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
Intersection of Clark Street and Belmont Avenue
Chicago, IL 60657
Brown, Purple Express, Red Lines: Belmont
BOYSTOWN, CHICAGO –
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.
Artistic and creative professionals, young gay men, suburban teens, authentic rockers, punks, hippies, and goths, late-teens to mid-30s+.
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).
Numerous restaurants and a few dives and gay bars on Belmont and Clark.
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.
Restaurants and bars are mostly mid-range. Clothing stores tend to be on the low side.
Anything goes: preppie casual, artsy experimental, rocker leather, and everything in between.
Daytime for shopping, and late night on Fridays and Saturdays for the few bars and clubs.
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.