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Chicago’s Second Annual Pizza City Fest and Four More Pop-Ups

A log of the city’s best bar and restaurant pop-ups and events

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Collectible gadgets displayed on a table with plates of sushi.
A rotary sushi chain is bringing a pop-up collaboration with Cartoon Network to the suburbs.
Kura Sushi

Chicagoans are an optimistic crowd at heart, and that unflagging confidence that summer will eventually return is finally paying off. That energy and enthusiasm carry over to the city’s bars and restaurants, where hospitality experts are organizing plenty of pop-ups and events to celebrate — with food and drink, of course. Follow along for a sampling of the best the city has to offer in this week’s Eater Chicago pop-up round-up.

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West Town: Pizza City Fest returns to Chicago with a celebration of “pizza diversity” with so-called festival-sized slices from well-regarded spots including Bungalow by Middlebrow, George’s Deep Dish, and Professor Pizza. Last year’s fest went through some turbulence thanks to stormy weather and not enough pizza on the first day. Food Guy Steve Dolinsky, now on NBC 5 (formerly ABC 7’s Hungry Hound) tweaked operations and is running it back at a larger venue. The fest returns for a second year from Saturday, August 26 to Sunday, August 27 at the new Salt Shed. Dolinsky has also brought the event to LA. Patrons can also expect beer, wine, cocktails, and booze-free beverages, as well as speakers, demonstrations, pizza-themed merch, and more. Ticket prices for adults range from $95 to $350 and are available online. Pizza City Fest at the Salt Shed, Saturday, August 26 to Sunday, August 27, 1357 N. Elston Avenue.


Logan Square: Hopewell Brewing Co. will collaborate with Bang Bang Pie and indie bookstore City Lit on Saturday, June 10 for Litty Litty Bang Bang, a book fair pop-up featuring a curated selection of books and a nostalgic menu filled with literary references, according to a rep. The pop-up is first-come, first-served, and there’s no entry fee. Litty Litty Bang Bang with City Lit, Bang Bang Pie & Biscuits, and Hopewell Brewing Co., 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, June 10, 2760 N. Milwaukee Avenue.

Wrigleyville: Swift & Sons Tavern will offer an alternative to crowded concerts this summer with a Listening Party series across from Wrigley Field, according to a rep, with plans for Dead & Company on Friday, June 9; Fall Out Boy on Wednesday, June 21, and Morgan Wallen on Thursday, June 22. Tickets ($60) are available via Tock and include three drinks, food stations, and a cash bar. Summer Listening Parties at Swift & Sons Tavern, Friday, June 9; Wednesday, June 24; and Thursday, June 22, 3600 N. Clark Street.

Humboldt Park: The Howdy Y’all Disco Ball, a country disco fundraising gala for virtual comfort food hit Funeral Potatoes, will kick off Saturday, June 3 at the See You Soon event space in the Kimball Arts Center, according to co-founders and executive chefs Eve Studnicka and Alexis Thomas-Rice. The pair have operated Funeral Potatoes out of a ghost kitchen for three years and have an ongoing campaign to raise enough money for a permanent location. The evening will feature drag performances, signature drinks, retro appetizers, a GlitterGuts photo booth, a silent auction, and more. Tickets ($85) are available online. The Howdy Y’all Disco Ball by Funeral Potatoes at See You Soon, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, June 3, 1757 N. Kimball Avenue.

Oak Brook/Schaumburg: Japanese rotary sushi chain Kura Sushi will kick off a two-month pop-up on Thursday, June 1 in collaboration with Cartoon Network’s hit animated series We Bare Bears at suburban locations in Oak Brook and Schaumburg, according to a rep. Through Monday, July 31, patrons who accumulate 15 sushi plates will receive a We Bare Bears x Kura Sushi Bikkura Pon collectible like a keychain or bubble sticker set. More details are available online. We Bare Bears x Kura Sushi, Thursday, June 1 through Monday, July 31, 1755 22nd Street in Oak Brook and 1719 E. Golf Road in Schaumburg.


Logan Square: Vietnamese-Guatemalan pop-up Giống Giống will celebrate Memorial Day Weekend on Sunday, May 28 at Longman & Eagle, co-owners Jeanette Tran-Dean and David Hollinger announced on Instagram. “[Husband Jake Dean and I] have a lot of history at this restaurant,” writes Tran-Dean. “First number exchange, first dates, our wedding... This place holds such a deep little home in my heart so I can’t wait for us to pop up and see familiar faces of guests, friends, and family.” Giống Giống X Longman & Eagle, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday, May 28, 2657 N. Kedzie Avenue.

West Loop: Michelin-starred restaurant Esmé is teaming up with Italian deli icon JP Graziano for a spicy collaboration featuring enormous bags of oversize Giardinera-dusted Flamin’ Hot Cheetos available Tuesday, May 23 through Saturday, May 27. On Saturday, fans can also snag a one-day-only sandwich special from chef Jenner Tomaska with braised beef tongue, cilantro ramp mayo, pickled ramps, and brown spiced muffuletta on Graziano’s signature bread. The sandwich will be available from 11 a.m. until it’s sold out. Esmé X JP Graziano, Tuesday, May 23 through Saturday, May 17, 901 W Randolph Street.

Avondale: Be Irie, chef Tameisha Brown’s Jamaican pop-up, will return to Honey Butter Fried Chicken on Monday, May 22 with a menu of jerk barbecue wings, rasta pasta, rummy bundt cake, and more, according to a rep. Her dishes will be available for dine-in service, takeout, and delivery. Be Irie at Honey Butter Fried Chicken, 5 p.m. Monday, May 22, 3361 N. Elston Avenue.

Avondale: John Carruthers of Crust Fund Pizza and Takeout writer Dennis Lee will feature School Pizza Night, “the most note-perfect re-creation of school pizza you will find without a flashback reveal to your misspent youth,” at the Reader’s Monday Night Foodball pop-up on Monday, May 22 at Ludlow Liquors. Pre-orders for whole pies will launch Thursday, May 18, but slice fans can just swing by, Carruthers writes on Instagram. School Pizza Night X Monday Night Foodball at Ludlow Liquors, 5 p.m. Monday, May 22, 2959 N. California Avenue.

Lakeview: Improvised thriller and drinking game Hitch*Cocktails will celebrate a decade of shows at the Annoyance Theater with a two-day Hitchcock Hotel pop-up kicking off Friday, May 19, according to a rep. A tribute to notorious cinematic legend Alfred Hitchcock, the two-day event will be packed with boozy beverages, colorful Hitchcock characters, a midnight dance party, and three performances where actors are required to imbibe in every scene. Tickets ($10-$35) and more details are available online. Hitch*Cocktails 10 Year Anniversary at the Annoyance Theater, Friday, May 19 and Saturday, May 20, 851 W. Belmont Avenue.

River West: Newly remodeled Perilla Korean American Fare is raising money for Asian Americans Advancing Justice in honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. The restaurant has a cocktail special, Cloud 9 (West 32 Original Soju, Rare Tea Cellar’s Sweet Seoul matcha, Licor 43, Aquafaba, honey syrup, lemon juice, celery root, mint) created by Jordan Eby. They’ll donate $1 to AAAJ from every cocktail sale. For folks who don’t want to booze, they’ll also donate $1 from sales of every Kommunity Kombucha Rose Petal Berry sold. Both specials will last through May. Perilla Korean American Fare, 401 N,. Milwaukee Avenue.

Two bottles and a cocktail.
Perilla is donating money to Asian Americans Advancing Justice.
Perilla Korean American Fare

West Loop: Chef Patrick Bouaphanh of unconventional omakase spot Jinsei Motto will host a collaborative pop-up with chef Roberto Rocha of Peruvian restaurant Tanta on Wednesday, May 17 and Thursday, May 18 at the Japanese restaurant inside CH Distillery, according to a rep. The pair will offer a 16-course omakase meal that combines Peruvian and Japanese flavors (a style known as Nikkei cuisine). Reservations are available via OpenTable. Tanta X Jinsei Motto at Jinsei Motto, Wednesday, May 17 and Thursday, May 18, 564 W. Randolph Street.

