Best of Chicago 2009

The traditional mission of a Best Of is—let’s be frank—largely to suggest places to spend your money. But if you’re among those of us who didn’t just get a million-dollar bonus from your government-bailed-out employer, you’ll find plenty of ways to spend less of it in our 2009 Best of Chicago. Sink your teeth into a real burger (with organic greens!) for just a buck. Stretch the time between beers with free Ping-Pong. Feast on Peking duck and steamed buns for under $10. Find great vintage duds, buy used books, collect art from tomorrow’s stars today. And take pleasure in the simple things—like a smoke on the stoop, a cocktail that tastes like spring, or a heavenly cardamom-scented latte. Oh—and don’t you need something to read while you sip?   

Art & Architecture

Best art gallery | Best emerging artist | Best emerging architect | Best building to show out of  town guests | Best endangered building

Bars & Clubs

Best beer selection | Best happy hour snacks | Best nonmusical entertainment | Best place to dance your ass off | Best karaoke | Best drink specials | Best new cocktail | Best jukebox | Best DJ lineup | Best outdoor smoking area | Best douchebag watching

GLBTQ

Best gay variety show or  open mike | Best gay festival | Best gay coffee shop | Best non-gay venue to  meet gay people | Best gay news source

Food & Drink

Best new restaurant | Best place to eat if someone  else is paying | Best diner | Best vegetarian restaurant | Best buffet | Best Japanese restaurant | Best dim sum | Best BYO | Best wine list | Best cheap Mexican restaurant | Best late-night eats | Best dessert | Best bang for your buck | Best place to take a toddler | Best foo-foo coffee drink | Best microbrew | Best wine shop for tightwads | Best bread | Best vegan nosh | Best doughnuts

Music

Best rock or pop act | Best hip-hop act | Best jazz act | Best blues act | Best folk or country act | Best record label | Best guitar shop | Best all-ages venue | Best unofficial venue | Best free shows | Best show I’ve seen in a long time | Best band name | Best place to buy ethnic music  that’s not a record store

Performing Arts

Best established  theater company | Best emerging  theater company | Best touring  production in  the last year | Best local  production in  the last year | Best emerging  playwright | Best improv group | Best sketch group | Best stand-up  comedian | Best dance company | Best choreographer

Lit

Best reading series or  open mike | Best book about  Chicago, ever | Best book by a Chicago author  in the last year | Best used book sale

Movies

Best film festival or series | Best filmmaker | Best film made in Chicago, ever | Best library branch for  borrowing videos

Fashion

Best clothing designer | Best new boutique | Best used clothing store | Best shoe store | Best eyewear shop