Terribly out-of-date movie references aside, Lakeview is a little bit of a misnomer. You can live in Lakeview and have a view of Lake Michigan, but the odds are that if you live in this neighborhood, you don’t have a view of the lake. One could argue that a lot of the neighborhoods in the city are somewhat misleading (how many people in Lincoln Park actually live anywhere near the park?) So, let’s switch our focus to the vast array of offerings in Lakeview. Before we do, here’s a link to a map that defines the boundaries of the neighborhood:
Lakeview is a very interesting neighborhood as there is quite a cross-section of cultural norms. The city’s non-stop frat party (Wrigleyville) is just a few blocks from one of the biggest alternative lifestyle sub-neighborhoods in the country (Boystown). Both of those areas and the rest of the neighborhood are dotted with all kinds of restaurants and cultural attractions. Here are some of my favorites:
1. The obvious place for a sports fan to go: Wrigley Field
There is something special about it (by “it” I mean the Field, not the Cubs) that’s hard to describe. One definitely gets a sense of history and time seems to stand still. For a sports purist (like me) it’s nice to go to a game that doesn’t have all the hoopla around. Cubs games stand in very stark contrast to Bulls games. At Bulls games, it seems like the game gets in the way of all the other stuff going on (Bulls crowds get loudest when the t-shirt gunners come out, then they quiet down for important parts of the game). Cubs games are all about baseball (well, and drinking) without the distractions. It’s one of the few mainstream entertainments out there that requires more than a 5-second attention span.
2. For the avant-garde on a budget: Red Tape Theatre
DNS has been to a few productions here and they were all stunning their own ways. For the first performance, a custom stage/seating setup was built that put the crowd right in the middle of the actors and stage (it was so immersive that they did not allow bathroom breaks during the show). The shows are edgy, inexpensive and very well-done by the ensemble cast.
3. For the hungry/thirsty Theatre goer: Wilde
Wilde is a bar and grill that evokes the literary-style pubs of the British Isles. The food is very good for bar fare (mac and cheese is a highlight) and the beer list is quite competent. There is an actual library in Wilde, and it can be a great place to get a meal or to just sit and read as there are multiple areas setup that can accommodate either activity.
4. For whiskey, punk rock, and legends: Delilah’s
It’s a great little bar for those looking for something that’s not just another sports bar. They have over 400 whiskeys available (and seemingly an inroad with Maker’s Mark), a very good beer selection, and actual pool tables. Speaking of the pool tables, DNS’s cousin made a no-look (he stared down the opponent instead of looking at the table), one-handed, from-the-hip game-winning shot at Delilah’s. Every game of pool through eternity will be a letdown after that.
5. For food network junkies: DMK Burger Bar
Just about every neighborhood in Chicago has a burger place of note. Burger bars are the trend du jour (that’s the trend of the day) in Chicago. DMK was relatively early on the burger bar train, and they make some pretty interesting burgers due to the ingredients. However, the quality of the burgers underneath it all could use some work. Their selection of fries is pretty impressive, though and the beer selection is well-thought-out.
6. For those who think a rock star should be able to play an instrument: Chicago Music Exchange
This has to be one of the most awesome guitar stores in the world. The selection is dazzling and they stock vintage instruments that just aren’t found anywhere else. If you like guitars and you are in Chicago, this is a must-see.
7. For a really early meal (or really late, depending on your outlook): Salt & Pepper Diner
This seems to be a staple for breakfast (or post bar crawl) diner food in Wrigleyville. It’s exactly what you expect out of a diner: cheap, hearty and not too creative.
8. For European snootiness in an American setting: Julius Meinl
Of course it makes sense that there’s a coffee place that’s mostly in Austria having a spot a couple blocks from Wrigley field. I think that with Theo’s new contract, he may start getting spotted here instead of Starbuck’s. All kidding aside, there is a decidedly snooty vibe here, but the coffee and food are top-notch.
9. To recreate a scene from Beerfest: Uberstein
The name pretty much describes what you are going to get here. German beer by the liter and bar food with a German slant. It’s also a surprisingly good setup for football as they have all the NFL games.
10. For South American cuisine on the North Side: Tango Sur
Tango Sur is a very good South American steakhouse that has all the expected choices: Parilladas (mixed grilled items), steaks, chimichurri (parsley, olive oil and garlic sauce), and hearty sides. It’s a different experience from your “normal” Chicago steakhouse.
Now it’s time to switch gears and discuss the real estate trends in Lakeview. The prevailing view is that, just like Hansel, real estate in Lakeview is “So hot right now.” Let’s see if that notion holds up to some analysis of the pricing trends.
Over the last couple of years, Lakeview has seen some price declines (which is not surprising given the overall real estate market), but most of this decline is seen in distressed properties with 2 bedrooms or less. Traditional sales (meaning sales that are not Short Sales or Foreclosures) have actually held up fairly well. This puts Lakeview in a similar category with Lincoln Park. It is quite stable.
The particular situation in Lakeview is emblematic of what we are seeing around the country. Housing in great locations with good amenities are not losing value in the “down” market. Lakeview has very easy access to public transportation and is very walkable. In a city with a lot of traffic (and $4 gasoline), these attributes are important.
If you are thinking about buying in Lakeview, you can feel relatively confident that your home will hold up in value. On the other hand, the market is well aware of this so you are not likely to end up making the deal of the century. However, if you are one of the ever-hopeful Cubs fans out there, maybe Theo Epstein can get land values to skyrocket in the neighborhood (as well as provide a World Series showing).