Clark and Belmont

Outdoor Activity / Shopping Area
Clark and Belmont A crossroads between sporty Wrigleyville and flamboyant Boystown to the north and preppie Lincoln Park to the south, the Clark and Belmont intersection was for years associated with counterculture, marked by sketchy businesses... Chicago United States 41.939973 -87.650771
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Clark and Belmont - Outdoor Activity | Shopping Area in Chicago.
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Emma

Party Earth Review A crossroads between sporty Wrigleyville and flamboyant Boystown to the north and preppie Lincoln Park to the south, the Clark and Belmont intersection was for years associated with counterculture, marked by sketchy businesses... ... read full review

  • Neighborhood:

  • Address:

    Intersection of Clark Street and Belmont Avenue
    Chicago, IL 60657

    Get Directions

  • Train:

    Brown, Purple Express, Red Lines: Belmont

  • Hours:

    24/7

  • Recommended as:

    • Day Spot
    • Night Spot

Party Earth Clark and Belmont Review

The Scene

A crossroads between sporty Wrigleyville and flamboyant Boystown to the north and preppie Lincoln Park to the south, the Clark and Belmont intersection was for years associated with counterculture, marked by sketchy businesses...

A crossroads between sporty Wrigleyville and flamboyant Boystown to the north and preppie Lincoln Park to the south, the Clark and Belmont intersection was for years associated with counterculture, marked by sketchy businesses, dilapidated buildings, and the teenage runaways that loitered in front of them.

Gentrification in the intervening years, however, has pushed back the grunge and made way for skyrocketing real estate prices, corporate chains like Starbucks and American Apparel, and a population more likely to be advertising directors and well-to-do gay couples than mohawked misfits.

Despite the changes, the name Clark and Belmont still conjures images of the past, with enough sex stores, seedy bars, and orange-haired punks on hand to give the half-caff mochachino crowd and their newly-renovated apartments a run for their money.

The Alley Stores – a collection of shops catering to the rebel set since 1971 – draws free-spirited young couples, hardcore bikers, and alternative lifestylers into its 40,000-square-foot maze of erotica, leather gear, and tattoo art, while down the street, rockers and deal hunters browse through Ragstock’s warehouse of vintage clothing and accessories.

Forever 21 fans on a budget make their way to boutiques like Fashion Tomato, or join the hipsters and goth kids at the four-story stainless steel building that houses Belmont Army Vintage.

Later in the day, parched older regulars join a festive bunch of musicians, artists, and cool kids at L&L Tavern, still as seedy and dark as the days when both Jeffrey Dahmer and John Wayne Gacy drank there.

Although dressed in some new duds, Clark and Belmont still has a sleazy edge, which shows no sign of washing off anytime soon.

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Tip from Emma:

Belmont and Clark isn’t that far from Wrigley Field, so on game days, crowds of lost-looking Cubs fans can turn the area into an extension of sports-enthused Wrigleyville. Visit another day if you want to see the neighborhood’s true and quirky personality.

  • Crowd

    Artistic and creative professionals, young gay men, suburban teens, authentic rockers, punks, hippies, and goths, late-teens to mid-30s+.

  • Entertainment / Music

    Chicago Pride Parade in late June. Belmont-Sheffield Music Festival in late May. DJs and dancing at gay clubs Berlin (954 West Belmont Avenue) and Spin (800 West Belmont Avenue). Free Wi-Fi at Kickstand Espresso Bar (824 West Belmont Avenue).

  • Food / Miscellaneous

    Numerous restaurants and a few dives and gay bars on Belmont and Clark.

    Highlights Include:

    Ann Sather (909 West Belmont Avenue) for Scandinavian food, brunch, and coveted cinnamon rolls.

    Duck Walk (919 West Belmont Avenue) for Thai food.

    Standard India (917 West Belmont Avenue) for a buffet of Indian food.

    Clarke’s (930 West Belmont Avenue), a popular greasy spoon diner open 24/7.

    L&L Tavern (3207 North Clark Street) for $2 beer.

    Cesar’s (3166 North Clark Street) for Mexican food and bucket-size margaritas.

  • Prices

    Restaurants and bars are mostly mid-range. Clothing stores tend to be on the low side.

  • What to Wear / Dress Code

    Anything goes: preppie casual, artsy experimental, rocker leather, and everything in between.

  • Hot Nights / When to Go

    Daytime for shopping, and late night on Fridays and Saturdays for the few bars and clubs.

  • Close By

    The Vic (3145 North Sheffield) has numerous concerts featuring big-name bands. On non-concert nights, the venue turns into Brew & View, where patrons can down pitchers of beer while watching recently released movies.

