Asrai Garden

1935 W. North

Asrai Garden is like the perfect literary cocktail. It mixes a strong dose of the English mystery of A Secret Garden with a few splashes of cheeky Sherlock Holmes magic—and adds for good measure equal a dose of Hemingway’s masculine elegance to balance the delicate Jane Austen romance. Each time I wander into Asrai, I try to come up with a plan for how I might clandestinely spend the night there, as I’m convinced that when no one is looking the taxidermy comes to life and the porcelain figurines dance across the countertops. The shop is filled with curious elixirs and potions, handcrafted wares, and even dainty antique engagement rings tucked away in a glass case. And, of course, owner Elizabeth Cronin and her talented team craft gorgeous flower arrangements, whether you’re planning a decadent wedding or picking out a simple gift. —Dean Fisher