As temperatures drop and daylight hours grow all the more brief in Chicago, the reality of fall is sinking in. While the fun of summer food festivals is in the rear-view mirror, autumn is an excellent season for eating, whether one is getting into soup mode or imbibing pumpkin spice Malört. Pop-ups are a great way for chefs and diners to keep things interesting as the leaves start to change. 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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Wrigleyville: 8 Crazy Nights, a rare Hanukkah pop-up bar originally founded in 2019, is back through Sunday, January 7 at sports bar Graystone Tavern with a lineup of unusual (traditional, jalapeno cheddar, salt and vinegar) and super treyf “loaded” latkes (beef bacon with cheddar and sour cream; eggs, beef bacon, cheese; barbecue brisket). There are also punny Hanukkah cocktails — think the Mensch Mule (vodka, strawberry, ginger beer) and Hanukkah Harry’s Hot Chocolate (whiskey, bourbon cream) — as well as group-sized Bubbe’s Buckets and tons of blue and white decor. 8 Crazy Nights at Graystone Tavern, Open through Sunday, January 7, 3441 N. Sheffield Avenue.
River North: Chicago sweets shop XO Marshmallow is popping up with a collaborative hot cocoa pop-up bar with fancy cups of toasty, chocolatey goodness through Sunday, December 31 at River Roast, according to a rep. Menu items include gourmet hot chocolate (made with Ghirardelli and Blommers) with vanilla, Funfetti, or cookies ‘n cream marshmallows, as well as a boozy adult version. For even more sugar, River Roast executive chef Jason Qureshi will offer his take on Rice Krispie treats. River Roast x XO Marshmallow Hot Cocoa Pop Up Bar, Open 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday through Friday; 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday through Sunday, December 31, 315 N. LaSalle Street.
Around Town: Tickets are live for the December dates of chef Donald Young’s decadent pop-up Duck Sel, a series of seven- or 15-course dining events where patrons can get a taste of Young’s modern-yet-classical French-Midwestern culinary style. There’s added mystery for attendees, who won’t find out where they’ll gather for the meal until 24 to 48 hours in advance. Reservations and more details are available via Tock. Duck Sel, Held every Saturday from December 9 through December 30, Locations not yet available.
Avondale: Ommi Foods, a new pop-up series from former line cook Firas Suqi (Chickpea, Jam), will kick off its first event on Saturday, December 16 when it brings A Palestinian “Ghada”: Lunch and Stories of Palestine in Chicago to Guild Row at 3130 N Rockwell Street, according to a rep. Suqi, who left the hospitality industry to pursue international humanitarian work and later graduated from Harvard University Graduate School of Design, will introduce his series to patrons with a ghada — the Arabic word for lunch and a kind of all-day brunch with family members trickling in and out. Though a finalized menu isn’t yet available, patrons can anticipate family-style dishes, dessert, coffee, and tea, as well as detailed explanations to contextualize the meal. Reservations and more details are available via Tock. A Palestinian “Ghada”: Lunch and Stories of Palestine by Ommi Foods at Guild Row, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, December 16, 3130 N. Rockwell Street.
Uptown: Dim Sum & Drag, a brunch event starring local Asian drag performers, is coming to Chinese restaurant institution Furama on Saturday, December 16 at 4936 N. Broadway. Hosted by Aunty Chan and Luv Ami-Stoole, the party includes buffet-style dim sum (vegetarian options will be available), appearances from Canada’s Drag Race alum Bom Bae and Dallas Texas-based Mulan Alexander, and performances by Abhijeet, Boo Boo Kitty Fuck, and Squeaky C. Banks. Tickets ($39.50) and more details are available online. Dim Sum & Drag at Furama, Saturday, December 16, 4936 N. Broadway.
West Town: Chef Stephen Sandoval’s new chef pop-up series, Diego Domingos, kicked off in early December and will continue every other Sunday with a rotating lineup of collaborators at dive bar and restaurant Diego. The pop-up, slated for Sunday, December 17, will feature chef Stephen Gillanders (S.K.Y., Apolonia) and his take on a taco, a tostada, and a beverage. Reservations and more details area available via Resy. Chef Stephen Gillanders x Diego Domingos, 4 p.m. Sunday, December 17, 459 N. Ogden Avenue.
