The 5 Best Places To Splurge In Chicago

By Staff in Arts & Entertainment on Oct 30, 2013 7:00PM

We're all on budgets, even people who could buy anything they want at a moment's notice. Sometimes there's a restaurant or shop that calls us so loudly we have to spend what money is left in our pockets and bust our spending budgets.

We've put together a list of five places where you can blow more cash than you anticipated once you've walked through the doors. That's why they call it "splurging," folks.

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Van L. Speakerworks
The place to splurge on high-end speakers for the hi-fi is without a doubt Van L. Speakerworks. Proprietor John Van Leishout has been in the audio business for more than 30 years and During that time he has been designing and building his own line of loudspeakers with "ambient recovery technology," which probably means more to those really in tuned with the ins and outs of stereo equipment than the average consumer.
However, a walk into John's listening room at the shop is an experience one doesn't forget soon. Not only is the sound from his speakers like a dream, John will talk your ear off and really sell you on his equipment. It doesn’t take much selling on his part.
"I sell champaign sound at beer prices," he said, but it still will cost you. A pair of his Silhouette floor speakers will set you back $3,995. One of his signature Quartet loudspeakers is cool $2,995. However, every review you find will tell you these speakers perform as well as those that easily cost two to three times as much.
Van L. Speakerworks also sells used and demo high-end speakers, amplifiers and other stereo equipment at bargain prices, or what passes for bargains for high-end stereo equipment. With one big splurge, this writer would get John's help to set up a quadrophonic hi-fi system and finally listen to that copy of "Countdown to Ecstacy" the way it was meant to be heard! -Casey Moffitt

Van L. Speakerworks is located at 5704 N. Western Avenue.


Merz Apothecary
Marz made our list of 15 classic Chicago stores and this list because it is the go-to place in Chicago for men looking to buy the necessary materials for classic wet shaving. And some of the unnecessary ones. Men: do you really need a $168 olive wood straight razor, a $118 badger hair shaving brush with a chrome handle and a $95 slate moss scuttle? The answer, from someone who bought everything he needs for a wet shave for less than $60, is no. But you can buy them at Merz along with a variety of facial scrubs, alum blocks and aftershaves that will put a dent in your wallet without making you feel guilty. Even those expensive shaving products will save your a fortune in the long run once you master the finer points of the three-pass shave. You'll never want to buy razor blade cartridges again. -Chuck Sudo

Merz Apothecary has two locations at 4716 N. Lincoln Ave. and in the Palmer House HIlton, 17. E. Monroe St.

Grace
I took my wife To Curtis Duffy's "microseasonal" restaurant for our 16th wedding anniversary a few weeks ago. It was incredible. Everything was top notch and firing on all cylinders. The service was not too stuffy, the food was beautifully conceived and executed. The meal set us back $850 with wine pairings...so, yeah, it is a splurge. I know they are not the same, but I spent a similar amount of money at Next Bocuse d'Or and felt like Grace was a far better experience. -Paul Leddy

Grace is located at 652 W. Randolph St.


Chicago Music Exchange
Like many a semi-recent college grads, I don’t often find myself with large excesses of cash. However, there is one place in Chicago I never regret spending it if I do. Chicago Music Exchange is an obvious destination if you’re looking for a high end vintage or new guitar/bass but it’s the extras that really draw me into this place. Plentiful and often rotating selections of pedals, amps, pickups, straps, slides, strings and virtually every other accessory you might need keep this Lakeview store stocked. In short, it’s not hard to drop a lot of dough here really fast. Drummers and vocalists, they’ve got plenty on the shelves for you, too. An always friendly staff is not only informative when it comes to selecting a new piece of equipment but, thanks to their built-in repair shop, can also make your old gear feel new again. - Katie Karpowicz

Chicago Music Exchange is located at 3316 N. Lincoln Ave.


Hats Plus
I was talking to some friends at a Halloween party last weekend about how a man should have at least three good hats (something besides a baseball cap) as part of his wardrobe. It isn't a need, mind you, but a couple good hats will help keep your head warm in colder climates and keep the stares of people away from that drab winter coat. That's why I frequent Hats Plus. This Six Corners mainstay has an inventory of thousands of hats in a variety of styles. The staff will measure your head in a pinch to get your size right. I've spent hours the equivalent of a mortgage payment over the years at Hats Plus. If you have an old hat that needs a touchup, cleaning or need the brim re-blocked, they can do that for you as well. I’ve taken hats to Hats Plus I thought were near death and they’ve either breathed new life into them or given them the proper burial they deserved. Ladies, you'll also find the right hat for you here. -Chuck Sudo

Hats Plus is located at 4706 W. Irving Park Rd.