Expert Picks

What to Do in Chicago This Week: July 29–August 4

Photo courtesy of Old Irving Park Beer and BBQ Challenge

This week in Chicago, witness stitch drawing from an Iranian artist, attend a theater festival of new plays, bring the kids to meet the Chicago Bears, and raise a glass to Shark Week.

Photo courtesy of Melissa Villaseñor/Facebook

July 31 and August 1: Judah Friedlander: Future President 2019 Tour at the Hideout 
The self-imposed “World Champion,” Judah Friedlander stops by the Hideout for two nights, where he promises to “…satirize American exceptionalism, the systemic power structures that control America, and how America deals with all of its human rights issues.” Admittedly, it sounds a little heavy for a comedy show, but if anyone can make these topics funny, it’s the World Champ. Details: 8:30 p.m.; $20
—Matty Ryan

August 1 and 2: Melissa Villaseñor at Zanies Chicago 
Currently in her third year as a cast member on ​Saturday Night Live​, Villaseñor was a stand-up comic for years before being asked to join the venerable late-night sketch show. A master of impressions and voices, her stand-up paints vivid, hilarious pictures, and if you’re a fan of her work on SNL, you’ll certainly love her shows at Zanies. Details: $25
—Matty Ryan

August 2: “Inner Compulsion” at OGGI, Chicago 
With a needle and thread, Elnaz Javani creates gorgeous stitch drawings of partially fictional personal stories. The Iranian artist presents a series of 58 pieces that have been growing since 2013 in response to moving to the United States, all a way to explore her experiences of new geographies and identity.
—Claire Voon

Photo courtesy of Soldier Field

August 2: “Dead Futures” at Heaven Gallery 
Four artists come together to explore the notion of indigeneity and the power to claim land. From performances that recontextualize Mexican films to a work inspired by Aztec ritual practices and cigar culture, this is one show that should not be missed.
—Claire Voon

August 2–4: Ignition Festival of New Plays 
Do you think you can handle six new plays in one summer weekend? Give it a go! Ignition Fest is one of my favorite events of the year. It’s free, ridiculously fun, and a great event for writers and theatergoers looking for something new. Details: Victory Gardens Theater
—Tanuja Jagernauth

August 3: Are You Ready for Some Football? 
It may not feel like fall yet, but football season is right around the corner. Join the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field as they enter their 100th season for a Family Fest. The whole family can watch a team scrimmage, meet alumni, pet animals, play video games, get their faces painted, and so much more. Details: 4:30 p.m.; $10
—Samantha Lande

August 3: Old Irving Park Beer & BBQ Challenge 
Sometimes a name just seems to say it all, but let’s get into the details a bit more just to further whet our appetite. Twenty-three of our favorite local breweries (Maplewood, Off Color, Mikerphone, Half Acre, Marz, just to name a few) will be paired up with a local barbecue pitmaster to create euphoria-inducing beer and food pairings. Some beers may be brewed specifically for this event, and each brewery will bring two offerings for a total of 46 sudsy options. Details: 1–5 p.m.; $65 for general admission and $100 for VIP, which includes early entry
—Jim Morris

Photo by Ryan Gac/Courtesy of Easy Bar

Through August 4: Shark Week Fundraiser at Easy Bar 
As someone who grew up obsessed with Jaws, begging my parents to rent it from the video store on a weekly basis (why didn’t we just purchase it?), I am all about Shark Week, and I am prepared to celebrate accordingly. The best way to do so is with the Shark Week fundraiser going down at Easy Bar, which is donating a portion of proceeds from its special Totally Jawsome! cocktail to the World Wildlife Fund between July 28 and August 4. The drink features an appropriately seaworthy blend of Captain Morgan white rum, Diplomatico Exclusiva Reserva dark rum, Luxardo, peach bitters, and Herbsaint. Details: $8 drink special
—Matt Kirouac

Through August 18: The Music Man 
A con man arrives in River City, Iowa, bearing promises of a marching band in an attempt to make an easy dollar. The town librarian, however, isn’t buying it. Will Harold Hill pull off his scam and win over the skeptic? This musical, featuring 72 trombones and a moral reversal, is the story of unlikely summer love you’ve been waiting for. Details: Goodman Theatre
—Tanuja Jagernauth

Restaurant Opening of the Week: Amaru 
This season has been filled with colossal restaurant openings laden with anticipation—and surefire crowds and clamor. So it’s nice to see a genuine neighborhood passion project emerge amid the fray. Amaru is a homey Latin American effort in Wicker Park from Rodolfo Cuadros, who is getting much more modest and intimate than he was during his prior stint at Carnivale. Here at his colorful and inviting 80-seat eatery, the chef draws upon his upbringing with convivial plates and cocktails, like bacon-wrapped plantains (yes, please), yucca gnocchi, espresso tres leches, and rum-splashed Mexican sangria.
—Matt Kirouac