The Coolest Pop-ups in Chicago Right Now

Get to these pop-ups before they disappear.

After another brutal Chicago second-winter, spring is finally, thankfully, on our doorstep, and with its arrival comes a whole slew of bespoke, limited-time, pop-up experiences designed to get you out of your house and into a limited-time experience. Some of these will go on to be local institutions as brick-and-mortars, so brag that you had them in the early says, while others will disappear at the end of the pop-up’s schedule, so you can brag that you had them at all. In both cases, you should get out there ASAP.

Semicolon Bookstore
Semicolon Bookstore

Narrative at The Kimpton Gray Hotel

The Loop
Through April
After opening in February in honor of Black History Month, the Semicolon-helmed Narrative literary pop-up on the ground floor of the beautiful Kimpton Gray Hotel has been extended not once but twice, and will now stay open through the month of April. The downtown pop-up has all of the charm of Semicolon’s flagship Halsted bookstore, but with added cozy hotel-inspired decor that mimics the design of your book-club-obsessed friend’s carefully curated bedroom, complete with a gigantic, plush bed. The bookstore itself features a wide and rotating variety of art, postcards, stickers, composition notebooks, and, of course, novels. Narrative’s selection highlights works by women of color. Better yet, 100% of Narrative’s profits will benefit Parenthesis, Semicolon’s literacy-focused non-profit.

Duck Sel’s pop-up dining series

Duck Sel launched in 2021, the newest project from the tireless, Michelin-starred wunderkind Donald Young (Les Nomads, Temporis, Woodwind, Venteux), and it is one of the most fun and singular pop-up dining experiences you’ll ever have. These social, communal, multicourse meals are hosted at a secret location revealed to diners a day or two in advance of the event. The menu changes constantly, featuring all manner of local, foraged, dry-aged, fermented, and brûléed ingredients. Plus, the optional drink pairings are on-point, and range from sake to champagne and back again. This April, they’re also offering a special seven-course Easter brunch, featuring delights like Everything Spice Gougère with foie gras, pistachio and preserved rhubarb and a visually stunning Spring Roll with cured cod, daikon, and watermelon nước chấm.
How to book: Reserve via Tock

Wicker Park Farmers Market
Wicker Park Farmers Market

Winter Market Series at The Robey Wicker Park

Wicker Park
April 2, 9, and 16
Bet you thought you had to wait until May for farmer’s markets to start popping up in Chicago. Not so! April marks the final month of the Winter Market series, hosted at the lobby of The Robey in Wicker Park. Your favorite Chicagoland farmers, butchers, bakeries, and artisans will be there from 10 am to 3 pm on market days.

TableMation studios
TableMation studios

Le Petit Chef at Fairmont Chicago

Millennium Park
Weekends through May
If you’re looking for a truly unique pop-up outing, dig out your wallet for a reservation for Le Petit Chef, an immersive, animated, augmented-reality dining experience. “What do those words mean?”, you may be asking yourself. Well, the short version is that, using state-of-the-art dining table technology in collaboration with TableMation studios, Fairmont Chicago has turned a five-course tasting menu (with optional wine pairings) into a full-on Pixar movie, complete with the titular Petit Chef scampering around your table preparing your meal before your eyes. Truly, it’s unlike any dining experience you’ll probably ever have.
How to book: Make reservations via Tock

Cellared Beer Fest at The Northman

River North
April 22
This spring, The Northman is kicking off something they, and we, hope will be a regular yearly event—the Cellared Beer Fest. Your $70 ticket will guarantee you entry into a celebration of cellared craft concoctions, including a tasting of over 40 beers, an appetizer buffet, live music, swag and giveaways from partner breweries, and raffle tickets to potentially win some incredibly rare cellared beers.
How to book: Buy tickets here

March 31
In honor of Women’s History Month, Chicago superstars Kelly Ijichi and Lorraine Nguyen have partnered with Koval to take over Guild Row for an unforgettable night of gustatory delights. The one-night-only pop-up dinner features three courses (and craft cocktail pairings), from Mentaiko Pasta with lump crab, preserved citrus and chili alongside a Koval Sour, to a Burnt Honey Cake served with whipped sour cream and yuzu curd, paired against an Espresso Martini.
How to book: Book for the 6 pm or 8 pm seating here

Handmade Market Chicago
Handmade Market Chicago

Handmade Market at Empty Bottle

West Town
April 8
Don’t miss the final date of Handmade Market’s stay at Empty Bottle before they close their doors until the fall. On April 8 from noon to 4 pm, over 30 of the city’s best artisans, jewelers, crafters, sewers, tailors, and artists of all stripes will descend on the venerable venue, turning it into an indoor art festival. Grab yourself a mimosa, grab yourself some local handcrafts, and then stick around for the FACS show at 9 pm.

Replay Lincoln Park
Replay Lincoln Park

Paddy’s Pub at Replay Lincoln Park

Lincoln Park
Through April
Chicago’s favorite pop-up-slash-arcade-bar dusted off an old classic earlier in the year, bringing back their fan-favorite Paddy’s Pub pop-up for St. Patrick’s Day. Though their website currently lists the pop-up ending at the end of March, the Replay faithful will be aware that generally, these pop-ups get extended, meaning that there’s a decent likelihood that It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia fans can get their Paddy’s fix into April. Even if the decor does indeed come down on the 31st, themed events are planned for early April, such as a “Flipadelphia” flip cup tournament, a live performance of “The Nightman Cometh”, and, most horrifyingly, “The Gang Beats Boggs” challenge, an all-day affair where Replay has challenged attendees to break Wade Boggs’ record of drinking 70 beers on a cross-country flight.
How to book: Reservations are not required for general admission, but tickets may be required for events. Check Replay’s events page for booking information.

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Sam Greszes is a Chicago-based writer who contributes to Kill Screen Magazine, GameSkinny, and ION Magazine.