Travel the Red Line to Berwyn for solid salads, succulents and shrunken heads

Amy Rutledge continues her series Riding the Red Line. Next stop: Berwyn.

CHICAGO — Jump off at the Berwyn stop of the Red Line and you’ll find yourself at the south end of the Edgewater neighborhood, and by heading a few blocks east you can bask on the beach, or head west to Berwyn and Broadway to find Chicago Grind.

"We’re really a good mix of people in this neighborhood," said café owner Jim Dababneh.

The bright coffee shop puts a serious focus on food, including tossed salads, panini, sandwiches and flatbreads, and more, according to Dababneh.

"We have a legitimate menu here... made to order so you can get a legitimately good tasting meal," he said.

There are also lots of breakfast options, including plenty of pastries from local bakeries. Metric coffee and lots of teas are served. Grab something to go, or sit and relax with a good book from their library.

Need a little retail therapy? Just blocks away, Andersonville is the perfect cure. At a bustling area near Berwyn and Clark, Alma Vescovi can bring a little serenity to your life.

In Foyer Shop you’ll find a selection of prints, stationary, candles, vintage planters and fun knick nacks to update spaces in your home without any major construction. But plants are their speciality.

"People are a little gunshy with plants," Vescovi said. "People feel like they don’t know if they can handle it when really it’s one of the easiest, simplest changes you can make."

They will help you find the plants you can keep alive, specific to your space, your light, and your schedule. From baby succulents to bigger projects, Alma also does small events – or comes right to your home.

"You can tell us where you would like to see a plant... If there’s a hole in your wall you’d like to cover up," they said. "Or if you would like a tall tree so your cats can’t get at it or you’d just really like to see your space greener but don’t know where to start."

You won’t know where to look first when you head into Woolly Mammoth Chicago on Foster.

"We’ve become sort of a hybrid museum and a retail space," owner Adam Rust said.

He and  his wife have been curating oddities they've collected as avid travelers for the last eight years, including Bony Bob, a real shrunken head, an Adolf Hitler painting by serial killer John Wayne Gacy, and lots of taxidermy, including a two-headed calf and a pet terrier.

"In Romania, following in the footsteps of Vlad the Impaler, we decided when we get back we’re going to open a store and we’re going to fill it with weird things, and we’re going to try and make every day as exciting as it is when we’re out traveling," Rust said.

New items to look at and to buy are coming in all the time. Woolly Mammoth is a place which feels a little off the beaten path, but is super simple to find.

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