Around Town: Chef Jasmine Sheth and her virtual restaurant Tasting India, a hit since the early throes of the pandemic, have opened pre-orders for her lineup of Diwali Mithai with 12-piece boxes ($39) of besan ladoos (roasted chickpea truffles with white chocolate swirl) and motichoor lados (saffron syrup-soaked chickpea pearls), as well as fried and saffron-soaked ghugharas, or folded pastries filled with caramelized milk, semolina, and nuts. Diwali Mithai at Tasting India, pre-order online for delivery or two-day shipping.
Avondale: Chefs Rafa Esparza (Finom, Evette’s) and Anthony Baier (Kimski) will give Chicagoans a taste of things to come on Monday, November 6 at the Reader’s Monday Night Foodball pop-up at Ludlow Liquors. The duo will take their forthcoming restaurant FAFO (Fuck Around and Find Out) out for a spin with raucous menu items like Electric Ave (Rare Tea Cellar electric blue matcha deviled eggs, uni, ants, spirulina hot sauce) and 7/11 (Japanese egg salad, chorizo verde, milk bread, chive). FAFO’s Monday Night Foodball at Ludlow Liquors, 6 p.m. until sold out Monday, November 6, 2959 N. California Avenue.
Logan Square: Malaysian virtual restaurant hit Kedai Tapo will pop up on Monday, November 6 at Superkhana International with a full-service event and dishes including char siew wantan mee (caramelized pork belly, noodles, special black sauce, pork and shrimp wonton) and asam pedas skate wing (tamarind, chili, banga & ulam, rice). The pop-up is currently sold out but join the waitlist via Tock. Kedai Taipo at Superkhana International, 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday, November 6, 3059 W. Diversey Avenue.
West Loop: Upscale contemporary Indian spot Rooh is bringing back its festive box of Diwali sweets with pre-orders ($45) open online for pickup on Thursday, November 9. This year’s delicacies include a badam halwa tart with honey fudge, almond and cashew dark chocolate bark with gulkand, and white chocolate coconut ladoo. Diwali sweets box at Rooh, 736 W Randolph Street.
The Loop: Chefsgiving, a new Thanksgiving pop-up from hospitality non-profit Chicago Chefs Cook and French restaurant Venteaux inside the Pendry Chicago hotel, will hold its inaugural gathering on Thursday, November 9 with a lineup of lauded chefs raising funds for the Pilsen Food Pantry. Participating chefs include Marcel Heiduk (Venteux), Rodolfo Cuadros (Bloom Plant Based Kitchen), D’Andre Carter (Soul & Smoke), Devon Quinn (Eden), Manny Mendoza (Herbal Notes), and Felicia Mayden (Lovage). Tickets ($150) are available via Eventbrite. Chefsgiving at Venteaux, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday, November 9, 224 N. Michigan Avenue.
The Loop: Executive chef Jonathon Sawyer of ground-floor Willis Tower restaurant Kindling and the team at upstairs attraction Skydeck will co-host a progressive two-part Dinner in the Sky on Monday, November 6, and Thursday, November 9, according to a rep. The 20-seat event will begin at Kindling and then move up to the 99th floor for dinner service. All ticket sales and proceeds for the Monday dinner will go to The Special Olympics Chicago. Dinner in the Sky at Kindling and Skydeck, Monday, November 6, and Thursday, November 9, 202 S. Franklin Street.
Logan Square: The team of tea experts at Chiya Chai will host a special Diwali Story Circle event starring “inspiring” storytellers Jitesh Jaggi, Sonal Aggarwal, Nestor Gomez, and Archy Jamjun on Saturday, November 11 at the cafe in Logan Square. Tickets ($25) are available online and include a complimentary cocktail or chai. Diwali Story Circle at Chiya Chai Logan Square, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, November 11, 2770 N. Milwaukee Avenue.
