Sample a little of everything this week, starting with a massive food celebration at Navy Pier to kick off Restaurant Week. Continue eating at the annual Donut Fest, or celebrate Chinese New Year with performances at the Chicago Cultural Center. Then switch gears and listen to Bill T. Jones speak about how HIV interacts with art. For an escape, drive to Platteville, Wisconsin.
AFAR Local is our weekly insider guide to the best of what’s happening in cities around the U.S.
January 26 | Food
First Bites Bash
The First Bites Bash is the aptly named opening night party of this year’s 10th annual Restaurant Week. More than 60 of the restaurants from Restaurant Week will be highlighted at this three-hour, cocktail attire–required dinner party, so you can preview (er, pretaste) from establishments including Il Porcellino, The Promontory, Imperial Lamian, and Steadfast at The Gray. Wine and spirits will also be on hand for tasty pairings.
5:30 PM - 8:30 PM | Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand Ave., Chicago | $125 | website
January 27 | Art
A part of the exhibition Art AIDS America (put on by the Tacoma Art Museum and the Bronx Museum of the Arts), Return is an art exhibit by HIV-positive artist Bill T. Jones. Jones, whose partner passed away from complications due to AIDS, will be speaking and sharing photographs and videos about how HIV is shown in American art and what the disease means to him as an artist. The founder of the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, Jones has created choreography for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.
7:00 PM - 9:00 PM | 740 E 56th Pl., Chicago | $10 | website
January 28 - 29 | Food festival
Sweeten up your winter at the annual Donut Fest, where you’ll have the opportunity to taste dozens and crown the best doughnut in the city. Competitors this year include Glazed and Infused, Stan’s Donuts, Doughnut Vault, Firecakes, and Longman & Eagle, among others. Between doughnut samples, palette cleanse with free coffee samples (because nothing goes together better than coffee and doughnuts). This event sells out every year, so get your ticket early or find one on Craigslist.
The Chop Shop, 2033 W. North Ave., Chicago | $25 | website
January 28 - 29 | Escape the city
Head three hours out of the city to Platteville, Wisconsin, for a mix of indoor relaxation and outdoor adventure. Stay in a log cabin at Walnut Ridge, and drink craft beer at the famed and locally owned New Glarus Brewery. The brewery offers official tours on Fridays and self-guided tours every day but Sunday. Be sure to do a tasting, and save ample room in your car for all the beer you’ll inevitably bring back to your cabin. Finally, don’t miss the Mining and Rollo Jamison Museums, which cover the city’s mining history and display artifacts including arrowheads.
January 30 | Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year Kickoff
Kick off the year of the rooster with this celebration at the Chicago Cultural Center, where they’ll have Chinese dancers, musicians, and martial artists (including Jackie Chan’s Long Yun Kung Fu Troupe from Beijing) performing for the occasion. If you love (or miss) the Long Yun Kung Fu performance, you can see the full show on February 4th at the Auditorium Theatre.
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM | Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington St., Chicago | Free | 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.