Lots of little suburban downtowns have filled up with appealing restaurants and stylish boutiques. But in La Grange, something unusual has happened: While many hot newcomers have sprouted in the six-square-block village center, some tried-and-true old-timers like the hardware store, the art league, and the camera shops have stuck around, too. The 6th Avenue parking deck on Thursdays is the site of a good farmers’ market. It all feels like a Mayberry for the 21st century—and here, the police officers patrol the streets on Segways.
BEST PHOTO BOOTH
Chicago is home to some fine photo booths, including black-and-white beauties at the Skylark, Schubas, and the Rainbo Club. But the best machine is actually a vintage color photo booth at Photo’s, named for a co-owner, Jim “Photo” Photopoulos. The four-photo strips are crisp and brightly colored on high-quality paper—still produced with chemicals inside the machine for $3 a pop. “The thing is a dinosaur,” says Photopoulos. “But people love it. A lot of people show up just to have their photo taken.” And the hot dogs aren’t bad, either. 1706 E. Kensington Rd., Mount Prospect; 847-635-6200, photoshotdogs.com
BEST PUBLIC INTELLECTUAL
Smart people disagree on what makes a public intellectual. We drove our definitional stakes in at (1) engagement with the public and (2) a commitment to the advancement of human knowledge. By those criteria, our pick is Richard Posner, who writes books, articles, and blog posts the way other people write grocery lists, and he does it in his downtime from work as a federal judge and law professor. No pat ideology unifies his broad body of work: Is he conservative? Read him on drug legalization. A free marketer? Read his latest book, A Failure of Capitalism. A stealth liberal? Only if you don’t consider his views on the Fourth Amendment, sixties counterculture, antitrust, labor unions, et al. The true key to Posner is pragmatism, along with blazingly clear logic.
Photograph: (La Grange) Kendall Karmanian