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Jarvis Square: A Chicago Hidden Gem

A true locals' hangout.

Are you looking for “genuine" Chicago? The kind of neighborhoods only the locals know about? To find that in Chicago, you have to go quite a ways off the beaten track. 

Not that I’m against the downtown and/or popular neighborhoods. I like visiting them as much as the next human, and I have my favorite haunts in every one. But if you truly want to find a locals-only hidden gem, hop on the Red Line of the CTA and take it all the way to Jarvis.

Jarvis is the second to last stop on the northbound Red Line, and the moment you step off the train you’ll find yourself in the middle of a cozy city block called Jarvis Square. This street is closed to car traffic, and the establishments’ patios stretch out into the street, giving the space an extended front porch feel.

The businesses on the Square are all locally owned, most of them are owned by women, queer folks, or humans of color, and they all work together to build an amazing community! Here’s what you can find:

a local restuarant in Chicago

R Public House

I love this place. I’m almost embarrassed about how often I eat here. Almost. Because it’s amazing! Think classic public house foods like burgers and gourmet sandwiches with an upscale twist. They have a huge menu of creative appetizers, an innovative cocktail menu, a huge draft list, and a wood burning pizza oven. It’s everything you could possibly want! And if you visit on a weekend, brunch is served both days starting at 10am! It’s a true Chicago hidden gem that should be on everyone’s radar.

Taste Food and Wine

Taste is an amazing local wine shop with a huge selection and incredibly knowledgeable staff. They’ve got wine, beer, cider, and even a selection of fancy nibbles and cheeses. You can walk in and leave with everything you need for a fancy charcuterie plate. They have tastings on the regular, and small plates that you can order any day of the week.

a local Chicago bar

Jarvis Square Tavern

This little gem is the perfect neighborhood dive bar. Think cozy interior, pool tables, and fun events (everything from trivia to open mics to live music) most nights of the week. There’s loads of local brews on draft, some fun cocktails, and a constantly changing weekly special. (Ask me about the time that the weekly specialty was an on-tap peach margarita. Everyone in that bar that night met Tequila Andi. They’re a trip.) The tavern itself doesn’t sell food, but they have a partnership with R Public House where you can place an order via a QR code and R Public will bring it over to you!

As a note, Jarvis Square is cash only, but they have an ATM on site. If you use it, keep your receipt. You can usually exchange it for a shot at the bar!

a local Chicago coffee shop

Charmers Cafe

Charmers is the most amazing corner coffee shop with all the coffee classics and a delicious food menu. This is the kind of place with mismatched furniture and swings in the window. Tropical plants and a brass ceiling make everything feel beyond warm and cozy. Their sandwiches are amazing, and I live and die by the Chai Lattes that they make using an in-house spices blend. For more info on Charmers, and a bunch of other Chicago coffee shops, Click Here!

The Lakefront

And when you’re done eating and drinking and shopping, walk two blocks due east and you’ll be right on the shores of Lake Michigan. Turn north or south and you can find a park with amazing views within a five minute walk. It’s the total package.

Lake Michigan at dusk

Visit this Amazing Hidden Gem in Chicago!

Is it a bit of a hike to get out to Jarvis Square from the tourist centers of Chicago? Yes. Is it worth it? Absolutely! I’ve lived in this neighborhood for over eight years. It’s home. Come experience this place and the joy it can bring.

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Love and Shenanigans,


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