Big cities mean tons of options, which unfortunately can also mean too many options when you’re pressed to find the best. When you want insight into the top spots a city has to offer, you turn to the locals. So to share the best gems of Chicago, we’ve assembled the A-team of insiders: some of our favorite Krrb sellers and local bloggers with knowledge on where to go and who to see. Let’s meet the team!
Kim Vargo from Yellow Brick Home, a talented DIY-pro and blogger who can tackle any project, with the gorgeous home to prove it. (YBH)
Krrb seller Anna Jeglova, who specializes in gorgeous vintage industrial finds. Visit her corner for the best in unique items! (AJ)
Kyla Herbes of House of Hipsters is part advertising executive, part design enthusiast, and 100% a blogger you’ll love reading. (KH)
1. Where do you go to enjoy a lazy cup of coffee and people watch?
YBH: We’re addicted to the Chemex we own, but you can’t beat a slow drip from Gaslight Coffee Roasters! Even better, fill up on Gaslight coffee at Bang Bang Pie and grab a slice of key lime to accompany it.
AJ: Ipsento. Wicked coffee, good-looking crowd, amazing staff. Oh, and pastries from local bakery, Floriole.
KH: Most weekends you’ll find me in the front room of my house enjoying a cup of coffee and Instagram in hand. With two four-foot monsters running my life, I rarely get to sit in a coffee shop. However, on the rare occasion, if I’m able to slip away for lunch during my day job, you’ll find me at Little Goat, The Allis, or Heritage Outpost.
KT: Hands down, the best lazy cuppa is at Cup & Spoon on North Avenue. Rosie, the owner, has a great menu, a cozy and art filled cafe and great window seats where you can watch the world go by. I will often go there just to soak up the atmosphere while I work on my computer. Great joint!
2. What’s your best burger spot in the neighborhood?
YBH: Our neighborhood kills it with Mexican cuisine (La Cocina on Kedzie is taco heaven-on-earth), but if we’re craving a good burger, we’ll go to DMK Burger Bar – and get a side of truffle fries.
AJ: Umami. They know their way around a good burger!
KH: Hands down Au Cheval has the best burger in Chicago. It’s also has a really chill atmosphere…just be sure to get there early. I’m also a big fan of Kuma’s Corner. My favorite is the Slayer burger which they say is too angry for a bun and is instead served on a bed of fries.
KT: Oooh, that’s tough. There are really great burgers at The Logan, and they come with a side of sweet potato fries! I also really love the atrium-like dining room and all of the fireplaces. I have been going there since they opened way back when.
3. After an exhausting day, where do you go locally to recharge?
YBH: We love taking our pups on the newly renovated 606 Trail, just a hop away from our front door. It’s 3 miles long, and we’ll catch up on our days and to do lists while walking off the stress.
AJ: To the vast collection of stores on Milwaukee avenue between Ashland and Damen. They have it all: vintage stores, cafes, galleries, fanciest Walgreens in the world – located inside historic Noel State Bank building. It’s a part of town that never sleeps, and you meet some of the best-looking people!
KH: I’m lucky to have gone to enough antique shows, I’ve become friends with some local shop owners. Beth the owner of South Loop Loft and Marianne of The Savoy Flea are nice enough to let me come over to their studios. It’s great to just chit chat with friends surrounded by beautiful antiques. Although after these gab sessions, I usually wind up filling my trunk with vintage treasures.
KT: I go to the Core Power Yoga in Sauganash. I am really really really not good at yoga, but it makes me feel so much better. The instructors there are genuinely invested in their studio and students.
4. What’s the most underrated community event?
YBH: It seems like there’s an event for everything in Chicago! No reason is too small to celebrate! One of our favorites is California Nights, a once a month vintage shop hop in West Town where a crew of stores keeps their doors open a few hours later.
AJ: Oh, this is a tough one. I never had that experience in Chicago: all the community events so far looked pretty well-rated. There are two I wish more people had the experience of: Pilsen Art Walk and everything a wicked group of genius gals at Forth Chicago organize to empower creative entrepreneurial women.
KH: Oh gosh, this is a hard one. I live in Chicago…is anything unknown or underrated here? I will tell you I’ve found a few secret spots. One being the party space above the Brimfield antique store. The owner has an amazing eye for interior styling. It’s like a campy, chichi fishing lodge in the northwoods. She and her husband have decked out the second floor for private parties, and it’s fully equipped with a BYOB bar. Oh! There is one thing I love to do, but it only happens once in a blue moon. My favorite yoga studio, TriBalance in Schaumburg, sometimes partners with my favorite restaurant, Tokio Pub. During summer they offer a 60-minute yoga class on the enclosed patio. After savasana, you are served a three-course meal and yoga-inspired cocktails. Relaxing and delicious!
