Riding to the top of the Red Line is worth it for these must-see spots

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While the Red Line carries more riders than any other, many commuters don’t know about the fantastic places found blocks away from its stops. So WGN’s Amy Rutledge is Riding the Red Line from Rogers Park to 95th St. to highlight the can’t-miss spots along the way 

CHICAGO — Set on the north side of Rogers Park, the Howard stop is the merge point for the yellow and purple lines and serves as the northern end of the Red Line.

Here you will find countless types of cuisine, theatre and shopping, and a community that looks out for one another. And on Howard near Paulina you’ll find Sol Café, a spot designed to grab and go — or sit for hours on end.

“I’ve always been somebody who likes to bring people together,” owner Simone Freeman said. “I am in the coffee business, but I’m more in the people business, and this is is about bringing people together, and this is the perfect neighborhood.”

Dishes from the no-waste, sustainable kitchen are comfort-based and coffee-focused, like the tostada bowl with lime rice, charred tomato salsa, egg and black beans stewed in coffee. Food and beverages are largely made in-house or sourced locally, and goods from local artists are featured and sold in the shop.

Head just a few doors down and you’ll find plenty to take with you at the Caribbean American Bakery. Born in Jamaica, Michael Humes and his family moved to Chicago when he was just 15.

“Mom loved to cook. There wasn’t much of a market back in ’82, so she made some stuff at the house and everybody liked it, and so they decided to open up the store,” Humes said.

On the menu: dense Jamaican breads and sweets, and spicy and savory jerk cuisine is available three days a week. But what they’re best known for is the patties, usually savory pastries baked inside a flaky shell.

Walk off any decadent calories inside the century-old Bishop building at the corner of Howard and Rogers, and inside Lost Eras, which in its 40 years in the neighborhood has acquired thousands of square feet of costumes and antiquities, including seemingly anything unusual or obscure.

Owner Charlotte Walters and her son scour the country for the most unique things you could possibly imagine: a book binding machine from the 1800’s, clocks, appliances, armor, jewelry, masks and costumes as far as the eye can see – all available to rent or buy.

“We specialize in theatre props and unusual items,” Walters said. “Anybody who may need something unusual to be on film. Also when people are doing a lot of YouTube videos now we help them with whatever unusual thing they want to do.”

You may have seen Charlotte’s things on stage at the Steppenwolf or the Looking Glass, or on screen in major blockbusters like “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” or “Public Enemies.”

Lost Eras hasn’t advertised in four decades; they haven’t really needed to. Thanks in part to their diverse community.

“Howard Street is a very unusual and unique place, and we’ve loved it here,” Walters said.


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