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Time Out Love Chicago Awards 2014: West Town

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

Time Out readers have spoken, and below are the venues they named their absolute favorite in River West, Noble Square, Wicker Park, East Village, Ukrainian Village and Humboldt Park. So the next time you’re in West Town 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: Piece Brewery & Pizzeria

Everyone loves pizza, but that isn’t the only reason this Wicker Park brewpub has legions of faithful fans. The huge, warehouse-like space houses a small brewery that has been putting out award-winning beers since opening in 2001. Plus, the large space is the perfect setting for a group to sit, sip and watch the game on the TVs lining the bar. And about that pizza—the house specialty is New Haven–style, which nixes the traditional mozzarella and replaces it with heaps of garlic and Parmesan.

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Wicker Park

BAR: The Violet Hour

Recommended

Chicago’s original revival of the speakeasy has become a neighborhood classic in the constantly evolving Wicker Park bar scene. Hidden behind an ever-changing mural and marked only by a bright yellow light, the drinks here are still some of the best in the city. Even if you’ve been here a dozen times, stepping past the heavy velvet curtains into the inviting space will still give you butterflies.

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Wicker Park
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COFFEE SHOP: Star Lounge and Dark Matter "Mothership" (TIE)

In West Town, Dark Matter Coffee is the premier vendor of caffeinated beverages, but not even the area’s residents could decide which of the brand’s shops is superior. Dark Matter’s “Mothership” is a small shop set up in the front of the brand’s roasting facility that specializes in to-go orders. Around the corner, Star Lounge Coffee Bar offers creative concoctions made with Dark Matter beans, Do-Rite Donuts and ample seating for laptop loungers. ​

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River West/West Town

SHOP: Sprout Home

Recommended

Although contemporary design often gets slapped with the “cold” label, the modern style of this airy home and garden center proves otherwise. Outside, make use of free garden design services and an impressive selection of extraordinary flowers, trees, and shrubbery. Inside, browse Eames peel-and-stick wall graphics, graphic glass bowls and fragrant Circa soy candles.

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River West/West Town
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MUSIC VENUE: Empty Bottle

Don't ever renovate. Don't you dare start brewing craft beer in the back. We better not walk in one day and see pressed tin tiles on the ceiling. Okay, fine, the floor needed to be redone, but we swear, if one Edison bulb goes in a sconce… Look, the pissy, sticky, PBR ambience is the main reason we—and so many underground bands—keep coming back.​

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Ukrainian Village

STOREFRONT THEATER: Chopin Theatre

The host of some of the city’s most dynamic and creative storefront troupes, Wicker Park’s Chopin is a resolutely funky venue that consistently draws young audiences. In addition to a rotating door for visiting European companies, many of them Polish, the Chopin is a regular host to innovative companies like the House Theatre of Chicago.

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River West/West Town
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