Expert Picks

What to Do in Chicago This Week: July 15–21

Photo courtesy of Public House

This week in Chicago, feast on hot dogs and cookies, sip your way through a couple beer festivals, peruse two new LGBTQ+ art exhibitions, and watch superhero movies at Navy Pier.

Photo courtesy of Dovetail Brewery

July 15–21: Hot Dog Week Returns to Public House 
Nothing says summer quite like hot dogs, especially in an encased meat–loving city like Chicago. So Public House is bringing back its beloved Hot Dog Week, featuring a special menu of unique sausages like the Texas Dog (Monterey Jack cheese and jalapeños), the Tijuana Danger Dog (bacon wrapped and topped with shallots, mayo, mustard, ketchup, and grilled jalapeños), and the Crab Mac N’ Cheese Dog (lump crabmeat and mac and cheese with Old Bay seasoning and red cherry peppers).
—Matt Kirouac

July 17: Malt Row On Damen 
When your neighborhood is loaded with breweries, you have brew fests on the regular, and Ravenswood’s Malt Row has perhaps the greatest concentration of breweries anywhere. This craft beer stroll takes place during the Ravenswood Farmers’ Market, allowing attendees to sip brews from Malt Row’s eight breweries while shopping neighborhood vendors, enjoying fresh food, and jamming to live tunes. Details: July 17, 5:30–8:30 p.m.; $30
—Jim Morris

July 18–20: Michael Che and Cipha at Lincoln Hall 
Stand-up comic and Saturday Night Live’s ​”Weekend Update​” coanchor Che is coming to town for four shows over three nights. For this run, he has paired up with the multi-hyphenate Cipha Sounds (DJ, comedian, producer, TV personality), and the tour is being billed as “liberal but gangsta.” Expect mostly stand-up from Che, and a combination of music and comedy from Cipha. Details: July 18–20; $40
—Matty Ryan

Photo courtesy of

July 19: JD Johnson & Brian Hofmeister at Center on Halsted 
Mix and mingle with members of the LGBTQ+ community during the openings of these two exhibitions. On the second floor, Johnson presents acrylic works that straddle the border of figuration and abstraction; up a floor, Hofmeister presents works on paper that reinterpret the same 30-sided polygon in dizzying, rainbow-hued lines.
—Claire Voon

July 20: Sheffield Beer Festival 
This event takes place during the 51st annual Sheffield Street Festival, running all weekend long. During the four-hour beer fest, attendees can sample 70 different beers from 35 local breweries, including Dovetail, Goose Island, Lake Effect, Metropolitan, Pipeworks, and many more. When the fest is over and you’ve exceeded your daily beer allotment, stick around for the music and self-guided garden walk through Lincoln Park dwellers’ swanky backyards. Details: July 20, noon–4 p.m.; $40
–Jim Morris

July 20: “Beautiful Together” at You Are Beautiful 
If you’ve spent at least a day in Chicago, you’ve probably seen signs or street art that simply read “you are beautiful” in lowercase letters. Recently, the studio behind this series handed out DIY boards with the slogan to local artists and designers; the results will be on view in this exhibition, during which you can create your own version, too.
—Claire Voon

July 20-21: Milk Bar Pop-Up at Big Star 
Confession: I am completely obsessed with Milk Bar and am very eager/hopeful for it to open a bakery in Chicago. I just can’t get enough of its cookies and cereal milk soft serve! So imagine the excitement when Milk Bar announced it would be popping up for two days at Big Star this summer, setting up shop in front of the Wicker Park hot spot in a vintage ice cream truck with fan-favorite items like compost cookies, Milk Bar pie, soft serve, and other goodies. It’s all part of Milk Bar’s All You Can Treat Tour, roving around the country this summer. I’ll be there.
—Matt Kirouac

Through July 21: Something Clean 
What would you do if your child was arrested for sexual assault? How would this affect your identity? Your worldview? To what degree would you take responsibility as a parent? Something Clean by Selina Fillinger, commissioned by Sideshow Theatre, forces us all to ask ourselves these questions via the experience of Charlotte, a respected community member and mother.
—Tanuja Jagernauth

Through August 12: Superhero Water Flicks at Navy Pier 
You can see movies in parks all across the city, but this summer, Monday nights are superhero nights at Navy Pier. Set up with the beautiful backdrop of Lake Michigan, the series features eight flicks, including Thor: Ragnarok, Aquaman, and Avengers: Infinity War.
Details: Mondays through August 12 at Polk Bros. Park; free
—Samantha Lande

Photo by Melissa Hom/Courtesy of Pizzeria Portofino

Restaurant Opening of the Week: Pizzeria Portofino
Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises is serving up Riviera vibes with its latest effort: a riverside pizza restaurant called Pizzeria Portofino. Soaked in sun and sporting a 130-foot outdoor terrace, the chic eatery is designed to inspire some serious vacation feels, with a coastal-heavy wine list, hand-stretched pizzas, and a full-fledged spritz cocktail program that’s sure to take over your Instagram feed for the next several weeks. The restaurant marks the first of Lettuce’s planned riverside ventures filling the massive River North space; Portofino is to be followed later this year by a private event space and high-end seafood concept, RPM on the Water.
—Matt Kirouac