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Best thrift destination for brand-name clothes

Goods & Services, Lakeview No Comments »

Lakeview Brown Elephant
If you thrift not for the love of the hunt for that perfect “Mad Men”-era outfit, but because you like your name brand on the cheap, then the nigh-secret brand-name rack section at the Lakeview Brown Elephant is for you. Here you’ll find a spectacular array of the otherwise unaffordable and usually a few designer pearls among the usual dung. Check back often and finally score that affordable Ermenegildo Zegna jacket you’ve been seeking for years.
3651 North Halsted, (773)549-5943, howardbrown.org/hb_brownelephant.asp

Best of Chicago 2013

Best place to get ready for a night out

Goods & Services, Lincoln Park No Comments »

Goldplaited
Sure, we have a couple blow-dry bars in town, but nowhere that you can get your hair and makeup done by seasoned pros. The blowouts and updos are on par with any salon in town and ask for the signature Skinny Dip lipgloss for a luscious pout. The new Lincoln Park finishing salon is run by two friendly sisters who moved from LA to bring summerland glamour to Chicago. Come in your cocktail dress and step out ready to rock the red carpet.
2803 North Sheffield, (773)880-9180, goldplaited.com

Best of Chicago 2013

Best garden store

Andersonville, Audience Choice, Goods & Services No Comments »

Gethsemane Garden Center
Even if you’re not embarking on a new gardening project, you’ll want to stroll Gethsemane’s grounds in Andersonville, just to take it all in. The rows and rows of green, leafy plants, bright flowers, fountains and trellises might just convince you that you’ve temporarily left the city. If you want to dig a koi pond in your backyard, start an indoor herb garden, or purchase an heirloom tomato plant at the end of September, Gethsemane’s your go-to.
5739 North Clark, (773)878-5915, gethsemanegardens.com

AUDIENCE CHOICE: Gethsemane Garden Center

Best of Chicago 2013

Best cultural combination in a neighborhood grocery store

Goods & Services, Pilsen No Comments »

La Casa Del Pueblo
Pilsen is seeing the first signs of the hipster tide—a hookah bar here, a watering hole there, a smattering of vintage shops down 18th Street. Nowhere is this more apparent and humorous than in neighborhood grocery store La Casa Del Pueblo. It’s Pilsen, so there’s chorizo, cactus and pig feet in addition to peanut butter and jelly. There’s also, weirdly and wonderfully, barbecue seitan, veggie chips, Horizon organic milk, Newman’s Own mints. A whole half-aisle devoted to tea. And let’s not leave out green curry paste, Japanese plum vinegar, and rice noodles. Strolling down Casa’s aisles might just lead to the most eclectic, inspired dinner ever.
1810 South Blue Island, (312)421-4640, lacasadelpueblo.com

Best of Chicago 2013

Best place for kitchen gadgets

Audience Choice, Goods & Services No Comments »

Williams-Sonoma
The store associates are so friendly and won’t make you feel like a dunce for not knowing how to work the pasta-machine attachment. Cute potato mashers and seafood scissors will make your holiday meal prep so much easier without breaking the bank. And the smart thermometer is kind of magical. We can keep track of what’s cooking from our phones as we’re putting on our makeup? Whoa. Bonus: The new Lincoln Park location has the only Williams-Sonoma cooking school in the country, so you can actually learn how to use those spiffy new gadgets you picked up.
1550 North Fremont, (312)255-0643, williams-sonoma.com

AUDIENCE CHOICE: Sur La Table, 755 West North, (312)787-5111; 900 North Michigan, (312)204-6008, surlatable.com

Best of Chicago 2013

Best venue to record a studio-quality live album with your band for cheap

Goods & Services No Comments »

Lincoln Hall
Designing a venue with more dead space than live is risky. Given the historical tendency of architects to sculpt speaker-less rooms around natural reverberation points, musicians are accustomed to a certain grandiose sound. This type of environment is a nightmare for feedback-fearing, studio-friendly sound engineers, hence why concert halls with padded walls and big speakers have been popping up all over the country. The trend is unfavorable to experienced artists, but if your budding band is on a budget, your best bet is to secure a show at Lincoln Hall and knock out a record with the night’s pay.
2424 North Lincoln, (773)525-2501, lincolnhallchicago.com

Best of Chicago 2013

Best new boutique opened in the last year or so

Audience Choice, Goods & Services, Logan Square No Comments »

Tusk
Tusk, owned and operated by Mary Eleanor Wallace, is the newest addition to what seems to be a developing Armitage Corridor in Logan Square (triangulated with Parsons and Scofflaw). The shop is stocked with elegantly curated often pale-colored and flowy items: chunky sweaters and silk-patterned tops, limited-edition tote bags, publications and jewelry by local artists. Don’t miss the paintings by formerly Chicago-based abstract painter Michael Hunter on the walls. It’s only open some evenings and on weekends for now, but we all know Penelope’s is already jealous.
3205 West Armitage, (423)903-7093, facebook.com/Tuskchicago

AUDIENCE CHOICE: Revival a GO-GO, 1653 West 18th, (312)203-9171, facebook.com/RevivalAGoGo

Best of Chicago 2013

Best kids shoe store

Goods & Services, Lincoln Square No Comments »

Piggy Toes
Finding the right shoes for your kids can be a hassle, and the ones you got from Payless literally just fall apart at the seams after a month or two of rough use. Piggy Toes in Lincoln Square on Western offers the city’s most extravagant, most well-pruned selection of well-made, hard-to-find designer kids shoes, such as Tsukihoshi, Puma and a full line of Geox, built like tanks and guaranteed to last for months. There is a sale going on constantly, and the service is attentive, informed and patient with even the most rambunctious little ones. Truly a must-visit for urban parents.
4548 North Western, (773)281-5583, ptoes.com

Best of Chicago 2013

Best record store to dig for 45s

Goods & Services No Comments »

Logan Hardware
To dig, you have to get dirty, and no Chicago record store offers that opportunity better than Logan Hardware. It’s easy enough to come by overpriced, carefully catered 45s, and certainly Logan has a section dedicated to that, but the real joy is in sorting through the boxes they bought in bulk. With records as cheap as a buck, and a listening station’s nice needle ready for abuse, the only other option for finding forgotten classics is to head to their free arcade afterwards.
2410 West Fullerton, (773)235-5030, logan-hardware.com

Best of Chicago 2013

Best flower shop

Audience Choice, Goods & Services, Logan Square No Comments »

Fleur
Ralph Waldo Emerson’s quote “The Earth Laughs in Flowers” adorns the exterior of Fleur in Logan Square. Inside you will giggle like a schoolchild for the sheer cuteness of everything, including the catchy indie pop and occasional small puppy. Always perfectly adorned for any season or occasion, the store conjures an old European nook with its fresh stems in metal tins. Cards, gifts and other precious trinkets lay all around to further tempt. Next time you find yourself waiting for a seat at Lula Cafe, wander around the corner and get lost in Fleur’s splendor.
3149 West Logan, (773)395-2770, fleurchicago.com

AUDIENCE CHOICE: A New Leaf, 1645 North Wells, (312)642-1576; 1818 North Wells, (312)642-8553; 312 South Dearborn, (312)427-9097, anewleafchicago.com

Best of Chicago 2013