Here are the five coolest things to do in and around Chicago this week. We publish a new list every Wednesday, covering Thursday through Wednesday. Stay tuned for insider updates on restaurant openings, festivals, exhibitions, shows, weekend escapes, and more.
If you’ve ever waited for hours to eat the Au Cheval burger, routinely named the best in Chicago (and the nation), here’s some good news: The popular diner has just opened a pop-up version, named Small Cheval, in the space formerly occupied by Roxie’s by the Slice pizza joint. It will offer that coveted burger along with fries, shakes, beer, and cocktails. There’s no word on how long this pop-up will last, so enjoy the (hopefully) shorter wait while you can.
Wed–Sun 11 a.m.–3 p.m. & 5 p.m.–sold out | 1732 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago | website
Hot Dog Fest
Honor that most iconic edible symbol of Chicago at this three-day outdoor festival. The likes of Select Cut Steakhouse and Chubby Wieners will be hawking their best encased meats; there will be beer and live music; and, because this event is hosted by the Chicago History Museum, there will be some intellectual discussion to go with your sausage. Speakers include Northwestern University professors and historians on such subjects as ketchup (probably Chicago’s most vilified condiment) and the decidedly unappetizing history of the city’s Union Stock Yards.
11 a.m–9 p.m. (8 p.m. Sun) | 1701 N. Stockton Dr., Chicago | Free | website
Comedians improvising a minutes-long sketch is impressive, but what about improvising an hour-long play? In Stolen House, six The Second City–trained comedians will concoct the plot and characters of a full-length play on the fly. The comedians performing this hilarious theater/brainstorm mash-up are: Scott Adsit and John Lutz (30 Rock), David Pasquesi and TJ Jagodowski (AKA TJ & Dave), Stephnie Weir (MADtv), and Bob Dassie (The Second City).
Times vary | Victory Gardens Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago | (773) 871-3000 | From $24 | website
The Vernacular Photography Festival
A genre that celebrates the beauty in mundane subjects (and is often captured by amateur photographers), vernacular photography has seen a resurgence ever since the captivating photos by Chicago street photographer Vivian Maier were discovered and published online six years ago. This gallery event lasts nearly a month and includes a talk on the enduring popularity of photo booths (August 9) and a showing of rare 16mm music videos from the 1960s (August 23).
Comfort Station, 2579 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago | (773) 860-6567 | Free | website
Weekend Escape | August 7–9
Michigan’s Longest Garage Sale
You can find great vintage pieces in Chicago antique stores, but for real steals you have to travel outside city limits. Michigan’s Longest Garage Sale is a great excuse to take your treasure hunt on the road. Stretching 180 miles along US-12 from New Buffalo, MI (just 70 miles along the lake from the Loop) to Detroit, this annual three-day sale will have you rummaging through goodies outside homes, in fields, and on farms. When you’re too weary to sift through one more crate of LPs, head back to New Buffalo and have a well-deserved cocktail and a wood-fired pizza on the water at Bentwood Tavern.
US-12 between New Buffalo, MI & Detroit, MI | website
Laura Baginski is a Chicago-based writer and editor who specializes in travel and parenting. Because of the latter, the former doesn’t happen as much as she’d like.
Planning a trip? Check out the AFAR guide to Chicago.