Best of the South Side 2008: Beverly

Often overlooked due to its distance from the nearest CTA stop and its location straddling 100th Street, hanging over into the triple digits, Beverly is a quiet and at times suburban neighborhood on the southwestern edge of the city. It was annexed to the city along with most of the South Side in 1889, but large parts of it remained sparsely populated prairie until at least the 1950s. The neighborhood’s two most prominent physical features are a glacial ridge (the highest point in Chicago) and the limestone castle built on top of it in 1886, which has served as a home, an all-girls school, and a reportedly haunted Unitarian church. Don’t be intimidated by the hike from the southernmost stop on the Red Line; two Metra lines run through or near Beverly.

Best Ice Cream
Shawn Michelle’s Homemade Ice Cream
One hundred feet south of the city line, technically in the suburb of Blue Island, sits the new location of Shawn Michelle’s Homemade Ice Cream. The enthusiastic staff warn first-time customers, “Shawn Michelle’s Homemade Ice Cream is not responsible for any addictions” resulting from the seriously incredible quality of their ice cream. The “Sweet Sixteen Flavors” include their superior versions of the basics, like Vanilla Supreme, Burst of Strawberry, and a dark chocolate called Melanin Magic. Unique and brilliant flavors like Honey Cinnamon Graham Cracker Supreme and Taste of Heaven Supreme (bean pie ice cream with bean pie pieces) make this establishment worth the trek out to the furthest reaches of the city. 11925 S. Western Ave. Tuesday-Thursday, 11am-9pm; Friday-Saturday, 12pm-9pm; Sunday, 12pm-6pm. (708)239-1380. (Ellis Calvin)

Best Italian import
Calabria Imports
Calabria was founded in 1975 in suburban Blue Island by an immigrant from Reggio Calabria. Five years ago it moved to Beverly, and it has been serving the Far South Side neighborhood’s sizable Italian-American population ever since. The deli/grocery store offers Italian specialties such as lasagna, tortellini, homemade tiramisu, and cannoli, not to mention a wide selection of Italian sandwiches and general sundries. The 1950s-esque atmosphere given off by the friendly local deli is reinforced by the 99-cent glass Coca-Cola bottles available in the fridge. It’s true what they say: it really does taste better in a glass bottle. 1905 W. 103rd St. Monday-Friday, 9am-7pm; Saturday, 8:30am-6pm; Sunday, 11am-3pm. (773) 396-5800. (Sam Feldman)

Best Place to Complete Your Vintage Vinyl Collection
Beverly Records
Now celebrating its 41st anniversary, the Beverly Rare Record Shop, or Beverly Records, is a haven for all your classic vinyl needs–and more. In fact, it hosts a variety of “classic” (i.e. nearly antiquated) goods of all kinds, as the big glass case at the entranceway immediately illustrates. From baseball cards to Wizard of Oz dolls, Buddy Holly posters and a brick from the original Comiskey ballpark, the door to Beverly Records is like a gateway into a lost–but not forgotten–era. VHS tapes go for a paltry dollar, and of course, there’s the variety of classic rock and other LPs from genres running the proverbial gamut, including contemporary releases from chart-topping mainstays. Owner Jack Dreznes has been running the business since 1975; before that, his mom ran the show, and it really has the feel of a family-owned affair. Personable service and an extensive library of old and rare LPs (along with CDs, cassettes and even 8-tracks) make this one record shop that can hold its own with the best of the South Side–and beyond. 11612 S. Western Ave. Monday-Friday, 10am-7pm; Saturday, 9:30am-6pm; Sunday, 11am-3pm. (773)779-0066. (Sean Redmond)

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