Working out of a funky little storefront in Andersonville, the mother-and-daughter team who run bon bon create unusual and delicious chocolate treats. While the chocolate isn't terribly cheap (it's about $1.75 a piece), it's fantastic. Some of the pieces come in shapes like a Buddha or a "King Tut" design, and commonplace flavors like cherry and mint (though it's a very green, herbal mint) sit along more unusual offerings, such as rose and curry/five-spice. Other offerings include bar chocolates topped with flower petals. Service is enthusiastic and friendly.
Freehling Pot and Pan Company is an excellent choice when shopping for housewares in Hyde Park, especially for unusual items. Their staff was very helpful in assisting my selection of a pastry tip for making macaroons, and the manager was able to give me some good advice on what other products to use for that recipe. Their stock includes basic pots and pans, specialized items, and some lovely gift-worthy serving pieces. I only wish their hours ran a little later.
The Del Prado does have some things going for it--the views from the north side of the building are great, and the layout of the apartments makes good use of their space (as opposed to the "student-ghetto" layout of many other apartments in the area). However, my experience with the management while I lived in the Del Prado (2001-2003) was so unpleasant that I cannot recommend the building to anyone. For the last year of my stay, I could not get any repairs completed unless I called the maintenance people myself (the management failed to call maintenance even when I informed them that the ceiling of one of the bathrooms had collapsed onto the floor), and the record-keeping in the main office was so disorganized that at one point, many residents were issued eviction notices despite the fact that they had paid their rent, because the management could not find its records of payment.
My time living in the Del Prado was ultimately an unsatisfactory experience because of the incompetence of the management.
I've been very happy in my two years living at Flamingo-on-the-Lake Apartments. The management staff, especially Julie Brown, are tremendously competent and engaged. All of the services I've requested--minor repairs, exterminator, etc.--have been completed incredibly quickly and well. The building is very well maintained and it's clear that they put a lot of care into it. Also, the pool is a great perk in the summer.
If you live in Hyde Park, chances are you're disappointed in your grocery options. Hyde Park Produce is a refreshingly competent little market, selling not only produce but a small selection of Italian goods, frozen pastas, dairy items, and snacks. They also have a deli that's a bit hit (excellent salsa and olives) or miss (they can't slice prosciutto very thinly). The produce is always terrific, fresh, and inexpensive. My biggest complaint about this store is that they tend to start shutting down VERY early; they claim that they close at 8:00 on weeknights, but most of the merchandise is put away by 7:40.
I've been very happy with Knitters Niche over the year or so I've been shopping there. The staff are helpful, funny, and patient and are very accommodating with special orders. I think the selection of yarn is excellent, and the staff are great about providing recommendations and patterns for your purchases. It's definitely a great place to buy yarn, especially if you're looking for a place that isn't very hipster-infested.
I've always been happy with the way my clothes have returned from Vogue Cleaners--both the dry cleaning and the minor repairs they've done for me have been well-done and fairly inexpensive. The problems I've had with this business stem from their flakiness; they have never managed to get my name and phone number down correctly, and they routinely do not have my clothes ready on time. Though I appreciate the good work they do, I find their flakiness sufficiently inconvenient that I would not recommend them to others.
...Myopic Books is a decent option for used-book shopping in Chicago. Unlike many used bookstores in Chicago, Myopic is fairly spacious, with seating throughout the store. Myopic is relatively expensive for a used bookstore (books I've bought have averaged around $8-9), but it makes up for the expense with its impressive selection of used fiction. The selection of used cookbooks is also pretty wide, but that of other areas, like European history and mythology, is average or below average.
PROS: open late!
CONS: relatively expensive
I'm not sure how 57th Street Salon would stack up in a neighborhood with more salons, but for beauty-deprived Hyde Park, it's a keeper. Meseret, the owner, is an outgoing, colorful woman with an incredible memory for her patrons' likes and dislikes; she's also a terrific colorist. The prices are reasonable (I was paying around $100 for foil highlights, deep-conditioning, and a cut on long, thick hair) and the selection of products is decent. One caveat is that some of the other non-Meseret stylists may be unreliable, but all of the long-term employees seem alright.