Gold Coast

If you're looking for that local vibe near the Magnificent Mile, visit the Gold Coast. A day is never wasted in this shopping and food haven, which is only a few blocks from downtown Chicago. Feast and browse your way through these six independently-owned storefronts, bakeries, and restaurants. It's a easily doable one-day itinerary that you won't find anywhere else. Let's go!

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Hendrickx Belgian Bread Crafter (100 East Walton St.)

Bread Crafter

Start your day with a mini Belgian chocolate cake made with real Belgian chocolate. Take it with a side of Rombouts Belgian filtered coffee. You will have died and gone to heaven. Valerie Beck's Chicago Chocolate Tour recommends this miniature bakery because of its local ownership, small batch production, and appreciation for only the best ingredients. Make sure to take a peak at their small kitchen in the back. Pick up a travel loaf to take home with you or to eat on the way home. The clerks at the counter will tell you it gets better the longer you wait to eat it; that is, when it starts to absorb the chocolate swirls. 

Lu Lu's on the Avenue (900 N. Michigan Ave.)

900 N. Michigan Ave.
Owner Laurie Davis is so incredibly passionate about jewelry and fashion that she opened this second boutique in 900 N. Michigan shops after operating Lu Lu's on Belle Kay in Lincoln Park since 2003. Enter through the main lobby of the mall and go immediately to the 3rd floor. You will be surprised to find that most of Davis' pieces are vintage or up-cycled with vintage filagree pieces into a custom design of her choosing. Davis is a style guru and she will gladly educate you about the origins of each piece on display. Think of your visit to Davis' boutique as a consultation. You will find pieces from as far back as the 1930s, now a very popular era of fashion due to the remake of The Great Gatsby. On a recent visit, Davis was displaying hats and head pieces dating back to the 1890s. Lu Lu's is not to be missed.  

Judy Maxwell Home (1151 N. State St.)

Judy Maxwell Home

The motto of this home decor store is everything that makes being home fun. Spoken by someone with a true passion for the home and a great sense of humor. The highly curated selection of one of a kind hand-crafted art objects is unlike any you'll find on the same street in the Gold Coast. The best way to describe the owner's taste is eclectic which is why you'll see oven mitts shaped like raw meat, mounted fish, russian dolls, and fake trophies honoring last place. It's the higher end pieces like the original oil paintings by local artists and window boxes set with miniature landscapes that are surprising and whimsical. 

Posh (613 N. State St.)

Posh Chicago

Owner Karl Sorensen is a former flight attendant who decided to open a store inspired by his travels. He specializes in high-quality, one-of-a-kind European and American vintage home decor circa 1940 collected from oversees antique and flea markets. For shoppers with a little room in their luggage, you will find modest-sized prints of old Chicago street and transit maps as well as hand towels embroidered with Chicago inspired prints. Much of the merchandise is vintage, but you will find some European imports in the mix. 

Haberdash (607 N. State St.)

Haberdash

You may want to leave your face unshaven because this men's boutique provides hot towel shaves complete with a line of men's skin care products and fragrances.This is the place for a man to feel treated, which means it's a perfect place to take your male partner. The sales associates are very helpful but they are keen for a sale, so make the most them and be decisive. The accessories for men are made locally by small producers, so you can bet the wallets are one of a kind. 

Grahamwich (615 N. State St.)

Grahamwich

Graham Eliot is the celebrity chef and alumnus of Charlie Trotter's that is behind this elevated sandwich shop next door to Haberdash and Posh. This casual lunch restaurant serves up the best grilled cheese in the country voted by Food and Wine magazine. I recommend the reuben sandwich with house made sauerkraut and toasted caraway, gruyere cheese fondue, 1,000 island dressing, marbled rye bread. Another offering is the mouthwatering long john donuts with maple glazed frosting, topped with bacon, available in limited quantities. If you don't eat bacon while you're in this pork town, you must be a vegetarian. 

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