FAR NORTHWEST SIDE — Several new shops and restaurants have opened their doors on the Far Northwest Side for the second year in a row, saving gift hunters a trip Downtown — and making it easy to find unique gifts that won't find their way into the regifting pile come January.
Celebrate the heartwarming annual Chicago tradition of protecting your hard-shoveled parking spot with folding chairs with this handmade Dibs ornament ($12) from Replica Chicago, which opened its Jefferson Park store, 4425 N. Milwaukee Ave., in 2012, and has been the go-to source for Chicagophiles for all over the city ever since.
Edgebrook resident Laura Guenther opened Local Goods Chicago, 5354 W. Devon Ave., two years ago to showcase the work of Chicago artists — and to give Far Northwest Siders a cool place to shop. Any gift from this store is sure to be unique, but their terrariums ($9-$19) will help those with a green thumb stay sane during the long Chiberian winter and help the rest of us remember spring will eventually come. We love their CTA-inspired candles, too. ($8)
Theater lovers can forget schlepping Downtown to catch a Broadway-caliber premiere of a play. The Gift Theatre's 15th season will include the world premiere of two plays as well as an expanded version of David Rabe's "Good For Otto." Subscriptions ($75-$190) are available for performances at the 40-seat theater, 4802 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Serious audiophiles have known about Raffe's Record Riot's wide selection of rock, folk, jazz and "just a little bit of everything" for decades, but more casual music lovers may have missed this tiny Portage Park storefront next to a CTA-bus turnaround at 4350 N. Cicero Ave. Pick up some Charles Mingus to play during Christmas dinner.
Leadbelly, 5739 W. Irving Park Road, is the go-to place on the Far Northwest Side for gourmet burgers, craft beers and custom (boozy, if you please) shakes. Using ingredients made from scratch, including beef and pork belly ground by hand as well as homemade buns, Leadbelly is sure to satisfy even the most demanding carnivore. Gift cards are available in any amount.
One of the newest additions to the Jefferson Park Business District, Sip & Paint, 4412 N. Milwaukee Ave., offers groups — friends, relatives, co-workers, friends of friends who don't really like each other but are forced to hang out — a chance to bond over booze and oil paint. Groups bring their favorite adult beverages, while Sip & Paint provides the step-by-step instructions and all art supplies necessary to bring out the inner Picasso that lurks in us all. $30 per person.
Winter may be coming, but true fro-yo lovers don't let that stop them from enjoying concoctions like banana fro-yo topped with captain crunch, chocolate chips and caramel sauce at Josi's Frozen Yogurt Cafe, 4032 N. Milwaukee Ave. But if you're a cold-weather wimp, don't worry — the cafe also offers chili, soup, tea and coffee. Gift cards available.
Listen to all the great gift ideas in the neighborhoods here: