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Rush Street

November 11, 2005

At the core of Rush Street is a bustling nightlife nook known as the Viagra Triangle. An unholy, if well-dressed, congregation of leering lotharios and hot honeys, stogie-puffing conventioneers and high-priced hookers, it gives Chicago's hippest strip a bad (or, depending on your predilections, good) rap. Its saving grace: the more tranquil, relatively poseur-free zone between Oak Street and Chicago Avenue. Here, some spots to hit.

RED HOT CUISINE

Downtown Dogs
804 N. Rush
(312) 951-5141

A small, clean (from what we could see, anyway), well-lit place, Downtown Dogs serves up a bevy of cuisine tailor-made for cruising and boozing, both of which Rush Street wholeheartedly supports. Char Polish sausage, German burger with kraut, chile cheese tamale -- those are just some of the extensive menu's taste bud-tempting offerings. But be forewarned: while it may feel great going in after shots of tequila at Jilly's or bathtub martinis at Gibsons, the exit likely won't be as smooth. So take it easy, OK?

Hours: 10 a.m.-10 p.m. daily.

TEA TIME

Argo Tea Cafe
819 N. Rush
(312) 951-5302
www.argoteacafe.com

Starbucks used to pretty much own this stretch. No more. Since the advent of Argo, Gold Coasters and a steady stream of Boul Mich tourists have grown accustomed to their mate lattes, hibiscus steamers and high-end loose leaf teas. Wired for wireless (it's free), outfitted with functional tables and comfy chairs, and less scene-y than its coffee cousin down the street, Argo is a prime place to sip the day away in calming style.

Hours: 6 a.m.-11 p.m. Monday-Friday; 7 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday; 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday.

CLASSY CHASSIS

Bentley Gold Coast
834 N. Rush
(312) 280-4848
www.bentleygoldcoast.com

Car mavens, know this: you will salivate. This marble-staired auto palace, which also sells swanky watches and furs, is nothing less than a dream factory for the vast majority of passersby, many of whom press hands and faces to the large windows for a closer look. (You're also welcome to go inside.) Those lucky few with Benjamins to spare can choose from a variety of exotic and incredibly mean machines, including Bentleys with seats fashioned from Scandinavian cow hides, top-shelf Ferraris, racecar-fast Lamborghinis and even a half-million-dollar Porsche GT. It is so choice. If you have the means, we highly recommend picking one up.

Hours: 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday-Saturday.

YOUNG READERS' HEAVEN

Children in Paradise Bookstore
909 N. Rush
(312) 951-5437
www.childreninparadise.com

Your kid into Charlie and Lola? They're here. So is Walter the Farting Dog and Harry Potter, and all manner of stuffed animals (because every kid needs more stuffed animals). Oh, and CDs and DVDs. And teen-oriented fare like TC Boyle's The Human Fly and Other Stories. Or perhaps Everybody Poops is what you seek. Well, look no further. Storytime is every Tuesday and Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. Saturdays at 3 p.m., "Super Story Hour" features all manner of poems, books, games and eats. And sometimes there's a guest reader. No, probably not J.K. Rowling, but you can hope.

Hours: 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Friday and Saturday; noon-5 p.m. Sunday.

BEYOND THE GRAPE

Chalet Wine & Cheese Shop
40 E. Delaware (corner of Rush and Delaware)
(312) 787-8555

From cheap Cabernet to pricey Pinot, Chalet is a great source for all things alcoholic. But it also offers gourmet chocolates, fine cigars, well-built espresso machines and shelves filled with delicious cheeses (ask for a taste before you buy -- they won't mind). Java enthusiasts will appreciate the fresh selection of Intelligentsia coffee beans, roasted to perfection right here in Chicago and served in some of the town's finest restaurants. Grab a few handmade caramels at checkout for the walk home.

Hours: 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday; 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday.

TECH DREAMS

Bang & Olufsen
15 E. Oak
(312) 787-6006
www.bang-olufsen.com

A 10+ on the scale of cool, this small electronics emporium stocks gorgeous gadgets for the artsy tech-head. Among the most aesthetically minded of manufacturers, Bang & Olufsen does everything with a twist -- or three. Sleek plasma televisions, superfunky speakers and futuristic cordless phones in an array of colors are just a few of the items that might catch your wandering eye. Or perhaps you long for the those thrilling days of yesteryear, in which case check out the vintage Minette radio. It won't play episodes of "The Lone Ranger," but it screams 'old school' nonetheless.

Hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Wednesday; 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Thursday; 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday; closed Sunday.