The Best of Chicago: 2017 Edition

All of your favorite local stories from the past 365 days

By Michael Nolledo

The Best of Chicago: 2017 Edition
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26 December 2017

Utter chaos notwithstanding, there were some things we enjoyed this year.

Like a retelling of the night the Cubs won the World Series from the last dive bar in Wrigleyville. Or asking a few local gentlemen how they save and spend their hard-earned money. Or the low-down on where to shoot the ultimate Chicago street photo.

So here’s a look back at all your favorite stories of 2017.

Yes, times are tough. But you made it worth it. Thanks for reading — and here’s to your health and happiness in the new year.

We investigated the greatness of Chicago’s corner-bar culture
Our roving food reporter Maggie Hennessy hit some of Chicago’s most storied corner taverns, spending hours at the pine to gather stories from owners, barkeeps, regulars and more. The result: a musical history of Gallery Cabaret, the Wicker Park bar with a legendary open-mic night, as well as a retelling of the night the Cubs won the World Series from the last dive in Wrigleyville.

Food! Glorious food!
It was a marquee year for Chicago’s food scene. After Bon Appetit crowned us the “Best Restaurant City of the Year,” we tracked down Bon App Senior Editor and former Time Out Chicago dining critic Julia Kramer for an illuminating conversation on Chicago’s food culture. We also did plenty of our own investigating, publishing stories on comestibles both high (excessive steakhouse meals) and low (the city’s best cheap eats), along with deep dives into Detroit-style pizza, Chicago craft beer and the iconic Chicago sandwich you've probably overlooked. And for good measure, we sampled elevated hot dogs and ranked the city's best giardiniera.

We surveyed the best of Chicago's cultural happenings
We sought to see Chicago through different perspectives by digging into archival civic photographs, speaking with writer and casual linguist Edward McClelland about the Chicago dialect and, in celebration of the 150th celebration of Frank Lloyd Wright’s birth year, designing a driving tour of the architect’s most important Chicago buildings. We also asked nine of the city’s best photographers to tell us where to go for the ultimate Chicago street shot. And last but certainly not least, we asked Women’s March on Chicago co-chair Liz Radford a simple question on the one-year anniversary of election night: Where do we go from here?

We also toured the city by foot (and pedal)
Seeing 2017 was the “Year of Public Art,” we rounded up the Loop’s most underrated public artworks. We also mapped out (and illustrated!) the city’s best long bike rides. Speaking of illustrations, we drew a guide to Chicago’s best record stores. Then, ahead of the Chicago Architecture Biennial, we asked five local architects to name their favorite buildings. Elsewhere, we uncovered the next “it” neighborhood for prospective homebuyers while our comprehensive guide to Chicago’s single-game box suites proved we’re still the best damn sports city in the world, no matter how terrible our teams are.

We cleaned up nice
Chicago, you need a new suit. How do we know? You loved our custom suit-shop guide. And for cleaning up in the non-sartorial sense, we shopped for home goods at Rejuvenation and stole five design ideas from the newly opened Ace Hotel.

How the Chicago gentleman saves (and spends) his money
You can’t readily ask your friends about money — so we did. Intrepid correspondent Moira Lawler asked three Chicagoans from three different income brackets to share their financial habits and thoughts: how much they make, how they spend it and how life would be different if they had a little more. Their answers may surprise you.

We traveled well
We kicked off the year by heralding the arrival of the Midwest’s first great ski resort. Then we kicked off summer by visiting a wakeboarding paradise in Crystal Lake. With our Four Hour Travel Rule series, we proved Milwaukee and Lake Geneva are fine getaways. As for your favorite cabins? There was the Woodland House and the Wisdom Woods. We’ll meet you up there.

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