The Local’s Guide to Andersonville

Local's Guide to Andersonville Image

Once a primarily Swedish-influenced area, Andersonville now boasts diversity with a distinctive flair, making it a favorite neighborhood on Chicago’s north side. Andersonville feels like a small community full of rich history blended with forward thinking for a distinct vibe. The close-knit community exudes a friendly atmosphere that makes you want to stay a while. The neighborhood embraces local business owners, which adds to the sense of unity in the area. Add in the community’s commitment to eco-friendly living, and you have quite the unique locality. With so many people to meet and places to go in Andersonville, you’ll want to give yourself plenty of time to explore.

Swedish Influence

The Swedish influence on Andersonville lives on through many local businesses and restaurants. The Swedish American Museum serves as a focal point of that heritage, displaying a variety of artifacts and information on Sweden. The museum includes an art gallery, children’s museum, exhibit on immigration and genealogy center. Exhibits focus on the art, history and culture of Sweden, with special programs and events to enhance the artifacts and displays. The gift shop offers a selection of Scandinavian gifts to give your own home a touch of Sweden. Give yourself plenty of time to explore the exhibits and the Swedish American Museum.

Shops to Explore

One feature that makes Andersonville different than many other neighborhoods is the lack of national chain stores. Instead, you find a thriving commercial district full of locally owned, independent shops and restaurants, just waiting to offer you a uniquely Andersonville experience. Residents rally behind these independent businesses, making it the perfect neighborhood for inspired entrepreneurs and shoppers who want something different.

Here are a few shops to check out:

  • Women and Children First, 5233 N. Clark Street: Described as a feminist bookstore, Women and Children First embodies the diversity and acceptance that permeates Andersonville. The store boasts shelves with books by and about women plus children’s books and a wide selection of gay and lesbian books. The overall goal of the store is to elevate the work of women and marginalized populations, with a selection that reflects a diverse audience.
  • Woolly Mammoth Antiques and Oddities, 1513 W. Foster Avenue: Woolly Mammoth is a shopping experience unlike any other. This isn’t your average antique store. You never quite know what you’ll find, but common pieces include antique taxidermy, medical stuffs, skulls and bones, charts, specimens and various history, science and culture items. Prepare yourself to see some very surprising pieces at Woolly Mammoth, but don’t let the oddities scare you away. This is a must-do Andersonville experience.
  • You'll see some strange things at the Woolly Mammoth.

  • Scout, 5221 N. Clark Street: Scout offers a more traditional approach to the antique shop, featuring a mix of décor pieces with simple sophistication with timeless, urban appeal. Stop here when you want a fresh update in your home.
  • Toys et Cetera, 5311 N. Clark Street: Whether you’re a parent, have lots of kids on your shopping list or are a kid at heart, Toys et Cetera is the place to go for all things play. The toys at this Andersonville shop are carefully curated for their safe, developmentally sound, educational and fun qualities.
  • Borderline Music, 5351 N. Clark Street: Find all those obscure records you’ve always wanted at Borderline Music. In addition to vinyl, the shop stocks turntable accessories, books, movies and more. Give yourself plenty of time to browse.
  • Andersonville Wine & Spirits, 5201 N. Clark Street: When you want something special, head to Andersonville Wine & Spirits. The shop stocks some of the best wines, with the staff tasting the options carefully to offer superior options. Grab a bottle as a hostess gift on your way to a party, or choose yourself a bottle to unwind after work.
  • Jameson Loves Danger, 5208 N. Clark Street: If you’re an Andersonville pet owner, check out Jameson Loves Danger. This pet supply store offers up everything you need for your furry family member. The store even includes a spa for your four-legged friend with a full range of services. In case you’re wondering, Jameson and Danger are the dogs of the owners, and they have a very strong bond.
  • Jameson Loves Danger is a must stop for pet owners!

