“All I can say without choking up is thank you for getting us here safely,” chef Jason Hammel wrote when he announced Lula Cafe’s long-awaited reopening in July. The Logan Square farm-to-table restaurant offered takeout throughout the pandemic, but fans of its seasonal fare know that sitting inside the dining room is an essential part of the Lula experience. Thankfully, not much has changed—the ingredients are still fresh, the breakfast burrito is one of the city’s best and the dinner menu is inventive-yet-approachable (tipping has been eliminated, replaced with a 20 percent service fee). There are more reasons why we love Lula Cafe than we can list here, but the fact that we’ll willingly wait more than an hour to sit down for brunch here feels like one of the highest compliments we can pay.
The past year in Chicago has been strange, but it has presented plenty of occasions for celebration. In the wake of a year filled with unprecedented events, much of 2021 felt like a slow crawl back to relative normalcy. New restaurants opened for business, summer music festivals welcomed back crowds and Chicago's best museums hosted amazing exhibitions.
While assembling the Time Out Best of the City Awards, our Chicago editors looked back on the past 12 months of food, festivals, exhibitions, shows and innovations in order to highlight our favorites. Some are places and happenings that are veritable Chicago institutions. Others are wonderful new additions to the city. But every Best of the City Awards winner is something that we feel is memorable and impactful in its own way.
Want to heap some recognition on even more of Chicago's best places? You can vote in the Time Out Love Local Awards until December 17 and show some love for spots nominated by Time Out readers.