Show: Tony and Janina's American Wedding Tony and Janina Wasilewski were model immigrants: hardworking, law-abiding, and beaming with freshly minted patriotism for the U.S. Then Janina, who came to Illinois claiming refugee status during Poland's communist regime, was abruptly deported in 2007, taking the couple's six-year-old son back home with her. "Coproduced by Chicago's venerable Kartemquin Films, this moving documentary uses the Wasilewskis' plight as a window onto our absurdly byzantine and arbitrary immigration controls," writes Cliff Doerksen.
Dinner: The Purple Pig Snout-to-tail cooking is the name of the game at The Purple Pig, a convivial take on an Italian enoteca from Scott Harris (Mia Francesca), Jimmy Bannos Sr. (Heaven on Seven), and chef Jimmy Bannos Jr., who honed his skills at Mario Batali's New York restaurants.
500 N. Michigan Ave., 312-464-1744, thepurplepigchicago.com
Show: Inside Job "Press materials call this documentary by Charles Ferguson 'the first film to expose the shocking truth behind the economic crisis of 2008.' Not exactly—it follows and in many ways echoes Andrew and Leslie Cockburn's excellent American Casino (2009)," writes J.R. Jones. "But as Ferguson proved with his Iraq war documentary No End in Sight (2007), he can get to a story later but provide so much more context that his film seems definitive."
Dinner: Cafe Orchid "When Kurt Serpin says he’s cooking Ottoman cuisine, he doesn’t mean the extravagant feasts of the sultans, but he is talking about the traditional Turkish cuisine that evolved from the sultans’ expansive palace kitchens," writes Mike Sula.
1746 W. Addison St., 773-327-3808, cafeorchid.com
Show: Bobby "Slim" James "The first recording from Chicago singer and guitarist Bobby "Slim" James, 1968's "I Really Love You" (Karol), made little noise here, but overseas it became an aficionados' favorite; in more recent years his music has become popular on northern-soul playlists in the UK. Back home, though, James continues to scuffle along what's left of the south- and west-side blues circuits, recording classy but underrecognized CDs like last year's Brand New Man," writes David Whiteis.
9:30 PM, Water Hole Lounge, 1400 S. Western, 312-243-7988.
Dinner: Abuelo's Mexican Grill "Brothers Angel and Hugo Gomez have transformed a grungy storefront across from the Damen Pink Line stop into a sparkling sandwich shop wallpapered with Latin American record jackets and National Geographic covers. Sopes, tacos, burritos and tortas are well conceived and delicious, demonstrating fine attention to detail. The chorizo sope is a beautiful construction, a soft masa platform topped with piquant meat, artfully mounded with colorful cabbage; shrimp in tacos are fried to tempura laciness, splashed with crema, and dabbed with not-too-hot-but-flavorful salsa (imported from Canada!)," writes David Hammond.
2007 S. Damen Ave., 312-733-0329
Show: Alex Ross Ross offers a master class in music writing that will likely sell you not only on some music you never thought you’d like but on the importance of criticism to the form. He’ll discuss Listen to This with Chicago-based music critic Andrew Patner.
6:30 p.m., Stop Smiling Storefront, 1371 N. Milwaukee Ave., 773-342-1124, RSVP to email@example.com.
Dinner: Chikurin Sushi & Asian Cuisine "You might think Chikurin Sushi & Asian Cuisine sounds like just another ho-hum pan-Asian restaurant, but this sleek Bucktown newcomer has some surprises in store. Piquant ma po tofu was as good as most versions I've had in Chinatown, and Mongolian beef made with very tender meat surpassed many," writes Anne Spiselman.
1811 W. North Ave., Ste. 103, 773-252-8880
Show: Bonnie Jo Campbell, Jennifer Richter, Diane Seuss "Campbell's short-story collection American Salvage is filled with characters who could only dream of a life as wide-ranging as her own. In rural Michigan, where most of the 14 stories are set, families settle feuds with guns, and faith in Jesus is the ultimate Y2K survival tool," writes Jerome Ludwig.
Dinner: Big Jones Paul Fehribach, former chef at Schubas’ Harmony Grill, has taken the space long home to trapped-in-amber Augie’s diner and turned it into an airy, minimalist dining room distinguished by floor-to-ceiling windows and wrought-iron chandeliers. Like those chandeliers, the menu gives a little wave to the French Quarter.
5347 N. Clark St., 773-275-5725, bigjoneschicago.com