Quick to balk at the typical outsider’s offhand impression of Beverly as a suburb, the neighborhood is fond of the tagline “Village in the City.” It feels a bit like having your cake and eating it too, a desire to affirm disparate identities as a community unto itself, and one that is still fundamentally of Chicago. Seated at the southwest edges of the city limits, Beverly most resembles the sort of small-but-not-too-small town young parents move to in search of good schools and a tree to hang a tire swing on.
This is a neighborhood of two-car garages, where the American dream still looks like a lush lawn, its grass furrowed from a fresh mow. The trees lining the streets west of the Metra tracks are a far cry from the anemic young boughs of the city planner. They cast shade, acorns, seedpods, the occasional pinecone. On the first day of fall, one conscientious resident has already filled a large brown paper bag with fallen leaves. Flags celebrate America, the Navy, the season. Lawn signs say one house is a Proud Union Home. A couple doors down are equally proud Bears fans. Almost every house boasts a basketball hoop, and kids ride bikes or play two-man football, Charlie Brown and Lucy style. The hum of traffic is no longer a constant.
Just like a small town, Beverly could be lived in with only a rare venture out. The staples— groceries, hardware, a cheap haircut—are offered along Walden Parkway. Western, running parallel, has a mingling of bars, restaurants, and chain stores—quaintness traded for utility. There, too, are the hallmarks of small town community: a fall spaghetti dinner benefit, a local paper with impassioned letters to the editor and a stricter paywall than The New York Times. Badges of pride include an annual international bike race and a block designed by the same architect who planned the Australian capital.
The shaded streets lend a kind of peace that Chicago’s major thoroughfares and cramped alleys rarely allow. There’s just not a lot to do in this village. But then, that’s what the city’s for.
BEST SUMMIT: Beverly Ridge
Maybe you’re a recent transplant from a rockier region, or a lifelong Midwesterner with a sudden, disconcerting yen for altitude. Either way, the Beverly Ridge has your solution. Strap on your hiking gear and head south, where you’ll find the highest natural point within the city limits. In a car or on foot, the ridge is more obscure than your average mountain, so much so that you may miss it on your first pass. In the low hundreds, slight hills slope west from Longwood Drive. A half-mile west, just south of Leavitt and 104th, the land is flat, and, relatively speaking, high. The street is residential, wide enough to parallel park and make landing. This is the terrain that remains for the modern explorer: searching for coordinates amid smooth pavement and potted plants. Plant your flag in a well-groomed lawn, and tell everyone you know that you just scaled Chicago’s highest peak. The top of Chicago, 41° 42′ 12.5″ N, 87° 40′ 37″ W. (Hannah Nyhart)
BEST PLACE TO TASTE THE RAINBOW: The Original Rainbow Cone
Amidst near-suburbia, The Original Rainbow Cone shines as a pink-stucco oasis of cold AC and even colder ice cream. Here, at one of Western Avenue’s few non-chains, a “small cone” means heaping layers of chocolate, strawberry, Palmer House, pistachio, and orange sherbet (in that order). A “cake” is all of the above set atop white sponge. Palmer House, the treat’s standout combo of vanilla, cherries, and walnuts, serves to complete the base layers’ Neapolitan theme while also introducing pistachio’s tree-nut notion. Another revered Rainbow Cone favorite is the “heebie-jeebie”—cashier slang for chocolate and peanut butter in a cone, shake, or malt. Rainbow Cone, 9233 S. Western Ave. Sunday-Thursday, noon-9pm; Friday-Saturday, noon- 9:30pm (September hours). Closing time changes seasonally. March-November. (773)238- 7075. rainbowcone.com (Alexa Daugherty)
BEST CAPER WITH YOUR COFFEE: Hardboiled Coffee Company
Hardboiled Coffee Company’s proudly quirky aesthetic brings a heavy nerd factor on both the coffee and pop-culture fronts. Jazz fills any space not already crammed with film noir knickknacks, from neat vintage detective novels to an abandoned typewriter. The menu boasts pour-over, French press, and cold-brewed coffee options, with beans roasted in small batches on site. Despite the discrepancy between Hardboiled and its more conventional surroundings—a Ross, a Michaels, a Menards—a closer look reveals that this shop is very much a neighborhood fixture, with passersby on the street waving through the glass-front and customers coming in as much for a chat with the owner as for their caffeine. It’s worth a trip, if only to sit in a corner and watch Beverly wake up. Hardboiled Coffee Company, 9135 S. Western Ave. Monday-Friday, 6am-4pm; Saturday-Sunday, 7am-4pm. (773)238- 8360. hardboiledcoffeecompany.com (Theo Rossi)
BEST PUB FOR BANDITS: Horse Thief Hollow
In the nineteenth century, Beverly had a reputation for banditry; its dense forest areas served as enclaves for horses stolen from Missouri. Today, gastropub Horse Thief Hollow plays a sly ode to the neighborhood’s wild southern roots. Its menu offers more than a few items that seem as if they could have been smuggled across the Mason-Dixon line: Louisiana po’ boy sandwiches, Charleston crab cakes, Texas- and Carolina-style barbecue sauce options, and side orders of mac and cheese, sweet potato fries, and cornbread. But Horse Thief serves up more than just imported southern comfort. The pub’s main attraction is its in-house brewery, with all original products. Order the beer flight and try the owner, Neal Byers’, unique concoctions, including the Kitchen Sink Pale Ale, a beer that was “born out of friendship and humor,” and the 773 Stout, a cozy, full-bodied brew. Even if you’re not a hops connoisseur, the beer flight is well worth its ticket price. Horse Thief Hollow, 10426 S. Western Ave. Monday-Thursday, 11am-10pm; Friday-Saturday, 11am-midnight. (773)779-2739. horsethiefbrewing.com (Zach Goldhammer)