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Greg Wahl

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Best BBQ Summer Side Dishes

In the barbecue genre, smoked proteins are, and always will be, the big hog on the menu. In many cases, they are dominant to a fault. Other menu items become a distant afterthought, to the point where a side dish may consist of a single, sad slice of discount white bread. Thankfully, some of the best local ‘cue joints are wise to the importance of backing up the headliners with stellar supporting dishes, and adding a gourmet flair to the far corners of the menu. Here are some of the standouts.

07/02/2012

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Best Summer Accessories For Men

Here in the Midwest, accessories on guys often begin and end with something akin to a fanny pack. This is an unnecessary reality, and one that can be avoided without spending too much money on Main Street or wandering for hours like a lost bovine at the mall. Summer means dressing down, but accessories are a good way to dress back up a bit with seasonal style. Here’s a selection of add-ons that will help you do summer right, i.e., without a freaking fanny pack.

06/21/2012

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Best Free Chicago Summer Concerts

It’s the season for big-ticket concerts and weekend-long lineups with multi-day passes priced in the hundreds. Luckily, for us cheapskates, summer’s also the season for live music events of the free variety. One of the perks of big city life is there’s plenty of free entertainment, and you don’t have to look too hard to find it. The hefty schedule of outdoor festivals downtown and in the neighborhoods add up nicely to a summer’s worth of live jams on the cheap, and there’s something for every taste. Here are my personal picks for the top local freebie shows for Summer 2012.

06/14/2012

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Just For Laughs 2012 Guide

Chicagoans who suffer the chills of “second city syndrome” should feel the warm & fuzzies this June, as we become top dog on the American comedy scene. How so, you may ask? Well for the fourth year in a row, Chicago will host the largest comedy festival in the United States, a multi-venue, multi-talent laugh-fest that spans the city and pulls the country’s hottest comedians in from the comfy coasts to their faithful city of stand-up destiny, Chicago.

06/01/2012

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Guide To Lincoln Park Zoo

As if a stroll through Lincoln Park on a fine day weren’t enough to convince Chicagoans that city summers are a more than adequate payback for the preceding winter, there are innumerable jewels nestled within the landscape to ensure that great things await you at every turn. Peaceful gardens and ponds, historic buildings and statues, playlots and paths abound, and in the middle of it all is a world-class (and free!) zoo…

05/16/2012

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Best Chicago Rooftop Lounges

Yes, rooftop bars often have restrictive reservation policies, get easily overcrowded, and charge a premium for the minimum, but the vibes and the breezes and the boozes often go a great distance toward making up for the fusses. Here’s a selection of the city’s finest upper-floor hangouts to sip, be seen, and gaze upon the wondrous urban canopy beyond.

05/14/2012

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Chicago’s Best Barber Shops

While barber shops may seem like a ubiquitous dime a dozen, there’s quite a lot that can set one apart from another. Often its the little touches that make a shop special, like a particularly good value, eccentric decor, the effortless precision of a master barber with a few good jokes, complimentary beer, or the owner’s dog lounging at your feet while you wait. Here’s a list of some of the best places in town to become a regular customer at that will keep you looking tight.

05/09/2012

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Eight Things To Know About The Hideout

For both newbies and regulars alike, The Hideout is an abundantly friendly venue with great rustic appeal, a front-porch Americana vibe that is hard to find elsewhere, an ideal destination for a laid-back night of down-to-earth fun with a group of friends. It’s a vibrant nugget of conviviality tucked modestly away on an industrial side street, with plenty to offer beyond the standard menu of amusement, and should be embraced for these virtues and more. Here are eight reasons why.

04/25/2012

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CIMMfest: Chicago Music & Movies Festival

Going back to the earliest days of cinema, when silents were accompanied by live-in theater musicians, music and film have been artistically complementary. The Chicago International Movies & Music Festival, now in its fourth year, honors the enduring relationship between the two art forms with four days & nights of film screenings, live performances, VJ/DJ sets, and several Q&A sessions with actors, directors and musicians, at various venues around Logan Square and Wicker Park. Here’s a selection of highlights from the lineup for this weekend’s CIMMfest.

