Let others focus on their Back to School sales and specials… This month, we’re taking you Back to Cool! From eyewear and gifts to boutiques and cafes, here are some cool, trendy, buzz-worthy places to check out. They’re fun. They’re hip. And they’re all small, locally-owned businesses.
kopicafechicago.com | 5317 N Clark St, Chicago
More than just a café, this popular Andersonville spot offers a wide variety of coffees and teas along with a well-curated wine list and classic cocktails—enhanced by a diverse menu featuring creative sandwiches, salads and more. Reflecting the owners’ passion for travel, the café also features a boutique filled with cool gifts and totems of self-expression, gathered from around the world and around Chicago.
luxuryeyesite.com | 954 W Washington Blvd, Suite 725, Chicago
In the heart of the West Loop/Fulton Market district, this cool upscale boutique offers discriminating clients a luxury eyewear experience. Their portfolio of fashion-forward frames includes collections from the most coveted names including Matsuda, ic! berlin, Face à Face, Orgreen, Kuboraum and Mykita. Appointments are required to ensure a personalized, guest-centric experience for each client.
Napolita Pizzeria & Wine Bar
napolitapizza.com | 1126 Central Ave, Wilmette
Delicious Neapolitan pizza is the star here, but what’s really cool is what you’ll find behind the spacious bar: a 7,000-pound Stefan Ferrara woodburning oven imported directly from Naples. With the real-deal equipment and their respect for tradition, Napolita is a member of the esteemed Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana. Established in 1984 by some of Italy’s oldest pizza-making families, the association requires members to meet strict standards that respect the authentic traditions of Neapolitan pizza making.
Nice Lena & Friends
nicelena.com | 1235 Chicago Ave, Evanston
In addition to a charming collection of gifts, what we especially love about this boutique are the super cool earrings and necklaces that Lena makes herself. In particular, be sure to check out her origami earrings crafted from fine Yuzen paper and colorful, delicate pieces inspired by Japanese and Korean playing cards
The Wild Child
wildchildtoyshop.com | 657 Vernon Ave, Glencoe and 1114 Central Ave, Wilmette
Gretchen Miller, owner of this North Shore toy emporium and mother of two, aims to get kids unplugged and engaged in imaginative, active play. With an emphasis on sustainable eco-friendly products, both of her stores offer a delightful selection of quality toys, games and activities.
dovetailbrewery.com | 1800 W Belle Plaine Ave, Chicago
Chicago natives Hagen and Bill met in Munich while studying for their Master Brewer Certifications. With their mutual love and respect for traditional Old World brewing methods, they decided to join their skills, passions and vision into a stronger form, like a dovetail joint. With a great backstory like that, you can be sure their taproom and biergarten are supremely cool places to enjoy their finely crafted beers.
Picnic Wine & Provisions
picnicwineandprovisions.com | 7301 N Sheridan Rd, Chicago
Offering fine wines and a tempting selection of gourmet foods, owner Liz Ahearn has created a space to gather community and inspire adventure through wine, food and art. Pick up provisions for your next picnic or make a reservation to enjoy your wine and charcuterie on their heated patio or in the cozy indoor seating area.
thepeckishpig.com | 623 Howard St, Evanston
Brick walls, wide plank floors and a timber ceiling set the vibe for this inviting eatery. Under the watchful eye of owner and executive chef Debbie Evans, the skilled kitchen team turns out an eclectic variety of small bites, soups, salads, sandwiches and tempting entrees. With their own onsite brewery, you can count on having 8 to 10 house-brewed beers on tap, along with wine and cocktails.
neighborlyshop.com | 4710 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago
Their one-of-a-kind selection of gifts, home goods, kitchenware and artwork is cool in and of itself. But what makes this store so unique is their firm belief that you deserve to know about the products you choose to give and bring into your life: To know that no one or nothing was harmed in the process of making it. All items are ethically and sustainably made, with an emphasis on independent Midwest makers.
repchi.com | 4425 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago
Hometown pride apparel, handmade gifts, nifty upcycled ware, and printed tees, hoodies and tank tops for adults and kids are some of the cool stuff you’ll find here. This is also the place to go if your company, organization, or reunion group needs custom-designed and printed garments. They’ve been offering high-quality eco-friendly screen printing since 2007!
shopluxlab.com | 337 Park Ave, Glencoe
With her love of fashion and travel, Chicago-born Loree Wasserman and her team scour the world for unique clothing, jewelry and accessories. Showcasing one-of-a-kind pieces and up-and-coming designers as well as internationally-known names, their collection promises style and grace for every occasion.
Ellen’s on Elm
ellensonelm.com | 847 Elm St, Winnetka
Welcoming their North Shore neighbors, many of whom they know by name, as well as visitors from near and far, this inviting shop offers thoughtful gifts for every season of life. Attentive customer service, helpful gift-buying guidance and free gift wrapping complement their wares handpicked to bring joy to both the buyer and recipient.