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Best pinball game in Wicker Park

Sports & Recreation, Wicker Park No Comments »

Metallica at Emporium Arcade Bar

Emporium Arcade Bar is home to one of Stern’s newer releases: the Metallica pinball game, equipped with the voices of the band’s members cheering on players. Classic hits from the band also accompany the fast-paced gameplay with the ramps being a highlight. There is a silliness to the game, too, as players earn multi-ball by striking the kid in the electric chair who is egging you on to do just that. With several versions of multi-ball achieved with varying degrees of difficulty, there is always a challenge, making this one of the more appealing and solid games from this Chicago-area manufacturer.

1366 N. Milwaukee, 773.697.7922, emporiumchicago.com

Best of Chicago 2014

Best pinball game in Lincoln Park

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Medieval Madness at Headquarters Beercade

Medieval Madness is a hands-down classic. Released by Williams in 1997, it is a rare and wonderful beast consistently sought after by collectors and players alike, and Headquarters Beercade’s got it. Spiraling ramps, a catapult and a gamut of missions earn players jackpots and multi-ball. A bit over-the-top, it’s infectiously fun with a damsel heckling her rescuer for taking so long to save her and a drunk slurring humorous phrases to anyone who will listen. Of course the usual medieval-themed suspects are in it as well including trolls, a wizard, an evil king and a dragon.

2833 N. Sheffield, 773.665.5660, hqbeercade.com

Best of Chicago 2014

Best half marathon

Audience Choice, Sports & Recreation No Comments »

The F^3 Lake Half Marathon

The F^3 Lake Half Marathon started out in 2010 as little more than a gag: Kimberley Stedman and some friends hoped to organize a race on the lakefront in the coldest month of the year. More than a hundred people participated. Two years later, the “official” race was established and promptly sold out 1,200 racing slots. In 2014, despite competing with a polar vortex, F^3 still managed to get a sold-out field of runners crazy enough to attempt 13.1 miles along the lakefront in January—and provided ample course support along the way. In a time when Chicago is introducing a new race every few weeks, this one is still a one-of-a-kind… though some masochistic tendencies are required for full enjoyment .

f3running.com

Audience Choice: Chicago Half Marathon, chicagohalfmarathon.com; Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago, runrocknroll.competitor.com (TIE)

Best of Chicago 2014

Best bike-friendly addition to the Lakefront Trail

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Bike Part Vending Machine

Bicycling magazine named Chicago the second-most-bike-friendly city. New protected bike lanes and Divvy certainly help. But then we’ve always had great infrastructure in the Lakefront Trail, a convenient way to traverse north to south with expanding views of the lake and skyline. Lakeshore Bike shop installed a bike vending machine near Waveland Avenue, carrying necessities from inner tubes to locks. Its location near tennis courts may make it a bit off the path, yet knowing this exists is definitely a positive when needing a fix after bike shops are closed. Bonus: it accepts credit cards.

Best of Chicago 2014

Best guess as to how long Tom Ricketts will be “patient” with Theo Epstein’s plan to build a winner

Audience Choice, Sports & Recreation No Comments »

One year

To say things haven’t worked out for the Cubs under “The Epstein Plan” is an epic understatement. Things have been straight-up f’d up. One more season of the season ending for the Cubs by the end of April will be the end of Theo in Wrigleyville. By this time next year if the Cubs aren’t playing like the KC Royals are now we’ll all be waiting for a press conference, waiting for Ricketts to announce who the next lame-duck GM of the worst team in baseball will be.

Audience Choice: Two more years

Best of Chicago 2014

Best mobile bike repair service

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Pedal to the People

It’s possible to not have known there was actually someone to ring, who would make a house call, when that trusty old ride breaks down. But there is. For a $20 fee, the aptly named Pedal to the People will come to your house, and provide a menu of tune-up services that range from $50 to $160, depending on what you need done. If your bike has three or more wheels, expect to pay a flat $60/hour rate. It’s a priceless service for busy people to restore a favorite bike to working order again, and for founder and cycling enthusiast Adam Clark, a way of life.

773.355.0882, pedaltothepeople.com

Best of Chicago 2014

Best Chicago bird watcher

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Greg Neise

The generous and loquacious Greg Neise is the go-to guy on Chicago birding. And this is saying something, as Chicago boasts some of the biggest reputations in American birding, including the author and naturalist Joel Greenberg, whose “A Feathered River Across the Sky”—a detective story, cautionary tale and heart-breaking history of the now extinct passenger pigeon—has achieved bestseller status and is considered as necessary as Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring” was in the sixties. Greenberg is also an acquaintance and pal of Neise, who generously offered us a list of his “Sweet Spots” for Chicago birding.

Best of Chicago 2014

Best nickname to replace “the friendly confines” once Wrigley Field gets decked out in billboards and Jumbotrons

Audience Choice, Sports & Recreation No Comments »

“The Neverland Domicile” or “Never, Everland’s Domicile.” (As in winning there is never gonna happen.)

Audience Choice: Ricketty Field

Best of Chicago 2014

Best professional Chicago sports team other than Bears, Bulls, Blackhawks, Cubs or Sox?

Audience Choice, Sports & Recreation No Comments »

Chicago Sky

Making it to the WNBA Finals was just the beginning. And had superstar Elena Delle Donne been healthy, well… they still would have lost, but the promise is there. Outside of the JRW Little League baseball team, the Sky’s postseason run was the best sports story in Chicago (so far) this year. From this they will build. From this we should follow.

Audience Choice: Windy City Rollers

Best of Chicago 2014

Best city street to ride a bicycle on

Audience Choice, Sports & Recreation No Comments »

Lawrence Avenue

It’s always gratifying when a street that formerly sucked to ride on suddenly becomes bike-friendly with the addition of thoughtful infrastructure. Such is the case with Lawrence, between Ashland and Western in Lincoln Square, where a long-awaited streetscape and “road diet” project is wrapping up. The street remix coincides with the construction of the massive new Ravenswood Metra station, plus the arrival of a Mariano’s and an apartment complex across the street. This stretch was formerly a drag strip, the only section of Lawrence in the city with four travel lanes, and one of the few without bike lanes. Now this stretch of street has two travel lanes, a turn lane, bike lanes, wider sidewalks and pedestrian islands. As a result, car speeds have mellowed, walking is safer, and pedaling has become a pleasure instead of a chore.

Lawrence Avenue between Ashland and Western

Audience Choice: Damen, Milwaukee (TIE)

Best of Chicago 2014