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Alligator Meat, Whiskey Tastings, and Paczki: Just a Typical Week in Chicago Dining

Here’s your guide to what to eat and drink from Fat Tuesday through Sunday.

The dining room at Two, home of the Beast Dinner this Sunday.   Photo: Courtesy of Two

Tuesday, March 4

The fastest way to make friends is by picking up a dozen paczki (that traditional Polish doughnut enjoyed on Fat Tuesday), and you can stop by Alliance Bakery (1726 W. Division St., Wicker Park, 773-278-0366) to grab some in seven flavor varieties, ranging from raspberry rose to apple with cinnamon sugar. 

There are still reservations available for the final day of the à la carte Mardi Gras menu at Big Jones (5347 N. Clark St., Andersonville, 773-275-5725), stuffed with Creole go-tos including alligator, etouffee, and king cake.

Saturday, March 8

One week out from St. Patrick’s Day is the perfect time to brush up on the finer points of Irish whiskey. Chief O’Neill’s (3471 N. Elston Ave., Avondale) has a two-hour class led by whiskey educator Martin Duffy to get you prepped before the big day. The $30 class starts at 4 p.m.

Sunday, March 9

Four chefs, one hunk of cow, one meal. The second Beast Dinner at Two (1132 W. Grand Ave., West Town, 773-275-5725) will have Tom Van Lente, Jason Paskewitz (Gemini Bistro), Mark Steuer (Carriage House), and Sean McClain (Sage in Las Vegas) each cooking a different cut from the same dry-aged quarter of beef from Slagel Farm. The $90 meal includes passed cocktails and appetizers and drink pairings.

The center of the tiki universe on Sunday night may well be Three Dots and a Dash (435 N. Clark St., River North, 312-610-4220), when Jeff ‘Beachbum’ Berry (an author and historian of the drink culture) stops by for a signing of his new book, Potions of the Caribbean. Paul McGee will hang out behind the bar to whip up a few classic recipes, such as the Trinidad Green Swizzle (spiced rum, lime, and wormwood and angostura bitters).

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