  • Milk Handmade, 5137 N. Clark Street: Milk Handmade lets you fill your wardrobe with one-of-a-kind pieces. The boutique specializes in women’s clothing and accessories that are small-run, handcrafted pieces. You definitely won’t find these pieces in chain stores.
  • Andersonville Galleria, 5247 N. Clark Street: Check out jewelry, artwork, home furnishings, giftware, antiques and more from over 90 tenants at the Andersonville Galleria. The Galleria sits right along the Clark Street business district and is a popular spot for shoppers who want locally crafted goods.
  • Foursided, 5061 N. Clark Street: Foursided is known for its custom framing services, but this shop is worth a visit, even if you don’t have any artwork to frame. The shop features handmade greeting cards that are sure to impress even your craftiest friends. Local and regional gifts, art, jewelry, kitschy favorites and more round out the selections at Foursided. Whether you’re looking for yourself or for a gift, Foursided is a good place to start your search.
  • Esquire Barber Shop, 1511 W. Foster Avenue: It’s not quite a store, but the Esquire Barber Shop is a popular spot for men to get a beard trim, hot lather razor shave or haircut. Esquire is just like the old-fashioned barbershops in the movies, but it’s right here in Andersonville.

Cultural Experiences

Like Chicago as a whole, Andersonville serves as the home of several theater and performing groups. Many of the theater groups in the neighborhood offer free or affordable performances. Support local talent and enjoy a little culture with a night out at the theater.

Check out these options in Andersonville:

  • The Neo-Futurists Theater: The Neo-Futurists describe their performances as a mix of “sport, poetry and living-newspaper” with one-of-a-kind interactive performances that are not reproducible. The fast-paced performance relies heavily on the personal experiences and feelings of the participants.
  • Red Theater: When you want raw, uncensored art, head to Red Theater, a free theater that “asks dangerous questions theatrically.” The theater relies on donations to present live performances to make theater accessible for everyone. Red Theater began in Lincoln after being banned from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Johnny Carson School of Theatre & Film from for performing controversial pieces.
  • The Red Theater asks dangerous questions theatrically.

  • Quest Theatre Ensemble: A group of artists formed the Quest Theatre Ensemble with the goal of offering free performances to make theater affordable. The group developed puppet-based shows, performing them for free in churches and other venues. St. Gregory the Great Church here in Andersonville now serves as the group’s home base, with office space and The Blue Theater.
  • pH Comedy Theater: Show up ready to laugh when you attend an event at pH Comedy Theater. The group performs improv and sketch group performances, plus open mic nights for stand up and the pHarm House comedy training program.

If you prefer to take in your culture through visual arts, head to Las Manos Gallery. The versatile art space offers art viewings and special events.

Seasonal Events and Street Fairs

Some of the best things to do in Andersonville only pop up at certain times of the year. The neighborhood hosts several seasonal events, festivals and fairs that highlight what Andersonville has to offer. These events are a great way to experience the neighborhood and get to know the people who call this close-knit neighborhood home.

A summer favorite is the Andersonville Farmers Market, running from May to October. The Wednesday schedule gives you a mid-week pick-me-up with loads of fresh produce to fill your fridge. Enjoy live entertainment from local talent while you browse the stalls at the farmers market.

Check out these seasonal events and things to do in Andersonville:

  • Andersonville Wine Walk, May: This Chamber of Commerce event features wine walk routes with several wine tasting stops at area businesses. Check out this event to experience new wines and some of the neighborhood businesses.
  • Midsommarfest, June: In June, Andersonville residents and visitors gather for a three-day summer street festival, full of great food, unique vendors, dancing, music, kids’ entertainment and more.
  • Taste of Andersonville Dinner Crawl, August: Every August, Andersonville restaurants participate in the Taste of Andersonville Dinner Crawl. Grab your ticket to sample lots of delicious food from the various restaurants.
  • Andersonville City Made Fest, September: Local talent highlights this street festival each September. The City Made Fest features only Chicago-made products, including the food, music, beer and wares made by Chicago artisans. This is a great way to support local businesses and artists while getting one-of-a-kind products.
  • Andersonville Arts Weekend, October: Andersonville ramps up its artistic aura each October with the annual Andersonville Arts Weekend. Neighborhood businesses showcase the work of local artists and designers, with lots of live shows and performances for your viewing pleasure. Be sure to check out the Friday night kick-off party called Night of 100 pARTies, where Clark Street businesses host receptions.
  • Andersonville Dessert Crawl, October: Indulge in an adult version of trick-or-treating at the Andersonville Dessert Crawl, which takes place close to Halloween. Some of Andersonville’s favorite restaurants serve up their best desserts at the event. Select your route, grab your dessert passport and set out on the sweetest adventure yet.
  • Julmarknad, December: Experience a Christmas market Swedish style with the annual Julmarknad at the Swedish American Museum at the beginning of December. Handcrafted items, Swedish food and entertainment greet shoppers at the market.
  • Lucia Festival of Lights, December: Another favorite holiday tradition in Andersonville is the St. Lucia Festival of Lights. The event features caroling during a candlelit procession along Clark Street, ending with more singing and treats at the Swedish American Museum.

