The best of what to do in and around Chicago this week
Get the new year started with the right eats at two recently opened restaurants, Publican Anker and Eden. Then catch the last few days of Winter WonderFest at Navy Pier, which brings the winter wonderland feel indoors. Critically acclaimed play The Christians is still on at Steppenwolf Theatre and worth seeing. Or get out of the city for the weekend and snuggle up at the Big Cedar Lodge in Ridgedale, Missouri.
AFAR Local is our weekly insider guide to the best of what’s happening in cities around the U.S.
November 30 | Now open: Restaurant
Raw and fire-roasted seafood along with bar fare are on the menu at this newcomer. Publican Anker hits all the restaurant buzzwords: Seasonal and sustainably sourced, the meals at this trendy spot come in a variety of options, from oysters and a glass of wine at the bar to dinner at a communal table. Chef AJ Walker, formerly of Publican Quality Meats (known throughout Chicago for its pork) is helming the kitchen.
1565 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago | website
December 1 - January 29 | Theater
The Christians tells the story of Pastor Paul, who spent 20 years growing his small church into a huge theological establishment—only to wake up one morning doubting his own beliefs. The play delves into the relationship between belief and behavior while following the pastor’s internal battle and the backlash from his confidants and congregation.
Steppenwolf Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted St., Chicago | From $79 | website
December 5 - January 8 | Carnival
Winter magic doesn’t have to fade just because the holidays are over. Catch the end of the season at Winter WonderFest, the Navy Pier’s annual winter carnival extravaganza. It’s a fantasy for the kids, featuring a toboggan tunnel, an indoor Ferris wheel, a 15-foot snow tubing hill, an ice-skating rink, carnival rides, and even a mini golf course.
Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand Ave., Chicago | From $10 | website
December 17 | Now open: Restaurant
The United Center is known for its concerts and sporting events—but not for its food. The options inside and nearby the venue have always been lacking. That’s changing now, ever since the opening of Eden right outside. The Mediterranean and new American restaurant serves main courses in addition to snack foods like umami doughnuts. Produce comes from its onsite urban garden, so you can be assured it’s an upgrade from the food you’re used to getting near the United Center.
1748 W. Lake St., Chicago | website
January 7 - 8 | Escape the city
The snow is still falling hard in Chicago, which means it’s the perfect time of year to get away to somewhere cozy. Ridgedale, Missouri, is that place. Get there via a 90-minute flight to Branson, MO, and then a 15-minute drive to Big Cedar Lodge in Ridgedale, where you can ice-skate and warm up by the fireplace or head to the spa for a Swedish or deep-tissue massage. This time of year, the Lost Canyon Cave Nature Trail is open to golf cart traffic. Rent your transportation from Big Cedar Lodge. Then roll through the cave (covered in a blanket, of course) and stop for some snowy photos along the way.
190 Top of the Rock Rd., Ridgedale, Missouri | 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.