KT: I would say it’s the Logan Square Farmer’s Market. Plenty of people are aware of it and go, but it’s got SO much more than a farmers market. There are always people set up on the Boulevard having little yard sales, and there is so much shopping right on the square now. That area has changed so much in the past 10 years.
5. The forecast calls for a rainy afternoon. Where do you while away the hours?
YBH: If we ever have time to while away the hours, you’ll find us putting down the power tools, hopping in our pjs and chilling to a Netflix marathon! If we feel the urge to leave the house, catching up on work or chatting about new ideas in New Wave Coffee is oddly comforting. It’s a no frills coffee shop, but they make great sandwiches, and it’s full of old couches.
AJ: A rainy afternoon is a perfect chance to work on some projects inside my studio. Or organize. Or clean up. Or sew with my daughter.
KH: Rainy afternoons are never fun if you’re trapped in the house with kids under the age of 6. If it’s a weekend, we usually try to take everyone to the gym near our home. The Boy and I drop the little ones off at Kids Korner, and we workout. They love playing with their gym friends. Afterwards we usually take them to the indoor pool as a fun treat.
KT: It’s has to be the Three Arts Club at Restoration Hardware. Grab a proseco and browse the 3 floors of interior design and furniture. I’m a vintage lover myself, but man their work is good! It’s a great way to spend an afternoon.
6. If you’re meeting friends for a night out, where is your destination of choice?
YBH: Scofflaw! Hands down. Best. Cocktails. In. Town.
AJ: Reno! delicious food, honest drinks, very cool space.
KH: We have a couple favorite haunts, but if the choice is mine, I always pick The Violet Hour. I feel very fancy sitting in the tall chairs. The Boy rented out the back room for my 40th birthday and invited all my close friends. Surprised the heck out of me!
KT: In warm weather we really like to hang out in the garden at Happy Village. It’s completely non-pretentious and full of good people just looking to relax and have a few laughs. We used to go to the places where you party hard all night, but those days are long gone for me!
7. You want to spend as little money possible but still have a good time. What do you do?
YBH: We grab the camera, and we have a play date downtown! Being a tourist in our own city is one of our favorite things to do. Chicago is so beautiful.
AJ: Go to Andersonville’s antique stores. Great finds and lots of ideas! Even when the money gets spent, it tends to be on a project that can be restored and then sold.
KH: Last summer we spent almost every weekend on our back patio. We have a blow up pool for the kids to splash around in. You’ll find The Boy and I sitting under the patio umbrella enjoying some sunshine. Although, this next summer will be different since we are moving. I’m going to miss my patio.
KT: Movies in the park. Chicago has great open air movie showings in some of our parks in the summer. It’s a lovely evening. BYOP (bring your own picnic) and hang out while watching a classic on a warm summer night. Bliss.
8. And for fellow travelers, what one place is a must-see on a tour of the city?
YBH: This is so hard! My first inclination is to ask what they love – being outdoors? The arts? Great cuisine? Vintage shopping? But if I had to choose one thing, here’s something we do whenever we have friends in town: grab tacos at La Cocina, and we camp out at the Revolution Brewery Tap Room, which is BYOF(ood). Cold beers, brew tours and yummy tacos (and ping pong and popcorn and 90s tunes and a chill atmosphere) – what’s better than that?
AJ: Salvage One and Architectural Artifacts. Both spaces are mind-blowing!
KH: I always tell visitors to go on the Chicago Architectural Tour on one of the Chicago River boat tours. It’s a really unique perspective of the city and you get to hang out on a boat for 90 minutes! Afterwards, head over to the Signature Room to grab a drink on the 95th floor of The John Hancock. You’ll get an unreal view. If you have time, head over to Garfield Park Conservatory. The entrance is free, and the garden is beautiful!
KT: Oh wow. Just one? It would have to be a river boat tour of downtown architecture. Chicago is a world class city full of innovative and spectacular architecture, art, design. That’s my pick if I get only one, but I would encourage Chicago visitors to stay a few days and really dig in!
We hope you’ve been inspired to discover the best of Chicago! If you have any other local favorites (with some insider perspective), let us know in the comments!