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Photograph: Martha Williams

19 things you can always rely on in Chicago

Written by
Time Out Chicago editors

Living in a city of 3 million people can sometimes be overwhelming. Who can you rely on? Certainly not the CTA, and probably not even your local meteorologist. But even in the midst of chaos, there are some things that you can always count on in Chicago.

1. The tamale guy. You're hungry. It's getting late. And you're still out at the bar when you swore you were going for "just one drink." But no matter where you are, there he is—lunch box in hand. That's dependability. 

2. An Old Style sign marking your favorite local dive bar

3. A friend who loves ordering rounds of Malort. This is how we end up staying out too late. 

4. Friends and family asking if your neighborhood is "safe." Yes, mom, I'm fine. 

5. At least one evacuation during a summer music festival. When it rains, it pours. 

6. A smile from a stranger. Aww, the midwest is the best. 

7. Relatively few tourists in your neighborhood. Relax, unwind, be yourself. 

8. Excellent Mexican bakeries. They're everywhere. 

9. A fierce and fiery alderman nearby. They're also everywhere. 

10. A Brendan Sodikoff restaurant opening in the near future. Hey, we'll never complain about possibly getting more restaurants like Small Cheval, C.C. Ferns and Maude's Liquor Bar

11. The city basically turning into a beach town in the summer. And we're plenty okay with that. 

12. Mysterious scratches and nicks on your car. Everything can't be all sunshine and rainbows. 

13. Parking tickets. However, you might be getting some other money back, if those red light and speed camera tickets are truly void. 

14. An hour or more wait for Big Star in summer. That patio. Those margaritas. 

15. Sacrificing a pair of shoes to the winter. Salt stains are an unstoppable terror. 

16. A great street festival every weekend during the summer. When the weather warms up, Chicago is an amazing place—largely due to an endless stream of street fests.

17. A close friend who invites you to their improv show, which will almost certainly be terrible and uncomfortable, but you'll support them regardless. 

18. At least one sports team that breaks your heart every yearWhen Chicago teams lose, they do so in a tragic fashion.

19. Profound inspiration from the city. Sure, Chicago might tear at your heartstrings and leave you with a feeling of hopelessness from time to time. But whether through an incredibly greasy gyro or a kind stranger who holds an elevator door open for you, the city never fails to invigorate you when you need it the most. 

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