04/12/2012

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Wrigley Field Rooftop Guide

If you’re planning a North side baseball outing with modern amenities in mind, or with a group to accommodate, the Wrigley rooftops are an ideal alternative. The rooftop experience is something like watching a game in a nice bar with an actual view of the game, cleaner restrooms, and (usually) shorter food/beer lines. Gather some friends and pick a date, or start nudging the boss to get the summer office party plans rolling. Anyway, there are 16 rooftops to choose from, so here’s the breakdown.

04/10/2012

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Screen Stars On The Chicago Stage

Every theater season in Chicago brings some recognizable names to town in some form or another, and the local entertainment calendar’s got a variety of marquee line-ups on the way. From highbrow drama to lowbrow comedy, and a little bit in between, here’s a selection upcoming on-stage appearances by notable names and familiar faces this season.

03/26/2012

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Best Chicago Wine Bars

Wine bars have evolved quite a bit in recent years, and now appear in a lot more varieties than they used to. You don’t have to be a glasses-and-turtleneck Wine Spectator subscriber to appreciate them, either, as the food (and, yes, beer) at many local establishments has broadened the wine bar appeal…

03/13/2012

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Chicago Irish Film Festival Guide

One great way to find a more genuine and contemporary Irish experience is through the island nation’s current contributions to cinema. Luckily, the south side offers more for St. Pat’s than dubious parade experiences, so consider checking out the 13th Annual Chicago Irish Film Festival at the Beverly Arts Center March 2-7. Here’s a guide to this year’s six-day ode to Irish filmmaking.

02/29/2012

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Chicago Cultural Center Guide

At the corner of Washington Street and Michigan Avenue, across from Millennium Park, stands the 115-year-old former central library building that now serves as Chicago’s cultural epicenter. The Chicago Cultural Center is a local treasure, beckoning passers-by to stop in and experience the bouquet of cultural bounty flourishing within its impressively-crafted walls…

02/27/2012

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Guide To Groundhog Day

Since 1993, the Groundhog Day holiday has enjoyed renewed interest due to the namesake cult film starring the very excellent Bill Murray as weatherman Phil Connors. While Punxsatawney, PA gets most the national attention on the day itself, the actual location of the filming of Groundhog Day is our very own Woodstock, IL. Murray was the star, but the town itself plays a major role…

01/31/2012

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Chicago Bluegrass And Blues Festival Guide

While Chicagoans are a more than a little spoiled with all of the music festivals that happen during the warmer months, our hibernation season offers few comparable options for large and impressive lineups of live music. But that’s just one of the reasons why this month’s Chicago Bluegrass and Blues Festival is a welcome addition to winter’s cultural calendar…

01/19/2012

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Best Chicago Neighborhood Theatres

The dawn of a new year is particularly exciting for local theatre-goers, as it signals the start of new seasons of productions around town. While the Broadway-style shows in the Loop often steal the limelight, there’s never a shortage of top-quality theatre to experience outside of downtown. Neighborhood theatres are too often one of those things that people discover only after having lived in a particular area for a long time…

01/09/2012

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Best New Chicago Books

The Chicago area has a wealth of writerly and publishing talent producing a steady stream of new volumes. If you haven’t yet burned through those Barnes & Noble and Amazon gift cards from the holidays, consider directing your book browsing to the city’s literary scene and some of the latest Chicago-related offerings from the publishing world. Here is a selection of eight current releases to consider adding to the “local” section of your personal library.

01/03/2012

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Guide To Finding The Perfect Christmas Tree

Your number one spot for the perfect Christmas tree!

12/16/2011

Essay Fiesta hosts Keith Ecker and Alyson Lyon try to look stoic (credit: Essay Fiesta)

Essay Fiesta: Feisty Words Every Month

Every third Monday of the month Essay Fiesta takes over The Book Cellar in Lincoln Square to present an engaging and often hilarious event featuring actors, comedians, writers and artists reading true tales mined from their personal experiences.

11/18/2011

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