What are three reasons to love Hotel Palomar Chicago, which opened this spring in the bustling River North neighborhood? Location, location, location. (Okay, that’s one reason; so, to be fair, we can also mention the throwback cocktails and New American food served at Sable Kitchen & Bar, located adjacent to the hotel.)
River North has come a long way since Irish immigrants settled there in the late 19th century, when trains trundled through largely barren streets. A century later, the clean, lively, and decidedly trendy area bursts with renowned galleries, restaurants, bars, and shops.
The neighborhood encompasses nearly half of a square mile. But you don’t need to travel the distance to get a handle on its varied fare. Within just one block of Hotel Palomar, we discovered these treasures.
Jazz Record Mart – In business more than 50 years, the sprawling shop is all about the thrill of the hunt. Pillage racks of used and new blues and jazz CDs (handwritten poster-board signs navigate the way) with the hopes of falling on rarities, such as a first pressing of the 1957 Art Blakey LP, Ritual ($200). 27 E. Illinois St., 312-222-1467.
After-Words Bookstore – The two levels of bibliophile bliss start with new and used reads upstairs (check the rare book case for an original printing of Jules Verne’s Yesterday and Tomorrow for just $7) and continue in the basement, where a children’s book section keeps little lit lovers entertained. 23 E. Illinois St., 312-464-1110.
Andy’s Jazz Club – The Chicago legend ropes in local and international talent, like Skinny Williams and Scott Burns, for bass-plucking, sax-blaring fun. There are performances in the dark, neon-lit space nightly. 11 E. Hubbard St., 312-642-6805.
Hubbard & State Cigar Shop – Blink and you’ll miss this teeny store, where co-owner Rhoda Bogardus sweetly doles out Padron Nicaraguan cigars. A thank-you letter from Mayor Daley is taped to one of the glass cases, giving everything instant street cred. 6 W. Hubbard St., 312-670-0687.
Marbles: The Brain Store – Try all the noggin’-sharpening games, puzzles, and computer software before you buy. Square Up sliding puzzles, Hive (an insect-themed take on chess), and prettily covered Posh Sudoku books cure the Scrabble weary. 55 E. Grand Ave., 312-494-7769.
Nordstrom – You might already know about the behemoth department store anchoring Westfield North Bridge shopping complex. So let us tell you about its secret weapon: the women’s shoe department, where 50 pairs of Louboutins encourage your wallet to do sinful things. 520 N. Michigan Ave., 312-379-4300.
To book a room at the Hotel Palomar Chicago, visit hotelpalomar-chicago.com.