We look forward every year to seeing who our readers choose as the Best Of the Suburbs and City, and we’ve learned their judgment is nearly always on point. But we couldn’t let this moment pass without sharing a few of our other personal favorites, too. From pizza and burgers to fitness and philanthropy, check out a sampling of the Better magazine staff’s top picks.
Susan B. Noyes, Founder and Chief Visionary Officer
Convito Cafe & Market — for identifying problems and solutions in the earliest days of the pandemic, ensuring that our community never missed out on their excellent food, drink & service and for providing leadership to others through the Illinois Restaurant Association & digital fulfillment opportunities too.
Alchemy — for creating a shipping service which delivered their exquisite scone wheels all the way to California.
Loro Piana — for unwavering support of our Family Foundations Event and generating support by their customers of the event’s nonprofit partners — including a $25,000 donation to Cradles To Crayons
Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation — for partnering with Better to fundraise and deliver dinners to health care workers and for always jumping in fast where need is greatest.
All Health Care Workers — because we’re all in a better place thanks to your service.
Patrick Regan, Editorial Director and Chicago Editor-in-Chief
I dig the authenticity at Winnetka’s Grateful Bites Pizza Shoppe, where the wood-burning pizza oven is the centerpiece and the staff is top notch. If you’re in the city, check out one of the North Side locations for Roots Handmade Pizza, featuring Quad Cities style pizza (Yes, Quad Cities style pizza is a real thing, and I love it).
Brooke Geiger McDonald, National Digital Content Director
My kids and I have a shared passion for marine life and we are so lucky to have the Shedd Aquarium, one of the world’s largest indoor aquariums, on our doorstep. Our family loves Shedd because not only does the museum get us up close and personal with the animals we love, they are also helping lead the charge in the fight to combat climate change and support ocean conservation.
Julie Chernoff, Dining Editor
Two food groups very near and dear to my heart are pizza and ice cream, so needless to say I have opinions! Don’t miss the New Haven-style pizza at Piece Pizza in Wicker Park (White Clam with Bacon! Swoon.), the perfection of Charred Pepperoni and Whipped Ricotta at Coalfire in Lakeview and West Town, or the best Detroit-style pizza around at Evanston’s Union Squared (Burrata Margherita!). My must-have ice cream picks are the Chocolate Chip Dulce de Leche at Frío Gelato in Evanston and at Navy Pier, or the Fresh Peach Ice Cream at the venerable Homer’s Ice Cream in Wilmette.
Macaire Douglas, Managing Digital Editor – Chicago
No one does brunch quite like Travelle at The Langham, Chicago. Chef de Cuisine Qi Ai (who is also an amazing food photographer) serves up fresh and elevated classics like the Skillet Cinnamon Bun full of delicious cream cheese frosting, Avocado Toast with heirloom tomato and Chicken & Waffles with maple glazed bacon. Plus, the views are hard to beat.
Jennifer Woolford, Media Consultant and Strategic Events
BIÂN – WOW, a bold move to open during pandemic and provide an oasis beyond!
FlowersFlowers – Follow their instagram … it is AMAZING.
Chalet – Best Landscaping and online classes too! So much to see and enjoy.
The One of a Kind Show at the Merchandise Mart – A treasure of artisans every year for gifts with love around the holidays.
Julie Eldring, Media Consultant
There are several past ‘Best of’ winners which stand out to me personally. First is The Cove School. Far more than just a school, The Cove is a community for Families of children with complex learning disabilities. We are fortunate to have this premier school available to our Chicago and North Shore communities. Second, Nate Kipnis and his team at Kipnis Architecture + Planning rise to the top in their industry. There are many talented architects, but they take design to another level with their expertise on sustainable living. Last but not least is MAZE Home, not only are they a wonderful resource for furnishings and gifts (with interior design services) for your home, Cindy Galvin and her team were incredibly supportive of their community and fellow businesses during the pandemic.
Caroline Hetzel, Social Media Manager
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As a rescue dog parent, bisexual woman and mental health advocate, I proudly support Maplewood Brewery & Distillery because they partner with organizations like the Anti-Cruelty Society, Brave Space Alliance and Hope for the Day. Did I mention they have the best beer within city limits? Dripping Citra and Cuppa S’mores are must-haves.
Jessica Dlugosz, Digital Marketing Assistant
Conscious Cup – Great atmosphere where the baristas know you by name. I love that they welcome local artists to display their artwork in their shops.
Deerfield Bakery – Yummy treats that satisfy a sweet tooth. This small bakery locationed in Deerfield and Buffalo Grove makes fantastic desserts and even better custom orders. Their team is so talented and their designs are unique.
Dawg Park – Great comfort food with the cutest branding, who can resist adorable dogs as their logo? Their Ninja Burger is amazing.
Kabul House – This restaurant transports you to the middle east with their Afghan cuisine. They are always so accommodating and the customer service is top notch.