website here

Best butcher shop

Audience Choice, Goods & Services, North Center, West Town No Comments »

Butcher & Larder
Owner Rob Levitt is one of the most deliberate, intelligent chefs in Chicago, and yet he’s also got that ineffable humble “guy” quality of an old-school butcher. His housemade sausages honoring local legends including New Glarus Spotted Cow cheese curd brats or Cemitas Puebla taco arabe links are both inspired bits of marketing and tasty chow. Though maybe nothing Levitt makes is better than the mineral-rich bone-marrow-infused burger patties he often serves up on weekends. Grill a few up and you’ve just turned your house into the best burger joint in Chicago. His butchery seminars with food writing legend Michael Ruhlman and charcuterie guru Brian Polcyn have also been the local food-lovers events of the year.

Butcher & Larder, 1026 North Milwaukee, (773)687-8280,

Audience choice: Paulina Meat Market, 3501 North Lincoln, (773) 248-6272,

Best of Chicago 2012

Best holiday potluck dish

Food & Drink, North Center No Comments »

Half Acre growler

Come prepared to share with a glass jug filled with made-in-Chicago ale. Half Acre’s growlers can be filled with their signature brews, including Gossamer and Daisy Cutter, or the seasonal Big Hugs imperial stout, sure to warm the heart and the gut.

Half Acre
4257 North Lincoln

Best of Chicago 2011

Best classic neighborhood pool hall

Category, North Center, Sports & Recreation No Comments »

Marie’s Golden Cue
The vintage marquee sign says, “We have smooth shafts and clean balls.” Inside the art deco building are cheap snacks, cheap games of pool and not much else. Amongst the nearly twenty Brunswick tables, a retro ambience permeates the solids and stripes. Ron Howard filmed his Vince Vaughn movie here this summer. No doubt he sensed the uniqueness of an era gone by.

3241 West Montrose

Best of Chicago 2010

Best place to have a bachelor party

Albany Park, Audience Choice, Culture & Nightlife, North Center No Comments »

Crabbby Kim’s Bikini Bar

A bachelor party should include some mildly sexist element that might annoy the bride, but no deal breakers. Hustling the groom out of VIP’s Gentlemen’s Club after he barfs under the table is a bit much; Crabbby [sic] Kim’s is just enough. Few straight chicks would care to hang out in a sports bar listening to Buffett, sipping Corona, munching a half-pound hamburger (only $3.50 on Thursdays and Sundays) and surrounded by dudes with mullets who are ogling the shapely barmaid dressed in a skimpy two-piece and high heels. That’s what makes Crabbby Kim’s an ideal place to say goodbye to being single.

3655 North Western

Audience choice:

The Admiral
3940 West Lawrence

Best of Chicago 2010

Best place to buy coffee beans

Audience Choice, Goods & Services, Lakeview, North Center, Ukrainian Village No Comments »

Half Acre Brewing Company

Now you can pick up small-batch coffee at the same place you buy growlers of craft-brewed beer, Half Acre’s brewery and tap room in the North Center neighborhood. Fill up your jug with Daisy Cutter pale ale, Gossamer golden ale or a changing line-up of seasonal brews. Then pick up a bag of Dark Matter beans, roasted in eight-pound batches at Star Lounge Coffee Bar, 2521 West Chicago in Ukrainian Village. If you’re lucky, they’ll have Big Hugs imperial stout, brewed with the coffee, so you can enjoy both tastes at the same time. It’s one-stop shopping for all your gourmet drug needs.

4257 North Lincoln

Audience choice:

Intelligentsia Coffee
3123 North Broadway

53 West Jackson

53 East Randolph

Best of Chicago 2010

Best Middle Eastern restaurant

Audience Choice, Food & Drink, Lakeview, North Center, Wicker Park No Comments »


A couple of years ago this category would have been a slam dunk for Salam across the street, but ever since their upscale renovation, there’s been an inconsistency in their offering. Their neighbor across the street continues to be one of the most consistent purveyors of dreamy allspice-infused melt-in-your mouth shawarma and lemony sumac-dusted falafel.

4639 North Kedzie

Audience choice:

Sultan’s Market
2057 West North

2521 North Clark

Best of Chicago 2010

Best reason to stop teasing vegetarians and become one

Food & Drink, North Center No Comments »

Chervil crepe at Browntrout

Chef Sean Sanders menu features more nuts than “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” Maybe the best use however is a sweet drizzle of Almond crème over a tender chervil crepe larded with earthy chanterelles and sweet corn.

4111 North Lincoln

Best of Chicago 2009

Best toy shop

Audience Choice, Goods & Services, Lakeview, Lincoln Square, North Center No Comments »

Timeless Toys

With rocking horses, stuffed animals and wooden blocks, you can play in a perfect paradise at this Lincoln Square treasure. Timeless Toys specializes in classic toys made of wood or fabric. The store carries puppets, Brio train sets and European-designed toys. Not that we care about celebrities, but Brad and Angelina shopped here for their dozen or so children, and probably liked the educational and interactive aspect as much as we did.

4749 N. Lincoln

Audience choice: (Tie)

Toys R Us
3330 N. Western

Uncle Fun
1338 W. Belmont

Best of Chicago 2008

Best place to watch soccer on TV

Audience Choice, Culture & Nightlife, North Center, Sports & Recreation No Comments »

Globe Pub

There’s good reason named the Globe Pub as 2007’s Best Soccer Bar in the U.S. Showing all MLS, English Premiership League (EPL), Scottish Premiership League (SPL) games and more, it’s not uncommon to find devout fans here early on Saturday mornings to watch games broadcast overseas. And the bar is happy to cater to the crowd with a full breakfast menu, in addition to regular pub fare. As the “home bar of the Chicago Fire,” the Globe Pub also offers a shuttle bus to and from home games at Toyota Park in Burbank.

1934 W. Irving Park

Audience choice:
Small Bar
2049 W. Division

Best of Chicago 2008