Posted inBest of Chicago

Best new west-side arts space

To activist Glen Kehrein, it was appalling that Austin lacked a center for fine and performing arts to showcase the neighborhood’s homegrown talent. His dream was to convert the unused auditorium in the former Siena High School expansion—one of the city’s finest remaining examples of midcentury modern architecture—into a professionally equipped community arts center. Kehrein’s […]

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Best R&B artist on a hot streak

Since 2018, Chicago singer-rapper Jean Deaux has released at least an EP or full-length every year, and there’s hardly a bum note in her growing discography. She harnesses the enticing aesthetics of R&B, reaching for the sublime with whispery percussion, lithe and steamy guitar melodies, supple keyboards in plush, downy drifts, and smokily smoldering vocals […]

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Arts & Culture poll winners

The people, places, and things voted Chicago’s best—and runners-up: street artist, mural, museum, comics illustrator, comics writer, zine, independent book publisher, poet, new poetry collection by a Chicagoan, poetry organization, nonfiction writer, new nonfiction book by a Chicagoan, novelist, new novel by a Chicagoan, reading series, lecture series, storytelling series, open mike, dance production, original digital content (dance), dance studio or training program, dance troupe, dancer, choreographer, venue for dance, new local opera production, opera company, performing arts festival, drag performer, venue to see drag, stand-up comic, venue for stand-up, comedian (non standup), sketch/improv troupe, venue for improv, filmmaker, film festival, movie theater, movie theater bar, film programming, drive-in movie programming, theater production, original digital content (theater), new play, virtual play, musical, new theater company, established theater company, off-Loop theater company, theater training program, stage actor, stage director, playwright, theater designer (sets, light, sound, etc.), venue for theater, theater bar or lobby, and more

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City Life poll winners

The people, places, and things voted Chicago’s best—and runners-up: activist, advocacy organization, alderperson, elected official in Chicago, elected official in Cook County, state elected official, federal officer holder from Illinois, charity, HVAC maintenance or repair, home construction or remodeler, lawyer, co-working space, hotel, overall radio station, radio DJ, podcast, blog, email newsletter, local TV broadcast news, doctor (general or primary care), dentist, chiropractor, ob-gyn, public mental health care clinic, Chicago Instagram account to follow, Chicagoan to follow on Twitter, tour, south side neighborhood, west side neighborhood, north side neighborhood, suburb, block club, and more

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Music & Nightlife poll winners

The people, places, and things voted Chicago’s best—and runners-up: music festival, streaming concert series, emerging band, emerging local label, local label, local album of the year, recording studio, music podcast, gig poster designer, blues band, individual blues musician, venue for blues music, R&B artist, classical ensemble, non-orchestra classical ensemble, classical music event, venue for classical music, hip-hop group, individual hip-hop artist, hip-hop DJ, hip-hop party, hip-hop producer, venue for hip-hop, house music DJ, venue for dance music, jazz ensemble, individual jazz musician, venue for jazz, singer-songwriter, country band, international or world music act, pop artist, metal band, punk band, rock band, venue for rock music, venue for magic shows, suburban music venue, music venue, music venue bartender, LGBTQ party, new bar, established bar, lesbian bar, gay bar, neighborhood bar, dive bar, 4 AM bar, hotel bar, and more

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Food & Drink poll winners

The people, places, and things voted Chicago’s best—and runners-up: socially distanced dining, outdoor dining, beer garden, food relief effort, local grocer, gourmet market, cheesemonger, butcher shop, meal kits, online cooking instruction, local food product, preserves, farmers market, local farmer, urban farm, home garden supply, Caribbean restaurant, Chinese restaurant, Chinese takeout or delivery, Greek restaurant, Indian restaurant, Italian beef sandwich, Italian restaurant, Korean restaurant, Mexican restaurant, Middle Eastern restaurant, Polish restaurant, Thai restaurant, Vietnamese restaurant, soul food restaurant, seafood restaurant, vegetarian restaurant, vegan restaurant, steak house, fried chicken shack, pizza, pizza by the slice, pizza delivery, gluten-free pizza, sandwich, banh mi, burger, quesabirria or birria de res tacos, taqueria, barbecue, hot dog, falafel, pierogi, soup, ramen, sushi, food truck, new pop-up, pandemic pivot from a restaurant, overall restaurant, place worth a wait, bang for your buck, restaurant group, chef, up-and-coming chef, cannabis chef, new food trend, bread, sourdough, bagels, doughnuts, bakery, desserts, paleteria, ice cream, coffee roaster, barista, local spirit, local distillery, cocktail, carryout or delivery cocktails, liquor store, local beer, local brewery, beer shop, wine bar, wine list, wine shop, and more

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Buy Local poll winners

The people, places, and things voted Chicago’s best—and runners-up: apartment finder, real estate agent, real estate company, bicycle shop, motorcycle shop, auto dealership, auto repair shop, comics shop, independent bookstore, record store, financial institution or bank, financial planner, florist, garden store, landscape company, jewelry store, tattoo artist, tattoo shop, barbershop, hair salon, pet adoption or animal shelter, pet store, veterinarian, picture framing store, place to buy local wares, home furnishings, resale shop, vintage store, kids clothing, place to buy gender-neutral clothing, place to buy women’s clothing, place to buy men’s clothing, T-shirt shop, streetwear brand, local clothing designer, shoe store, dancewear shop, sex toy shop, place to get married, recovery center, and more

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Cannabis poll winners

The people, places, and things voted Chicago’s best—and runners-up: “adult use” dispensary, “adult use” (rec) budtender, medical cannabis dispensary, medical budtender or patient care rep, clinic to get certified for a medical card, infused chocolate, infused gummies, infused beverage (drink, drop, syrup, tea), consumable, other (mint, tablet, snack food, etc.), product for increased libido, strain or consumable product for pain relief (include producer), strain or product for relief of anxiety (include producer), strain or product for sleep (include producer), topical, vape concentrate (strain & brand/producer), non-vape concentrate (strain & brand/producer), cannabis accessory selection in a dispensary, cannabis accessory boutique (non-dispensary), cannabis supper club, home chef, or caterer, local CBD source (local non-dispensary shop or brand), pet CBD product, cannabis advocacy or restorative justice organization, grow support resource, home grow supply shop, and more

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Best of Chicago 2021

We couldn’t have made this without you: the proud, opinionated, ballot-stuffing people of Chicago. Thank you for nominating and voting for your favorites. We get to celebrate what we love about living here. Of course there are also folks who are left out of the voting process, a gap that Reader staff and freelancers fill with impassioned essays.

Posted inArts & Culture

Temp check

Interviewees: Alma Weiser, director of Heaven Gallery; Janet Dees, Steven and Lisa Munster Tananbaum curator of modern and contemporary art at the Block Museum of Art; Asha Iman Veal, associate curator at the Museum of Contemporary Photography; Teresa Silva, executive and artistic director of the Chicago Artists Coalition; Edra Soto, artist and codirector of the […]