Street Level | Miscellany | Chicago Reader

Street Level 

What to do and where to do it

Music 10

Theater & Comedy 10

Lit 11

Restaurants 11

Bars 16

GLBTQ 16

Shopping & Services 18

Education & Recreation 19

Volunteering 20

Music

Aragon Ballroom

Built in 1926 and designed to suggest the courtyard of a Spanish palace, in its heyday the Aragon provided a key showcase for the popular dance orchestras of the 40s, bands led by Tommy Dorsey, Harry James, Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, Duke Ellington, and Frank Sinatra among them. Changing tastes forced the space to accommodate new events, and after a stint hosting roller-skating and boxing, it eventually emerged as host to a mix of rock and hip-hop shows and Mexican regional concerts. Coming up: Snow Patrol, OK Go, and Silversun Pickups (4/2), Enanitos Verdes (4/5), Manu Chao (6/17). | 1106 W. Lawrence | 773-561-9500 | aragon.com

Carol's Pub

The closest thing to a genuine country honky-tonk in Chicago, this run-down corner bar--smelling of 30 years of spilled beer and stale smokes--offers an all-country jukebox, all-night sets on the weekends by a solid country cover band called Diamondback, and cheap beer flowing all the time. Country Claude & the Chicken Chokers play on Wednesday nights. | Mon-Tue 9 AM-2 AM, Wed-Fri 11 AM-4 AM, Sat 11 AM-5 AM | 4659 N. Clark | 773-334-2402

Green Mill

Opened in 1907 as Pop Morse's Roadhouse--a place to down a few drinks on the way to (or from) nearby Saint Boniface Cemetery--it soon became Green Mill Gardens, a posh indoor-outdoor nightclub that hosted legends like Al Jolson, Eddie Cantor, and Sophie Tucker. The club's proximity to Essanay Studios also brought in a fair share of actors, and after an associate of Al Capone acquired a 25-percent share of the club in the 20s it became a notorious mobster hangout. Over the decades it's booked a mix of swing, jump blues, and jazz, but since Dave Jemilo took over in 1986 and restored it to its 20s splendor it's become one of the city's most important and reliable jazz venues, with music seven nights a week. The club is also the longtime host of the Sunday Uptown Poetry Slam (see Lit). Upcoming shows: Paul McKee and the John Fedchock Quintet (3/30-3/31), Pierre Dorge & New Jungle Orchestra (4/6-4/7), Vandermark 5 (4/13-4/14), David Berkman Quartet (4/27-4/28). | Sun-Fri noon-4 AM, Sat noon-5 AM | 4802 N. Broadway | 773-878-5552 | greenmilljazz.com

Kinetic Playground

Named after an old rock 'n' roll club that existed in the space later occupied by the Rainbo Roller Rink (since torn down to make way for condos), this relatively new club--itself occupying the space that once housed Chicago's greatest shit-kicker country bar, Sharon's Hillbilly Heaven--boasts a capacity of 500. Most of the bookings are funk, hard rock, and blues-rock acts that have yet to distinguish themselves. | 1113 W. Lawrence | 773-769-5483 | thekineticplayground.com

Riviera Theatre

Opened in 1918 as a movie palace, the Riv quickly got into music as an enhancement to its film programs and remained a popular spot for the next few decades. These days it's one of the north side's busiest midsize venues. The capacity is around 2,300, and the open floor near the stage can be chaotic and claustrophobic during crowded shows, but there's also abundant seating. Coming soon: the Decemberists with My Brightest Diamond (4/18-4/19), Andrew Bird with Apostle of Hustle (4/20), Bright Eyes with Oakley Hall and McCarthy Trenching (4/23-4/24), Air with Kate Havnenik (5/4), Mastodon with Against Me! and Cursive (5/12), Regina Spektor (5/13). | 4746 N. Racine | 773-275-6800 | jamusa.com/riviera

Theater & Comedy

Annoyance Theatre

Best known for its cult hits Coed Prison Sluts and The Real Live Brady Bunch, the Annoyance was founded in 1987 as a gritty alternative to slicker, more commercial improv and sketch troupes. It moved into this new space, which houses a 100-seat theater behind a storefront bar, in the summer of 2006, after a peripatetic stretch of years. The current ten-show roster includes the musical Arm Soup (a spoof of the Donner Party story), the late-night variety show Grabass, and Messing With a Friend, in which improv hotshot Susan Messing collaborates with guest artists for an evening of unscripted mayhem. | 4840 N. Broadway | 773-561-4665 | annoyanceproductions.com

Artistic Home

This tiny Equity theater and training center, operated by husband and wife actor-directors Kathy Scambiatterra and John Mossman, specializes in classic and contemporary drama by playwrights from Ibsen to Odets, with an emphasis on underproduced works. The current show, Mossman's well-received, pressure-cooker production of John Guare's murder mystery/black comedy Landscape of the Body, has been extended through April 15. | 1420 W. Irving Park | 866-811-4111 | theartistichome.org

Black Ensemble Theater

Founded in 1976, the Black Ensemble aims to entertain while educating audiences about African-American cultural history. Led by veteran stage and screen actor Jackie Taylor, the troupe is well known for its popular musical biographies of such stars as Muddy Waters, Etta James, Billie Holiday, and Jackie Wilson. The 150-seat Leo A. Lerner Theater, which it's occupied since 1987, is the former home of the fabled Hull House and Organic theater companies. David Barr's Memphis Soul: The Story of Stax Records, running through May 13, celebrates the pioneering record label whose roster included Sam & Dave, Rufus and Carla Thomas, and Isaac Hayes (see Critic's Choice in Section 2). | Uptown Center Hull House | 4520 N. Beacon | 773-769-4451 | blackensembletheater.org

Chase Park Theater

"Classic theater, diverse community"--that's how director Karen Fort describes this Chicago Park District theater, where professionals and amateurs pool their talents to present Shakespearean drama. Fort's staging of Richard III opens March 30 and runs through May 5. | 4701 N. Ashland | 312-742-4701 | chaseparktheater.org

National Pastime Theater

Located in an old speakeasy, this company produces its own work and also rents its space to itinerant troupes. The current show, Striding Lion InterArts Workshop's political satire Gerrymander: The Good, the Bad, and Tom DeLay, closes April 1. | 4139 N. Broadway | 773-327-7077 | npt2.com

Neo-Futurarium

The program changes weekly in the Neo-Futurists' late-night cult hit Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind. This hip, interactive entertainment--currently the longest-running production in Chicago--features an ensemble of actor-writers performing a dozen or so short original plays selected at random. No reservations are taken and the price of admission is determined by the roll of a die; audiences hang out in line and socialize until the doors open a half-hour before showtime (Fri-Sat 11:30 PM, Sun 7 PM). On Monday nights the 149-seat theater (located above a funeral parlor on the edge of Andersonville) hosts Barrel of Monkeys in That's Weird, Grandma, in which adult actors perform whimsical, often bizarre stories written by Chicago Public Schools students. | 5153 N. Ashland | 773-275-5255 | neofuturists.org

