How We Compare
How does Chicago stack up against the country’s other biggest cities (New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Houston)? Here are some basic facts and other revealing stats-about the economy, culture, education, crime, and the weather-that take the measure of these major metropolises. PLUS: The Oscar-nominated actress Virginia Madsen, a Chicago native who now calls L.A. home, weighs in on the differences between the Windy City and the West Coast.

Playing for Keeps
by Bryan Smith
They come every weekday morning, on foot, by bus, or by senior citizen van, with two goals in mind: to shoot pool and talk trash. Welcome to the glorious world of a group of sharp-tongued old men whose pool-hall rituals are a comfortable as an old shoe.

The Ikram Touch
by Marcia Froelke Coburn
“Impossibly chic,” proclaimed a reporter for The New York Times after a visit to Ikram Goldman’s namesake women’s boutique. The secret of her success, clients say, is her vision and her intuitive sense of taste.

by Dennis Ray Wheaton
Tired of shouting at your dinner companions in noisy restaurants? We hear you-and we scoured the city and suburbs for places that serve good food in peace and quiet.

The Storyteller
by Mara Tapp
After four decades as a major presence in the life of Chicago theatre-both on stage and behind the scenes-Frank Galati is making some big changes. But fans can relax. He has no intention of going away.



Leah Gunther of 826CHI inspires young minds in Wicker Park; CEO Antoinette Wright means serious business for the DuSable Museum of African American History; bottle collectors open up their cellars on the even of wine auction season; the multiple personalities of Abe Lincoln; winter adventure in Kohler, Wisconsin; fiery nights spent beside the city’s coziest hearths; Victoria Lautman gets the scoop on Michael Jackson from Margo Jefferson; more. PLUS: The Shopper, Style Sheet, and Sales Check

How We Spend
by Clare La Plante
Winter heating bills are up sharply all over, especially for homeowners using natural gas. How does Chicago stack up? PLUS: Is there a reason behind Chicago’s poor showing among the best cities for dating?

Reporter | Home Economics
by David Murray
An unassuming patent attorney by day, Dee Grant rattles the city’s preservation community in her spare time with a one-woman crusade against landmarking. Some view her as a maverick, others as a gadfly. Whatever the cause, she’s making some noise.

Deal Estate
by Dennis Rodkin
Former U.S. senator Peter Fitzgerald decamps for Virginia, Sammy Sosa unloads his Lake Point Tower condo, and two new high-rises-one in Chicago and another in Philadelphia-seem separated at birth. PLUS: Condo news from Avondale, Blue Island, and Printers’ Row

by Sarah Preston
In place of that punk rock haven Borderline: Wicker Park Tavern, with flat screens and leather couches Plus: The curtain opens on Cabaret


The Closer | Wise Guys
by Jeff Ruby
Fast-talking Chicago natives Vince Vaughn and Jeremy Piven are hot in Hollywood. We dug through the clips and teed up their quips. You decide whose silver tongue gets the gold medal.


Chicago Guide®
During February: In Matthew Bourne’s unconventional production of the classic ballet Swan Lake, all these birds of a feather are male. His version has been vaiously received as provocative, homoerotic role reversal; as a swipe at Britain’s royal family characterized by the Oedipal conflict between a prince and his domineering mothers; or, more traditionally, as a tragic story of love, betrayal, and ultimate forgiveness. Just eight performances of Bourne’s radical reading are booked into the Cadillac Palace Theatre.
Marquee: A preview of coming attractions

Food & Drink

The definitive guide to Chicago’s top restaurants
This month: Three updated listings, including Adobo Grill and Blackbird
Dish: Ten hottest restaurants right now; gossip; Q & A with Michael Tsonton about Copperblue-where your likes and dislikes will be noted for future occasions