UChicago, Hyde Park, and the city of Chicago are home to many great treasures, whether it be coffee shops, stores, restaurants, or places to hang out. As a native Chicagoan and UChicago alum, I have had the great opportunity to explore a lot of these different hidden gems throughout my life. It was hard to narrow this list down to my top 9 favorites, so please know that Chicago and Hyde Park have so much more to offer everyone who visits. Here is my guide to some of the best hidden gems you will find across the city.
UChicago Hidden Gems
- Grounds of Being. If there’s one thing you should know about 90% of current and former UChicgao students, including myself, it’s that we all love coffee/caffeine. Grounds of Being is known across campus as “where God goes to drink coffee,” and students could not agree with this statement more. Located in the lower level of Swift Hall, this Divinity School cafe serves locally sourced food and some of the best coffee on campus. If you bring your own mug/cup, they’ll even let you fill it with your roast of choice for only a dollar. It’s a great place to get some work done, or just grab a cup of coffee and go.
- Bond Chapel. Bond Chapel is the definition of a hidden gem to me. Located on the Main Quadrangle behind Swift Hall, Bond Chapel is a gorgeous building operated by Campus & Student Life that hosts weekly reflective gatherings and also weddings for UChicago alumni. Most people that visit campus know about the Harper Reading Room and Rockefeller Memorial Chapel, but few check out the equally amazing Bond Chapel. If you visit campus and love Gothic architecture and stained glass, make sure to add Bond Chapel to your list of places to see.
- Café Logan. Located in the main lobby of the David and Reva Logan Center for the Arts, the Café Logan offers a wide variety of menu options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Popular among UChicago arts students, Café Logan is known for wraps and sandwiches, but also for their rotating daily dinner special. Whether you need a quick lunch or want a casual sit-down meal before seeing a University Theater show on campus, Café Logan has it all!
Hyde Park Hidden Gems
- Sip and Savor. Sip and Savor was one of those places I didn’t discover until I moved off campus, but I wish I had known about it sooner. Located on the corner of 53rd St. and S. Hyde Park Blvd., this coffee shop is described as “Where Coffee and Community Meet.” In addition to providing a plethora of food options, Sip and Savor is known for their more creative lattes and blended drinks. My personal favorite was the Banana Caramel Latte, but there are many other drinks to choose from. I found myself working away for hours in their cafe as both students and community members made their way into this shop.
- 57th Street Books. Many UChicago students know about this wonderful bookstore, but others visiting might not. Located on 57th St. (hence the name 57th Street Books) you’ll find a deceptively small bookstore that you can easily get lost in. They have thousands of titles in any subject that you can imagine as well as some of the friendliest staff I have ever encountered. I could have easily spent hours browsing the shelves and looking for the new staff-recommended books or popped in and out quickly with a particular title in mind. If you are a book lover like me, I highly recommend stopping by this shop.
- Promontory Point. A favorite place among UChicago students and the site of Sun Salutations during Kuvia, the Promontory Point (also known as The Point) offers something for everyone. Located on the stretch of land that reaches the farthest into Lake Michigan, The Point offers one of the best views of the Chicago skyline. I spent much of my time there, whether it was just hanging out in the sun with friends, taking a dive into Lake Michigan, or roasting marshmallows over a bonfire with members of my house. The Point is the perfect place to spend a warm morning, day, and evening with friends!
Chicago Hidden Gems
- Sawada Coffee. This is easily one of my favorite coffee shops in the city of Chicago. Owned and run by world-renowned barista and latte art expert, Hiroshi Sawada, this café has it all. From the classic pour-over to my personal favorite, the Military Matcha Latte, Sawada has something for everyone. Located in the West Loop, Sawada is always the place I take friends visiting for a quick drink.
- Panaderia Nuevo Leon. I found out about this bakery not too long ago, and I wish I had known about it sooner. Located in the Pilsen neighborhood right off the Pink Train Line, Panaderia Nuevo Leon is a traditional self-serve Mexican bakery. A lot of their items are made fresh daily, and you can tell how much work goes into each baked food. Their large variety makes it easy to overfill your tray. Believe me when I say that all of their food is amazing, but their freshly baked Pan Dulce is by far my favorite.
- Pequod’s Pizza. I couldn’t finish my Chicago list without talking about pizza, and I saved the best for last. In my opinion, Pequod’s offers some of the best deep-dish pizza in the city. The crust on this deep-dish is to die for, and you will have so much left over no matter what size you buy. Located on the edge of Lincoln Park, this is the perfect place to take your family out when they visit Chicago or to order in from if you just want a relaxing evening. Pequod’s shows why Chicago pizza is the best pizza (sorry New York).
I could have easily added about 20+ additional hidden gems to this list (there’s just so many to choose from), but I think the big takeaway is that there’s so much to experience not only in Chicago, but also in Hyde Park. I have personally loved getting the chance to explore all of what Chicago has to offer, and I know I haven’t even put a dent in the number of things there are to experience. If you find any other hidden gems, make sure to let us know so we can go check them out!