Pegasus Players

One of Chicago's most honored theaters, this non-Equity company is housed in a 250-seat auditorium at Truman College. Now in its 28th season, it's well known for its productions of Stephen Sondheim musicals and August Wilson dramas as well as premieres by local writers; the annual Young Playwrights Festival presents scripts written by teenagers under the guidance of professional mentors. Running through April 1 is Black Caesar, David Barr's African-American reworking of Citizen Kane, staged by artistic director Alex Levy. Opening April 27 is The Frogs, Sondheim's musical adaptation of the Aristophanes comedy, performed in the Truman College swimming pool. | O'Rourke Performing Arts Center, Truman College | 1145 W. Wilson | 773-878-9761 | pegasusplayers.org

Profiles Theatre

This ensemble, ensconced in its 70-seat venue since 1990, looks "for works that showcase the resiliency of the human spirit," says artistic director Joe Jahraus. That often means gritty scripts by writers like Adam Rapp, Rebecca Gilman, and Neil LaBute, whose drama Fat Pig, running through April 1, sensitively analyzes social intolerance of an affair between a thin man and an overweight woman. Next up is Apple, a portrait of a troubled marriage by Canadian writer Vern Thiessen, opening April 20. | 4147 N. Broadway | 773-549-1815 | profilestheatre.org

Rogue Theater

"We produce affordable, gender-balanced plays about rogues, rebels, misfits, and outcasts," says director Nate White of the company he founded in 2002. Past productions have included Rogue 8, a late-night spoof of urban superheroes by company member Dan Telfer, as well as prime-time stagings of classics by Wilde and Shaw, whose Major Barbara opens May 14. Currently Rogue hosts Theatre Seven's Is Chicago, a double bill of David Mamet's Sexual Perversity in Chicago and Diversey Harbor by local writer Marisa Wegrzyn, running through April 14. Saturday afternoons often feature shows by Rogue's kid-oriented offshoot, the Rascal Children's Theater. | 5123 N. Clark | 773-561-5893 | roguetheater.com

The Spot

This venue comprises a street-level eatery (supervised by executive chef and improv veteran Frank Janisch); the Second Story Basement Bar, featuring comedy and music; and a top-floor loft lounge, the Green Room. Among the current attractions are the competitive improv show Battle-Prov and the Flaming Dames' popular burlesque revue, Talk Dirty to Me, performed to an 80s hair-metal soundtrack. | 4437 N. Broadway | 773-728-8934 | spotchicago.com

Lit

Borders

Uptown's first big-box store opened in spring 2004 in the former Goldblatt's building--and according to a March 20 article in Crain's, it may soon be closing, though Borders corporate says it's not. In any case, it's your typical Borders, with a large selection of new books and music and a cafe. The store also occasionally hosts authors and musicians hawking their latest work. Brits the Feeling and James Morrison each play in-stores 3/31; "troubadour" Matt Wertz appears on 4/14. | Mon-Sat 10 AM-10 PM, Sun 10 AM-9 PM | 4718 N. Broadway | 773-334-7338

Shake, Rattle & Read/Book Box

An Uptown mainstay for 41 years, Ric Addy's store is a browser's paradise, with an impressive selection of used books (especially volumes on music and pop culture, plus pulp fiction from the 40s through the 70s), used records, and vintage magazines. | Noon-6 PM daily | 4812 N. Broadway | 773-334-5311

Bookslut Reading Series

Since July 2005, Bookslut founder and editor Jessa Crispin has been hosting readings by national and local authors on a near monthly basis in the cozy second-floor party room at the Hopleaf (see Bars and Restaurants). Next up, on April 11: Jeannine Hall Gailey (Becoming the Villainess), Ander Monson (Neck Deep and Other Predicaments), and Catherynne M. Valente (The Orphan's Tales). Must be 21 or over to attend. | Hopleaf | 5148 N. Clark | 312-850-4277 | bookslut.com

Uptown Poetry Slam

Founded by performance poet Marc Smith in 1985 at the Get Me High Lounge, this venerable open mike series moved to the Green Mill (see Music) a year later and has been putting brave poets through the wringer ever since. Each event usually has a featured performer and an end-of-the-night competition. | Sun 7-10 PM | Green Mill | 4802 N. Broadway | 773-878-5552 | slampapi.com

Uptown Writer's Space

This multiuse space just opened in September above the Green Mill, offering writers desks, office amenities (fax, printer, WiFi), occasional workshops and events, and above all community; a similar facility, the Writers WorkSpace, opened up the street in Edgewater shortly thereafter. On 3/31 and 4/1, Marc Smith (see Uptown Poetry Slam) teaches a performance poetry workshop ($35 members, $50 nonmembers). On 4/7, there's a reading titled "Where's Your Moses Now? Musings on Faith." Irregular Friday movie nights are also scheduled; $5 donation requested. | 4802 N. Broadway, suite 200 | 773-275-1000 | uptownwritersspace.com

Restaurants

Approximate price of a typical entree on the dinner menu, tax and tip not included:

$ $10 or less

$$ $10-15

$$$ $15-20

$$$$ $20-30

$$$$$ $30 and up

African

Grace African Restaurant

This Ghanaian restaurant feels less like a dining establishment than a roomful of guys hanging out and occasionally shouting "Fix this man some nice food!" The nine entrees on offer include boiled yams or plantains with spinach stew and amala (dry yam) with okra; they're all $8. Cash only; no reservations. | Lunch and dinner daily | $ | 4409 N. Broadway | 773-271-6000

Palace Gate

Authentic Ghanaian, down to the pervasive smell of palm oil and dried fish. Ampesi, intensely flavored stews or soups, are eaten with fufu, a firm, starchy dumpling made from plantains or cocoyam. Jollof, spicy fried rice, is served with your choice of long-stewed beef or fried fish. Side dishes like plantains and beans help to round out the meal and extinguish the fire in your mouth. Cash only; BYO. | Lunch and dinner daily | $$ | 4548 N. Magnolia | 773-769-1793

TBS African Restaurant

Nigerian restaurant with a $10 all-you-can-eat buffet featuring three kinds of rice, three fufus, two kinds of fish, and a few meats, along with egusi, beans, and yams. The variety is nice, but the age and temperature of many of these items might make cooked to order meals a better bet. Cash only. | Lunch Mon-Sat, dinner daily | $$ | 4507 N. Sheridan | 773-561-3407

