By Sierra Lai and Andie Linker
Walter Payton
Nestled into a small corner of Chicago’s North Side is one of the city’s coolest hidden gems: Andersonville. The eclectic neighborhood’s main drag runs along Clark Street and is dotted with cool boutiques, foodie-approved restaurants, unique coffee shops and so much more.

Andersonville is jam-packed with cultural influences from around the world and attracts a diverse crowd from all over Chicago. We sent two Mash reporters to the neighborhood to explore.

Getting there

From the city: Take the CTA Red Line to Berwyn and walk six blocks west to Clark Street.
From the ‘burbs: From the north, take the Edens (I-94) south, exit at Cicero Avenue and turn left (east) on Foster Avenue. From the west, take the Kennedy (I-90) east, exit at Lawrence Avenue and head east. From the south, take Lake Shore Drive north and exit at Foster Avenue.
Pro tip: Set your GPS to any of the addresses in this guide for easy access to Andersonville.

Where to go

[1] Big Jones
5347 N. Clark St.
Known for its southern heirloom cooking, Big Jones isn’t shy when it comes to portions and flavor. We ordered a fried chicken sandwich and poached eggs with biscuits and gravy. Both meals were delicious and filling, but the fried chicken was the real showstopper. It was perfectly crunchy on the outside and juicy on the inside, just the way you’d expect authentic fried chicken to taste. The atmosphere is noteworthy too—it’s a quaint space with a rustic feel. As you might expect, Big Jones gets really crowded on the weekends (especially for their brunch, served Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.), but they do accept reservations.

[2] Andersonville Galleria
5247 N. Clark St.
If you’re the type of person who likes to get lost in a store for hours, this gallery is a must. They sell more than just art; you can also find jewelry, clothes, accessories, soaps and candies. It’s like a real-life Etsy. The storefront may look tiny, but this place boasts four levels of artist booths and locally crafted goods. Their website (andersonvillegalleria.com) gives information on the artists and vendors who sell their goods there. Pro tip: Track down Terry’s Toffee—sometimes they have free samples!

[3] First Slice Pie Cafe
5357 N. Ashland Ave.
Located just off of the main strip, this cafe is welcoming and drenched in natural light. It’s a good place to park and study or eat and go. Although known for their pies (they’re amazing), First Slice also serves coffeehouse essentials and lunch options including sandwiches and salads. If you’re visiting after a big meal, you could definitely share a slice of pie with a friend. We opted to split a piece of the chocolate cream pie, which was rich and sweet. The cafe is also known for feeding the needy on a weekly basis, which makes it even sweeter. On your way out, head to the back of the cafe and up the small staircase to GreenSky, an eco-friendly boutique. The maze-like store sells small trinkets that make perfect presents.

[4] Presence
5216 N. Clark St.
Presence is an eclectic boutique that will help you shake your Forever 21 rut in a heartbeat. Their clothing is ideal for teens and rings up at reasonable prices—most clothing items go for $20-$40, while jewelry is priced at $15-$30. The highlight of this shop is their enormous selection of earrings, which are displayed on two huge tables near the front of the store. They sell everything from simple studs to elaborate chandelier earrings.

[5] AlleyCat Comics
5304 N. Clark St.
AlleyCat Comics is one of Andersonville’s hidden gems. No, really, it’s literally hidden! You can access the store through a small alleyway off of Clark Street, between Berwyn and Summerdale Avenues. You’ll see a sign guiding you into the alley from the street. Inside the shop, the walls are lined with tons of comic books from different genres and time periods. You’ll find super-old collectibles and brand new comics in the same place. Even if you’re not a huge comic book fan—or you know nothing about comics—this place is worth checking out.

[6] The Coffee Studio
5628 N. Clark St.
The popular coffee shop is a cozy, modern space that makes a great hangout spot. The staff brews Intelligentsia and can create most of the drinks you’ll see on any coffee shop menu (lattes, macchiatos and mochas). One of the coolest things about this place is their elaborate foam art. The baristas serve every drink lidless so that you can appreciate the beauty of your latte. They also offer a variety of snacks, including breads, pastries and cookies. One warning: This place gets very crowded. Don’t expect to find a quiet study space.

Do stuff in Andersonville

SAT 4.26
Ariel Gore does a live reading of her book “The End of Eve” at Women & Children First. Free. 6 p.m. 5233 N. Clark St. bit.ly/AGChi

SAT 5.3
Celebrate this national event (who knew?) at AlleyCat Comics. Free. 11 a.m.-8 p.m. 5304 N. Clark St. alleycatcomics.com

THU 5.15
Bring your yarn and needles, and knit the night away every Thursday at Windy Knitty. Free. 7-9 p.m. 5653 N. Clark St. windyknitty.com

TUE 5.13
Explore Andersonville’s Swedish roots and check out a museum that’s off the beaten path. Free. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. 5211 N. Clark St. bit.ly/SAMchi

FRI 6.6-SUN 6.8
Kick off summer with this Swedish heritage fest. $10 suggested donation. Friday, 5-10 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Clark Street, between Balmoral and Catalpa. bit.ly/Midsommarfest

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The Mash is the Chicago Tribune's newspaper and website written for teens, by teens. The paper is distributed for free every other Thursday at Chicago-area high schools and is written largely by high school students.

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