I stepped up my contribution to the Reader‘s Best of Chicago issue this year with my picks for the best window seat in Chicago, best under-appreciated Chicago novel (one I’ve been enthusiastic about for awhile), best place to buy a thoughtful, inexpensive gift (because I am entirely unafraid to admit my gift for choosing jewelry), best local blog(s) (including a corrective to the biggest problem with architecture criticism), and perhaps the category that means the most to me, best local nonfiction writer.

This weekend I had the opportunity to try the best place to try palm wine, and it was well worth the trip. Due to the ayamashe I ordered, which was sort of like pot-roasted lamb in a sauce that was so spicy it made my nose run, I passed on the house-made ginger beer so as not to overinflame my rather delicate—well, actually, just wimpy—palate (I grew up in southwestern Virginia, where the only spice we really use very much is salt and maybe a little bit of pepper), but I plan on returning and pairing it with something that knocks me on my ass a bit less.

And I haven’t been, but I spent awhile browing the blog of the furniture-centric best thrift store, and plan on hitting it up after I finish my move. City thrift stores tend to have furniture selections that are overpriced and/or somewhat worse than what you can find in the alleys, so I’m pretty excited.