American

Cafe Too

Cafe run by the nonprofit Inspiration Corporation (see Volunteering). For lunch there's an assortment of salads and sandwiches; brunch offers a half-dozen standards, including French toast, eggs Benedict, and a steak breakfast burrito. The dinner menu is eclectic: quiche, pastas, chicken piccata, teriyaki salmon. | Breakfast Mon-Fri, lunch Tue-Fri, dinner Thu-Sat, brunch Sat-Sun | $$ |4715 N. Sheridan | 773-275-0626

Magnolia Cafe

Upscale, globally influenced cuisine from chef Kasra Medhat--for example, duck-confit spring rolls with grilled red onions, watercress, and a sweet soy glaze or grilled lamb shank over roasted tomatoes and polenta. Servers aim to please and the wine list has some fine selections. Valet parking on weekends; reservations accepted for large groups only. | Dinner Sun and Tue-Sat, brunch Sun; open till 11:30 PM Fri-Sat | $$$ | 1224 W. Wilson | 773-728-8785

The Spot

Restaurant and bar from chef and improv performer Frankie Janisch; upstairs is a theater (see Theater & Comedy). The menu features "the best frigging calamari you've ever had," a handful of mix-and-match pastas, grilled salmon done four ways, and a hand-cut, mesquite-grilled Black Angus strip steak. Sides are good--especially the bacony coleslaw--and there's a long list of novelty martinis whipped up by a bartender who's been known to juggle. | Lunch and dinner daily; open till 3 AM Sat, 2 AM other nights | $$ | 4437 N. Broadway | 773-728-8933

Tweet Let's Eat

Art-filled boite next to Big Chicks, also owned by Michelle Fire (see Bars). Brunch, served six days a week, features dishes named for local artists (Tony Fitzpatrick's skirt steak and eggs, David Sharpe's omelet with shallots and asparagus); lunch items include organic burgers, a Cobb salad almondine, and a vegetarian bi bim bop with organic brown rice and house-made chile sauce. Cash only; no reservations. | Breakfast, brunch, and lunch Sun-Mon and Wed-Sat | $ | 5020 N. Sheridan | 773-728-5576

Bakeries

Chiu Quon

Drab storefront brightened by the toasty golden glow of its bakery cases, lined with Asian buns, rolls, and flaky cakes filled with sweet bean pastes, vividly yellow egg custard, sugary ground peanuts, or even a mix of candied melon and onion. They're not quite panaderia cheap, but they're close: a deep-fried sesame ball filled with adzuki-bean paste will set you back 60 cents and a barbecue pork bun costs $.75. Cash only. | 8 AM-7 PM daily | $ | 1127 W. Argyle | 773-907-8888

La Patisserie P.

This Argyle Street bakery offers Filipino, Japanese, and Chinese treats as well as European-style layer cakes, cookies, and sweet rolls from a graduate of the French Pastry School. Soft savory buns are a mainstay, with stuffings like barbecued pork, ground pork and vegetables, chicken, Chinese sausage, or sweet bean paste. And chef-owner Peter Yuen's croissants are exceptional--he's a finalist for the U.S. national baking team, set to compete in Paris next March. | 7 AM-7 PM Sun and Tue-Thu, 7 AM-8 PM Fri-Sat | $ | 1052 W. Argyle | 773-878-3226

Belgian

Hopleaf

The Hopleaf can get unbearably crowded and smoky on weekends, its servers harried by out-of-town pilgrims and Check, Please! viewers. But the extremely detailed beer menu helps ease the pain, and there's no place like this one to explore the deep Belgian tradition of pairing great beer with food--and it's good food, too, cooked with great beer, the most celebrated example being the mussels steamed in Wittekerke white ale, servied with long, crispy frites and a tangy aioli. The red cabbage and endive salad is also good, as are the Nueske ham sandwich on pumpernickel with Gruyere and apple coleslaw, the steak frites, the fried smelts, and a really hearty wild boar stew with root vegetables cooked in Leffe Brun. No reservations; no diners under age 21. | Dinner daily; kitchen closes at midnight Fri-Sat, 11 PM other nights | $$ | 5148 N. Clark | 773-334-9851

Chinese

Anh Linh Seafood

Most of what's on the 300-item menu at this Argyle Street storefront is familiar Chinese, but with that much on offer there are a lot of less-familiar choices too, like fried pigeon and crab-stuffed fish bladder. The "Special Dishes" include sizzling deer meat, grilled wild boar, and curried rabbit, and there's a separate section just for frog. Reservations for large groups only; BYO. | Lunch and dinner Sun, Tue-Sat | $$ | 1032 W. Argyle | 773-506-4848

Furama

Though a regular menu is available, Furama is best known for its dim sum--small plates loaded with a variety of Cantonese and Mandarin specialties, including pork dumplings, warm stuffed buns, duck egg rolls, turnip cake, chicken feet, and crunchy jellyfish, all served all day. | Breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily | $ | 4936 N. Broadway | 773-271-1161

Silver Seafood

The focus at this Mandarin restaurant is fresh seafood; they'll steam a red snapper or sea bass (or whatever else is swimming in the tank) to order, then top it with aromatic herbs and a drizzle of soy sauce. You can get your egg rolls and your pot stickers, but ask to see the Chinese menu, which has English translations, for offerings like fried crab claws, braised cuttlefish, and boneless duck web. Main courses come in a few familiar categories--seafood, chicken, beef--and then venture into the unusual: abalone, roast pigeon. Servers are welcoming, professional, and willing to make suggestions. BYO. | Lunch and dinner daily; open till 1 AM | $$ | 4829 N. Broadway | 773-784-0668

Sun Wah BBQ

While the barbecue here is definitely worth trying, the seafood selections should not be ignored--they're fresh, flavorful, and good-sized for the price. And don't forget the soups: there are a number of noodle varieties, plus more exotic ones like shredded duck with dried scallops. You can't beat the barbecued ducks and bible tripe hanging in the window for ambience. | Breakfast, lunch, and dinner Sun-Wed and Fri-Sat | $$ | 1134 W. Argyle | 773-769-1254

Coffeehouses and Tea Shops

Mocha Cafe

Boutique-style coffee shop serving specialty drinks, panini, and ice cream. Look for expanded hours in the summer. No reservations. | Breakfast and lunch daily, dinner Mon-Fri | $ | 4133 N. Sheridan | 773-353-0607

Unique So Chique

In the back of this clothing boutique (see Shopping & Services) is a tearoom offering an assortment of teas and chocolates made on the premises--a good match since tea doesn't overpower the delicate flavors of fine chocolate the way coffee can. There are also baked goods, creative omelets, quiche, and a few gourmet sandwiches, and from 11:30 AM to 5 PM weekdays and 3 to 5 PM on weekends a proper afternoon tea is served on tiered platters, including an assortment of scones, pastries, and finger sandwiches. | Lunch Tue-Fri, brunch Sat-Sun | $ | 4600 N. Magnolia | 773-561-0324

