What’s the end of the year without a “Best of” list? Here at Remezcla, we keep it local, taking a look back at the past 365 days in Chicago. Can you think of a better year to claim the C-H-I than 2008? As Senior CHIRemezcla editor, part-time high school counselor, part time NPR radio producer, and full time Chicagoan, I can’t. Not only are the new capital of the country thanks to our homeboy/president Barack Obama, but the amount of Latino talent that emanates from our hoods never ceases to amaze me.The quality of Latino joints from Sheridan Drive to Ford City is impossible for yours truly to cover alone, but here is my Recap for 08. Talk back my friends, CHIRemezcla wants to hear your picks.
Best street food: Tamales y elotes from the parking lot of La Casa del Pueblo or El Guero.
Best on the Ones and Twos: Charly “Giroscopio” Garcia
Latinosploitation film of the year: Beverly Hill Chihuahua: Sit back, relax and enjoy the most high-priced Hollywood production with every single Latino stereotype in the book featuring all the big names.
Most Latin film-friendly theater: please refer the “wish we had” section.
Breakthrough (visual) artist: Esmeralda Baltazar is a Texan turned Chicagoan who is currently at NYU earning an alternative Master’s degree. Upon her temporary departure she created the installation show, “Paloma Libre in the Windy City,” a 3-D representation of scenes from her life in Chicago using her collection of the “homies” characters. The shoe-box size snapshots of her life document her most personal memories of the city where she founded the Crib Collective. The Crib is nonprofit in the Little Village/North Lawndale hood that equips young people with social entrepreneurship skills to better their communities. She plans to return to the Chi and use her education to better The Crib and their mission. Nothing beats artivism.
Best concert of year: Rage Against The Machine at Lollapalooza, it was their first show in Chicago in almost a decade, they shock the skyline unlike anything ever seen at Grant Park.
Runner Up: 60 Tigres at their first show in Chicago at Spot 6. They had nothing but some cheap Christmas lights, in the basement of the venue and they kicked ass.
Best meal under $10: Los Comales, the closest thing to Mexican fast food in Chicago.
Most inauthentic “Latin” restaurant: Nacional 27.
Best spot for drinks: For Sangria: Haro’s on Oakley. For chelas: Skylark. For Mixed Drinks: My crib. For real, I use to bartend. Try me.
Wish we had: More Latino films in Chicago, either made here or screened through our theaters.
Best spot to buy: I hate grocery shopping with a passion. I still raid my mother’s kitchen every weekend for my lunch food.
Best kept secret: Radio Arte 90.5fm Chicago. I shouldn’t be a secret, Radio Arte is the heart of so many creative ventures in this city. So many of us (myself included) have come out the mic on the corners of 18th and Blue Island.
Song of the year: “P’al Norte” by Calle 13– never gets old.
Most memorable Independence Day Celebration: Forget the parades, Brazilians had a 3-day party to commemorate their single day of independence. Das right.
Best Coffee shop: The Jumping Bean!
Runner up: Efebos. Both joints are classics Pilsen landmarks that see just about everyone and their momma through their doors on a regular basis. But that’s not why they rock, it’s their crazy good staff who still treat us like its our first time there and never fail to use their walls to promote local work.
Best Open Mic: Q4 takes #1 with honors. A Q4 open-mic session sees the most diverse audiences and performers in the city. The BS stays at the door and only down-ass people who appreciate raw talent make it here. The vibe is like a scene out of a 1970’s revolution inspired film.