Expert Picks

Your Weekly Guide for What to Do, See, Eat, and Drink in Chicago: February 24–March 1

Photo courtesy of Naperville Ale Fest/Facebook

This week in Chicago, transport your taste buds to New Orleans and Key West, teach your kids how to make pancakes and butter, and brave the elements for some outdoor adventures with Arctic animals or beer.

Colleen Plumb, Doc (Syracuse, New York) at Hornafjordur, Iceland, 2018. Archival pigment print, 30 x 45 inches. Courtesy of McCormick Gallery.

February 25: “Thirty Times a Minute” at McCormick Gallery 
Photographer Colleen Plumb has spent the past decade not only documenting elephants in captivity around the world but also creating highly public responses to these small enclosures. These take the form of guerrilla video projections that cycle through her heart-wrenching images; see her work in this solo show, which might inspire you to think more deeply about our relationship with animals.
—Claire Voon, Art

Through February 26: Mardi Gras at Shaw’s Crab House  
One of my favorite places to celebrate Mardi Gras is Shaw’s Crab House, a bustling seafood haunt that feels like a delicious party any night of the year. For Fat Tuesday, the River North icon is serving a New Orleans–inspired menu through February 26, along with a special crawfish boil and live music on February 25. The main specials includes oyster po’boys, blackened redfish with crawfish sauce, jambalaya, and seafood gumbo. Details: Specials menu available through February 26, with crawfish boil and live music on February 25
—Matt Kirouac, Food/Beverage

February 25: Travel to Florida by Way of Rogers Park 
Winter in Chicago can be a challenge, which is why Onward is channeling its inner Floridian for a special Florida Keys culinary takeover and fundraiser. February 25 through March 8, the Rogers Park restaurant is serving sunny vibes with an all-Keys menu of specials like conch chowder, lobster lasagnette, yellowtail snapper with coconut rice, tiki cocktails, and, of course, Key lime pie. Decor will also provide tropical vibes with pastel colors, pink flamingos, palm trees, and pineapple lights, and a portion of proceeds from the specials will go to the Keys’ Dolphin Research Center and the Turtle Hospital. Details: February 25–March 8; food and drink specials priced à la carte
—Matt Kirouac, Food/Beverage

Photo by Madison Olszewski/Courtesy of Onward.

February 27: Nate Bargatze: Good Problem to Have Tour 
Heralded by Jim Gaffigan as “one of the top up-and-coming comics” and Marc Maron as “a comic who should be big,” Bargatze has certainly filled those shoes. He’s had several appearances each on ​Conan a​nd The ​Tonight Show​; his most recent album, ​Full Time Magic,​ made it to number one on Billboard’s Top 10 comedy chart; and his first, ​Yelled at by a Clown,​ reached number two. The Genesee Theatre might be a bit of a trek for city dwellers, but Bargatze is worth it. Details: 7 p.m.; $20–$150
—Matty Ryan, Comedy

February 29: Make Your Own Pancakes and Butter 
It may be too cold and snowy to see the beautiful flowers and blooming trees that usually make up the Chicago Botanic Garden, but what it lacks in greenery it makes up for in awesome family programming. This winter it is offering fun cooking classes, and we are superexcited about this one. Families will learn all about the plants that are used to make breakfast, and then kids will have the opportunity to make their own butter and buttermilk pancakes. This program is geared toward families with children ages 4–10. Details: 9:30–11 a.m. or 1–2:30 p.m.; $19 for members or $24 for nonmembers
—Samantha Lande, Family Fun

February 29: “Robin Hustle’s Fenestrated Shape” at Roman Susan 
Chicago artist Hustle is interested in the complexities of surfaces: porousness, textures, and notions of statis and becoming. She explores these in water vessels that emphasize gestures made to create them. Take in their curious, precarious forms in this solo exhibition.
—Claire Voon, Art

Care vessels for common water (2020). Courtesy of Robin Hustle, photo by Torie McMillan.

February 29: Naperville Ale Fest 
The Naperville Ale Fest winter edition pays special attention to those strong, dark, and roast-y brews that are always welcome in the cold months. Expect lots of stouts, barley wines, and double IPAs from the dozens of breweries that will be in attendance (almost everyone with a fermenter within a 20-mile radius of Naperville will be pouring). This outdoor festival’s planners are merciful, so also look for firepits, hot hard cider, and food trucks to help thaw the frozen fun of Chicago winter. Details: Noon–4 p.m.; $55
—Jim Morris, Beer

Through February 29: The Leopard Play: Or Sad Songs for Lost Boys 
Isaac Gomez is back with a play he tags as follows: #NewWork, #NewWerk, #QueerPlays, #LatinePlays, #LatinxPlays, #MexicanPlays, #DadPlays, and #DaddyIssues. A man goes back to the place where he was raised, along the U.S.-Mexican border. Waiting for him is information about his uncle’s mysterious death, the men he escaped, and a whole bunch of memories he never wanted to access again. What are we willing to do and face in order to get the answers we think we need? This one is at the very top of my must-see list. Details: At Steep Theatre
—Tanuja Jagernauth, Theater

February 29: Polar Adventure Days 
Bundle up and get ready to have fun outdoors. This annual event puts you face-to-face (at a safe distance, don’t worry!) with Siberian huskies, wolves, and other wintry animals. There are also nature-inspired crafts, plenty of cool birds to scope out, and, of course, hot chocolate. If there’s snow, there will be snowshoes available, too. Details: Noon–4 p.m.; free to attend, $3 parking
—Samantha Lande, Family Fun

Photo by Paul Strabbing/Courtesy of Chicago Board Game Cafe

Restaurant Opening of the Week: Chicago Board Game Cafe 
The founders of Cards Against Humanity give Chicago a restaurant like its never seen before, one where quasi-tropical cuisine is complemented by escape rooms, an array of board games, and an immersive motif designed to resemble a bustling town square.
—Matt Kirouac, Food/Beverage