Indian/Pakistani

Marigold

Upscale Indian restaurant with impressive fusion cuisine: grilled scallops dusted with garam masala and sprinkled with marigold blossoms; a dahi kebab salad of microgreens with a warm peppercorn-encrusted yogurt cheese; lamb vindaloo served in the form of a whole shank. The inviting interior is jewel toned and dimly lit, and specialty cocktails are worth trying. | Dinner Sun and Tue-Sat; open till 11 PM Fri-Sat | $$ | 4832 N. Broadway | 773-293-4653

Shan Restaurant & Grocers

It looks like a convenience store, but the food's good: lots of savory vegetarian stuff, plus curries and stews of beef, chicken, goat, or lamb, heavily seasoned with coriander seeds to aid digestion and served with a tiny side of salad and spicy yogurt. | Breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily; open till 12:30 AM | $ | 5060 N. Sheridan | 773-769-4961

Japanese

Agami

Loungey, psychedelic space with an extensive menu of elaborate signature maki, pristinely fresh sashimi, and cooked items such as the ginger-chicken roll--a hefty battered cylinder of chicken, asparagus, and bell peppers. There's a long list of novelty cocktails. | Dinner daily; open till 2 AM Fri-Sat, midnight Mon-Thu | $$ | 4712 N. Broadway | 773-506-1845

Tokyo Marina

This sushi house dates to a time before sushi was so chic. But locals appreciate it for a quick, cheap fish fix and praise its friendliness. In addition to the regular sushi, sashimi, and maki, there are traditional Japanese cooked dishes such as chicken katsu, a flavorful, mostly dark-meat fried cutlet served as it should be--alongside an iceberg lettuce salad with Thousand Island dressing. | Lunch and dinner daily | $$ | 5058 N. Clark | 773-878-2900

Mexican

Fiesta Mexicana

This ho-hum margarita joint packs 'em in on the weekends, and many of the customers are on a first-name basis with the servers. The food--salsa and chips, guacamole, enchiladas, and tacos--is standard and cheap. No reservations. | Breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily; open till 3 AM Fri-Sat, 2 AM other nights | $ | 4806 N. Broadway | 773-769-4244

Playa Azul Ostioneria

It's not fancy, but you can count on basic, good Mexican seafood--pico de gallo, seviche, soup of the seven seas, langoustines, huachinango a la Veracruzana--at a good price at this family restaurant. There are also several preparations of carne asada and chicken in red or green mole. No reservations. | Lunch and dinner daily | $$ | 4005 N. Broadway | 773-472-8924

Rique's Regional Mexican Food

Colorful Uptown storefront offering regional specialties: at lunch, Yucatecan deep-fried chicken tacos, tortas ahogadas, and Bajaian soft fish tacos; at dinner, guacamole with huaraches, seviche, a chalupa with chicharrones and cactus, and a range of entrees. Every Saturday there's a four-course prix fixe meal featuring the cuisine of a different Mexican state. BYO. | Lunch Sun and Wed-Sat, dinner daily, brunch Sat-Sun; open till 11 PM Sat-Sun | $$ | 5004 N. Sheridan | 773-728-6200

Middle Eastern

Alma Pita

No-frills storefront serving Middle Eastern staples-falafel, hummus, baba ghanoush, dolmas, fattoush, and a variety of kebabs-plus a few Indian curries. No reservations; BYO. | Lunch and dinner daily | $ | 1254 W. Wilson | 773-561-2787

Thai

Siam Cafe

This 38-year-old restaurant, a well-lit, conversation-friendly neighborhood spot, offers the usual soups, noodle dishes, and curries. The $6.50 lunch buffet is a bargain. | Lunch and dinner Sun, Mon, and Wed-Sat | $ | 4712 N. Sheridan | 773-769-6602

Siam Noodle & Rice

Thai comfort food: starchy, sugary, on the bland side, and slightly overcooked, like green beans at Christmas. But that doesn't stop large groups from lining up outside by 4 PM. BYO. | Lunch and dinner Sun and Tue-Sat | $ | 4654 N. Sheridan | 773-769-6694

Thai Aroma

Strip-mall restaurant serving cheap, simple, clean-tasting Thai standards. The dining room is neat and comfortable; the TV's usually tuned to the game, and linens the colors of Easter candy cover the chairs and tables. | Lunch and dinner daily; open till 11 PM | $ | 4144 N. Broadway | 773-404-9386

Thai Avenue

In addition to the usual dishes, this storefront offers specialties from northern Thailand: Thai fried chicken accompanied by a vinegary sauce with cilantro and rice powder; Issan sausage made with funky fermented rice and lots of raw garlic; rich, chewy pork-neck strips; "waterfall" beef marinated in lime, fish sauce, and chiles--which the chefs here are not afraid to use. There's also a range of bubble teas and tapioca drinks; BYO for anything stronger. | Lunch and dinner daily | $ | 4949 N. Broadway | 773-878-2222

Thai Binh

The menu at this family-run restaurant covers all the standards and then some. Dishes such as sizzling shrimp and spicy shrimp soup are tasty, but if you're not sure what to order, the owners' daughter, Linda, is often on hand to advise you--and, sometimes, join you at the table. BYO. | Lunch and dinner daily; open till 11 PM | $ | 1113 W. Argyle | 773-728-0283

Thai Pastry

Chef-owner Add Kusub creates exquisite pastries: pink-and-green rice vermicelli served with a sweet coconut-milk sauce, jewel-toned mini gelatin molds, and a variety of beautiful cakes. But the savory menu is just as enticing, full of offerings like baby egg rolls with minced shrimp; mee krob; kuchai, pillows of freshly rolled rice noodles stuffed with chive greens; and a showstopping clam curry. There's also an array of whole fish like red snapper. Cash only; BYO. | Lunch and dinner daily; open till 11 PM Fri-Sat | $ | 4925 N. Broadway | 773-784-5399

Vietnamese

Ba Le Sandwich Shop

The banh mi at this modest storefront are pictured and numbered for easy reference. Crusty rolls get prepped with mayo, cilantro, a squirt of fish sauce, jalapenos, and pickled daikon and carrot. Next come the fillings, all made in-house: pork sausage, pate, shrimp cake, lemongrass sausage. There's a vegetarian version with tofu, too--a rarity in these parts. A refrigerator case holds an exquisite variety of Vietnamese drinks. Cash only. | 8 AM-8 PM daily | $ | 5018 N. Broadway | 773-561-4424

