Five Reasons To Visit Beverly Any Time Of Year

By Chuck Sudo in Arts & Entertainment on Mar 10, 2012 7:00PM

Tomorrow is either a welcome return or a day of reckoning for the South Side Irish Parade. I'm very curious to see how the security plan and the parade committee's enforcement of a zero tolerance alcohol policy and not allowing buses from north side bars to shuttle amateur champion drinkers will affect the parade attendance.

It's a shame that Beverly only gets this attention one day a year, because there are more reasons than celebrating this quintessential of Chicago neighborhoods than saluting the "Chirish"—as cloying a marketing slogan as I've ever seen. From the historic Beverly/Morgan Park railroad station district to the newer Beverly Arts Center, from Cork & Kerry to Top Notch Beefburger, there are scores of reasons to visit Beverly any day of the year. Here are five more of my favorites.

1. Longwood Drive Historic District: From 9800 south to 11000 south on Longwood Drive, and 10400 south to 10700 south on Seeley Avenue reside some of the most beautiful homes in Chicago, nestled along a natural ridgeline and hills that will give casual bicyclists a good workout. The architectural styles represented range from Italianite and Queen Anne, to Prairie style and homes built by the likes of Frank Lloyd Wright. For us, the standout home in the District is the 125-year-old Givins Irish Castle, maintained by the Beverly Unitarian Church since 1941 and designated by the Smithsonian as a historical landmark.

2. Beverly Bakery & Café: Folks looking for both a hearty brunch and a quaint country store vibe in the city can't do much better than this family-owned restaurant and bakery at 10528 S. Western Ave. They offer a full breakfast menu, hot and cold sandwiches and a wide array of baked goods, including cakes for weddings, graduations, birthdays and other special occasions.

3. Bev Art Brewer and Winemaker Supply: One of the ironies I find with the South Side Irish Parade is that Beverly has long been dry area east of Western Avenue. (Readers heading down to the parade tomorrow: check the lack of bars on the east side of Western and contrast that with the glut of tavern across the street.) There are a few homebrewers we know out south and Bev Art keeps them stocked with both brewing and winemaking supplies, hosts beer and winemaking classes for the beginner, and even helps you bottle your hooch. Bev Art owner Greg Fischer also owns Wild Blossom Meadery, the only winery located inside the city limits. (10033 S. Western)

4. Koda Bistro and Café 103: These two restaurants prove that good fine dining can work on the Far South Side. In my June 2006 review of Koda I gave high marks to their tarte flambees, steak frites and escargot bourguignon. The menu has stayed relatively static over the years, but the execution remains high, and Koda's wine list is still among the best in the city. Caf&233 103 specializes in simple, straightforward New American cooking with a farm-to-table focus. Their mushroom risotto is always a must-order, and they've also been known to step on the ledge with their cooking now and then. Example: serving organic Irish salmon with pomegranate glaze, basmati rice with prosciutto and edamame. (Koda Bistro, 10352 S. Western Ave., 773-445-5632; Café 103, 1909 W. 103rd St., 773-238-5115)

5. Beverly Records: Crate diggers and vinyl aficionados will fall in love with this 45-year-old shop that's jam-packed with rare finds, if you take the time to dig. They also sell CDs, laserdiscs, 8-tracks and cassettes, but the draw is finding something on vinyl you may have lost or never heard of that makes an ideal addition to your record collection. If you're a tavern owner or someone that owns a jukebox, Beverly Records has a 45 club with a $10 registration that gets you a 10 percent discount on all 45s, custom printed labeling and a newsletter letting you know of new 45s that arrived in the store. (11612 S. Western Ave.)