We hope you’re hungry. One of the most anticipated evenings of the year is here: First Bites Bash, where you’ll be able to try a little food from all over Chicago. If that didn’t fill you up, try Packed, a new dumpling joint. Also on tap this week is the debut of a new production at Lyric Opera, and on the opposite end of the musical spectrum, legendary heavy metal band Black Sabbath says goodbye in the biggest way at the United Center.
AFAR Local is our weekly insider guide to the best of what's happening in cities around the U.S.
January 21 | Food
First Bites Bash
Join the festivities for the kickoff to the ninth annual Chicago Restaurant Week by sampling food from more than 60 of Chicago’s restaurants. Beer, wine, and cocktails will round out the offerings, which come from restaurants including Farmhouse Chicago, Summer House Santa Monica, Vermilion, and The Signature Room at the 95th. If you like any of the dishes, you can return to the restaurants during Restaurant Week (Jan 22–Feb 4) for a special prix-fixe menu.
5:30–8:30 p.m. | Great Hall at Union Station, 500 W. Jackson St., Chicago | $125 | website
January 22 | End of a musical era
Black Sabbath—The End
This is the beginning of the end, as Black Sabbath begin their final tour. Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, and Geezer Butler are concluding their story—one which began nearly five decades ago when this young band from England birthed the heavy metal genre of music. This true metal legacy is finally coming to a close, and you can catch it here in Chicago for one night only at the United Center. The band will have special guests Rival Sons on the stage as well.
7:30 p.m. | United Center, 1901 W. Madison St., Chicago | (312) 455-4500 | From $35 | website
January 23–24 | Escape the city
The Capitol Steps in Skokie
Head to Skokie this weekend to see Mock the Vote by the Capitol Steps at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts. In this crazy parody (playing January 21–24), the Congressional staffers-turned-musical political satirists will be poking fun at the lead up to the presidential election (as if it’s not silly enough already). For a more sobering Skokie experience, be sure to spend some time at the newish Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center.
Times vary | North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie, IL 60077 | (847) 673-6300 | From $32.50 | website
January 23–February 12 | Opera
Verdi’s Nabucco opera—a love triangle involving politics, religion, and a deadly warrior princess—takes the stage at Chicago’s Lyric Opera. With Željko Lučić playing the role of Nabucco and Tatiana Serjan as Abigaille, this is expected to be a grand production. What’s also great about Nabucco is that it’s a show that’s ideal for amateur operagoers as well as those who have held a subscription all their lives, because it’s easy to figure out the storyline and it doesn’t go on for hours (it’s 2 hours and 40 minutes, including the intermission). Plus, the music is lyrical and beautiful.
Times vary | Lyric Opera of Chicago, 20 N. Wacker Dr., Chicago | (312) 827-5600 | From $17 | website
New opening | Restaurant
Be the first to try Packed, a new farm-to-table organic, non-GMO, local, and sustainable dumpling restaurant that opened last week in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood. The 50-seat restaurant is run by chef Mike Sheerin and partner Aaron DiMaria. It’s a fast-casual space that specializes in unique, eco-friendly dumplings, with everything from soup dumplings to bao sandwiches potentially making an appearance on the seasonal menu, which will change monthly. This month, we’re eying the short ribs and the butternut squash dumplings.
Packed, 1321 E 57th St., Chicago | (312) 219-6544 | website
Danielle Braff lives in Chicago with her husband, two daughters, two cats, and her dog. When she’s not writing, she’s out photographing her city and running around frantically trying to fit as many events as she can into her day. You can check out her other articles at Daniellebraff.com.