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Best place for celeb sightings

Audience Choice, Culture & Nightlife, Gold Coast No Comments »

Chicago International Film Festival
The forty-eighth annual Chicago International Film Festival brought out the Hollywood heavyweights this year: Guests included Al Pacino, Christopher Walken and even Jon Bon Jovi. Those lucky enough to possess a pass not only felt star power on the silver screen; they were rubbing elbows with it!

Audience choice: Gibson’s, 1028 North Rush, (312)266-8999,

Best of Chicago 2012

Best drink with a view

Culture & Nightlife, Gold Coast No Comments »

Signature Lounge
Chicagoans don’t get enough opportunities to check out our city from above. One of the best aerial views is from the Signature Lounge located on the ninety-sixth floor of the Hancock building. The sights are best after sundown when the skyline lights up from Navy Pier to the West Loop. Pull up a seat and enjoy the view with one of their specialty cocktails like the Lake Shore Martini, Chicago’s Best Sidecar, or Magnificent Mile Manhattan. Try and name our busy lit-up streets and expressways as they disappear into the horizon.

Signature Lounge, 875 North Michigan, (312)787-9596,

Best of Chicago 2012

Best place to spot Walking Guy

City Life, Gold Coast, Streeterville No Comments »

By the Fairmont Hotel
He has more than 3,000 friends he’s never met on a Facebook account he never created. Chicago locals talk about him every day but few (if any) have ever heard him speak. The sight of him strolling the streets sends onlookers into a frenzied search for their cameras and phones to document his fleeting presence. There are more rumors about him—about his life, his reason for walking and his journey in general– than the number of steps he takes each day. He is the Walking Guy of Chicago. An icon, a recognizable stranger, and a man who hits the pavement as much as frustrated Chicago drivers hit their horns. Often compared to Sam Elliott and Yanni, the Walking Guy has a distinguished style: a white v-neck shirt under a grey suit with the jacket open, of course. His unmistakable walk–head bent forward, always on a mission–can be traced along Michigan Avenue, Wacker Drive and Illinois. The best place to see him is at the Fairmont Hotel on Columbus Drive, where he’s been seen selling watches to cab drivers. He’s also been spotted on Wabash Avenue over the Illinois Street underpass and frequently walks along Clark. Of course, the mustached man is always on the move so there’s no guarantee you’ll ever find him.
Best of Chicago 2012

Best stage reboot

Culture & Nightlife, Gold Coast No Comments »

After a highly acclaimed run in 1998, “Metamorphoses” went on to off-Broadway and, ultimately, Broadway where it won director Mary Zimmerman a Tony in 2002. Returning to the Lookingglass stage all these years later, with most of the same cast and design team along with Zimmerman at the helm, the piece is perhaps better than ever. This collection of mythological tales brought to life is emotionally gripping and hilarious, not to mention both timely and timeless.

Lookingglass, 821 North Michigan, (312)337-0665,

Best of Chicago 2012

Best salumeria

Food & Drink, Gold Coast No Comments »

Quartino Ristorante & Wine Bar
Chef John Coletta has a whole walk-in chiller stocked full of house-made sausages at Quartino Ristorante & Wine Bar. And not all of them are made from pork. The latest trend? Duck prosciutto. The team here also crafts varieties of the spicy sausage sopressata (like pepperoni) and salumi. Coletta’s Salumeria Tasting menu option is a chance to sample two different types of their salumi with two different cheeses and olives. We thought the salumeria was accented best by the Pinot Nero, a rose-colored sparkling wine. Salute!

Quartino Ristorante & Wine Bar, 626 North State, (312)698-5000,

Best of Chicago 2012

Best cupcake from a vending machine

Food & Drink, Gold Coast No Comments »

The Black and White in Sprinkles’ Cupcake ATM
Between this Gold Coast cupcakery’s catchy jingle and clever curbside “cupcake ATM,” it’s destined to be as memorable a local brand as Empire. After all, like carpeting, cupcakes are here to stay, right? In August, owner Candace Nelson, a “Cupcake Wars” judge and one-time Bobby Flay “Throwdown” judge, unveiled a pale pink-colored confectionary contraption a few feet outside her front door. Nelson’s cupcake ATM operates twenty-four hours a day, dispensing cupcakes for four dollars each. The machine holds 600 cupcakes, including our favorite: The Black and White, a moist Belgian dark chocolate cake topped with creamy white frosting.

Sprinkles, 50 East Walton, (312)573-1600,

Best of Chicago 2012

Best corner for public evangelizing

City Life, Gold Coast No Comments »

Southeast corner of Pearson and Michigan
Pass this corner on most any weekend day and you’re all but guaranteed to see a small Asian man brandishing a large sign and repeatedly demanding that you “Read the Bible every day!” Half a block down, on the stairs of the Water Tower Water Works building, a squat African-American man with a cherubic smile is handing out Christian Chick leaflets with comic-strip drawings and titles like “Where’s Rabbi Waxman?” and “Allah Had No Son.” Moody Bible Institute students occasionally use the corner for street preaching and debate practice and Steve Cohn’s loudspeaker-equipped minivan frequently passes through here, blasting his self-recorded gospel lectures to the streets.

Best of Chicago 2012

Best character on the Lakefront Trail

Gold Coast, Sports & Recreation No Comments »

Straw hat Speedo guy
There are plenty of characters on the Lakefront Trail, but none with as much notoriety as this uber-tanned, lanky gentleman who can frequently be seen walking up and down the trail (typically between Oak Street Beach and Fullerton) wearing only a black Speedo, a floppy straw hat and a determined grin. Aside from just walking, he’s also seen working stretchy fitness bands into his workouts, attaching them to his ankles or stretching them above his head.

Best of Chicago 2012

Best yoga studio

Audience Choice, Bucktown, Gold Coast, Lakeview, Lincoln Park, Lincoln Square, Oak Park, Park Ridge, Sports & Recreation No Comments »

Photo: Kristine Sherred

CorePower Yoga

Regardless of whatever misgivings you might have about supporting a corporate yoga company, there’s no denying the advantage of having seven—soon-to-be-eight—studios located throughout the city, each with almost a dozen classes each day. Regardless of where you plan to get your next drink, there’s somewhere nearby that gets you a yoga high and yoga bod beforehand—no excuses. But the CorePower mecca is the South Loop studio: As you search for a drishti (gazing point) in tree pose, you can choose to focus on an element of Chicago’s downtown skyline, which the fifth-floor studio showcases through its large windows.

CorePower Yoga
12 West Maple, (312)266-9642
1704 North Milwaukee, (773)227-9642
945 West George, (773)862-9642

 Audience choice: (tie)
Bikram Yoga Chicago
47 West Polk, (312)922-9642
1344 North Milwaukee, (773)395-9150
2736A North Clark, (773)348-9642
CorePower Yoga

Best of Chicago 2011

Best new mural

Culture & Nightlife, Gold Coast No Comments »

Jeff Zimmermann’s “you know what you should do” 

Jeff Zimmermann’s colorful public mural follows in the steps of the great Pop painter James Rosenquist, in a collage of portraits, products and politics. Partially commissioned by the Environmental Protection Agency, the mural responds to the topic of Lake Michigan’s health.

“you know what you should do”
By Jeff Zimmerman
Oak Street Beach, 1000 North Lake Shore

Best of Chicago 2011