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Show: Bomba Estereo "This excellent combo, led by guitarist, bassist, and programmer Simon Mejia, emerged in 2005 from the electronica scene in Bogota, Colombia, and developed a frothy, propulsive take on cumbia and champeta (a kind of stew of local, African, and Caribbean styles)," writes Peter Margasak. "Mejia had been working toward this sound for some time, and lead singer Li Saumet turned out to be the key that made everything click."
Dinner: Kith & Kin Chefs David Carrier and Andrew Brochu both worked with or under Grant Achatz at one time or another—the former first at the French Laundry, then at Trio—though there's little that immediately brings to mind those fine-dining icons. Instead what you have is an attractive and affordable menu served in a room that suggests all of the comforts of neighborhood pubbery without resorting to the usual cliches clumsily adopted from the Irish or British. The best Chicago neighborhood restaurant of 2010.
1119 W. Webster Ave., 773-472-7070
Show: David Dondero In the late 90s, former This Bike Is a Pipe Bomb drummer David Dondero stopped playing in punk bands and and focused on his solo career, which has since produced about an album's worth of humble, intimate, and moving music per year.
Dinner: Cooper's A pleasant eatery with an extensive beer list and an off-street patio. Cooper's changed ownership a few years ago, but the menu of fresh, seasonal fare remains unchanged.
1232 W. Belmont Ave., 773-929-2667, cooperschicago.com
Show: Close-Up A dense and subtle masterpiece from Iran (1990, 97 min.) by Abbas Kiarostami (Taste of Cherry), this documentary—or is it pseudodocumentary?—follows the trial of an unemployed film buff in Tehran who impersonated acclaimed filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf and became intimate with a well-to-do family while pretending to prepare a film that was to feature them.
Dinner: Vermilion There isn't really a philosophy behind Vermilion's fusion of Indian and Latin flavors — owner Rohini Dey and executive chef Maneet Chauhan just happen to like both cuisines.
10 W. Hubbard St., 312-527-4060, thevermilionrestaurant.com
Show: That's Weird, Grandma Count on Barrel of Monkeys to be clever, funny, and energetic. Its actors reimagine and joyously present often bizarre, always hilarious stories from young Chicago Public Schools students' simple tales about birthday parties, sibling rivalries, and dance contests—and more whimsical ones about adventures in space, on motorcycles, and with dolphins.
Dinner: Konak "Dad's rec room," my friend and I took to calling this place after we spent an evening watching a Sox game from one of the comfy if worn couches on a raised partition in the back of the bar. As the night went on the place grew crowded with actor types and twentysomething hipsters shooting pool, but it still felt cozy in our little oasis.
5150 N. Clark St., 773-271-6688