Clark and Belmont User Reviews

Average rating:
Clark and Belmont is a division between that of nostalgia and new age remembrance. The combination of two bring this delectable strip together with a sense of urgency that says, "Come explore what once was and what now is!"
Sarah A. May 15, 2013
Clark and Belmont are the rejected crossroads of Chicago. They are the rebels, goths and queers of the popular cliques that all seem to coexist in this outer area of Chicago. For a year of my life I lived only three doors down from The Alley- a punk rock & piercing shop on Clark and Belmont. I have to say this was one of the more thrilling and nerve-wracking years of my life that I spent living away (far away,) from home. The variety of people that pass by this area are enough to entertain you for hours. Often a bit sketchy- the variety of people get more "intense" as the sun goes down. Most of the old punk rockers have vanished from the scene but you will still occasionally see and anarchy sign once etched into the cement along the strip. This crowd has been mostly replaced by a more "flamboyant crowd," which takes over every night around midnight. If you want to get a better idea of what I mean, let your imagination run no further than hot pink stilettos and fishnet stockings. Also, beware- if you are not a Cubs fan you will see massive droves of them merrily passing by on their way to Wrigleyville which is not to far of a trek past Boystown & most likely drive you away if you are particular to the Chicago White Sox team. Most of the stores and "headshops" that always popping up along Belmont are independently run and sometimes only stay for a year before becoming vacated and started over again as something else. The most impressive of them all has to be the huge Belmont Army Vintage store that houses a level of footwear, skating gear, vintage and a floor of more expensive clothing or accessories such as Ray Bans & designer clothing. There's always a cheap place to dine out at such as "Philly's Best," where my old roommate and I would always sooth our growling stomachs with cheese fries & pizza, Sinbad's for falafels or the infamous Clarke's Diner which is a stone's throw away from the Belmont CTA station. Want lingerie, leather? Comics or a new bowl, perhaps? Look no further than the fun and decadence that the ever changing scene of Clark and Belmont has to offer!
I Dub Thee: Chicago's Amsterdam
Kelli S. Mar 29, 2013
This neighborhood has always been my home away from home; my default place when I can't think of anywhere else to do. It's it's own hub in the family-friendly area of Lincoln Park/Lakeview, which makes it something of a taboo area. Among the stay-at-home stroller-pushing mothers, you will find some of the best hole in the walls; not just restaurants, either. Although it's gotten a tad-bit retro with the onslaught of the Hipster movement, you're greeted with smoke shops, in the middle of the main street, more towards Clark, Taboo-Tabou, an adult fetish store is still an attention grabber. The neighborhood reminds me of a Grunge-Era throwback; a little gritty and grungey but overtime, may have lost of that luster, with a 24-hour Starbucks on the corner and a Frozen Yogurt joint less than a block away. Either way, no complaints. If you're new to the area, take someone along who's familiar or else you'll stroll right through it.
Constantly-changing neighborhood still hangs on to its edge
Brinda G. Dec 10, 2012
This neighborhood turns me into the worst kind of hipster: “Back when I lived here, it was so much cooler!” While I’m sure that punks who hung out here in the 80s said the same thing when I lived there. Even though the street isn’t very edgy anymore, I still love its energy. There are still tons of inexpensive clothing stores and ethnic restaurants—though now they share the block with frozen-yogurt shops. The Alley stores can veer a little Hot Topic-ish, but they’re still fun to wander. You’ll definitely find gear for great Halloween costumes. The Clark/Belmont crowd is probably more yuppie than counter-culture these days, but the stores and restaurants still draw a cool diverse crowd.
Really awesome neighborhood
Christina W. Dec 7, 2012
As weird as it might sound, this is one of my favorite intersections in Chicago. Chicago is full of eclectic intersections, and this one definitely has spunk. At the meeting point between swanky Lincoln Park and energetic Boystown, Clark and Belmont has everything you could possibly want: shopping, restaurants, bars, clubs, amazing outdoor art and graffiti, thrift shops. You can easily spend an entire afternoon/evening there and not run out of things to do or see. Places you certainly shouldn't miss: Ragstock (best thrift store in town), Cesar's (best margarita's in town), and Ann Sather (best sticky buns in town). And if you're feeling really adventurous, stick around and hit up Spin for a night of dancing and debauchery.
Cultural Crossroads, Vintage clothes and more!
Chris M. Sep 7, 2012
The area is like a miniature Hollywood, with a seedy past that is visible not far below the surface (or just in the alley) but also gentrification and modern amenities and an overall safe feeling. Highlights for me include Ann Sather for a fancy breakfast and Clarke's for diner food. The L&L tavern is a great little hipster joint that has a little more punk edge than those in Wicker Park due to its location here. I'm also a big fan of Philly's Best for a good cheesesteak made by real Philadelphians. Over towards Halsted you get your more typical boystown spots like Spin and Jacks, though Cesar's lives in both worlds. Marshall's, DSW, and Sports Authority are also close by for some regular shopping in addition to all the offbeat boutiques and shops as well as vintage and used clothing stores. Ragstock is a great spot for vintage clothes as well as Halloween costumes. They have 3 levels of stuff and around Halloween they bring in all sorts of stuff to make it a one-stop shop for costumes. Do NOT park at the Dunkin' Donuts, they will tow you before you even lock your car.
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