Midwest Living Review
Yes, it's a little gritty. But a half-mile stretch of West Division Street 2 miles west of the Loop has dozens of shops and restaurants worth checking out, and the owners have recently banded together to market themselves as an eclectic neighborhood destination. Smart move. Start by browsing high heels, boots, bangles and buttery leather handbags at Pump. "Love that" clothing boutiques include Mulberry and Me, Le Dress and M Go -- they all showcase independent designers from Chicago, New York CIty and Los Angeles. The only thing keeping cash in your wallet might be dress sizes (0 to 10 mostly); but the range of accessories fits every girl's budget ($15 for earrings; $50 to $400 for handbags, dresses and jackets). Relieve shopping stress at Ruby Room, a labyrinth of inside-out beauty treatment studios that share a pair of historic brownstones. Twisting stairways link the hair salon, the spa, a healing room (a 10-minute "intuitive reading" by a healer is $10) and a yoga lounge. Plus, Ruby Room has eight overnight guestrooms (from $150). Some other stops we like? Penelope's carries men's and women's French and Scandinavian clothing. Paper Doll Stationery's letterpress note cards say what you need to in style. Bullfrogs and Butterflies has adorable designer kids' duds, and Elevenzees' home decor inspires. For creative gifts, shop Renegade Handmade's artworks by indie-artists who participate in the area's annual Renegade Crafts Fair (set for September 1011). Like any hot 'hood, restaurants come and go. But established eateries, including Letizia's Natural Bakery and Smoke Daddy barbecue joint (live music nightly; no cover), anchor the vibrant scene. Vintage architecture and store signs, like the 1930s look at Alliance Bakery (now a designer cake shop), recall West Division's Eastern European roots.