Aeriel Brown (photo editor),
Paul Elledge (photographer)
1855 W CHICAGO AVE
CHICAGO, IL 60622-5513
Artists: Robert Hixon, Nuco, Erik Gillespie
When Tomato Tattoo owner Robert Hixon set out to name his shop, he jokingly suggested an unusual moniker to his girlfriend. “In our history, tomato is symbolic of love,” he says. “So I threw it out there and the more we thought about it, the more it seemed to make sense.” The name does seem perfect for the little shop, which emphasizes passion for the craft over big personalities. “We all love what we do. We all do what we do well, and we aren’t about cutting each other’s throats,” says Hixon about himself and the other artists at the shop. And, he adds, “Nobody here has a rock-star mentality.” The shop is a “local’s place,” where the clientele is as varied as the work they do. And an emphasis on personal attention helps keep the pace slow. “We feel no need to rush people in and out,” says Hixon. While the shop does accept appointments, its street roots are maintained by setting aside one day a week exclusively for walk-ins. When asked why, Hixon has a surprisingly simple answer: “I would go crazy if I knew what I was doing every day for the next month.”
EAT AT: Cleo’s, 1935 W. Chicago Ave., 312-243-5600. Located off the beaten path, this dark, sexy pub and eatery features a winding bar and plenty of tasty bites. Grab one of the outdoor tables if the weather is nice.
DRINK: Nilda’s Place, 1858 W. Iowa St., 773-486-4720. Only in Chicago can you find biker favorite Jeppson’s Malort, a musty, bitter liquor distilled from wormwood—and there’s no better place to try it than unpretentious Nilda’s Place. After you throw one back, stick around for a game of pool on the table in the back.
SPEND: Rotofugi Designer Toy Store & Gallery, 1953 W. Chicago Ave., 312-491-9501. Stop by and pick up a D.I.Y. vinyl toy kit or the hottest kaiju figures at this shop that sells baubles from Eastern and Western designers.