River North: Indienne, chef Sujan Sarkar’s elegant modern Indian restaurant, will celebrate Diwali with a six-course tasting menu featuring its most popular dishes, including Passion Fruit (pani puri with buckwheat tart, green apple, and sorrel), shrimp (keema with poached egg, malai curry mousse, pao), and paneer (paturi with Swiss chard, pepper makhani, fenugreek butter). The Diwali menu ($135 per person) is available in both vegetarian and meat iterations, as well as optional wine pairings for an additional $70. Reservations are available via Tock and OpenTable. Diwali dinner at Indienne, Sunday, November 12, 217 W. Huron Street.
Lakeview: The Long Room, a much-loved beer bar on Irving Park Road, will hold a launch event for new Chicago fernet brand Fernet Fungo on Monday, November 13 featuring shots, cocktails, and a menu of dishes from co-creator Mike Bancroft (Sauce & Bread Kitchen). Fernet Fungo is a collaboration between Edgewater’s Co-Op Sauce and Black-owned Indiana liquor maker 18th Street Distillery. Bancroft’s menu will include New Orleans favroite yakamein, fried chicken and/or oyster mushroom sandwiches, and loaded waffle fries with French onion dip, kraut-chi, scallion, and Co-Op hot sauce. Reservations are available via Eventbrite. Fernet Fungo debut party at The Long Room, 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday, November 13, 1612 W. Irving Park Road.
River North: Mental health advocate and counselor Ankur Varma will partner with Indian gastropub Bar Goa to co-host party and fundraiser Diwali Celebration: Finding Light Through the Darkness, on Thursday, November 16 with substantial appetizers, two complimentary drinks, live music, and more. All proceeds will to go nonprofit groups South Asian Americans For Change and The Simple Good, and to help break the stigma around mental health care, attendees can sign up for free 15-minute consultations with a licensed therapist after the event. Tickets ($125-$150) and more details are available via Eventbrite. Diwali Celebration: Finding Light Through the Darkness at Bar Goa, 7 p.m. Thursday, November 16, 116 W. Hubbard Street.
Fulton Market: Tickets for Goose Island Beer Co.’s annual Prop Day go on sale Wednesday, October 18 through Oznr. The event, which celebrates the Chicago-only release of Goose’s Bourbon County Brand Stout, takes places on Saturday, November 18 outside the Fulton Market brewery. Prop Day outside of Goose Island’s Fulton Market Taproom, Saturday, November 18, tickets on sale Wednesday, October 18.
Around Town: Just in time for Halloween, Chicago chains Lou Malnati’s and Portillo’s have reanimated their Frankenstein-esque culinary collaboration: Italian Beef Deep Dish is back, baby. Originally launched in 2022, the gimmick was ideally positioned as fodder for local food media coverage. Anyway, it’s available again for nationwide shipping and sold in take-and-bake form at Lou’s locations.
Goose Island: Breakfast queen Ina Pinkney is the featured guest at In Culinary Conversations, a bi-monthly talk and dining series. It’s a three-hour event that hosts chefs in a forum where they can talk about the lives and careers while making a special recipe. Portions of the tickets will go toward Fight2Feed, a non-profit that aims to eliminate food waste and hunger in Chicago and across the country. Ina Pinkney’s In Culinary Conversation, Thursday, October 19 at Boetler FoodService Design & Event Center, 1071 W Division Street, tickets $45.
Magnificent Mile: Sushi POP, a pop-up dinner series at the Lobby inside the palatial Peninsula Chicago hotel, is open on Friday and Saturday evenings through November 18 with a Japanese-influenced menu and a DJ-helmed soundtrack of ‘80s and ‘90s pop music hits, according to a rep. Attendees are encouraged to don vintage duds for a dinner of spicy scallop maki, maguro caprese, and more. A sushi tasting menu is also available. Reservations are available via Tock. Sushi POP at the Peninsula Chicago, 6 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays through Saturday, November 18, 108 E. Superior Street.
River North: Motorcycle-riding oyster company Motor Shucker will pop up for eight days in October with a four-course menu at the Bamboo Room inside Three Dots and a Dash, according to a rep. Bar leadership from Three Dots will also create “Naval-inspired” rum cocktail pairings to accompany each course. Reservations are available via OpenTable. Motorshucker at The Bamboo Room at Three Dots and a Dash, Fridays and Saturdays from Friday, October 6 through Saturday, October 28.