Cafe Lao

The menu is short and straightforward: a sampling of traditional appetizers, pho, bun (rice noodle salad), grilled-meat-on-rice dishes, and meals cooked at the table in hot pots. But the execution is exceptional. Spring rolls are meticulously wound and bountifully stuffed, pho is subtly spiced and not oversalted, and beef tenderloin on rice with watercress is phenomenal. The hot pots--for example, duck with salted bean curd and oxtail with ginger--serve four to six. BYO. | Lunch and dinner Sun-Wed and Fri- Sat; open till 2 AM Fri-Sat, midnight Sun-Wed | $ | 1007 W. Argyle | 773-275-5092

Dong Thanh

At Dong Thanh flexibility is the rule-the owners gamely offer to adjust spice levels or put any number of protein combinations into play, including seafood, chicken, pork skin, and barbecued duck. Bun bo hue, a nourishing bowl of rice vermicelli and beef broth similar to pho, is a fiery and slightly sweet brew bobbing with green onions, chives, cilantro, a chewy pig's knuckle, and silky cubes of congealed pig's blood. It's served with raw shredded cabbage, fresh chiles, mint leaves, bean sprouts, and limes, all of which lend an extra element of texture. Cash only, no reservations, and BYO. | Breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily | $ | 4925 N. Broadway | 773-275-4928

Hai Yen

The extensive menu at this cheerful Vietnamese-Chinese restaurant features several dozen appetizers, salads, dumplings, soups, and noodle dishes and a host of seafood, meat, and poultry entrees. Many are served family style, and there are a number of multicourse family meals available, including a traditional Vietnamese option called bo bay mon: seven courses of beef prepared seven different ways, including a seasoned ground-beef porridge.

Lunch and dinner Sun-Tue and Thu-Sat | $$ | 1055 W. Argyle | 773-561-4077

La Banh Mi Hung Phat

La Banh Mi Hung Phat serves some of the best banh mi on Argyle: the tender roast pork sub is flecked with delectable bits of caramelized skin, the shredded chicken is redolent of spices, the Chinese barbecued pork has large chunks of meat, and the grilled marinated pork is steeped in a visibly herby mixture. A favorite, the "steamed pork ball," is an eviscerated meatball, sort of like the coarsely ground, extrafunky Issan-style Thai sausage. Cash only. | Breakfast, lunch, and dinner Sun-Tue and Thu-Sat | $ | 4942 N. Sheridan | 773-878-6688

Pho 777

Along with an array of pork and seafood soups and hot pots, there are 19 varieties of pho to choose from here, among them the signature Special 777 (round steak, flank, brisket, tendon, bible tripe, and meatballs). Group meals are popular in this utilitarian dining room, which is BYO (there's a Foremost Liquors just down the street). | Breakfast, lunch, and dinner Sun-Mon and Wed-Sat | $ | 1065 W. Argyle | 773-561-9909

Pho 888

There's more to Pho 888 than pho. Spring rolls thick as a Maxwell Street Polish; cha, a popular house-made sausage of minced ham, potato, and fish sauce; congees (rice porridges); fish in clay pots; and banh mi stuffed with meat and vegetables are just some of the choices from its menu of around 200 reasonably priced items. You can also sample durian, the infamously stinky "King of Fruit," here rendered edible with cream, sugar, and ice--plus an odor-containing plastic lid. BYO. | Breakfast, lunch, and dinner Sun and Tue-Sat | $ | 1137 W. Argyle | 773-907-8838

Pho Hoa

Tucked inside a Broadway strip mall with a tight parking lot that's in perpetual gridlock, Pho Hoa dishes out sublime bowls of soup available in 20 combinations. The list is broken into three categories: "For the Beginner," offering lean cuts of steak, brisket, or meatballs; "A Little Bit of Fat," which augments those cuts with flank steak, tripe, or fatty brisket; and "Adventurer's Choice," featuring still fattier cuts and tendon, plus a version with chicken broth. Fruit shakes, coffee drinks, and several varieties of che, a popular pudding-type sweet, fill out the menu.| Breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily | $ | 4925 N. Broadway | 773-784-8723

Pho Xe Lua

With 200 food choices and 28 nonalcoholic drinks, the menu at Pho Xe Lua is practically inexhaustible--a list of congees, pages of noodle dishes, rice steamed and fried, firepots. But creatures of habit will get stuck on a favorite, like the tasty number 175: a bowl of cool steamed rice noodles under warm, lightly blanched vegetables and tofu with fish sauce on the side. Most entrees are under ten bucks, except for the specialties, which range up to $15: a whole roast quail is $12.95. BYO. | Breakfast, lunch, and dinner Sun-Wed and Fri-Sat | $ | BYO | 1021 W. Argyle | 773-275-7512

Quan An Ba Mien

The menu here is full of decent dishes in small portions at cheap prices, including some interesting specialties such as ca keo kho to, an evil-looking stewed spring goby fish in a clay pot. The meat cuts reflect the low cost, but the flesh is used well (even the pig's feet) and the produce is generally fresh. BYO. | Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily | 4941 N. Broadway | $ | 773-878-8811

Tank Noodle

Tank Noodle offers a long menu of low-priced Vietnamese treats and a few Chinese dishes. You'd swear they've got a sushi chef trapped in the kitchen, though: the food is presented with attention to color and space, and when your pungent dish arrives you realize there's no need to drown it in spice. One favorite is item 203: silky marinated squid stir-fried in a light sauce and mixed prettily with multicolored bell peppers. BYO. | Breakfast, lunch, and dinner Sun-Tue and Thu-Sat | $ | 4955 N. Broadway | 773-878-2253

Tian Giang

The food at this airy Chinese-Vietnamese double-size storefront is pricier and less flavorful than what you can get elsewhere on Argyle; in one beef stir-fry, the meat and vegetables were covered in sugary, cornstarchy Chinese-American goo rather than a spicy, light Vietnamese-style sauce. Soups and seafood might be a better idea: there's catfish, squid with mustard greens, mackerel with lemon grass, plus six congees. BYO. | Breakfast Fri-Sun, lunch and dinner Sun-Wed and Fri-Sat | $$ | 1104-6 W. Argyle | 773-275-8691

Vinh Phat

Really two restaurants in one, Vinh Phat sells barbecued meats on one side and banh mi (Vietnamese subs) on the other. The barbecue side displays hanging ducks, chickens, and pork hacked and sacked for takeout. A few tables let you linger over meat-on-rice plates or bowls of meaty soup, none over $5. The duck soup with egg vermicelli has a leg on the bone as well as chunks of thigh meat. Tiny fried pork skin "croutons" add richness to the five-spice-flavored broth, which comes with fresh bean sprouts. | Breakfast, lunch, and dinner Sun-Tue and Thu-Sat | $ | 4940 N. Sheridan | 773-878-8688

Bars

The Bar on Buena

The vibe at the three-year-old Bar on Buena is a cut above the smoke-and-mildew aesthetic of your more old-school neighborhood bars. It's dark and cozy, with a big beer selection--18 on tap and another 80 in bottles-and burgers and other upscale bar bites (quesadillas, veggie "gyros") are produced by the teeny kitchen until midnight on weekends. In the summer there's outdoor seating on Buena and Cubs games on TV. | Mon-Fri 4 PM-2 AM, Sat 11:30 AM-3 AM, Sun 11:30 AM-2 AM | 910 W. Buena | 773-525-8665 | baronbuena.com

Driftwood Inn

Pool, darts, video games, and TVs augment the drinking at this unassuming, comfy spot squeezed in amid a bunch of new construction. The crowd is local and low-key. | Mon-Fri 5 PM-2 AM, Sat 5 PM-3 AM, Sun 5 PM-2 AM | 1021 W. Montrose | 773-975-3900

Holiday Club

The Holiday Club bills itself as a "Swinger's Mecca," but despite all the Rat Pack memorabilia on the walls, it's really a bar with a little something for everyone. It's dim and loud, with a pool table, pinball, video games, a party room, humongous TVs, and that staple of entertainment for giggly drunks citywide, a photo booth. The kitchen serves sandwiches, wraps, pizzas, and wings; there's a "Swinger's Brunch" Sundays from 10 AM to 4 PM. | Mon-Thu 6 PM-2 AM, Fri 11 AM-2 AM, Sat 11 AM-3 AM, Sun 10 AM-2 AM | 4000 N. Sheridan | 773-348-9600 | swingersmecca.com

Hopleaf

Considered an anchor of the Andersonville strip, the Hopleaf is technically in Uptown, according to the census and the city. But it attracts beer drinkers from all over the place, with 40 brews on tap--many served in their own dedicated glassware--and a staggering international list of more than 150 bottles, including probably any Belgian beer you can name and plenty you can't. Be forewarned that the front room can be unbearably strangled (and smoky) on weekends, and bartenders have a not-completely-unwarranted reputation for grumpiness. See Restaurants for info on the dining room and Lit for info on the Bookslut Reading Series. | Sun-Fri 3 PM-2 AM, Sat 3 PM-3 AM | 5148 N. Clark | 773-334-9851 | hopleaf.com

Konak Pizza and Grill

An oasis of elbow room between the Hopleaf and Simon's Tavern (which, at 5210 N. Clark, isn't technically in Uptown), Konak is a no-frills bar that at times serves as a sort of clubhouse for actors and other theater types, with a pool table, video games, and comfy sofas in the (nonsmoking) back for yakking. The pizza's not bad either. Cash only. | Sun-Fri 4 PM-2 AM, Sat 4 PM-3 AM | 5150 N. Clark | 773-271-6688

Nick's on Wilson

A cozy spin-off of the cavernous Nick's Uptown, the "new Nick's" opened last summer in the narrow, space that was once home to the embattled Wooden Nickel. In addition to booze it offers board games, pool, and free Wi-Fi. A 4 AM license is pending. | Sun-Fri 3 PM-2 AM | Sat 3 PM-3 AM | 1140 W. Wilson | 773-271-1155

Nick's Uptown

This huge, rather utilitarian tavern from the owners of Nick's Beer Garden and the Note in Wicker Park offers ample room to spread out, relax, and get lit in a space free of pretension or attitude. The main room is notable for its vaulted ceiling and Miami Beach color scheme; a 50-foot-long bar runs the length of the south wall, with a half-dozen beers on tap (e.g., Blue Moon, Guinness, PBR). A smaller room holds four pool tables and other amusements as well as a second bar. Proximity to Wrigley Field means an overwhelmingly sporty crowd at times; in the wee hours the place can get rowdy and, believe it or not, crowded. | Sun-Fri 4 PM-4 AM, Sat 4 PM-5 AM | 4015-17 N. Sheridan | 773-975-1155 | nicksuptown.com

Uptown Lounge

Sleek and trendy, with lots of candles and low sofas conducive to sealing the deal, the Uptown Lounge is the shiny-shirted cousin of the Green Mill around the corner. A rotating cast of DJs and a small dance floor make this as close as you'll get to clubbing in the neighborhood. And despite the late-night license, the Uptown Lounge somehow never gets so mobbed you can't find your Stella Artois. There's karaoke on Sunday nights. | Sun-Fri 4 PM-4 AM, Sat 4 PM-5 AM | 1136 W. Lawrence | 773-878-1136 | uptownlounge.net

GLBTQ

Banana Video

This gay adult bookstore stays open as late as the bars, selling lube, sex toys, and porno mags and offering customers a "private viewing room" they can use for $10 a pop. | Mon-Thu 4 PM-2 AM, Fri 4 PM-4 AM, Sat noon-4 AM, Sun noon-2 AM | 4923 N. Clark | 773-561-8322

Big Chicks

This friendly and casual spot, overseen by community matriarch Michelle Fire, features an excellent collection of original art, a weekend dance floor that packs 'em in, and a famed free Sunday buffet. Boy-heavy but welcoming for girls as well, it's a comfortable place to go alone or in groups. One room is smoke free. | Mon-Fri 4:30 PM-2 AM, Sat 3 PM-3 AM, Sun 10 AM-2 AM | 5024 N. Sheridan | 773-728-5511 | bigchicks.com

Borderline Music

How is a CD store gay? If it's gay-owned, named after a Madonna song, and features the latest Eurodance club hits, it's pretty darned gay. | Sun 11 AM-6 PM, Mon 11 AM-8 PM, Tue-Wed noon-7 PM, Thu-Fri 1-8 PM, Sat noon-8 PM | 5111 N. Clark | 773-784-0503 | borderlinemusic.com

Clark's on Clark

When Clark's on Clark threatened to close this past winter, the boozy devotees of this spacious 4 AM dive bar crawled out of the woodwork to lament. Lucky for them the owner had a change of heart, preserving, for now, this popular spot to have just one more when you're not quite ready for the party to end. | Mon-Fri 2 PM-4 AM, Sat noon-5 AM, Sun noon-4 AM | 5001 N. Clark | 773-728-2373

Crew

The men's and women's bathrooms at Crew have clever and well-executed Greg Louganis and Billie Jean King themes, which speaks volumes about the peppy vibe at this gay sports bar, a bright, clean place welcoming to men and women. Sports there are aplenty; risque sports-related double entendres aplenty also. The kitchen serves food till 1 AM. | Mon-Fri 11:30 AM-2 AM | 4804 N. Broadway | 773-784-2739 | worldsgreatestbar.com

Chicago Eagle

Though the occasional female friend may wander in, the Eagle--run by leather impresario Chuck Renslow, founder of, among other things, the annual International Mr. Leather convention--is a man's spot: a dark, sexy nightclub, complete with a grope-y back room, for leather guys and other gay fetishists. Dress code enforced. | Sun-Fri 8 PM-4 AM, Sat 8 PM-5 AM | 5015 N. Clark | 773-728-0050 | chicagoeagle.com

