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Food quest: Clybourn Avenue

The Clybourn Corridor, aka the Forever 21-Apple Store-Whole Foods Triangle, is poised to become even more retail-licious in the coming year. Target, Nordstrom Rack, Sephora, Anthropologie and others have plans to move in soon, and all those shopping sprees are going to require some sustenance. Next time you find yourself running errands down this dense strip, save room on your credit cards for bites at these old standbys and new-to-the-'hood eateries, located further north along Clybourn closer to Fullerton Avenue.

FIRST: Polka Sausage & Deli, 2401 N. Clybourn Ave. 773-221-0395

No matter your particular preference of sausage, be it a brat or a Polish or an Italian, Polka's made it in-house since 1945. The Taste of Chicago regular has relocated from its original South Chicago digs to a new Lincoln Park location, which you'll be able to spot thanks to the pig sign hanging above the door. We'd recommend trying on those skinny jeans before digging into a garlic-packed German sedelova with mustard and house-made kraut ($4.45).

NEXT: Vanille Patisserie, 2229 N. Clybourn Ave. 773-868-4574

Vanille, a European-style pastry shop, feels like it belongs in this fashionable quarter. Since 2003, Vanille has baked a rainbow of delicate tarts, mousses and petit fours that almost look too beautiful to eat. Almost. A major draw is the pastel rainbow of French macarons ($1.50 each) available in flavors both classic (vanilla, hazelnut, pistachio) and daring (red velvet, PB & J, honey almond). If you're already feeling full, these tiny treats fit the bill.

LAST: The Drinkingbird, 2201 N. Clybourn Ave. 773-472-9920

Some things, like little black dresses and well-shined oxfords, never go out of style. Four-month-old lounge The Drinkingbird is a nod to the glitzy '60s, with retro cocktails and a freshly revamped menu of snacks to match the neon decor. Fill up on brie and dried apricot-stuffed croquettes (3 for $4) or a gooey smoked gouda and fontina fondue dip ($8), or just toast a successful day of shopping with brand-new fall cocktails ($9) such as The Toronto—rye, Fernet Branca, simple syrup and Angostura bitters—or Vieux Carre, a New Orleans-inspired blend of rye whiskey, cognac and Benedictine.

kbernot@tribune.com | @kbernot

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
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