Arts & Culture » Fall Preview

70 things to look forward to in Chicago this fall

The top restaurants, bars, plays, exhibits, concerts, movies, stand-up shows, books, TV, and more

  • Keith Herzik

Fall, it would appear, is falling short. CPS students began the semester this week in a school district lacking the funds necessary to make it through the year. That deficit is due, in large part, to the Rauner v. Madigan political battle in Springfield that has not wanted for hostility. Meanwhile, over in sports, the Bears are struggling with a shortfall of their own: a distinct absence of talent (or perhaps heart) that’s putting the team near the bottom fourth of NFL power rankings as the season begins Sunday against the Green Bay Packers at Soldier Field. Try as new head coach John Fox might to improve on last year’s 5-11 record, Jay Cutler remains our not-so-spunky QB.

And yet, amid all the desolation there is bounty: the city’s fall cultural calendar is a Thanksgiving cornucopia spilling over with entertainments. New restaurants from Stephanie Izard and Grant Achatz. The inaugural Chicago Architecture Biennial. Residencies by Eighth Blackbird and Agnès Varda. New books by Joe Meno and Sandra Cisneros. The Hairy Who reminiscing, Jeff Koons lecturing, and Gloria Steinem getting real with Roxane Gay. Neil Hamburger’s anticomedy and Mike Sheerin’s cheeseburger dumplings. Ventriloquist dummies and the guy behind Dumb Starbucks. Highbrow, lowbrow, anybrow—and more than sufficient to keep your mind off the woe elsewhere, of which there is certainly no lack. —Jake Malooley

Latinicity is set to open inside Block 37 in October. - RENDERING COURTESY LATINCITY
  • Rendering courtesy Latincity
  • Latinicity is set to open inside Block 37 in October.


Rick Bayless's Cruz Blanca and more new brewpubs a Various dates

Mexican sauce is boss at Feria del Mole a September 26

Embeya chef Mike Sheerin reimagines dumplings at Packed in Hyde Park a September

Baker Miller General becomes Lincoln Square's neighborhood grocer a Mid-October

Intro hosts Jean-Georges Vongerichten protege Stephen Gillanders a October 22-January 16

Chris Pandel looks to elevate the steak house with Swift & Sons a October

Richard Sandoval's Latin Eataly, Latinicity, is opening in Block 37 a October

Get FOBABed at the Festival of Wood and Barrel Aged Beers a November 20-21

The guys behind Next give casual dining a go with Roister a Late November

Stephanie Izard tries Chinese at Duck Duck Goat a December

The Sixth brings quality cocktails to Lincoln Square—finally a Late fall

Saigon Sisters get into fast-casual with Bang Chop Thai Kitchen a Late fall

Imperial Lamian promises dishes not found in Chinatown a Late fall

The Tempest runs through November 8 at Chicago Shakespeare Theater. - BILL BURLINGHAM
  • Bill Burlingham
  • The Tempest runs through November 8 at Chicago Shakespeare Theater.


The silent half of Penn & Teller adds some magic to Shakespeare's Tempest a September 8-November 8

Mary Zimmerman hits the decks with the pirate classic Treasure Island a October 7-January 31, 2016

A transgender house mother schools her Boystown proteges in Northlight's Charm at Steppenwolf Garage a October 14-November 8

At Confidential Musical Theatre Project, mum's the word a October 20

In a time of antigovernment Oath Keepers, Idris Goodwin's The Raid seems appropriate a November 4-December 12

See some dummies at The Ventriloquists Convention at MCA a November 12-14

Post-PJ Paparelli, ATC goes bold with Fulfillment, provocateur playwright Thomas Bradshaw's latest a November 13-December 13

Art Shay's photo of a 1963 sleep-in demonstration in Deerfield is part of "Troublemakers" at Gage Gallery. - ART SHAY
  • Art Shay
  • Art Shay's photo of a 1963 sleep-in demonstration in Deerfield is part of "Troublemakers" at Gage Gallery.


