Expert Picks

Your Weekly Guide for What to Do, See, Eat, and Drink in Chicago: February 17–23

Photo by Audia Inc/Courtesy of the Filament Theatre/Forts

This week in Chicago, celebrate Carnaval, Paczki Fest, and National Margarita Day. Then take the kids to see Knuffle Bunny onstage or build forts. And then get ready for an empowering play about self-defense. All this and lots more!

Photo courtesy of La Josie

February 21: “Your Residue ته مانده تو ” at One After 909 
This solo exhibition of Elnaz Javani’s art presents tactile fiber pieces that explore narratives about memory, body, and immigration. The Chicago-based Iranian artist began making these works in 2013 after moving to the United States, and her embroidery and illustrations suggest moments of disorientation and disruption and a balancing of dual identities.
—Claire Voon, Art

February 21 and 22: Carnaval Celebration at Nacional 27 
Mardi Gras isn’t the only festive blowout happening this month. In honor of Brazil’s Carnaval, Nacional 27 is hosting a weekend-long fete with samba dancers, DJs, Latin beats, and pear caipirinhas on special. Details: 6 p.m.–3 a.m.
—Matt Kirouac, Food/Beverage

February 22: “Dis-Placed: Gentle Disquiet” at Evanston Art Center 
In this solo show, artist Tracy L. Templeton presents prints and textiles that evoke otherworldly landscapes, each ambiguous site a possible refuge or haven. But the series has real-life roots, altogether nodding to the global refuge crisis.
—Claire Voon, Art

February 22: Todd Barry at Thalia Hall 
A 20-plus-year veteran of the craft, Barry is beyond what would be considered a comic’s comic. A favorite of both comedians and audiences alike, his smooth, dry wit is incomparable to both the contemporary stand-up scene and comedy’s days of yore. One of his many hour specials, ​The Crowd Work Tour​, found him touring the U.S. doing zero material and strictly interacting with the crowd in his signature way. A true original—any fan of stand-up comedy will enjoy a Todd Barry show. Details: 7 p.m.; $25–$35
—Matty Ryan, Comedy

Photo courtesy of Marz Community Brewing/Facebook

February 22: Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Musical 
One of Mo Willems’s beloved characters, Knuffle Bunny, was left at the laundromat by Trixie, who sets off on an adventure with her dad to find him. Perfect for young kids. Details: 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.; $14
—Samantha Lande, Family Fun

February 22: National Margarita Day 
Drinking margaritas for a good cause seems like a win-win, no? You can do just that at La Josie on National Margarita Day, February 22, when the West Loop hot spot slings special hibiscus margaritas for charity. A portion of the proceeds from these vivacious and floral libations will go toward Erie Neighborhood House, a local charity working to empower Latin immigrants via education, advocacy, and access to crucial services. Details: Margaritas cost $14
—Matt Kirouac, Food/Beverage

February 23: Paczki Fest 
Marz Community Brewing is throwing a whole shindig in honor of a Polish pastry…well, actually, it’s in honor of its Paczki Milk Stout being released, as well as a pistachio version. Go for the beer on draft and in cans, and stay for the Mardi Gras theme, complete with Creole dishes and all-vinyl Creole soul from DJ Hunter Diamond. Details: noon–8 p.m.
—Jim Morris, Beer

February 23: Forts at the Filament Theatre 
This amazing interactive experience was so wildly popular that they brought it back so more people could experience it. Just as the name states, Forts is all about building forts. Onstage you will find a bunch of paper boxes and other building material that will help you create, explore, and have a great time. Details: 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.
—Samantha Lande, Family Fun

February 23: Uppers & Downers 2020 
Good Beer Hunting’s annual Uppers & Downers festival at Thalia Hall explores the intersection between beer and coffee, and allows the creators of each to experiment with inventive ways to combine the two. Expect dozens of coffee beers, coffee cocktails, rare espressos, and inventive snacks from Chicago chefs; basically, if you’re not excited about this event now, you will be after attending it. Details: Session one, 11 a.m.–3 p.m. and session two, 4–8 p.m.; $65
—Jim Morris, Beer

“How to Defend Yourself” / Photo courtesy of Victory Gardens Theater

Through February 23: How to Defend Yourself 
I had the honor and pleasure of seeing a staged reading of How to Defend Yourself at Ignition Fest 2018, and it blew me and my companions away. As we hooted and hollered, recognizing ourselves and our community onstage, I remember feeling a deep sense of gratitude for theater, a medium that allows us to witness others while being witnessed and that fosters a sense of deep communion not found in many places other than church. I cannot wait to see this production and celebrate the achievement of playwright Lily Padilla. In the play, seven college students gather for a DIY self-defense class after a sorority sister is raped. As they build skills and community, each will have to battle her own internalized rape culture. This play is powerful, to say the least. Don’t miss it. Details: At Victory Gardens Theater
—Tanuja Jagernauth, Theater

Restaurant Opening of the Week: Tales of Carlos Gaytán 
After opening Tzuco and Panango in River North, acclaimed chef Carlos Gaytán completes his trifecta with his most intimate and elaborate offering yet, a small, 12-seat tasting menu space inspired by the chef’s Mexican-French techniques, with contemporary design by Ignacio Cadena + Asociados Concept Design.
—Matt Kirouac, Food/Beverage