Expert Picks

Your Weekly Guide for What to Do, See, Eat, and Drink in Chicago

Photo courtesy of Pier Pumpkin Lights

This week in Chicago, tour a pumpkin-filled Navy Pier, celebrate National Taco Day, relive the joy of Madagascar, and see the Robie House in a whole new light.

Photo by Reilly Drew/Courtesy of Pub Royale

October 1: Pier Pumpkin Lights 
For the first time ever, Navy Pier will transform this October into a walking art exhibition of pumpkins. Best enjoyed at dusk, this free art installation will feature different carved pumpkins throughout the pier, with various stations like Picasso Pumpkins, Jack-O’-Lantern Jamboree, and Garden of Totems. Restaurants along Navy Pier will have various food and drink specials, so stay for dinner. Details: Through November 2; free
—Samantha Lande, Family Fun

October 1: Cheers to Oktoberfest at Pub Royale  
I’m always down to go to Pub Royale for mod Indian food, boozy mango lassis, and beer, so I’m excited to see what this place has up its sleeve for the German holiday. On the first day of October, we find out, as the Wicker Park bar spotlights a handful of German beers on draft, including Dovetail’s Festbier and Ayinger’s Marzen Oktoberfest. In addition, chef Katie Wasielewski will offer Bavarian pretzels with beer cheese and currywurst pork sausage with curry sauce and fries. Details: 5 p.m.–midnight
—Matt Kirouac, Food/Beverage

October 2: “Easypieces” at Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago 
New media artist Mika Rottenberg is adept at capturing the crises of global economies in absurdist, visually seductive narratives. This solo show of recent videos and installations uses humorous visuals to examine the exploits of capitalism. Each features an ensemble of motley protagonists, like workers in an ASMR factory and Chinese pearl harvesters.
—Claire Voon, Art

Mika Rottenberg, Cosmic Generator (still), 2017. © Mika Rottenberg. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth

October 3: Kevin James at the Chicago Theatre 
The star of ​The King of Queens​ and well over a dozen major motion pictures, James is returning to what he knows best: stand-up comedy. Before his big- and small-screen success, he got his start doing stand-up in 1989 and since then has performed on just about every late-night show and put out several hour-long specials—the most recent of which, ​Never Don’t Give Up,​ was released on Netflix in 2018. Details: 7:30 p.m.; $49–$75
—Matty Ryan, Comedy

October 4: Madagascar at Marriott Theatre 
An adapted version of the movie takes the stage for the second time at the Marriott; it was so loved by kids that they brought it back for the fall season. Sing and dance along with King Julien, Alex the Lion, Marty the Zebra, Melman the Giraffe, and Gloria the supercool, hip Hippo through their great adventures. Details: Through December 29; $18.23
—Samantha Lande, Family Fun

Madagascar, 2017/Courtesy of Marriott Theatre

October 4: Autumn After Hours at the Robie House 
Explore one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s most famous homes on a cool evening in early fall. Every Friday, the prairie-style residence will open its doors to ticket holders in time for the sunset, inviting guests to move freely through the historic rooms while enjoying regional libations and live music. Details: Friday evenings for eight weeks
—Claire Voon, Art

October 4: National Taco Day at La Josie 
Of all the absurd “food holidays” that populate the calendar, National Taco Day is one I can absolutely get behind. It’s basically tortilla Christmas! Celebrate in style at the West Loop’s popular La Josie, which is using the holiday to roll out new autumnal tacos, like the parilla taco with grilled chicken, pipian verde, pumpkin seeds, crispy sweet potato, butternut squash, and cilantro; and the otoño taco with grilled butternut and yellow squashes, sweet potato, habañero mayo, baby kale, and cilantro.
—Matt Kirouac, Food/Beverage

Photo courtesy of La Josie

Through October 5: Pakalolo Sweet 
Hannah Li-Epstein and Nothing Without a Company return with one of Li-Epstein’s drug plays set on the North Shore of Oahu—Pakalolo Sweet is the prequel to Not One Batu. Like that play, this one is interactive and intended to be experienced rather than consumed. For the first hour, audience members are encouraged to hang out with Uncle Makana from Not One Batu and learn about the family and their relationship to marijuana. Everything we learn will come to a head, and the payoff will reflect the quality of attention we brought to that first hour. Details: At Nothing Without a Company
—Tanuja Jagernauth, Theater

Through October 6: Dana H.
Based on a true story, Dana H. is about a psych ward chaplain who was abducted by an ex-convict. This show terrifies me, because how many of us have been duped and taken for a nonconsensual ride while in service to our highest calling? I’ll be seeing this ASAP and taking notes, as this production reminds us that no one—no one—is immune to being irreparably duped. Details: At Goodman Theatre
—Tanuja Jagernauth, Theater