To borrow from one Nelson Algren:
Loving Chicago is like "loving a woman with a broken nose: you may well find lovelier lovelies. But never a lovely so real."
That, in exacting Algren fashion, was Chicago in 2015.
Politics-wise: it was ugly. It was real. A new governor brought a new set of concerns.
Everything-else-wise: it was — welp — lovely. We staged the Great Steak Debate and crowned a winner. We ate everything in sight, and then some.
We spent 24 hours in the Virgin Hotel so we could extoll its virtues to you, dear reader.
James Beard Awards. The 606. Hidden travel gems in and around the Midwest. And so much more.
Here, our year in review.
Grab your tissuebox.
It’s a Runoff!
As we began 2015 with a new governor, matters of state came to dominate the news ticker. Chuy challenged Rahm. Then, Rahm proved that he, indeed, can rub people the wrong way. We reeled from the Laquan McDonald video, were shocked by The Guardian’s chilling expose on Homan Square. McCarthy got the can. CPD misconduct abounds. And lest we forget, Spike Lee made a movie called Chi-Raq. Politics as usual? Troublingly so.
Hey Man, Don’t Be a Jagoff
Speaking of politics ... in February, Lumpen Magazine dropped the Lumpen Field Guide to Chicago Jagoffs, a waggish piece of satire exploring the jerks of Chicago past and present. Inside: hilarious vignettes of jagoff-ery, crowdsourced and collected by editors Bill Savage and Paul Durica.
Our Great Big James Beard Awards Graphic
May marked the arrival of the James Beard Awards. We sported our best black tie and celebrated by publishing a visual guide to every Chicago James Beard Award winner since 1991, breaking down 12 James Beard Award categories and charting their respective local winners. It’s a little chaotic, sure, but so is the kitchen.
We Debated. About Steak.
Two months later, we had something of our own foodie award show: The Great Steak Debate, held at RPM Steak. We invited eight of the nation’s top steak purveyors and six of the city’s sharpest palettes to play judge. We invited 80 readers to fill out the room. And then we held a blind taste test. The goal? To brand a steak champion. We succeeded.
We Also Ate and Drank All The Things
Truth is, we ran around the city like lotus-eaters. We explored the indigenous art of slapping meat to bread in the Chicago Book of Sandwich. Uncovered the secret menu dishes every enterprising gourmand should know. Toured Restoration Hardware's spiffy Gold Coast flagship. Visited West Loop’s newest steakhouse for a little lesson in Wagyu beef. We found out how to make the perfect cold brew at home. All the while essentially living in the city's newest restaurants to bring you our monthly Table Stakes series.
The City Upped Its Hospitality Game
Hotel. Boom. 2015 was all about new modes of comfort. We reported on our wacky 24 hours spent in the Virgin Hotel and sang praises to the restored Chicago Athletic Association. All in, the city added a reported 2,200 hotel rooms in 2015. Here are the best of the best for your next local holiday.
A Good Year Spent Out of Doors
Summer brought the 606 and expansion to the Riverwalk. There were helicopter rides. Badass Ford Broncos. Yacht lessons in retired America’s Cup boats. We published a city tour to celebrate the Blues Brothers’ 35th anniversary. And the year’s biggest civic event kicked off in October: the Chicago Architecture Biennial — big ideas ensued. We primed ourselves by linking up with five hometown papparazzos for tips on shooting better architecture photography.
Destination: The Hell Outta Dodge
We sent ya all over the Midwest, from this glass house in southwest Wisconsin to these two beautiful cabins in Northern Michigan. 2015 saw us road-tripping to Madison. To Detroit. To Cincinnati. We made our way to Idaho to bring you a story on Goose Island’s hop farm. And for the seasoned globetrotter, we dropped the 16 best places to jet off to this winter.
You Got More Handsome ...
... courtesy of our Fall Style Issue. "Athleisure" was added to the Merriam-Webster dictionary just as Chicago got its own Kit & Ace. We also got a shiny new Uniqlo. And here at InsideHook, we posed the question: "does this shirt go with that tie?"
Finally … Let’s Talk About Sex
We introduced you to the steamy boudoir photography of local shutterbug Megan Saul; received sage advice on how to approach the sexiest woman in the room from burlesque siren Michelle L'amour. Meanwhile, our resident sexpert Esther Perel led the way with meaningful discussions on sex and the modern man.
Photo: Megan Saul