Chances Dances turns ten, grows up a September 11-October 24

Art Shay's "Troublemakers" highlights his photos of the freedom movements of the 1950s and '60s a September 17-December 19

Hairy Who members Art Green, Gladys Nilsson, and Karl Wirsum look back 50 years after the collective's first exhibition a September 18

New exhibit "The Annual" gives up-and-coming Chicago artists exposure during Expo Art Week a September 18-20

SAIC's sesquicentennial alumni show features work by Jeff Koons, Tony Tasset, Chris Ware, and more a September 18-October 24

See photos of Chicago painters' palettes at the Ed Paschke Art Center a September 19-November 29

Jeff Koons—in the flesh!—at the Art Institute a September 21

Barbara Kasten gets a long-overdue career survey with "Stages" at the Graham Foundation a October 1-January 9

The first Chicago Architecture Biennial brings the world to the lakefront and environs a October 3-January 3

Lianne La Havas plays the Park West on October 4. - JOHN-PAUL PIETRUS
  • John-Paul Pietrus
  • Lianne La Havas plays the Park West on October 4.


Eighth Blackbird roosts at the MCA a September 2015-January 2016

Shoegaze legends Ride jump on the reunion bandwagon a September 25

The happy return of Mad Decent Block Party a September 26

AACM reedist and composer Roscoe Mitchell presents four trios at the MCA a September 27

Korn keeps the nu-metal dream of the 90s alive a October 1

Land and Sea Dept. gets a Prime Time spot at the MCA a October 2

The charming (and drummerless) Philly duo Girlpool dives into Subterranean a October 3

Prince protege Lianne La Havas is out for Blood a October 4

George Lewis presents his experimental AACM opera Afterword a October 16-17

Peaches's new teaches land the raunchy star at the Metro a October 17

Soul Side reunion revisits Revolution Summer a November 1

Black-metal pioneer King Diamond performs Abigail in full a November 27

Pitchfork Festival class of 2015 returns to Chicago a Various times

See Michael Powell's 1969 film Age of Consent at Music Box on September 19 and 20.
  • See Michael Powell's 1969 film Age of Consent at Music Box on September 19 and 20.


Legendary artist Agnès Varda schools Chicago on filmmaking and photography a September 11-November 8

Suspense, romance, comedy, and at least one bona fide masterpiece at Asian Pop-Up Cinema a September 16-December 4

Michael Powell's last film, Age of Consent, features Helen Mirren in an early role a September 19-20

Denis Villeneuve's Sicario takes on the Mexican-American drug trade a September 25

Michael Shannon is a ruthless real estate broker in Ramin Bahrani's 99 Homes a October 2

Steven Spielberg sticks to American historical drama with Bridge of Spies a October 16

The Boston Globe's pedophile priests investigation gets dramatized in Spotlight a November 6

The artist and filmmaker Stuart Sherman gets a retrospective at Chicago Filmmakers a November 7-24

Chilean director Patricio Guzman ponders the mysteries of the deep in The Pearl Button a November 13-19

Creed molds Rocky into an African-American story a November 25

Neil Hamburger performs at Schubas on September 26.
  • Neil Hamburger performs at Schubas on September 26.


Beth Stelling returns to Chicago to tape her new comedy album at the Beat Kitchen a September 15

Have a summah in fall with Howard Kremer of the Who Charted? podcast a September 25

Neil Hamburger brings his notorious anticomedy to Schubas a September 26

Dave Attell's stand-up gets better—and dirtier—with age a October 8-10

Wyatt Cenac talks gentrification in Lincoln Park a November 14

Margo Jefferson's memoir Negroland is out now.
  • Margo Jefferson's memoir Negroland is out now.


Pulitzer winner Margo Jefferson explores the peculiarities of black privilege in Chicago in the memoir Negroland a Out now

Joe Meno's new novel is a Marvel and a Wonder a September 10

The five more stars at this year's Fifth Star Awards include Sandra Cisneros, Steppenwolf, and old lion Stanley Tigerman a September 16

Leslie Zemeckis's Goddess of Love Incarnate tells of how Lili St. Cyr made stripping classy a September 23

Sandra Cisneros lets her guard down in the memoir A House of My Own a October 6

Pulitzer-winning columnist Leonard Pitts plays with time in Grant Park a October 14

Chicago Humanities Festival asks what it means to be a citizen a October 24-November 8

Gloria Steinem talks to Roxane Gay about her new memoir, My Life on the Road a October 29

History buff Sarah Vowell looks at the Revolutionary War through the eyes of an awkward young French marquis who fought in it a October 29

Trevor Noah takes over The Daily Show on September 28. - MATT SAYLES/INVISION/AP
  • Matt Sayles/Invision/AP
  • Trevor Noah takes over The Daily Show on September 28.


The Daily Show enters the Trevor Noah era a September 28

Nathan for You's third season means more hilariously terrible business ideas a October 15

Dick Wolf's Chicago Med offers a dose of ER-esque hospital drama a November 10

Fall TV's super(hero) lineup a Various times



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