- Best Shaved Ice: Ohana Ice and Treats
- Best Vegan Fast Food: Nicky’s Grill & Yogurt
- Best Punny Storytelling Night: South Specific
- Best Nonagenarian Ice Cream Shop: The Original Rainbow Cone
- Best (New) New & Used Bookstore: Bookie’s New & Used Books
- Best Café in a Train Station: Two Mile Coffee Bar
Best Shaved Ice
Ohana Ice and Treats
Shaved ice is similar to snow cones, but the ice is shaved rather than crushed, giving this Hawaiian treat a delicate quality that is extra-refreshing on a hot summer (or early fall) day. As with snow cones, shaved ice is topped with flavored syrup. At Ohana Ice and Treats, which husband-and-wife team Keynn and Kenneth Cain opened last year, shaved ice servings come with tropical syrup flavors such as guava, peach, coconut, and mango, as well as cola, root beer, and other favorites. Customers can choose up to three syrup flavors. The softball-size shaved ice servings are large enough to handle multiple syrups, opening the possibility of interesting combinations. Lilo and Stitch fans will know “ohana” means “family” in Hawaiian; Keynn, who is a teacher, had her students vote on the name. A mix of tropical and ice-cream-themed decorations adorn the shop, along with paintings by local artists. For the less tropically-inclined, delicious ice cream and milkshakes are also available. (Jim Daley)
Ohana Ice and Treats, 1800 W. 103rd St. Tuesday–Sunday, noon–8pm; closed Monday. (773) 253-8533. facebook.com/OhanaIceChicago
Best Vegan Fast Food
Nicky’s Grill & Yogurt Oasis
Hamburger-craving vegans flock to this fast food joint, with their omnivorous friends in tow. Owned and operated by the Kostopanagiotou family since 1997, Nicky’s proclaims a commitment to service and freshness. We experienced both during our meal, with fresh veggies complemented by vegan hamburgers and brats, all served quickly. Made by Beyond Meat, these vegan choices are not like the traditional vegan fare of black bean burgers. Instead, they pleasantly reminded me of non-vegan fast food choices in both taste and texture. The meal’s meatiness—paired with the shop’s red neon lighting, wall art, and variety of frozen yogurt and ice cream flavors—dished up nostalgia. Offering a vast vegan menu, gluten-free buns, and draft kombucha for two dollars, Nicky’s is ready to serve 2019’s crowds. (Laurel Bornman)
Nicky’s Grill & Yogurt Oasis, 10255 S. Western Ave. Monday–Friday, 10am-10pm; Saturday, 10am–9pm; Sunday, 11am–9pm. $5–$10. (773) 233-3072. nickysgrillandyogurt.com
Best Punny Storytelling Night
The quarterly storytelling night hosted by the Beverly Area Planning Association (BAPA) is a riot. I haven’t been able to stop raving about it since I attended in August. Called “South Specific” (a pun on the musical South Pacific), the series is co-hosted by Beverly residents Madeline O’Malley and David Boyle. Each night features five stories: one from each of the hosts, and three more by guest storytellers who also live on the South Side.
The duo started the event after O’Malley took one of Boyle’s storytelling workshop classes. Boyle had previously hosted a storytelling night as the culminating event of his classes. (Now on hiatus, Boyle intends to restart the workshop at some point. Interested parties should check out his Facebook page for updates.) O’Malley saw potential in restarting a regular storytelling night. “[Last spring] I just kind of floated the idea [of]…doing the show regularly again,” she said.
She was right. O’Malley’s background in stand-up comedy had the audience rolling in the aisles. On the night I saw them perform, O’Malley regaled the audience with a story of how a bad date turned into the most dedicated Instagram troll, ever. Boyle, channeling David Sedaris, recounted teaching his nephew to ride a bike on a booze-and-food fueled day of indulgence at his sister’s pool.
The pair has a knack for making the evening feel personal—you aren’t sitting in the audience, you’re at a house party with the most gregarious, entertaining guests. In that kind of atmosphere, it’s practically impossible not to have a good time. (Clare McCloskey)
“South Specific” Quarterly Storytelling Night, BAPA, 1987 W. 111th St. The next night will be held on November 22, 2019. $10 suggested donation. bapa.org
Best Nonagenarian Ice Cream Shop
The Original Rainbow Cone
The Original Rainbow Cone is a South Side institution. The shop has been serving residents its signature ice cream cone—a stack of chocolate, strawberry, Palmer House, pistachio, and orange sherbet—out of its pink Western Avenue storefront since 1926. Customers continue to return year after year, waiting in lines that frequently wrap around the block, each generation introducing the next to the delicious treat at the end of that wait. (The Weekly is no different; Rainbow Cone also appeared in the 2013 Best of the South Side issue.)
I am one of those kids. Even though I grew up on the North Side, my South Side family passed on the summertime tradition to me and my sisters. Every time we went, it was special.
