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Time Out Love Chicago Awards 2014: North Side

A locals' guide to the North Side. Here are the area’s top stores, bars, coffee shops, music venues, theaters and restaurants

By Time Out contributors, edited by Laura Baginski
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Time Out readers have spoken, and below are the venues they named their absolute favorite in Lincoln Park, Lincoln Square, Ravenswood, North Center, Roscoe Village and Lakeview. So the next time you’re on the North Side and in need of food, drink or retail therapy, make a beeline for these places and you won’t go wrong.

RECOMMENDED: Full list of Time Out Love Chicago Awards winners

The winners

RESTAURANT: Alinea

Restaurants Contemporary American Lincoln Park

Chicago pride stretches beyond baseball, hockey and hot dogs—it seems Lincoln Park residents are just as proud to have one of the best restaurants in the country in their own backyard. Grant Achatz and his kitchen delight and amuse, turning every tabletop in the room into interactive dinner theater. Suck the helium from an edible balloon and dazzle at the flames on a tabletop fireplace—maybe you’ll forget dinner costs as much as a month’s rent.

BAR: Fountainhead

Bars Beer bars Lincoln Square

On the first 50-degree Chicago spring day, you’ll find the large patio at this North Side bar packed with Lincoln Square residents. A great list of craft beers and a serious selection of whiskey and Scotch comprise the base of the extensive drink menu. The food is nothing to scoff at, either. Under the helm of chef Cleetus Friedman, the kitchen serves up delicious snacks like smoked hummus and sriracha deviled eggs, plus plenty of gluten-free and vegan options to please everyone in your group.

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Photograph: Martha Williams

COFFEE SHOP: Heritage Bicycle Company

Shopping Sports Lake View

Don’t let the bikes in the window fool you—this Lakeview shop applies the same level of care to its coffee as it does to its handcrafted frames and Italian leather seats. Sit down at the communal table with a cup of Stumptown java, enjoy a pastry sourced from the nearby Southport Grocery and observe as master craftsmen construct tricked-out rides.

SHOP: Merz Apothecary

Shopping Cosmetics Lincoln Square

Boasting the city’s largest collection of natural and luxury soaps under one roof, this jam-packed, homeopathic pharmacy/beauty boutique is literally filled to capacity with lotions, soaps, candles, vitamins and other feel-good therapies. In addition to products such as Archipelago Botanicals candles and Maria Evora soaps and salts, the charming, 138-year-old shop also has a section where you can blend your own healing oils.

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MUSIC VENUE: Lincoln Hall

Music Rock and indie Sheffield & DePaul

Had we taken all the individual neighborhood winners and pitted them in an ultimate battle royale for best music venue in Chicago, our money would be on Lincoln Hall. Having just turned five years old, the club has already become as important to the local scene as Lounge Ax, the legendary club that once was just up the block. If the band is cool and trending, odds are it's here. And there are few better rooms in America to watch them.

STOREFRONT THEATER: Stage 773

Theater Lake View

Formerly known as Theatre Building Chicago, this four-theater rental house has been the incubator to countless storefront companies since the late 1970s. Newly renamed and under the new management of Lukaba Productions, its former annual tenant as producers of January’s Sketchfest, the venue continues to play host to productions by companies like Porchlight Music Theatre and TimeLine Theatre Company, sketch troupes and cabaret; a major renovation was completed in 2012.

View winners by category

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