Expert Picks

Your Weekly Guide for What to Do, See, Eat, and Drink in Chicago: November 18–24

Photo by True Shot Studios/Courtesy of Christkindlmarket Chicago

This week in Chicago, get into the holiday spirit with a trip to Christkindlmarket, the Thorne Rooms at the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival. In nonholiday news, check out a new Japanese pancake restaurant, a storytelling night with David Sedaris, and a special Pride event at a brewery.

Mrs. James Ward Thorne, A37: California Hallway, c. 1940. Courtesy of the Art Institute of Chicago.

November 19: Strong Beer With Strong Cheese at All Together Now 
Listen, when a beer clocks in at 13.9% ABV, you’re gonna need to balance it out with something hefty. In honor of Half Acre Beer’s indulgent new bourbon barrel–aged Orin beer, All Together Now is hosting a tasting paired with robust washed rind and blue cheeses. There will also be pours of Half Acre’s Geraldine saison and Bodem IPA. Details: 6–10 p.m.
—Matt Kirouac, Food/Beverage

November 20: The Politics of Taste at the Block Museum of Art 
Since the ’60s, Colombian artist Beatriz González has been known for her Pop Art–style works that draw on imagery from newspapers and magazines. At age 80, she is finally becoming recognized on a greater international scale, thanks to a major retrospective that opened this year and a forthcoming book on her practice. Hear the book’s author, Ana María Reyes, speak about González during this talk, which coincides with the museum’s massive exhibition on Pop Art in Latin America.
—Claire Voon, Art

November 21: David Sedaris at Auditorium Theatre 
The bestselling author and NPR contributor presents an evening featuring all new stories, an audience Q&A, and a book signing. Sedaris, one of the country’s most iconic contemporary humor writers, has published a dozen books and essay collections, including ​Naked, Me Talk Pretty One Day, ​and ​Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls​. He’ll be reading from his newest collection,​ Calypso,​ which has been described as “his most deeply personal and darkly hilarious” one yet. Details: 7:30 p.m.; $54–$74
—Matty Ryan, Comedy

All Week: Visit the Christkindlmarket 
Hard to believe it’s already that time of year to spread joyous cheer, bundle up, and eat all the festive snacks at this annual market. Find giant pretzels for the kids and a boot of warm beverages for you, and explore all the fun, German-inspired goods across the market. Details: Through December 24; free to attend
—Samantha Lande, Family Fun

Photo courtesy of the BMO Harris Bank Magnificent Mile Lights Festival

November 22: We Are Family 
It’s Pride in November at the Revolution Kedzie Taproom! One hundred percent of draft and packaged sales of Freedom of Expression (a strawberry and rhubarb session sour) from this event will be donated to Chicago House and Social Service Agency. There will also be music and silent auction items. Details: 6–11 p.m.
—Jim Morris, Beer

Starts November 22: Holiday Thorne Rooms at the Art Institute of Chicago 
You know Christmas is near when this beloved tradition at the museum returns. The 80-year-old Thorne Rooms—mini dollhouse-like interiors that show international styles of design—get decorated for the holidays, boasting tiny additions, from a Yule log to a mid-century menorah to Chinese New Year shadow puppets.
Claire Voon, Art

November 22 and 23: Magnificent Mile Lights Festival 
Join Mickey and Minnie at this annual parade and event on Michigan Avenue. We suggest getting there early if you want to see anything, but there will also be plenty to do while you wait: hang in the kids’ zone, visit Santa, and listen to live music. If the Friday crowds are too much, come back on Saturday to do all of the activities with slightly smaller crowds! Details: Parade on November 22, festival on November 23, 11 a.m.–4 p.m.
—Samantha Lande, Family Fun

Through November 23: Sugar in Our Wounds 
Mikael Burke helms this award-winning play about the freedom to love during times of war—specifically the Civil War. A family will have to reckon with their beliefs and one another when one of their members falls in love with a mysterious visitor seeking shelter. Details: At the Den Theater
—Tanuja Jagernauth, Theater

November 23: Mother Truckin’ Booze Fest 
It’s craft beer, hard seltzers and cocktails, Lucha Libre wrestling, and food trucks galore. It’s the Mother Truckin’ Booze Fest, and it’s happening at the Sears Centre Arena in Hoffman Estates. Look for live music, a beer pong tournament, face painting, and a balloon artist (yeah, it’s 21 and over). Also, a broad variety of both local and national breweries will be in attendance, and it may be the only event where you can sample both Bourbon County Stout and Four Loko. Just sayin’. Details: 1:15–5:15 p.m.; $45 for general admission and $65 for VIP
—Jim Morris, Beer

November 23: Christela Alonzo: My Affordable Care Act at the Vic Theatre 
Alonzo made history in 2014 when she became the first Latina to create, write, and star in a network television sitcom called ​Christela​. She’s a regular guest host on ​The View​, and she recently put out an hour-long special on Netflix titled ​Lower Classy.​ Look out for her soon-to-be-released book, Music to My Years: A Mixtape Memoir of Growing Up and Standing Up. Details: 8 p.m.; $29–$59
—Matty Ryan, Comedy

Photo by Regan Baroni/Courtesy of Gaijin

Restaurant Opening of the Week: Gaijin 
One of the most beloved chefs in Chicagoland, Paul Virant, just opened the city’s first Japanese restaurant dedicated to okonomiyaki, savory pancakes popular in Hiroshima and Osaka. Housed in a stylish, intimate West Loop space, the 60-seat restaurant sports a 12-foot griddle for all those pancakes. Rounding things out are shaved ice desserts; mochi doughnuts; and a bar program spotlighting highballs, sake, and Japanese whiskey.
—Matt Kirouac, Food/Beverage