West Town: Chef Jasmine Sheth of decorated virtual restaurant Tasting India will pop up on Tuesday, May 16 at comfort food haven Split-Rail for a five-course Spice Shake Up dinner with chef and owner Zoe Schor, according to an Instagram post. Sheth and Schor have challenged each other to highlight their favorite ingredients and feature Sheth’s line of spices in every dish, going head-to-head on two courses and collaborating on dessert. Tickets ($100), which are going fast, are available via OpenTable. Spice Shake Up at Split-Rail, 7 p.m. on Tuesday, May 16, 2500 W. Chicago Avenue.

West Loop: Charlie McKenna, the chef and founder of essential barbecue spot Lillie’s Q, is gearing up to launch his third annual BarbeCure charity event on Wednesday, May 3 at District Brew Yards, according to a rep. A lineup of industry competitors including celebrity chef Stephanie Izard (Girl & the Goat), Brian Jupiter (Frontier), and Tim Flores and Genie Kwon (Kasama) will battle for the title of tastiest chicken wings; attendees can also count on a chicken tender bar, beers, and desserts from Pretty Cool Ice Cream and New York transplant Levain Bakery. All of the proceeds from BarbeCure will go to cancer-related nonprofits Katherine McKenna Brother’s Scholarship Fund and the Lynn Sage Breast Cancer Foundation. Tickets ($95 general admission, $125 VIP) and more details are available online. Lillie’s Q Third Annual BarbeCure at District Brew Yards, 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday, May 3, 417 N. Ashland Avenue.


Lincoln Park: Chinese restaurant icon and James Beard America’s Classic Sun Wah BBQ will pop up at Ramen-san’s latest outpost for a multi-course dinner on Tuesday, April 25 with a menu that celebrates the Cheung Family, who brought their Hong Kong-style barbecue to Chicago in 1987, according to a rep. It’s part of a larger collaboration featuring Sun Wah crackling pork belly ramen at all of its Chicago restaurants that runs through Wednesday, May 26. Reservations for the April dinner ($65) are available via OpenTable. Ramen-san Collab Series: Sun Wah BBQ at Ramen-san Lincoln Park, Tuesday, April 25, 1962 N. Halsted.

River North: Downtown nightclub Joy District will transport Chicago’s party people to 1977 with an over-the-top Studio 54 pop-up that kicks off Thursday, April 20, and runs through early May, according to a rep. The Joy District team is “literally recreating” the legendary Manhattan disco nightclub in as much detail as possible and organizers promise dancing, live music, performers, and stunts including balloon money drops, fire breathers, and other surprises. Attendees can also expect a drag brunch on Saturday, April 22, and Saturday, April 29, as well as a finale celebration on Thursday, May 4. Patrons are strongly encouraged to don their best ‘70s duds all month long. Those who don’t must abide by the club’s standard dress code. Tickets ($25) and more details are available online. Studio 54 x Joy District Experience, Thursday, April 20 through Saturday, April 22; Thursday, April 27 through Saturday, April 29; Thursday, May 4; 112 W. Hubbard Street.

River North: Andrew Graves (Alinea, Next Restaurant, Terra & Vine), executive chef at Liva inside local vintner Chicago Winery, and winemaker Erik Subrizi will co-host an “intimate” five-course wine pairing dinner on Thursday, April 20, according to a rep. Attendees will dine in a private room with views of the working winery and try courses such as roasted monkfish medallion with grilled octopus and saffron broth, paired with a 2021 Pinot Grigio Ramato. Tickets ($135) and more details are available online. Wine Dinner at Chicago Winery, 7 p.m. Thursday, April 20, 739 N. Clark Street.