Wicker Park: The Chicago Pizza Summit is returning after a little nap, coming to the Royal Palm Shuffleboard Club on Sunday, October 15. The pizza festival recently announced its lineup including a collaboration between Professor Pizza and Gino’s East. Read the full lineup on Instagram. Chicago Pizza Summit, Sunday, October 15 at Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club, 1750 N. Milwaukee Avenue, tickets via Bucketlisters, tickets $65, $50 for patrons under 21; kids four and under free.
Aurora: Traveling food festival Halal Ribfest will make an Illinois stop on its nationwide tour from Friday, October 13 to Sunday, October 15 at Fox Valley Mall in Aurora, about an hour outside the city. Advertised as the largest halal food festival in the state, the event will feature ribs and other barbecued meats, as well as carnival games, live performances, pop-up markets, and raffles with prizes. Tickets, which vary in price based on date, and more details are available via Eventbrite. Halal Ribfest Illinois at Fox Valley Mall, Friday, October 13 to Sunday, October 15, 195 Fox Valley Center Drive in Aurora.
Near North Side: The Rendez-Vous, a pop-up channeling the charming markets of France, will open on Tuesday, October 17 in the former John Hancock Center at 875 N. Michigan Avenue, according to a rep. It will feature breads, pastries, sandwiches, and more from local French bakery La Boulangerie & Co. alongside fashion, art, cooking tools, and hand crafts. The Rendez-Vous, Opens Tuesday, October 17, 875 N. Michigan Avenue.
Around Town: Local nonprofit Chicago Brewseum will kick off its fifth annual Beer Culture Summit on Wednesday, October 18 with a lineup of events that explore and celebrate the impact of suds and brewing on society at large. Opportunities include an opening-night forum with Richard and Jessica Fierro, co-owners of Atrevida Beer Company and survivors of a mass shooting at Club Q in 2022 in Colorado Springs, a discussion with the National Black Brewers Association, and glassblowing in the beer world. Tickets and more details are available online. Chicago Brewseum Beer Culture Summit, Wednesday, October 18 through Saturday, October 21, locations vary throughout the summit.
Naperville: World-famous feline Hello Kitty and her signature cafe truck is rolling back into suburban Chicago on Saturday, October 21 in downtown Naperville, according to a rep. Fans can expect its usual haul of macarons decorated with Sanrio characters, as well as new merchandise and collectibles. Hello Kitty Cafe Truck, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, October 21, Downtown Naperville on Van Buren near LuluLemon.
Noble Square: Love Me (Bar)Tender, a traveling pop-up that promises to recreate Elvis Presley’s iconic Jungle Room inside his Graceland home will open for two days in October inside Five Star Bar, according to a rep. Down in the Jungle Room, patrons can expect a mix of retro and modern styles with Elvis-themed cocktails and music from contemporary Memphis bands along with intricate decor and a photo booth. The pop-up is also slated for appearances in New York and Boston and is organized by Graceland and Memphis Tourism. Love Me (Bar)Tender, Wednesday, October 18 to Thursday, October 19, 1424 W. Chicago Avenue.
Humboldt Park: Suds on Screen: Drinking Scenes in Film and TV, a deep dive presentation on the stories of Chicago bars and restaurants immortalized on the big and small screen, will pop up on Thursday, October 19 at Goose Island Barrel Warehouse. Hosted by the Chicago Brewseum and WEBZ’s Curious City, the event will feature stories and clips of famous bar scenes in pop culture, and tickets ($25, available via Eventbrite) include two Goose Island beers. Suds on Screen: Drinking Scenes in Film and TV at Goose Island Barrel Warehouse, 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, October 19, 603 N. Sacramento Boulevard.
Lakeview: Sheffield’s Beer Fest returns Sunday, October 22 with tons of brews from Half Acre, Off Color Brewing, Solemn Oath, Cruz Blanca, and many more. Sheffield’s Beer Fest at Sheffield’s Chicago, Sunday, October 22, 3258 N. Sheffield Avenue.