Expert Picks

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

Photo by Jeff Marini/Courtesy of Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises

This week in Chicago, American Girl dolls take the stage, Nikki Glaser brings the laughs, a new sushi spot drops in Streeterville, and Bangers & Lace hosts a family-friendly Cinco de Mayo block party.

April 30–May 12: See American Girl Doll Live 
Sure, you could shop for American Girl dolls until you drop along Michigan Avenue, but now, starting April 30, you can also see them live onstage. This all-new musical chronicles the stories of your favorite dolls, so it’s sure to be a big hit.
—Samantha Lande

May 1: Art & Afrofuturism at DePaul Art Museum 
Robert Pruitt is a master of black portraiture, whose realist creations are filled with nods to Afrofuturism and African art history. Hear him speak about his art during this talk, and see some of his works on display, too.
—Claire Voon

May 2: Chvrches at the Aragon Ballroom
Scottish trio Chvrches is set to dominate the Aragon Ballroom with its anthemic brand of elecro-pop. The band is touring in support of its latest album, Love Is Dead. Between their synth-driven epics and the charisma of frontwoman Lauren Mayberry, it’s no wonder the indie darlings have found mainstream success.
—Jessica Mlinaric

Opens May 3: Parched 
Free Street Theater continues to impress me with its commitment to pay its artists as fairly as it can while making powerful, relevant art in a democratic way: through devising. It is messy and  time-consuming, and the results are magical because they derive from the actual lives of those who create it. Next up is Parched, devised by the youth ensemble. Directed by Katrina and Dion and assistant-directed by Will Pettiway, this show is bound to be smart, funny, and powerful. Do not miss this pay-what-you-can experience.
—Tanuja Jagernauth

Photo courtesy of Nikki Glaser/Facebook

May 3: Nikki Glaser at Thalia Hall 
Glaser, the current cohost of ​You Up w/Nikki Glaser​ on Sirius/XM Radio, returns to Chicago for a one-night-only appearance at Thalia Hall. Previously, she was the host of the Comedy Central show ​Not Safe​, and she has appeared on ​Conan and The Tonight Show, a​s well as in Amy Schumer’s Trainwreck.
—Matty Ryan

Restaurant Opening of the Week: Mr. Maki
The hitmakers behind Ramen-san and Sushi-san strike again with Streeterville’s stylish new sushi haunt, Mr. Maki. Chef Kaze Chan mans a menu of contemporary Japanese dishes with an emphasis on rolls, accompanied by playful cocktails. The dish I’m preemptively obsessed with? Eggplant fries.
—Matt Kirouac

Photo by Jeremy Farmer/Courtesy of Off Color Brewing

May 4: Off Color Brewing Six-Year Anniversary at the Mouse Trap
I knew craft beer was making big leaps around six years ago, but who knew two of Chicago’s craft beer meccas would swing open their doors at the same time? Off Color is turning six and releasing two new beers to mark the occasion: Polar S’moretex, a high-gravity version of Dino S’mores that was brewed on a day we’d all like to drink away from memory; and Chicxulub, a Mexican hot chocolate–inspired Russian Imperial Stout. Drop in to catch these beers and many more Off Color gems on draft or in a limited amount to go.
—Jim Morris

May 4: Exposure Series 2019
Discover new and challenging artists…in a cemetery. The fourth annual Exposure Series brings visiting improvisers Claire Rousay, Forbes Graham, and Ava Mendoza into contact with Chicagoans. The final performances of the three-day festival, hosted by Elastic Arts, will take place in Rosehill Cemetery’s May Chapel.
—Jessica Mlinaric

May 4: Mini Maker Faire 
If your kids love show-and-tell, they’ll love this fun event where young makers showcase everything from 3-D printed creations to upcycling. More than 100 participants are expected to display their skills at this first annual event! Details: 10 a.m.–4 p.m. at Schurz High School; free
—Samantha Lande

“Small World” / Photo by Evan Hanover/Courtesy of the New Colony

Through May 4: Small World 
The New Colony is dedicated to creating character-driven pieces of art that explore the world around us, and I love that. Small World stars the wickedly talented Stephanie Shum as Kim, an employee at the Happiest Place on Earth on a day when it seems like everything that could possibly go wrong does. Don’t miss this one!
—Tanuja Jagernauth

May 4: Our House at Heaven Gallery 
The Wicker Park gallery is celebrating an impressive 19 years this year, and everyone is invited to this party. The festivities don’t just mark the anniversary but aim to fund-raise for a critical cause: buying the building to create a sustainable art center. Look forward to a dance party but also a silent art auction, where you can purchase works by 50 artists. Oh, and there will be tacos by Big Star.
—Claire Voon

May 5: Cinco de Mayo Street Party at Bangers & Lace
Bangers & Lace and Solemn Oath are teaming up for a grand fiesta in Wicker Park. There will be loads of SOB brews like End All, White Van, Punk Rock for Rich Kids, Lü, Questionable Couch, and more. Plus, B&L will have special drink concoctions for the day, including a Lü-garita with SOB’s Kolsch beer. Look out for the Cream City skate ramp, which will be on-site all day (no, seriously, look out! I don’t want you to get hurt.) This event is free to attend and kid-friendly.
—Jim Morris

Photo by Eric Kleinberg/Courtesy of Bangers & Lace