Uptown: Chef and restaurateur Tigist Reda will host a five-course pop-up fundraiser in April for local culinary education nonprofit the Evolved Network with chefs Sebastian White (Evolved Network), Sarah Stegner (Prairie Grass Cafe), Casey Doody (Boka Restaurant Group), and corporate chef Natasha Daniels, according to a rep. Set for Tuesday, April 18 at Reda’s Ethiopian restaurant Demera, the dinner will feature collaborative dishes including flatbread with fried clams, bacon, and salsa verde, and Ethiopian-crusted prime strip with gomen, sega wat, and blue oyster mushrooms. Tickets ($135 per person with wine pairings, $100 without wine) and more details are available online. The Evolved Network Five-Course Dinner at Demera, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday, April 18, 4801 N. Broadway Street.

Logan Square: The pop-up fun at Pilot Project continues on Sunday, April 16 with a launch party for Donna’s Pickle Beer, made with saaz and hallertau mittelfruh hops to “complement the brine aromatics,” reps write on Facebook. Actual pickles will also be available. Donna’s Pickle Beer at Pilot Project Brewing, 3 p.m. Sunday, April 16, 2140 N. Milwaukee Avenue.

Logan Square: Chaat Dog-curious patrons have a second chance to try Pervaiz Shallwani’s crunchy, meaty creation on Thursday, April 13 at brewery hub Pilot Project. It’ll be an all-desi affair with beers from Azadi Brewing, known for highlighting South Asian flavors. Chaat Dog x Azadi Brewing at Pilot Project Brewing, 5 p.m. Thursday, April 13, 2140 N. Milwaukee Avenue.

Avondale: Chicago native Pervaiz Shallwani, the writer, chef, and creator of the Chaat Dog — an all-beef hot dog smothered in chaat on a ghee-toasted bun — will pop up on Wednesday, April 5 at neighborhood staple Honey Butter Fried Chicken. Chaat, of course, is the Indian street snack that comes in a ton of variations, including pani puri. Even high-end restaurants, like The Coach House at Wazwan and Indienne, are serving their versions of the snack to pay homage. Chaat’s here to stay. Shallwani will have 150 portions to offer. Chaat Dog at Honey Butter Fried Chicken, Wednesday, April 5, 3361 N. Elston Avenue.

Disclosure: Pervaiz Shallwani is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in Eater.

A man sprinkles something onto a plate of chaat dogs.
Pervaiz Shallwani is bringing his chaat dog to pop-ups across the U.S.
Honey Butter Fried Chicken

Wicker Park: Celebrity chef Rick Bayless (Frontera Grill) is popping up at Piece Brewery and Pizzeria with a special Bayless Family Pizza (roasted tomatillo salsa, bacon, pepperjack, jalapeños) through Sunday, April 9. $10 from each pizza sale goes to no-kill animal shelter Paws Chicago. It’s part of a larger initiative by Piece called Slice to Meet You! in which the pizza shop attaches a PAWS flier to each pizza box featuring a dog available at its Lincoln Park shelter. Chef Matthias Merges (Billy Sunday, Mordecai) launched the pizza portion of the project in February with a pie named for his dog, Jupiter. Bayless Family Pizza at Piece Brewery and Pizzeria, available through Sunday, April 9, 1927 W. North Avenue.

Avondale: UPDATE: Alisha Norris Jones’s Monday Night Foodball pop-up is rescheduled for late August, according to Mike Sula. He’ll announce a replacement for Monday, April 3 in the coming days. Weekly pop-up series Monday Night Foodball from Reader food writer Mike Sula has one more event to go before announcing a new spring schedule, and this round is going out with an esoteric bang. On Monday, April 3, cheesemonger Alisha Norris Jones will unveil Japonisme, “a French term coined in the late 19th century to describe the craze for Japanese art and design in the West,” according to Tate Modern, she writes on Instagram. Jones also cites influences including (but not limited to) Van Gogh, Chanel, Jinori plateware, Doja Cat at SS 2023 Viktor and Rolf, and the first bite of chef Oliver Poilevey’s (Le Bouchon, Obilex) beef tartare with shio koji and salsa verde. Monday Night Foodball with Alisha Norris Jones at Ludlow Liquors, Monday, April 3, 2959 N. California Avenue.


