The Best of the Best of 2012

new year

There’s no better way to look back on 2012 then to review the year-end lists other organizations have compiled. I’ve always wanted them to be compiled in one spot, so I thought I would do this for you!

Before I dive into these lists, I want to share one of the coolest honors that happened this past year. Home is where the heart is and my town, Downers Grove, ranked as the eighth friendliest town according to Forbes. In my opinion, this is the best blog of the year.

That wasn’t the only cool thing that happened in 2012. Here are the best of the best of 2012:

The Top Ten Most Viral Videos: Kony takes number one on Mashable’s list. Not only did the video take this honor, but it was the most viral video in history.

The Best Books of 2012: No matter what genre you read or what age you are, NPR has a best books list for you all. I’m happy to say I’ve read many of them this year.

Chicago’s Best Restaurants: There is no better way to rate Chicago restaurants than with Michelin Stars. I’ve been to many of these establishments. Have you?

The Best Microbrews: Ask Men developed a great list of microbrews and their corresponding breweries. This list is enough to make your mouth water.

The Best Android and iPhone Game: Whether your pledge your phone allegiance to Android or Apple, there is a game for you on this list. Angry Birds Star Wars anyone?

The Best of Chicago in Photos: The Chicago Reader compiled some great photos that encompass the best of Chicago. These photos are simply gorgeous.

Interesting Facts About the U.S. Economy: This is a not-so-funny list of facts, but nonetheless a great list from The Economic Collapse.

For Everyone Else: Just in case there was a list I missed that piqued your interest, Google has a list of every topic you can imagine.

What will 2013 have in store for you? HAPPY NEW YEAR, make it awesome.

– “Opportunity knocks at the strangest times. It’s not the time that matters, But how you answer the door.” -Steve Gray


New Year’s Eve: Chicago Style

Chicago-Style New Year’s Eve parties aren’t topped with neon relish and sport peppers, but they are some of the hottest events of the year.

While toasting the New Year at home is just fine, especially if you can’t get a babysitter, this is the time of the year when you can dress up and paint the town red. Many of the huge hotel bashes are sold out, so why not stay local? Here’s my roundup of local establishments that are throwing one heck of a party this year:

Mrs. Murphy & Son’s Irish Bistro: For only $50 to $75 bucks, celebrate Irish style with an open bar, appetizers, party favors and a champagne toast. Sounds like a good time to me!

Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba: There’s no cover to ring the New Year in over tapas. From 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., cocktails are half price. This Lettuce Entertain You gem will also be providing a champagne toast when the clock strikes midnight.

Rockit Bar & Grill: All of Billy Dec’s establishments are hosting some sort of event, but this one is a great deal. For $95 to $125, you will get to partake in an open bar, appetizers, a dinner buffet, party favors and a midnight champagne toast. Oh, and to cure the hangover you might have, Rockit is including a 20% of coupon for New Year’s Day brunch.


Big Star: I know you wouldn’t think about this Wicker Park gem for New Year’s Eve. There’s no cover and you can spend the night with specialty cocktails and tacos. That sounds like my kind of party.

Fat Cat: This Uptown bar is hosting a costume contest. Come dressed in your best fedora or flapper dress for a 1920’s-themed bash. A $100 gift card is on the line. There’s no cover for this event. Canapes and mini-sandwiches are on the menu along with Templeton Rye Prohibition cocktails.

Where are you spending New Year’s Eve? Share your neighborhood gems with me on Twitter: @RyanKDean.

Give The Gift of an Experience

I bet many of you are looking for a last-minute gift for that hard-to-shop-for person who has EVERYTHING! Those loved ones make us twist our brains about what the heck we are going to get them.


I’ve done a lot of thinking about this throughout the holiday season and then it dawned on me. The best part of the holiday season is getting to spend time with these loved ones. Why not give them the gift of an experience? Things break, but memories last forever. Here’s my recommendations for some great experience gifts:

For the Foodie: Every foodie loves to go out and try a new restaurant. I know I do! Why not give a gift certificate to the new, latest hip restaurant? Many of us won’t splurge on a great meal, so I like to give my loved ones a reason to. I’ve heard great things about Baum & Brix.

For the Drinker: I’ve had great experiences at City Winery and Finch’s Beer Co. this past year. How about taking your loved ones out for a tour and tasting at one of these lovely facilities?

For the Car Lover: I can’t stop talking about how much fun I had at the Autobahns! I highly recommend giving the experience if you can afford it. It makes a great gift for yourself too!

For the Daredevil: I loved my experience flyboarding. Think about what daredevil idea your loved one wants to do and help make their dream come true.

What experiences are you giving as gifts this holiday season? Share your ideas with me on Twitter @RyanKDean.