The St Lucia Festival of Lights features singing at the Swedish American Museum.

Dining Diversity

Just as the neighborhood as a whole is known for its diversity, Andersonville’s restaurant scene serves up an eclectic group of eateries to satisfy any appetite. When you’re hungry, head to the commercial district along North Clark Street. That’s where you’ll find the majority of the restaurants in the neighborhood.

Here are a few culinary highlights in Andersonville:

  • Hamburger Mary’s 5400 N. Clark Street: Hamburger Mary’s is so much more than a gourmet burger joint. It offers three distinct spaces for your dining pleasure. Mary’s Dining Room features a patio for summer dining. Mary’s Attic on the second floor is a cabaret lounge and bar with nightly events. Andersonville Brewing next door offers a sports bar vibe with house-brewed craft beers flowing. Hamburger Mary’s has weekend drag shows, regular charity events and many other fun events.
  • Swedish Bakery, 5348 N. Clark Street: This is a must if you like European-style baked treats. This staple in the Andersonville neighborhood opened in 1929, and it still serves up incredibly delicious baked goods. You’ll find types of cookies and baked goods you can’t find at any other Chicago area bakery.
  • Svea, 5236 N. Clark Street: Svea offers another Andersonville spot for traditional Swedish fare. The cozy café serves up breakfast and lunch.
  • Anteprima, 5316 N. Clark Street: Satisfy your craving for Italian food at Anteprima, a restaurant focusing on home-style dishes. The menu includes a focus on local, seasonal foods, with frequent menu changes to reflect that seasonality.
  • Reza’s, 5255 N. Clark Street: Dine on Persian, vegetarian and Mediterranean specialties at Reza’s. Take in the exposed brick and hardwood floors when you dine in, or carry out your favorite dishes from Reza’s for a delicious meal at home.
  • Hopleaf Bar, 5148 N. Clark Street: Slip into Hopleaf Bar when you want a quality beer or wine. Hundreds of bottled beer options plus 64 draft options mean you can definitely find one that fits your palette. The kitchen serves up Belgian-inspired fare in this 21-and-up venue.
  • Big Jones, 5347 N. Clark Street: You’ll swear you somehow warped to the south when you dine on the southern classics at Big Jones. The menu focuses on sustainable ingredients with heirloom crops for a quality dining experience.
  • The Coffee Studio, 5628 N. Clark Street: Crush caffeine cravings at The Coffee Studio, a favorite in Andersonville. The independent espresso bar uses locally roasted coffees, with an emphasis on the art aspect of creating coffee.
  • Little Bad Wolf, 1541 W. Bryn Mawr Avenue: This restaurant and bar serves up a wide selection of upscale foods with craft beer, wine and artisanal cocktails. The menu features many foods you can’t find at other Andersonville restaurants, including bao and steak frites.
  • First Slice Pie Café, 5357 N. Ashland Avenue: First Slice Pie Café serves a lot more than pie – although we definitely recommend ordering a slice. This charitable restaurant serves up delicious meals to customers, while offering that same restaurant-quality food to community members struggling with hunger and homelessness. The restaurant also offers a subscription service, providing you three delicious meals at home per week. As a member of the subscription service, you help fund the donated meals.
  • Simon’s, 5210 N. Clark Street: Simon’s fits more into the bar category than the restaurant category, but this Andersonville staple is definitely a place you need to experience for yourself. The Swedish influence starts before you even enter this historic bar, with the yellow and blue color palette of Sweden’s flag. The vibe continues with the plentiful Vikings décor inside the bar. Order the glogg for the true Swedish experience.

When your Andersonville dining plans include pizza, Giordano’s has you covered. Our Andersonville location sits right on the North Clark Street commercial corridor. Stop in for our famous pies, sandwiches, Italian fare and more after a day of exploring the amazing shops and sites in Andersonville. If you’re too tired after your Andersonville adventures, get your favorite pizza through delivery or pickup.