With a rainbow pride flag swaying in the moist air, the Morse Red Line Stop emerged from the windows of the CTA train. Cars went up and down the two-lane street at a slower pace than in the heart of the city.
Just one stop to the north of the Loyola stop resides a colorful area with paintings around every corner. This stop is home to J.B. Alberto’s, a notable pizzeria for most Loyola students, but the area also includes a nearby gyro restaurant and a trendy thrift store.
To the right of the rain-soaked CTA exit was a large amount of local food restaurants including places called “Sub Brothers” and “Pub 626.” After walking past a few sit-down restaurants on the right of the train station, I found something that caught my eye on the left side of the street.
“Morse Gyros” (1335 W. Morse Ave.) is just a stone’s throw away from the J.B. Alberto’s at the corner of North Wayne Avenue and West Morse Avenue. With a sign pasted on a cement building, Morse Gyros welcomed patrons with its checkered floors and wooden booths.
The head cook wore a chef’s hat and helped customers as the small restaurant became crowded. With many satisfied eaters with smiling faces, I had to try it myself. After listing his recommendations, the chef began to make my veggie pita and fries. Other food options included gyros, sandwiches, burgers, tacos, quesadillas, salads and chicken.
I sat down facing the street to enjoy my food as an eager CTA driver came into the restaurant and ordered his meal while another family of four came in for lunch.
Through the glass windows, people holding umbrellas passed by the restaurant, trying to stay dry as rain trickled down. Cartoon Network played on the TV for the little kids and other customers ate their meals as I devoured my crinkle-cut fries and delicious pita.
Passing under the L station to get to my next destination, the Mile of Murals — a project started in 2007 for which large paintings were placed on the cement walls of the CTA Red Line tracks — lit up the gloomy day. Colorful scenes of a painter, a guitar and ocean waves decorate the wall near the station. This movement, which includes 10 large-scale paintings, was meant to promote the artistic nature of Rogers Park, according to the project’s website.
Farther down on the right side of the train station, another mural painted on a brick wall displayed a black background with calming words reading “peace” and “love” in different languages. This piece was more proof this stop has a massive artistic energy.
The brick wall with the black mural was apart of a thrift store named New to You Thrift Shop (1545 W. Morse Ave.). This 92-year-old store started out as one storefront and expanded into three.
The first storefront displayed men’s clothing and glassware along with other miscellaneous things such as board games and cards. The second storefront connected to the men’s section was meant for women’s clothing, baskets, jewelry and patterns for sewers. Still connected to the store through a tiny opening, the third storefront included kid’s items such as clothing, costumes, books and retro vinyl.
After exploring the variety of clothes the store sold, I found some flannels that fit just right and as I checked out, I heard the unique story of the shop. After a member of the managing staff died a few years back, the store nearly closed but found comfort in the locals to stay open, according to one of the employees.
Leaving the thrift store, my feet splashed in the puddles along the sidewalk as I walked back to the CTA. Passing a cafe and some artist studios, my excitement grew as I couldn’t wait to come back to check out the rest of what this stop has to offer on a day when the weather also agrees.