Strip mall surprises, part IIII: Dunbrook Center

All good things must come to an end, and we’ve reached the fourth and final installment of an ongoing series that spins north suburban strip malls as beauties to behold. (Catch part I, part II and part III.)

Hyperbole aside, I have to say that while researching these posts, I’ve been delighted to learn just how many super great local businesses have found their place in strip malls. What’s the lesson I hope to impart? Fellow suburbanites, next time you drive by a strip mall–and it will be soon because they’re everywhere–take a turn into the parking lot. You just might be surprised.

Up this week, last but not least: Dunbrook Center at the northeast corner of Pfingsten and Dundee roads in Northbrook.


As a kid, I basically would’ve sacrificed my left pinky to have shopped at a store like Peek-A-Boutique. Super-fun shirts, colorful rompers and adorable accessories for both girls and boys (not to mention the cutest little onesies). In case you’re wondering, my current favorite item–that I plan to buy for myself, thank you very much–is a swimsuit wet bag covered in screenprinted sprinkles.


Splurge Boutique

If you’re in search of the perfect accessory or gift, you’re the reason Rhonda Phillips decided to open Splurge Boutique. From hand-selected jewelry and clothing to scented candles beautifully packaged and ready to give, it’s a one-stop shop for gift-giving, which comes in handy when time is tight.


Once Upon a Deli

Since opening Once Upon a Bagel in Highland Park more than 30 years ago, the family-owned “Once Upon” chain (including Once Upon a Grill, also in Northbrook) has come to be a North Shore favorite. Head to Once Upon a Deli for classic deli fare served up generously, from a New York-style hot corned beef sandwich to a bowl of homemade “mighty fine chili” for just $4.19.


Leonard’s Bakery

After lunch at the deli, stop by next door to pick up a fresh coffee cake, kiddush, rugelah, macaroon … you get the idea. Owned by Marc Becker, a fifth generation bakery owner, Leonard’s was originally opened in 1908 on Chicago’s south side by Marc’s grandparents. His parents moved the business to Devon Avenue in the ‘40s, and Marc opened the current location in 1987. Drop in and you’ll see why the phrase “hidden gem” was coined.


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