The Run Down

We're hanging out in the Near North neighborhood to shop, eat pancakes and Croatian sausages, and visit places that blur the line between dining and retail. Here are the details.

1. Coffee @ Nomad Chicago

2. Breakfast @ Doma Cafe

3. Drinks and Shopping @ Architectural Artifacts

1. Nomad Chicago

We’re starting the day at Nomad Chicago. This is a corner coffee shop, hangout space, and home goods store all mashed together in a quiet part of River North (about a block north of the Chicago Brown Line stop).

Their retail space is at the front of the store, where you’ll find a curated mix of small-batch home goods, beauty products, and art. It’s like an Etsy store come to life.

Mixed into the retail area are couches and tables that serve as hangout spots to relax while you shop.

Head towards the back, where you’ll find their coffee bar. If you’re looking for a place to post up for a bit, there’s a separate seating area next to it where you can spread out, work on your laptop, and make yourself at home. 

2. Doma Cafe

Breakfast is the next thing on our agenda. We’re going on a five-minute walk to Doma Cafe, a Croatian-inspired cafe and breakfast spot with some serious Eastern European aesthetic, a bit of 90’s flair, and some modern vibes to round it all out.

Here’s a shot of their dining room as you walk through the front door. You’ll order at the counter, and to the side, you’ll find a few small tables along the wall. The prime spots are on their outdoor patio so try to snag a spot back there if you can.

You’ll need to weave through their kitchen area, but eventually, you’ll be led to this outdoor patio. I use the term “outdoor” very loosely because any parts exposed to the elements are covered in heavy plastic. With heat lamps hanging from above, even on a cold day, it’s pretty toasty in here.

Finally, to the food portion. This isn’t the place for over-the-top sugary pancakes or huge breakfast skillets. They stick to the basics but don’t mistake that for boring.

First up are these pancakes. These are good as-is, straight from griddle to plate. If you have fond memories of Saturday morning pancakes with mom and dad, these pancakes evoke the same feeling. They’re fluffy, light, and with a drizzle of syrup and some butter, it is as close to a perfect pancake as you can get.

Pictured in the back is their maple sausage, egg, and cheese breakfast sandwich. It comes with a side of a secret siracha-based sauce that reminds me of a remoulade or something close. Whatever it was, every last bit of it was gone by the end of the meal.

Lastly, this breakfast plate was also a hit. One of the cafe’s specialties is their cevapi, a sausage popular in Southeastern Europe. That’s what’s pictured below alongside a super crispy hash brown, eggs, and some tasty greens to balance everything out.

They also do a cevapi sandwich, which is becoming a bit of a trend now. We didn’t get a chance to try it out but definitely give it a shot and let us know.

3. Architectural Artifacts

About a block away is Architectural Artifacts. If the name sounds familiar, it’s because this antiques dealer had operated out of Ravenswood for over 30 years before taking a hiatus.

To the joy of longtime fans, they’re finally back after converting this abandoned school into a new multi-concept space: it’s a high-end antique dealer, all-day cafe, museum, and pickleball court, all packaged together into one complete experience.

After entering, you’ll find their cafe off to the side. It’s meant to be a casual experience suitable for brunch with friends, grabbing a quick coffee, or just plopping down with your laptop to do some work.

*Note: As of September 28, 2022, the cafe went through a soft launch, but they’re tweaking the menu and will open up fully in late October 2022.

You’re not confined to the cafe after ordering. Feel free to stroll through the halls with coffee and food in hand.

Long hallways on the first and second floors are lined with a seemingly random collection of antiques.

The building’s classrooms are now filled with mid-century kids’ chairs, antique lockboxes, and that elusive 19th-century Italian book press you’ve been looking to install next to your Live, Laugh, Love poster.

Keep wandering around and you’ll find the school’s gymnasium, which is now a pickleball court. Details on how to reserve this space are still in the works, but we’ll update this guide as soon as we hear any news.

Finally, the last space you’re touring is their basement showroom. It’s a massive space perfect for when you’re in the mood to rummage around with no particular goal in mind.

An example of random stuff you’ll find is this antique coin-operated horse that was on sale for $3,800.

If you’re curious about the economics of this, here’s some quick math. At twenty-five cents a ride, you can make your money back after 15,200 rides. That’s just under 42 rides a day over the course of a year. Doable? Something to think about for any of you trying to get into the coin-operated horse game. 

As you hang out on the couch next to this giant Orangina bottle, here’s a fun fact to casually drop on your friends for maximum impressiveness:

Orangina was originally produced by a Spanish chemist, and for most of its history, its been commonly known as a European soft drink. But if you peel back the corporate layers, Orangina is actually owned by Suntory, a giant Japanese distillery known for their high-end whiskey.