One of Sawyer Lehr's The Friendly Greeter tours focuses on East Lakeview's shopping.
As owner of boutique tourism company The Friendly Greeter, Sawyer Lahr has an extensive knowledge of Chicago’s best shopping and dining destinations, especially when it comes to off-the-beaten-path spots. In his just eight years as a Chicago resident, Lahr has gotten to know the city by talking to lifetime residents and scouring neighborhoods for used bookstores boasting dusty tomes on local history.
Now, he offers themed neighborhood tours to locals and visitors alike. He highlights favorites in three different areas below, including his home neighborhood of East Lakeview.
What are some of your favorite undiscovered shops in East Lakeview? SAWYER LAHR: I love Chic Antique (3343 N. Broadway St., 773-857-2695). The owner restores housewares and furniture and gives them a whole new life. The shop is small but the inventory changes often. Inkling (2917 ½ N. Broadway St., 773-248-8004) is also one of the best Chicago-inspired boutiques. Many of the artists featured by owner Stephanie Keller work in small batches and produce in Chicago. Stephanie also designs her own greetings cards and t-shirts, which are truly original.
Where do you stop in for a quick bite to eat between tours of East Lakeview? SL: I'm fond of the crepes at Next Door Café(659 W. Diversey Pkwy., 773-472-3667). The baristas make them fresh in front of you if you sit at the bar. Another bonus is the Bow Truss coffee roasted a few blocks away on Broadway (2934 N. Broadway St., 773-857-1361).
Any other neighborhood favorites? SL: My favorite thing to do in the summer is stop by the [French] farmers market on Saturdays and Sundays at the historic Nettelhorst Elementary School(3252 N. Broadway Ave.). It's been around since 1892!
You mentioned Andersonville as another favorite neighborhood. What is this area best for? SL: Andersonville is best for antiquing and housewares shopping. If you're looking for that perfect knick-knack to fill an empty space on your mid-century shelf, you're in the right neighborhood.
How about dining in the Andersonville? SL: A list of the quintessential Andersonville businesses has to start with Svea Swedish Restaurant (5236 N. Clark St., 773-275-7738), opened in 1972 by the founder of the Swedish American Museum(5211 N. Clark St., 773-728-8111) across the street. [Other] favorites for as long as I've been in Chicago are Hopleaf(5148 N. Clark St., 773-334-9851) for craft beer and mussels; Taste of Heaven(5401 N. Clark St., 773-989-0151) for breakfast; and Lady Gregory's(5260 N. Clark St., 773-271-5050), one of only a few restaurants that serve Halsted brand vodka, a spirit made in Chicago.
Finally, Uptown—what are your favorite restaurants there and what dishes do you recommend? SL: Some of the best Thai food is found in the most unlikely storefronts on Argyle [Street]. For single-portion dishes, order boat noodles from King of Thai Noodles & Rice (1129 W. Argyle St., 773-784-7777)—you won't regret trying this signature Thai dish. You will find the best Thai fried chicken you've never had at Siam Noodle and Rice(4654 N. Sheridan Rd., 773-769-6694). It's the most unlikely place for a restaurant, but it specializes in home-style Thai cooking without a lot of fuss, and lots of authentic flavor.