Some of tonight's best shows (including the ultimate family film), as selected by our music, movie, and performing arts critics, paired with nearby restaurants.
Show: Septeto Nacional Just as exciting as Septeto Nacional's appearance here is the fact that any Cuban musicians at all are playing here—they're the first group from the island to visit Chicago in six years, thanks to the baby steps the Obama administration has taken to normalize relations between Cuba and the States.
7pm, Alhambra Palace, 1240 W. Randolph, 800-838-3006, $35
Dinner: Avec, 615 W. Randolph, 312-377-2002. "The chefs make excellent and varied use of the wood-burning oven, firing up everything from focaccia to roast chicken, hanger steak, and skate wing," writes Mike Sula.
Show: Jump Smokers "The fact that the band tosses out burns on Ed Hardy boys and at the same time gets props from B96—the radio equivalent of a dude wearing too much hair gel—is amazing," writes Miles Raymer. LMFAO headlines; Shwayze, Far East Movement, Jump Smokers, Paradiso Girls, Space Cowboy, Million Dollar Mano, DJ Inphinity, DJ Illusive, and DJ Ryan B. open.
7 PM, Congress Theater, 2135 N. Milwaukee, 312-804-2736, $18
Dinner: Johnny's Grill, 2545 N. Kedzie, 773-278-2215. A Logan Square institution for more than 30 years, Johnny's is especially popular for its dirt-cheap all-day breakfasts.
Show: The Godfather The ultimate family film.
6:45 PM, Pipers Alley, 230 W. North, 312-642-6275
Dinner: Salpicon, 1252 N. Wells, 312-988-7811. "In 1995 Priscila Satkoff was one of the first Topolobampo/Frontera graduates to strike out on her own, and the continued success of Salpicon is as much a credit to her skills as it is to the enduring power of Rick Bayless’s tireless advocacy for authentic Mexican cuisine among the gringos," writes Mike Sula.
Show: New York, I Love You French producer Emmanuel Benbihy refines the concept of his anthology film Paris, Je T'Aime (2006) with this valentine to New York, using recurring characters and interstitial scenes to unify ten segments by different directors, most of them internationally renowned.
4:25 pm, 7:20 pm, 9:55 pm, Landmark's Century Centre, 2828 N. Clark, 773-509-4949.
Dinner: Baladoche, 2905 N. Clark, 773-880-5090. Baladoche specializes in waffles, but not just any waffles—Belgian zucker waffles, about the size of your hand and filled with pearl sugar chips, which look like something a storybook mouse would put in its tea.
Show: Michael Kearns Long before folks like Ellen DeGeneres and Ian McKellen showed it's possible to be openly gay and still have a career in showbiz, actor-writer Michael Kearns was paving the way. Kearns was Hollywood's first out actor in the early 1980s, and the first to announce he was HIV-positive. Nowadays he tours with a repertoire of one-man shows, including Intimacies, a collection of character studies about people living with AIDS.
7:30pm, Victory Gardens Theater, 773-871-3000, $25-$30
Dinner: Basil Leaf Cafe, 2465 N. Clark, 773-935-3388. This intimate Italian restaurant is a haven from the madness on Clark Street in Lincoln Park.
Show: Man of La Mancha "Director David Heimann has made a number of daring choices in staging Dale Wasserman, Mitch Leigh, and Joe Darion's 1965 Tony Award-winning musical based on Don Quixote," writes Jack Helbig, "not the least of which is his seemingly quixotic decision to cram it into Theo Ubique's cabaret-style theater. But the result is a show at once more powerful and intimate than any Broadway-style production could be." It closes tonight.
7pm, No Exit Cafe, 6970 N. Glenwood, $15-$35.
Dinner: La Cazuela Mariscos, 6922 N. Clark, 773-338-5425. This apricot-walled Mexican seafood place along a strip of taquerias on North Clark has a menu that goes beyond standard tacos and burritos. To start there are mejillones al mojo de ajo y vino (mussels in garlic and wine sauce) and tostadas de pulpo (octopus tostadas).