Expert Picks

What to Do in Chicago This Week: July 1–7

Photo by Megan Osterhout/Courtesy of Castaways

This week in Chicago, celebrate the Fourth of July with beer or beachy cocktails, enjoy nature-inspired artwork, catch the latest Cirque du Soleil show while you can, and get presidential at Steppenwolf Theatre.

Photo by Brittany Nelson/Courtesy of Patron

July 1: “10,000 Light Years From Home” at Patron
Photographer Brittany Nelson works with historic techniques, like tintype and mordançage, to produce images without a camera. She presents a new series of work in this show, the result of research into science fiction and queer politics.
—Claire Voon

July 1–7: Drink Stars & Stripes Cocktails at Castaways 
When it comes to drinking on the Fourth of July, what could be more patriotic than a Miami Vice? How about a Miami Vice topped with blue curaçao to achieve the perfect blend of red, white, and blue? At Castaways, it’s called the Stars & Stripes, and it’s the most American thing you can imbibe. The cocktail is on special July 1–7, ideally consumed on July 4 during the beachside bar’s holiday party with the DJ Firm.
—Matt Kirouac

July 4: Fourth of July at Half Acre 
Want that Fourth of July backyard experience, but the standard Chicago porch stoop isn’t cutting it? Head to either Half Acre location—Balmoral or Lincoln—for a special holiday menu with plenty of options for meat- and veg-heads. You probably need to hit up its beer coolers for supplies, anyway. Both locations close at 5 p.m., leaving enough time to get over to the lakefront at Foster or Montrose to catch the homegrown fireworks show.
Details: July 4, 11 a.m.–5 p.m., at Half Acre
—Jim Morris

July 5: “The Plant Show” at Ground Level Platform
Plants! Plants! Plants! Celebrate our Mother Earth at this group show of nearly two dozen artists who present nature-inspired works. There will be real plants, too.
—Claire Voon

Photo courtesy of Saint Lou’s Assembly

July 5–7: Go Red, White, and Lou at Saint Lou’s Assembly 
Honestly, when I celebrate for the Fourth of July, all I really need is beer, hot dogs, and perhaps a pool to dip my toes in. For all of those reasons—and more!—Saint Lou’s Assembly is a top choice for July 4 festivities. The West Loop restaurant is throwing its Red, White, and Lou party on its dreamy back patio, complete with kiddie pools, grilled hot dogs, beer, and cocktail specials.
—Matt Kirouac

Through July 6: Watch Acrobatics at Cirque du Soleil’s Volta 
Cirque du Soleil returns with its latest production, Volta, a visually striking performance of all new acrobatics under the big top located in the south lot of Soldier Field. Be amazed by the colorful costumes and a captivating story line in true Cirque fashion.
Details: Through Saturday, July 6, at Soldier Field’s south lot; $49 and up
—Samantha Lande

Through July 7: If I Forget 
When you have a political view that stands in opposition to the rest of your family’s, that’s awkward. When your political stance makes you a traitor to your religion and gets you boycotted by students, well, that’s fodder for some good theater at least. If I Forget is the story of a professor in this position. I cannot wait to see a well-written script brought to life by the courageous folks at Victory Gardens.
—Tanuja Jagernauth

July 7: Second Annual Fiesta de Frida at Catalyst Ranch 
If you, too, freaked out about the recent discovery of a rare recording of Frida Kahlo’s voice, this arts and crafts party is for you. In honor of the painter’s birthday, the Women’s Justice League is throwing a fiesta, where vendors will sell art inspired by the queen of the unibrow. You’ll also have the opportunity to make your own work.
—Claire Voon

A scene from “Ms. Blakk for President.” / Photo courtesy of Steppenwolf Theatre Company/Facebook

Through July 14: Ms. Blakk for President 
Joan Jett Blakk is a living legend, and this is her story. Meet America’s first drag queen presidential candidate and celebrate a show that brings queerness into the light and asks who we allow to be at the table. This production is a game changer and a must-see!
—Tanuja Jagernauth

Through August 9: Millennium Park Family Fun Festival 
When school is out for the summer, the fun begins, and the Millennium Park Family Fun Festival is a prime example. This free event runs through summer during the week and features all sorts of amazing things for kids, including story time, live music, and lots more.
Details: Through August 9, 10 a.m.–2 p.m., at Chase Promenade North; free
—Samantha Lande

Photo courtesy of City Hall

Restaurant Opening of the Week: City Hall 
In the seemingly ceaseless quest for restaurants and bars to one-up each other in the West Loop, the latest entry has raised the stakes considerably. For one thing, City Hall is gigantic, clocking in with 5,000 square feet of bar and restaurant space, plus an 8,000-square-foot enclosed patio and a 10,000-square-foot event space that’s already lined up with DJs and concerts. Helming the menu is culinary director Michael Taus, whom I’ve been a fan of for quite a while now. He seems to be right in his wheelhouse here at City Hall, cooking up contemporary comfort food like pigs in a blanket (be still my heart!), spinach-artichoke dip, cheeseburger sliders, and mac and cheese. To drink, the cocktail list looks particularly strong, with classics and original novelties alike, including the White City, with vodka, lemon, dandelion syrup, cayenne, and kombucha.
—Matt Kirouac