1. One of the advantages to living in this Northwest Side neighborhood is proximity to the family-owned Eli's Cheesecake World, 6701 W. Forest Preserve Dr. The cheesecake sprang from Eli's The Place For Steak restaurant; the dessert made its official debut on July 4, 1980 at the first Taste of Chicago.
Originally a manufacturing/distribution plant, Cheesecake World was renovated and remodeled, adding a 40-seat cafe, serving up coffee, cakes and of course, cheesecakes. More than 30 types of cheesecakes are manufactured and you can tour ($3 a person, call ahead to arrange, 773-736-3417) the glass-fronted processing/baking area to see just how these delectable treats are made.
The company store features “Sweet Imperfections,” cheesecakes at nearly half-price.
2. Those who have lived in the area for decades affectionately call the Harlem Irving Plaza Mall, 4104 N. Harlem (at Forest Preserve Drive), “the HIP.”
Technically located in Norridge (but literally across the street from the Chicago border) the HIP opened in 1956 (the land was once the site of a livestock farm) and was one of the first “shopping centers” built in the Chicago area. At the time, it was an open-air shopping center with 44 stores including Wieboldt’s, Woolworth and Kroger’s.
That all went away more than 30 years ago when the mall was renovated, and enclosed, expanding to more than 700,000 square feet of enclosed shopping space. Anchor stores now include Target, Carson Pirie Scott and Best Buy.
3. The familiar “choo-choo train and engineer” neon sign of Franksville, 3550 N. Harlem, has been beckoning diners for decades. This is the home to the footlong hot dog ($3.80), the jumbo dog ($3.80) and the regular Chicago hot dog ($1.97). The cheese fries ($2.24) are a must. Dine-in or drive-through.
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