Freezing cold days are here again and as Chicagoans settle into the joys of cozy sweaters and belly-warming drinks, the city’s pop-up scene seeks to lure them out and keep the winter blues at bay. That’s good news for locals and visitors looking for fresh entertainment in the form of creative pop-up collaborations and events in bars and restaurants around town. Follow along for a sampling of the best the city has to offer in Eater Chicago’s pop-up round up.
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As of January 3, the city has mandated that those ages 5 and up be fully vaccinated and masked at public places indoors while not actively eating or drinking. For updated information on coronavirus cases, please visit the city of Chicago’s COVID-19 dashboard. Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; it may pose a risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial COVID transmission. The latest CDC guidance is here; find a COVID-19 vaccination site here.
Irving Park/Albany Park: Chicago Reader’s Monday Night Foodball pop-up series will return this month after a brief hiatus, kicking off with pepperoni pizza bureks and sour cherry baklava from Nemanja and Marko Milunovic, formerly of shuttered ghost kitchen Kiosk Balkan Street Food, on Monday, January 24. The series’s mostly-full (and definitely stacked) roster of local chefs is available online. Nemanja and Marko Milunovic at the Kedzie Inn, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday, January 24, 4100 N. Kedzie Avenue
Logan Square: Booze-free event brand Coast Dry Bar will in February hold a series of pop-up events with alcohol-free cocktails at neighborhood bar the Native, according to a Facebook post. Plans include an open mic night, pop punk emo night, and board game night. Coast Dry Bar at the Native, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday, February 5 - 28, 2417 N. Milwaukee Avenue.
Portage Park: Newish local roastery Veloria Coffee will this Saturday hold its first pop-up market featuring 12 small Chicago-area businesses including Camelia Bakes, Brown Box Cheesecakes, and Jerry’s Jerky, according to Block Club Chicago. Operators hope to turn the event into a pop-up series as they work toward opening a cafe. Maker’s Pop-Up at Veloria Coffee, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, January 22, 3936 N. Cicero Avenue.
Rogers Park: “Experimental Italian” pop-up Impastable Chicago this week kicked off a winter residency at Mission Control Arcade Bar, according to a Facebook post. Pasta maker Nathan Scheetz is offering a menu that ranges from snacks like Italian wedding soup and vegan bruschetta to three types of lasagna, available as a flight. The pop-up is slated to run through March. Impastable Chicago at Mission Control Arcade Bar, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday through Sunday, 1408 W. Morse Avenue.
Around Town: Chef Iliana Regan, founder of Michelin-starred Elizabeth, will host a two-day pop-up this spring, slated for March 18 and 19. All other details, including the location, remain under wraps but interested patrons can contact Regan by email for more information and booking instructions, she writes on Instagram. Known for her distinctive forage-based cooking, Regan officially left Elizabeth in October 2021. Iliana Regan pop-up, March 18 and 19, Location not yet available.
Chatham: Barbie’s Luxury Rentals will be hosting another edition of its pop-up shop for Black-owned businesses at the MDM Dance School the last Sunday of January. Food vendors include Happy Taco, I Heart Grits, and Barbie’s Catfish. 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday January 30, 8248 S. Cottage Grove Avenue.
Lakeview: Dear Margaret will celebrate its first birthday with an enthusiastic embrace of its Canadian roots: poutine, Labatt’s, peameal bacon-topped Canuck burgers, shots of Canadian Club whisky, and, best of all, an all-Rush soundtrack (and maybe some Celine Dion). Booze is available only with the purchase of food. Dear Margaret’s First Birthday, 5 p.m. till the food runs out, Monday January 17, 2965 N. Lincoln Avenue.
Lincoln Park: Replay Lincoln Park is extending its Hogwarts-themed Very Harry Winter celebration for another month. The bar is featuring Harry Potter-inspired decorations, a cosplay contest, and a House Cup Competition that includes trivia, wizard staff fights, and Quidditch Beer Pong. Express entry tickets available here, for customers 21 and older only. Very Harry Winter at Replay Lincoln Park, 3 p.m. to 2 a.m. daily through January 31, 2833 N. Sheffield.
River North: Chefs Cedric Harden (River Roast) and Darnell Reed (Luella’s) will, on Wednesday, January 12, host the Chicago event for the James Beard Foundation’s Taste America culinary series, a collection of nationwide dining events aimed at supporting independent restaurants, according to a rep. Harden and Reed will present a three-course meal that includes king crab-pork belly gumbo and a crispy pork shank (served with lentils, corn, and apple cider nage), as well as vegetarian alternatives. Sixty-five percent of the proceeds from ticket sales will go directly to the participating chefs’ restaurants and 35 percent will support the Beard Foundation’s national programming. Tickets ($300 per pair) and more details are available on the foundation’s website. James Beard Foundation’s Taste America: Chicago at River Roast, 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, January 12, 315 N. LaSalle Street.
West Loop: For Chicagoans who can’t head south for a tropical vacation themselves, Soho House is bringing the tropics north by hosting Sweet Liberty, one of Miami Beach’s top cocktail bars, for a one-month residency in its lobby bar. Along with warm weather-inspired drinks like the Always Sunny Negroni (Bombay Sapphire, Lillet rosé, pineapple-infused martini bitters, strawberry glitter, and dried mango), there will be thin-crust pizza from Paper Thin and a live DJ every night. Sweet Liberty x Soho House Chicago, January 14-February 12, in the lobby bar at Soho House, 113-125 N. Green Street.