From the Introduction

And then the Chicago Public Radio host said, “I want to talk about this one. ‘Best fast-food drive-in to get shot at.’ What’s the story here? Aren’t you worried about getting sued?”

Newcity launched its Best of Chicago edition in 1993, with a cover by the then-unknown Chris Ware, and by the time the above exchange took place, a year or so later, the city already looked forward to what had become an annual publishing event, one renowned for combining a take-no-prisoners take on the everevolving life in this far-from-perfect city with an insider’s perspective so deeply informed that we set a ground rule from the very beginning: with few exceptions, no category could repeat until at least five years had passed.

For this book, our first, we’ve collected the last four years (2007-2010), along with a special anniversary feature we created for our tenth edition back in 2002, “The Best of the Best,” highlighting those people, places and things that formed a sort of shortlist for anyone interested in the essential Chicago experience.

We’ve organized more than 500 items into five main categories: City Life, Culture & Nightlife, Food & Drink, Goods & Services and Sports & Recreation. You’ll notice a serendipity to the items within each section if you’re a browser: that’s intentional. We’ve come to know that the great value of Best of Chicago is not so much as a reference, though it is that, but rather in the power of discovery, of finding a new place or thing you never knew about before but never want to forget now.

Some items are a reflection of the major news stories affecting Chicago in a particular year. We debated their inclusion, since the stories they connected to were old news by now, but decided to keep a few of them. In doing so, we offer a bit of a time capsule of recent Chicago for your enjoyment. All the items were fact-checked before we first published them, and most again now before being collected, but before you set out on a two-hour bus ride across town to visit one of our exotic finds, do yourself a favor: call first.

And finally, a word on credits. Best of Chicago represents the finest writing and insight Newcity has to offer, and speaks as one voice, but it is through the efforts of hundreds of writers that it has come to be what it is. We cannot thank everyone over the years enough for their contributions. A list at the beginning of the book shares the names of a few; specifically those who wrote the items you’ll be reading as soon as you finish this introduction. Which you have.

Brian & Jan Hieggelke
November 2011
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