River North: Chef Tigist Reda of Uptown favorite Demera will join Bar Sótano chef Jackie Hernandez for an Ethiopian-meets-Mexican pop-up Thursday, March 30 at Bar Sótano, a cocktail bar from the ever-busy Rick Bayless and daughter Lainie Bayless that’s accessible through the alley behind Frontera Grill. Offerings include injera tacos with seared lamb and mimita crema, tej-braised short rib with Chiapas mole, and a chocolate tamal with cream cheese-chai ice cream from pastry sous chef Jennifer Melendrez. All proceeds from the event will go to health care non-profit Health Professionals Network for Tigray. Tickets ($80) and more details are available via Resy. Demera at Bar Sótano, 5 p.m. Thursday, March 30, 443 N. Clark Street, alley entrance.

Two women in chefs aprons taste dishes with spoons in a kitchen.
Chefs Tigist Reda (left) and Jackie Hernandez.
Rick Bayless

Next Restaurant

953 W Fulton Market, Chicago, IL 60607 312 226 0858 Visit Website

Piece Brewery and Pizzeria

1927 West North Avenue, , IL 60622 (773) 772-4422 Visit Website

GT Prime

707 N Wells St, Chicago, IL 60654 (312) 600-6305 Visit Website


219 North Green Street, , IL 60607 (773) 645-0085 Visit Website

Ludlow Liquors

2959 N. California Avenue, Chicago, IL (773) 754-7492 Visit Website

Ramen-San Lincoln Park

1962 North Halsted Street, , IL 60614 (773) 248-3000 Visit Website


1723 North Halsted Street, , IL 60614 Visit Website

Honey Butter Fried Chicken

3361 North Elston Avenue, , IL 60618 (773) 478-4000 Visit Website


644 N Orleans St, Chicago, IL 60654 (312) 265-1411 Visit Website

Bar Sótano

443 North Clark Street, , IL 60654 (312) 391-5857 Visit Website

Boka Restaurant Group

820 West Lake Street, , IL 60607 (312) 238-9896 Visit Website

Pilot Project Brewing

2140 North Milwaukee Avenue, , IL 60647 (773) 270-5995 Visit Website


1742 West Division Street, , IL 60622 (312) 722-6911 Visit Website

Jinsei Motto

564 West Randolph Street, , IL 60661 (312) 884-9602 Visit Website


217 West Huron Street, , IL 60654 (312) 291-9427 Visit Website


1132 W Grand Ave, Chicago, IL 60642 (312) 624-8363 Visit Website

Sun Wah BBQ

5039 North Broadway, , IL 60640 (773) 769-1254 Visit Website

District Brew Yards

417 North Ashland Avenue, , IL 60622 (773) 295-1270 Visit Website

Swift & Sons Tavern

3600 N. Clark Street, Chicago, IL 60613 (773) 360-0207 Visit Website

Perilla Korean American Fare

401 North Milwaukee Avenue, , IL 60654 (312) 243-3344 Visit Website


2200 North Clark Street, , IL 60614 Visit Website

Chicago Winery

739 North Clark Street, , IL 60654 (312) 763-3674 Visit Website


4801 North Broadway Street, Chicago, IL 60640 Visit Website

Longman & Eagle

2657 N Kedzie Ave, Chicago, IL 60647 773 276 7110 Visit Website

Bang Bang Pie Shop

2051 N California Ave, , IL 60647 (773) 276-8888 Visit Website

Hopewell Brewing Company

2760 North Milwaukee Avenue, , IL 60647 (773) 698-6178 Visit Website

Terra & Vine

1701 Maple Ave, Evanston, IL 60201


2500 West Chicago Avenue, , IL 60622 (773) 697-4413 Visit Website


739 N. Clark Street, Chicago, IL 60654 Visit Website

Prairie Grass Cafe

601 Skokie Boulevard, , IL 60062 (847) 205-4433 Visit Website

Joy District

112 W. Hubbard, Chicago, IL (312) 955-0339 Visit Website

CH Distillery

564 West Randolph Street, , IL 60661 (312) 707-8780 Visit Website

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