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Best art museum that is not an art museum

Culture & Nightlife, Little Italy, Near West Side No Comments »

The Jane Addams Hull House Museum
In recent years this historic house museum has activated and complicated their rich history with a performance by fluxus artist Alison Knowles, the unveiling of a new Louise Bourgeois sculpture maquette for “Helping Hands,” an outdoor photo exhibition depicting undocumented youth by Parisian street artist JR, the launch-party for the Chicago Torture Justice Memorials project, the nitration of an Art Lending Library to share contemporary art in the homes of Chicagoans who would not otherwise purchase art, and a new series of “interventions” into the museum organized by Theaster Gates dealing with the under-investigated subject of whiteness.

The Jane Addams Hull House Museum, 800 South Halsted, (312)413-5353,

Best of Chicago 2012

Best pancakes

Audience Choice, Food & Drink, Gold Coast, Hyde Park, Lincoln Park, Little Italy, River North, River West, Roscoe Village, South Loop, Wicker Park No Comments »

Stax Café

We’ve probably had as many pancakes as Wilt Chamberlain had ladies and to pick amongst them is a disservice of sorts. For the Walker Bros. Pancake House in Wheeling’s Dutch Baby is just as solid as the Butterfinger-larded Bongo Room flapjack. It’s really just a matter of mood. No matter our temperament though, the light ricotta pancakes slathered with tart-sweet rhubarb strawberry compote at Stax Café always seem to fit the bill.

1401 West Taylor

Audience choice:

Bongo Room, Orange, Original Pancake House (TIE)

Bongo Room
1470 North Milwaukee

1152 South Wabash

738 North Clark

730 West Grand

2011 West Roscoe

2413 North Clark

Original Pancake House
2020 North Lincoln Park West

22 East Bellevue

1517 East Hyde Park

Best of Chicago 2010

Best chicken Vesuvio

Audience Choice, Food & Drink, Little Italy No Comments »

Rosebud on Taylor

The succulent bone-in-bird nesting on fat, creamy interior and crispy, crunchy-skinned potato wedges drizzled with beefy gravy and fat green peas will have you buying a round of martinis for your own personal Rat Pack and yelling out a very sated “Ring-A-Ding-Ding!”

1500 W. Taylor

Audience choice
Italian Village
71 W. Monroe

Best of Chicago 2008

Best of the Best: Little Italy

City Life, Little Italy No Comments »

Little Italy
In spite of the best efforts of the late Mayor Daley to destroy it by building the concrete monster known as the University of Illinois at Chicago smack dab in the middle of a thriving ethnic community, Little Italy thrives today as part Italian neighborhood, part upscale settlement and part college town. To find the essence of the neighborhood, visit grocer Conte Di Savoia and guide your nose through a delightful waltz of edible smells when you walk in the door. While there, have one of the best sub sandwiches in town, or load up at their fabulously inexpensive homemade pasta, meat and cheese counter. Then have dinner at Tufano’s Vernon Park Tap, the kind of no-nonsense cash-only family-style Italian restaurant that still posts its menu on chalkboards only, and that use to charm the likes of Frank Sinatra. And then, when you think you’ve mastered the neighborhood, head west to the Heart of Italy or Tri-Taylor and find other treasures even less tainted by the incursion of students, tourists and townhomers.

Little Italy, Taylor Street from Halsted to Ashland
Conte Di Savoia, 1438 West Taylor, (312)666-3471
Tufano’s Vernon Park Tap, 1073 West Vernon Park, (312)733-3393
Tri-Taylor Historic District, Oakley from Grenshaw to Congress Parkway

Best of Chicago 2002

Best of the Best: Pompeii Bakery

Food & Drink, Lakeview, Little Italy No Comments »

Pompeii Bakery
It’s the kind of success story we can’t eat enough of. A tiny neighborhood bakery opens its doors in 1909, offering, among other things, thick square slices of pizza. Nearly a hundred years later, it’s still in the family, still in the neighborhood, and still serving up some of the finest sliced pizza, not to mention many other Italian treats, in varieties galore. Except it’s expanded into a huge slick joint, and added a North Side outpost. Ah, America.

1531 West Taylor, (312)421-5179; 2955 North Sheffield, (773)325-1900

Best of Chicago 2002

Best of the Best: Mario’s Italian Lemonade

Food & Drink, Little Italy No Comments »

Mario’s Italian Lemonade
Ah, Mario’s. What fond memories we must savor after its closing for the winter a few weeks back. For some of us, Mario’s Italian Lemonade is the very evocation of summer, and, frankly one of the best things about living in Chicago, period. A little homemade stand sells the essence of cool to ever-growing crowds who share our secret, yet it’s hard to adequately describe to the uninitiated the pleasure derived from this slushy summer blend of lemon, ice and sugar, served out of a paper cup from some defunct fast-food joint somewhere. The varieties are plentiful, but stick to plain lemon or those that add real fruit-watermelon, cantaloupe or, our favorite, peach (available in a shorter season even than Mario’s itself)—to the concoction. Next May is just around the corner, isn’t it?

1068 West Taylor

Best of Chicago 2002

Best of the Best: Al’s #1 Italian Beef

Food & Drink, Little Italy No Comments »

Al’s #1 Italian Beef
In Chicago, we argue over whether Mr. Beef or Al’s reigns supreme, oblivious to the culinary riches we alone enjoy. With its slices of beef sopped, along with the Italian bread, in a juicy gravy, and heaped with hot giardiniera or mild peppers, Al’s Italian Beef crafts a sandwich that can only be described as a hearty wonder. Eat it with a bag of hand-cut fries, and, at the original Taylor Street location, at a counter (no chairs or stools here, bub) where you can watch the staff bustle around the open-coal stove.

1079 West Taylor (312)226-4017

Best of Chicago 2002