Eagle Leathers

Adjacent to the Eagle, Eagle Leathers is the outfitter for Chicago's gay leather community. You can also get tattooed and pierced here. | Mon-Thu 10 AM-midnight, Fri-Sat 10 AM-3 AM, Sun 2 PM-midnight | 5005 N. Clark | 773-728-7228

Man's Country

Known as the down-and-dirty bathhouse--as opposed to the more twink-identified Steamworks in Boys Town--the 35-year-old Man's Country (also owned by Chuck Renslow) may indeed be a little grubby around the edges, but older guys and guys with less than six-pack abs feel comfortable here. Lifetime membership can be had for a $10 "processing fee." | Open 24/7 | 5015 N. Clark | 773-878-2069 | manscountrychicago.com

SoFo

This nice neighborhood bar, named for its south-of-Foster location in the former home of Different Strokes, is frequented mainly by 30- to 40-something gay men. There's a pleasant beer garden, weather permitting; management says the bar's going to start opening at noon on Sunday soon. | Mon-Fri 5 PM-2 AM, Sat 3 PM-3 AM, Sun 3 PM-2 AM | 4923 N. Clark | 773-784-7636

T's

T's is the bar that everyone in the neighborhood--whether straight, gay, lesbian, trans, or fill in the blank--thinks of as his or her own. It boasts a menu of above-average bar food, great nightly specials, and a pool table in the back. Monday through Thursday T's lets the riff-raff behind the bar to raise money for charity as part of a guest bartender program. | Mon-Fri 5 PM-2 AM, Sat 11 AM-3 AM, Sun 11 AM-2 AM | 5025 N. Clark | 773-784-6000 | tsbarchicago.com

Shopping & Services

Baan Home

This home decor store with an Asian bent has everything to transform your nest into a perfectly feng-shui'd oasis of calm and beauty, from smooth mango wood vases to the obligatory Buddha statues. If you've got more cash to throw at your karma, you can invest in one of the antique painted Tibetan chests. | Tue-Thu noon-7 PM, Fri-Sat 11 AM-8 PM, Sun noon-7 PM | 5053 N. Clark | 773-905-1228 | baan-home.com

Early to Bed

The location of Searah Deysach's six-year-old sex toy shop, relatively off the beaten path, is a boon to the shy and skittish, and the atmosphere inside is frank and woman-friendly. The store offers classes on everything from flirting to anal play as well as talks, author events (sex educator Betty Dodson was a recent guest), and salon-style discussions. | Tue noon-7 PM, Wed-Sat noon-9 PM, Sun noon-6 PM | 5232 N. Sheridan | 773-271-1219 | early2bed.com

Foursided

Bring in your old photos, faded letters, and treasured objects to the Uptown location of this frame store and they'll arrange them into a framed or shadow boxed work of art. You can also buy an exquisite ready-made arrangement of someone else's old memories by proprietor Todd Mack, as well as vintage suitcases, old globes, and other found objects. It's like a flea market where somebody's already weeded out all the dirty pots and shampoo samples for you. | Mon-Fri noon-7 PM, Sat 11 AM-7 PM, Sun noon-5 PM | 5061 N. Clark | 773-506-8300 | foursided.net

Hip Fit

This shop, which specializes in jeans, is not unlike your favorite pair: a little weathered, but comfy and cool. There's an impressive selection of secondhand and vintage denim, from high-waisted to the lowest of the low, as well as new pairs from labels including Seven, True Religion, and Blue Cult. For a total look, add one of the messenger bags, newsboy caps, or giant belt buckles. | Tue-Sat 11 AM-6 PM, Sun noon-4 PM | 1513 W. Foster | 773 878-4447 | hipfitandersonville.com

Marguerite Gardens

The increasing number of storefront shops on the 5000 block of Clark convinced this landscaping company--which has offices in the building--to open its own retail outlet. Whimsically printed garden boots, watering cans, jewelry, and lotions and potions are displayed against a backdrop of evocatively worn antique shutters, iron grilles, and other salvaged pieces from the Netherlands and France, all of which are for sale. Fresh cut and potted flowers are also available. | Tue-Sat 11 AM-6 PM, Sun noon-5 PM | 5059 N. Clark | 773-506-6295 | margueritegardens.com

Sine Qua Non

The northern outpost of this wildly successful salon concentrates solely on styling the hair on your head--no waxing, no mani-pedis. It remains popular for offering edgy, relatively affordable cuts in a relaxed, attitude-free atmosphere. | Tue-Wed 1-9 PM, Thu 10 AM-9 PM, Fri 11 AM-7 PM, Sat 10 AM-6 PM | 5057 N. Clark | 773-649-0101 | sinequanonsalon.com

Tattoo Factory

In business for more than three decades, the Tattoo Factory claims to be the city's oldest continually operating tattoo parlor. Piercing services are also available. | 10 AM-2 AM daily | 4441 N. Broadway | 773-989-4077 | tattoofactory.com

Unique So Chique

Want tea and scones served with a flourish? Have a hankering for chocolate? Need to buy a gift? Looking for interior decorating advice? Unique So Chique, at once a boutique, tea salon, and lunch spot (see Restaurants), can handle all of these requests. Local artists designed many of the goods, from T-shirts and jewelry to note cards and candles, and the exotic truffles and toffee are made right in the store from proprieter Robert Emery's own recipe. | Tue-Fri 11:30 AM-7:30 PM, Sat 10 AM-6 PM, Sun 10 AM-5 PM | 4600 N. Magnolia | 773-561-0324 | uniquesochique.com

Uptown Bikes

It may look scruffy, but this is one of the best bike shops in the city. Don't be intimidated by the regulars and their jargon--the down-to-earth staff offers practical, budget-minded advice, whether you're looking for a new set of wheels or just need some parts to pimp out your ride. | Mon-Tue and Thu-Fri 11 AM-7 PM, Sat-Sun 11 AM-5 PM | 4653 N. Broadway | 773-728-5212

Wooden Spoon

Stocking everything from the good old Joy of Cooking to Le Creuset ovens, this combination cooking school and gourmet gadget shop is set up for the kitchen clueless and Trotters-in-training alike. Like many cooking-porn emporiums, a few minutes here will have you rationalizing the purchase of a stove-top smoker, even if your specialty is boiling water for ramen noodles. | Tue-Fri noon-7 PM, Sat 10 AM-6 PM, Sun noon-5 PM | 5047 N. Clark | 773-293-3190 | woodenspoonchicago.com

Education & Recreation

Chase Park

This well trafficked Chicago Park District facility has an outdoor pool, a gymnasium, two baseball fields, a football/soccer field, four tennis courts, a 1/5 mile track, and a playground. It hosts basketball, volleyball, and softball leagues as well as a walking club and a popular theater program (see Theater). | 4701 N. Ashland | chicagoparkdistrict.com | 312-742-7518

Clarendon Park

The site of a popular beach in the early 20th century, Clarendon Park lost its lakefront access when Lincoln Park was extended north. It's now home to a baseball diamond, a gymnasium, a boxing ring, and a fitness room and hosts aerobics classes and a Saturday morning walking club. | 4501 N. Clarendon | 312-742-7512.

