NFT Chicago West Town / Near West Side

West Town / Near West Side

This neighborhood was once the heart of the city's produce and meat markets. United Center, a.k.a. The House That Mike Built, infused energy into the area. A few food supplier warehouses still exist, mixing in with new loft conversions. Today it's a great place to spend your money, lots of your money, on locally made and grown necessaries.

Between the architectural haven Salvage One, cowboy costumer Alcala's, retro fashion treasure trove Very Best Vintage and gardening boutique Sprout Home, the shopping is anything but ordinary in this neck of the woods. Get your coffee with a side of hipster at See more.

>Atomix. If you've got the leggings for it, head over to Tuman's for cheap drinks and priceless people-watching.


On Our Radar:

Posted By:  Joseph Hernandez
Photo:  Joseph Hernandez

Tuman's Tap & Grill
Step beyond the swinging saloon style doors of unassuming Tumans and you'll be in a standard neighborhood bar.  On its eastern wall, you'll see a relic of Tumans past: the old sign from when it was known as Tumans Alcohol Abuse Center. Grab a seat wherever; it's never so busy that a table will be unavailable. During favorable weather, Tumans' patio is some of the best outdoor seating around: an empty lot across Leavitt provides an unobstructed chance to catch some rays while enjoying some classically simple bar food. Don't roll your eyes: this is not "gastropub re-imagined comfort food," whereupon you are suddenly without a savings account. No, this stuff is just good, honest grub. The short-rib sandwich is a particular favorite, with grilled, buttery toast, shredded short-rib, caramelized onions and spring greens. The meatloaf seems to be cut from that mythic meatloaf that miraculously reminds everyone of their mother's or grandmother's. Lying somewhere on the edge between fresh and day-old (frankly, the only way to enjoy meatloaf) and sandwiched between two warm pieces of toasted focaccia and standard fixins', it's the sandwich equivalent of a culinary bear hug. And ultimately, that's what Tumans is: a place to enjoy friends, good food, and a welcoming atmosphere.

Posted By:  Andrew Savage
Photo:  Andrew Savage

Permanent Records
This is always a great stop for new and used music titles, and they have a really nice selection of books and zines as well. We recently played an in-store gig there, and while there weren't that many bodies in the audience, co-owner Lance hooked us up with a case of PBR, a free shirt, and 20% off. What a guy! The small staff are always down to jive about records and give excellent recommendations. This store is also home to the record label which bears its name. This Chicago indie music store is the real thing.

Posted By:  Nina Williams
Photo:  Nina Williams

Designer toys unite under the roof of this Ukrainian Village addition on Chicago Avenue. A substantial amount of toys line the shelves ranging from Shawnimals and Uglydolls to a variety of mini vinyl figurines. Rotofugi is a great browsing store and if you’re not careful you could spend hours here trying to find the perfect toy. This is a great place to purchase a unique gift for your hard to buy for friends and prices are reasonable, ranging from five dollars and up. They also have contests and special gallery exhibits where they showcase new designers. Sign up on their website to be in the know.

Posted By:  Keidra Chaney
Photo:  Keidra Chaney

Rotofugi is an adult toy store that specializes in vinyl dolls. Get your mind out of the gutter, you pervs. I’m talking the adult “toys” geared toward people that acquire Japanese anime collectables as art, the people who owned an Uglydoll way before it was cool. You know the type. And if you are the type, Rotofugi will seem like home even though the store’s simple, understated décor are more reminiscent of a gallery space than a comic geek paradise. (The store recently opened an honest-to-goodness gallery space next door to showcase the work of underground artists and designers—next up, a show from visual artist Andrew Bell starting on January 5). With shelves crowded with plastic mini- sculpture and vinyl figurines of obscure comix characters, even if designer toys and collectables aren’t your scene, a stop by Rotofugi will definitely expand your horizons— and your definition of art.

Posted By:  Kathie Bergquist
Photo:  none

Attention Chicagoland. Get thee to the Darkroom this Friday for the hottest party of the month. The Darkroom, The Chicago Reader, Goose Island 312, and Chicago NFT present the 5 Year Bash and Launch of the new Chicago '07 Guide: Friday 7-10 pm at the Darkroom! This fun-filled evening will feature the musical stylings of Yin and Yang (aka Skid Marks of The Ladies and Gentlemen and Dave Suh of The Assembly) spinning the best in Old and New Wave, Glam, Garage, and Brit Pop. Come watch the Chicago NFT crew boogie down. Plus, you get a free '07 NFT Guide and one free Goose Island 312 with invite while supplies last. Download an invite to print out and take with: See you there!

Posted By:  Keidra Chaney
Photo:  Keidra Chaney

Say hello to your new favorite bar (and goodbye to your pocket change) at Cleo’s, a café disguised as a dive bar; with inexpensive and shockingly delicious dinner and weekend brunch options and an unpretentious atmosphere ideal for an afterwork get together or a second date. Don’t be fooled by the modest outdoor signage and murky interior, Cleo’s is a welcoming, friendly environment for newcomers and regulars alike. It’s surprisingly busy all week, thanks to the restaurant’s weeknight food and drink specials (10-cent wings on Mondays, $5 ribs on Tuesdays, $4 Lasagna on Wednesdays, $4 pizza on Thursdays, and $2 draft specials all week!) Weeknight entertainment is usually provided by the rock-stocked jukebox and a new outdoor patio—just in time for summer.

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Restaurants (11)
Nightlife (4)
Shopping (14)
Landmarks (4)