It’s hard to believe (especially with this week’s heat), but summer is already coming to an end and I’m looking forward to fall. It’s been a strange year in Chicago dining, to put it mildly, but as we head into the second half of the year, there are some exciting events and openings coming that you should keep an eye on. You already know that Chicago Gourmet will be back — here are four other standouts.

Underground Wine Bar

For those who remember Quiote, the cool modern Mexican spot in Logan Square that closed in late 2019, you may also remember Todos Santos, the bar in the basement that had one of the most ambitious tequila and mezcal programs in the city. Well, the concept is no more, but the fun space is about to get a new tenant this fall, as Soif Wine Bar is opening in there (under what is now Testaccio). Details (and dates) are scarce, but the spot promises “natural wines, grower Champagnes, funky yet classic cocktails and small plates of wine-friendly bites.” Keep an eye on this one.

Worth a Drive

I love a pop-up market, and this one promises to be particularly fun. Barkada MARKET: Chicago is a local iteration of a New York event which bills itself as “NYC’s Foremost Filipino-American Community Block Party.” Taking place on August 28 in Des Plaines (at Brew Lounge), the event boasts more than 30 vendors including food, art, music, and more. It combines both New York and Chicago vendors, so even if you are familiar with the Filipino food scene in Chicago, you’ll have a chance to encounter some new tastes. For details, check out the Project Barkada Instagram page.

South American Feast

El Che remains one of my favorite restaurants, and their pivot to retail during the pandemic was pretty darn awesome. El Che Meat and Provisions is still going strong, selling high quality meats and kitchen tools (order online), but now they’ll be holding a special market to provide even more offerings. Every month, they’re hosting a market paying homage to the San Telmo market in Buenos Aires, and the next one is on September 11, featuring a variety of vendors (including kitchen tools, knives, plants, pet treats, and more). The market runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and is free — but if you sign up for a ticket, you get free wine!

Food and Drama

Rick Bayless is at it again with his continuing theater career — this time, instead of starring in a play, he’s written one. A Recipe for Disaster is a comedy focused on the hijinks that happen during influencer night at a hot restaurant (which honestly sounds pretty great), and tickets to the play also include a fully immersive experience with a tasting menu and paired drinks. The play opens on October 6 and tickets are on sale.