Chicago Architecture Foundation walking tours

The CAF conducts two-hour Saturday tours of architecturally significant buildings, including the Aragon, the Riv, and the Uptown Theatre, as well as what Jason Neises, director of tours and volunteer services, calls "many wonderful and unusual terra-cotta ornamental installations." No reservations are required. All tours leave from in front of Truman College at 10:30 AM. | 1145 W. Wilson | 312-922-3432 | architecture.org | $10 for adults, $5 seniors and students

Heat and Spice

For the last seven years, individuals, couples, and small groups have been gathering in Joe Sochor's kitchen to learn how to make Thai, Indian, and Mexican food. Sochor trained as a chef at CHIC; in the 1990s he ran a floating restaurant called FoodRave and a catering company, Rave Reviews. He's traveled abroad extensively to study other cuisines. Sochor tells his students to come prepared to eat what they cook--which he says means enjoying full meals rather than just sampling. Classes are limited to five students each. | 925 W. Cullom | 773-742-2331 | heatandspice.com | $70-$115

Lillstreet Art Center

In a huge warehouse on Montrose and Ravenswood (yes, it's still technically Uptown), Lillstreet offers classes for both adults and kids in ceramics, drawing, painting, screen printing, jewelry making, and more. The Lillstreet gallery showcases one-of-a-kind ceramics, sculpture, and jewelry by national and local artists. | 4401 N. Ravenswood | 773-769-4226 | lillstreet.com

Montrose Beach

The Montrose Beach area of Lincoln Park boasts a soccer field, a skate park, and the city's biggest off-leash dog area (aka the dog beach), but it's also a huge draw for boaters and bird-watchers. The Chicago Corinthian Yacht Club (601 W. Montrose) offers racing programs, sailing clubs, and instruction in small boat handling; the 15-acre Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary, aka the Magic Hedge, is the most popular place in the state for bird-watching according to Robert Hughes, creator of The Orniphile (http://theorniphile.info), a Web site devoted to Chicago-area birding. Every morning in the warm months, Hughes can be found at the point, where he and other birders have tallied 320 different species. The black-headed gull is "the best bird lately," he says. "It's the first time it's ever been seen at Montrose. It's everywhere in London, but extremely rare here." | Montrose and Lake Shore Drive | 312-742-5121

People's Music School

Founded in 1976, the People's Music School offers free group classes and private lessons to students of all ages in voice, woodwind, piano, percussion, string instruments, and music theory. In exchange the students--or if they're too young, their parents--volunteer at the school for two hours a month. | 931 W. Eastwood | 773-784-7032 | peoplesmusicschool.org

Volunteering

Apna Ghar

Apna Ghar, which means "our home" in Hindi and Urdu, provides services to immigrant women and children fleeing domestic abuse. The clients come primarily from South Asia, the Middle East, and eastern Europe. The organization runs a shelter and offers a range of services to meet its clients' legal, housing, employment, and counseling needs. Volunteers work in the administrative office or in its store, NeUsed Closet (4820 N. Broadway), which sells donated items as well as client-made items--saris, purses, wine bottle bags, runners--comprising "everything other than electronics," according to executive director Aparna Sen. The profits go to help abused women and children. Volunteers who have the state-mandated 40 hours of domestic violence training can also work directly with the women and children, leading groups and workshops in such subjects as writing, dance, art, exercise, and computers. | 4753 N. Broadway, suite 632 | 773-334-0173

Chinese Mutual Aid Association

This nonprofit provides social services to immigrants and refugees. Volunteer opportunities include teaching ESL classes after-school tutoring, and accompanying kids on field trips to museums and concerts. | 1016 W. Argyle | Paul Lappin, 773-784-2900

Ginkgo Organic Gardens

Where a six-flat once stood a garden now yields 1,500 pounds of fruits and vegetables a year. On Saturday mornings from April through October, volunteer community gardeners work the 25 raised beds and deliver the fresh produce to an organization called Vital Bridges, which provides groceries to low-income people living with HIV and AIDS. | 4055 N. Kenmore | Dave Short, 773-404-7114 or info@ginkgogardens.org

Heartland Alliance

This human-rights organization offers many volunteer opportunities in Uptown through its refugee and immigrant community services program. Volunteers teach a variety of resettlement skills, like how to buy food and find housing. Volunteers also mentor and tutor children and to assist with career training, language acquisition, and cultural orientation. | Emily Samoska, 773-728-5960, ext. 6314

Inspiration Corporation

Inspiration provides social services to the homeless. Volunteers serve meals to its clients at Inspiration Cafe and help them prepare to enter the workforce by teaching resume-writing and computer skills and by conducting mock job interviews. | 4554 N. Broadway, suite 207 | Kirsten Broughton, 773-878-0981, ext. 231, or volunteer@inspirationcorp.org

JUF Uptown CafE

The Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago runs this cafe, serving three dinners a week and Sunday brunch to the low-income, multifaith clientele of the Dina and Eli Field EZRA Multiservice Center. Volunteers 12 and older wait tables and socialize with the customers. | 909 W. Wilson | 312-357-4762 or tov@juf.org

Sarah's Circle

A drop-in center for women who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, Sarah's Circle needs volunteers to serve meals Monday through Friday starting at 4 PM. The center also provides supportive services for the women, and volunteers lead groups and workshops in their areas of interest or expertise. Previous classes have included creative writing, stress management, yoga, and computer skills. | 4750 N. Sheridan, suite 220 | Ella Phillips, 773-728-1991 or ephillips@sarahs-circle.org

Tree House Animal Foundation

A no-kill shelter for stray and abandoned cats. Volunteers play with the cats, help with adoptions, assist clinic technicians, and work at fund-raisers. | 1212 W. Carmen | Ollie Davidson, 773-784-5488, ext. 228, or programs@treehouseanimals.org

Martha Bayne, Kathie Bergquist, Nicholas Day, Claire Dolinar, Anne Ford, David Hammond, Ira Kalina, Heather Kenny, Jerome Ludwig, Peter Margasak, Tori Marlan, Kristina Meyer, Philip Montoro, Kate Schmidt, Laura Levy Shatkin, Ann Sterzinger, Mike Sula, Peter Tyksinski, and Albert Williams contributed to these listings.

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