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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 handcrafted non-alcoholic drinks

Food & Drink, Near West Side No Comments »

Next’s drink pairings

We’re taught drinking wine with a meal enhances the flavor of the dish, but Next recognizes spices like cardamom and fennel combined in non-liquor drinks also emphasizes a meal. While dining at Next, you can opt for elaborate wine pairings or these cheaper non-alcoholic pairings, which are pretty tasty and inventive. The refreshing drinks are made from ingredients like ginger, elderflower, saffron, pomegranate, verjus and sanbitter that complement Next’s (so far) rich French, Thai and American samplings.

953 West Fulton Market

Best of Chicago 2011

Best beer man at United Center

Category, Near West Side, Sports & Recreation No Comments »

That guy working the upper-deck 300 level at the Blackhawks game
“Beer here, beer here!” The game has your temperature rising so it’s time for a cold one. “Beer man, over here.” Before you can bat an eye, this guy’s gouged a hole in the side of the can, flipped the top and poured that baby—ten seconds flat. Damn impressive, but what sets him apart is the dramatic flair of a true performer he brings to his work as he throws his head back as if he’s in a state of personal ecstasy. He’s so good, you order a round for the whole row, just to watch the show. That roar, Hawks score? Oops, missed it.

Best of Chicago 2010

Best public park

Audience Choice, Category, Loop, Near West Side, Sports & Recreation No Comments »


Photo: Kristine Sherred

Mary Bartelme Park/Adams-Sangamon Park

Many Chicago parks are merely utilitarian: flat rectangles of grass broken up by a few baseball fields and basketball courts. So it’s exciting when the Park District thinks outside the diamond and creates a unique green space. Opened last summer, Adams-Sangamon Park features a large, groovy playground with drawbridges and climbing nets, a dog run and man-made hills covered with native grasses. Boulders and seating cubes are strewn about in pleasingly random patterns. The coolest element? Huge silver gateways shaped like crooked picture frames, spraying refreshing mist in hot weather.

115 South Sangamon

Audience choice:
Millennium Park
Michigan Avenue between Randolph and Monroe Street

Best of Chicago 2010

Best antique shop

Audience Choice, Goods & Services, Near West Side No Comments »

Salvage One

Got a Quasimodo fetish and want your very own cast-iron church bell for your living room? Well if you’ve got an extra $12,000 to spare, this wondrous West Side emporium of building salvage has you covered. It used to be that such lavish prices were the norm and that for most, except say Sam Zell and his homies, Salvage One and its rival Architectural Artifacts in Ravenswood were de facto “look but don’t touch” museums. However, in the last few years, the owners of Salvage One have dropped prices such that with the right credit card you can actually be the proud owner of some of Chicago’s squandered architectural craftsmanship. For those who still don’t have the ducats, the spot doubles as a marvelous found-art installation. One highlight: the courtyard waterfall made from repurposed melamine lunch trays and old organ pipes.

1840 West Hubbard

Audience choice:
Broadway Antique Market
6130 North Broadway

Best of Chicago 2009

Best new music venue

Culture & Nightlife, Near West Side 1 Comment »

Epiphany Episcopal Church

It’s Friday night and all the hipsters are going to…church? In a partnership with Empty Bottle Presents, Epiphany opened its doors to the rock community in mid-September with acts like Low, Jenny Lewis and the wacky Dan Deacon performing shows. At first it might seem daunting to attend a rock concert in such a sanctified place, but the crisp and booming acoustics simply put Aragon to shame. The absence of pews combined with flowing Goose Island beer and beautiful lit-up murals transforms the church into a full-fledged rock hall with an inkling of godliness.

201 S. Ashland

Best of Chicago 2008