like the niku maki, a shrimp tempura and avocado combo rolled in tempura crunch and finished with yaki-niku sauce and cilantro.
Ideal for group dining in Lakeview, Coobah is a lively two-room space with loud Latin music, closely packed tables, and a quirky color palette that pairs rust orange and sky blue hues. The restaurant also features an outdoor garden patio that is in high demand during warmer months, but patrons are welcome to wait for a table at the bar while sipping spiced Dominican sangria. The ever-changing seasonal menu combines Latin and Filipino flavors, a fusion that is particularly successful in Coobah’s brunch dishes, such as the poached eggs with smoked ham and creamy avocado served over Colombian corn cakes.
A staple in the Lakeview community, the Mystic Celt evokes the spirit of a traditional Irish pub with its bright green façade and Sunday brunch buffet complete with authentic black and white pudding. The interior is simple and inviting, with classic wood tables, Celtic design art, chandeliers, and a long polished bar. Between the live DJ music and the flat-screen TVs, patrons often find the space loud, but a large outdoor patio provides a quieter option with heaters during colder months. Traditional American dishes and daily specials can be paired with one of 16 beers on tap.
Southport Grocery & Café
Leaving her job as a CPA to go to culinary school led Lisa Santos to open this half café, half specialty grocery store in Lakeview back in 2003. The café’s narrow layout means most of the seating is against the wall adjacent to the open kitchen, affording patrons excellent views of the culinary action. Hardwood floors, comfortable banquets, and large white lanterns also enhance the space, although many prefer the shaded patio during summertime. The modern American menu is most admired for breakfast favorites like the subtly sweet cupcake pancakes topped with vanilla sugar butter.
The first upscale women's clothing store in Lakeview, Krista K was established in 2002 and quickly became a go-to shop for fashion-forward Chicagoans. The boutique features styles from both emerging and well-known designers, including Helmut Lang, Haute Hippie, Elizabeth and James, Twill 22, and Alexis Bittar. An extensive designer denim collection is displayed alongside casual wear on the lower level, and patrons can also browse a selection of jewelry by Lana, handbags by Lauren Merkin, and shoes from Coclico. The merchandise is housed in a spacious interior with hardwood floors, pale blue and gold wallpaper, and shaded glass bead chandeliers.