The Run Down

Andersonville is, without a doubt, one of Chicago’s most personality-filled neighborhoods. From its Swedish heritage to its catering towards the LGBTQ+ community, many people find it to be a great, community-oriented place to call home or turn into a regular hangout. It also houses a few spots unlike anywhere else in the city. The journey to this Northside neighborhood is filled with taxidermy, magic (literally), and  good drinks.

1. Odd shop @ Woolly Mammoth

2. Magic show @ Chicago Magic Lounge

3. Drinks @ Simon's Tavern

1. Woolly Mammoth Antiques and Oddities

We started at a place that we’ve been before, but always has something new to look at. Woolly Mammoth Antiques and Oddities is Andersonville’s resident hub for collectors of taxidermy, surgical antiques, tarot cards and pretty much anything else falling under the labels “weird” and “bizarre.” You might think a shop filled with stuffed jackalopes and antiques from traveling carnivals past would simply serve as a place to fill your Snapchat story with a few “WTF?” pics, but the truth is the store wouldn’t have the longevity if it wasn’t such a hotspot for folks with a true affinity for eye-catching wall art.

You might also consider it as a shopping destination the next time a gift-giving opportunity for someone with particular tastes arises. Your friends will never forget the time you surprised them with a skunk skull to rest on their desk.

2. Chicago Magic Lounge

Already fully tuned into the weird vibes, we decided to visit Chicago’s only currently operating magic-themed bar. The Chicago Magic Lounge is a very recent addition to the city. While they have been running their weekly show in a rented space for the past few years, they finally opened up their very own independent venue in early 2018 to help fill the void left by the closing of other historic magic parlors like Schulien’s and New York Lounge.

From the moment you enter, you know you’re in a unique place. If the entrance looks more like a laundromat than theater lobby, you’re in the right place. You’ll need to feel your way around to unlock the secret entrance—that’s all we’re going to tell you.
Once you find your way in, it’s as though time melts around you and all of sudden it’s the 1940s again. Chicago Magic Lounge’s main bar and lounge space (“David’s Bar”) is where you’ll want to grab an aptly named cocktail (“How Houdini Died,” “Dark Arts”) and watch one of the resident card trick performers pedal hilarious banter and head-scratch-inducing tricks.

– This part of the space is open to the public
– No tickets to the main show required to grab a drink here
– Opens at 5pm Monday – Saturday

Take a spin through the Library, too, to gaze upon dozens of authentic, original magical history artifacts, including Houdini artwork, autographs and more.While David’s Bar makes for a fun time, you can’t come to Chicago Magic Lounge without getting to know the entire, massive space. Get tickets to the mainstage show of the night in The Blackstone Cabaret where touring and locally based magicians take the stage. The night we visited, we were dazzled by David Parr’s Cabinet Of Curiosities. Parr is the creator of Penn & Teller’s Fool Us and a longtime collaborator with the famous duo.

– Shows are performed nightly
– Tickets start at $35
– Here’s a link to their calendar

We won’t give away too much about the show, but we will say this shouldn’t be your final act. Before you leave, stop by the 43-seat 654 Club for a quick theatrical and magical set by house performers.

3. Simon’s Tavern

In need of one last stop before heading home, have a nightcap at Andersonville’s only Swedish-flag-flying, Viking-themed, glögg serving bar. Simon’s Tavern opened in 1934 and it hasn’t been too concerned with modern updates in all the time that’s passed. It’s a dive bar. It’s a neighborhood institution. It’s one of the only places you’ll find Viking helmets, shields and other paraphernalia lining the walls. It’s also, to our knowledge, the only spot in the city that serves glögg year-round—warm in the winter and cold, slushy-style in the summer.

Simon’s doesn’t fall under the “weird” label as easily as our other stops earlier in the night, but it’s definitely unique and very much Chicago. We’ve almost lost track of time and know we should be heading back home but—even with all the fun we’ve had tonight—we feel like we haven’t even scratched the surface of all this neighborhood has to offer.