Recently, I asked my aunt Jean what made Rainbow Cone special for her as a kid. “On a summer night, my dad would sometimes just say to the kids on the block, you know, ‘pile in the car, we’re going to Rainbow,’” she said. “It was always like a great big deal.”
In addition to ice cream cones, the shop also offers ice cream cakes and rolls. Cakes, which serve ten to twelve people, consist of the traditional five ice cream flavors on top of a layer of cake, finished with frosting. Rolls are a layer of chocolate cake wrapped around the five signature flavors and come in six and twelve-inch sizes.
Generations of loyal customers have helped Rainbow Cone expand to a second location on Navy Pier, which opened in 2017, and extend their season long past summer, according to general manager Bryan Feltman: “We are open all the way to the end of December so that people can still get all their stuff with their holidays and all that and then we open up [again] right around mid-February. (Clare McCloskey)
Rainbow Cone, 9233 S. Western Ave. September hours: Sunday–Thursday, noon–9pm; Friday–Saturday, noon–9:30pm. Closing times change seasonally. Closed from December to February. (773) 238-7075. rainbowcone.com
Best (New) New & Used Bookstore
This past July, Bookie’s celebrated their second anniversary in the store’s new location on Western Avenue, around the corner from the small storefront it occupied on 103rd Street for more than two decades (featured in the 2015 Best of the South Side issue). Keith Lewis is the third owner of this neighborhood establishment, which Larry Kroff opened in 1989 and sold to longtime clerk Allison Platt in 2006. Platt sold the store to Lewis, a former CPS English teacher, in 2015. Since then, Lewis has developed Bookie’s into a reader’s paradise. Moving away from Bookie’s past as a used book exchange, Keith and his staff have worked hard to become a full-service independent bookstore. Now, with the ability to pre-order unreleased titles and obtain special orders from indie and trade publishers, they can get every genre except textbooks. They are also an authorized CPS and Catholic school vendor, which means they can help teachers get books that they need.
Moving into the new storefront, twice as large, allowed for a strategic divide of the space. The first room includes a section where customers can shop for new editions and book-related gifts or confer with the knowledgeable staff, a huge young adult section where teens can discuss the titles without restraint, and an extensive children’s section—complete with rocking chair, play rug, and giant teddy bear.
The second room contains classics, cookbooks, fiction, inspiration, mystery, memoir, politics, poetry, self-help, and miscellany. Adults tend to congregate in this area. Keith has placed a readers’ space of comfy chairs and small tables across the front windows., which can be expanded for signings, readings and other events. Working with other local organizations, they have participated in the Beverly Art Alliance Art Walk, the Beverly Area Planning Association’s Cookie Crawl, and the For Love of Writing (FLOW) reading series. Bookie’s also co-sponsors the Second Sunday Book Club with the Beverly Art Center and Open Outcry Brewery.
But best of all, when you have gently finished your book, you can bring it back in for store credit against future purchases—which you are sure to make! (L.D. Barnes)
Bookie’s New & Used Books, 10324 S. Western Ave. Open daily, 10am–7pm. (773) 239-1110. bookiesbookstores.com
Best Café in a Train Station
Two Mile Coffee Bar
In some ways, Beverly is a commuter town that happens to exist within the city limits, and for many of its denizens the Rock Island Metra line is their morning commute. The line was built in 1870, when Beverly was still a streetcar suburb, and the train contributed to the area’s growth during the nineteenth century. Several of the train stations that dot the two-mile stretch have a historic air. The station at 95th Street is one of them: built in 1945, it’s a charming building that was designated a Chicago Landmark in 1945. For decades, it combined beautiful architecture with an admittedly somewhat lonely interior. This past April, as the Weekly reported in this year’s Food Issue, Nathaniel Hollister and his wife Sonia, along with Nathaniel’s sister Gretta Dertinger and her husband Patrick, teamed up to open a coffee bar inside the train station, which they named for the length of the Beverly branch of the Rock Island line.
In doing so, they transformed a typically silent waiting place into a vibrant space: on a recent Saturday morning, despite the absence of a workday commute, the station was bustling. Sonia poured espresso drinks while Gretta greeted a constant stream of customers. Two Mile offers Intelligentsia coffee, an assortment of pastries, and a variety of seasonal specialty drinks. The summer’s specials included the popular “Bungalow Block Party,” an iced peach tea flavored with cloves and rosemary, and “The Ridge,” a chai latte infused with cardamom, rose, and crystallized ginger. Last week the specials menu changed over to its fall offerings, which include a chai and apple cider blend, a latte inspired by a hot buttered rum cocktail (“basically like a liquid cookie,” according to Gretta), and a pumpkin spice latte made from scratch with fresh ingredients. (Jim Daley)
Two Mile Coffee Bar, 1766 W. 95th St. Monday–Friday, 6am–11am; Saturday, 8am–1pm; closed Sunday. (773) 614-8115. twomilecoffee.com