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By Thomas Connor | April 19, 2017 | Lifestyle
From world-premiere theater to palate-pleasing restaurants, this season in Chicago has a distinctly Latin flair.
The dance floor calls in Teatro Vista’s La Havana Madrid, with a salsa-riffic soundtrack by Carpacho y Su Súper Combo.
Latin culture is everywhere you look in Chicago right now, from incredible restaurants and extraordinary museums to cultural events on stage and screen. Here, six ways to immerse yourself in the city’s rich Latino scene this spring.
What makes a community? Churches, schools, shops—and back in the day, nightclubs. Especially in immigrant enclaves, where the sounds of home never sounded sweeter.
➊ La Havana Madrid, which once stood at Belmont and Sheffield, was one such spot. Playwright Sandra Delgado and Teatro Vista celebrate the music and meaning of the popular club in a lively world-premiere evocation at Steppenwolf Theatre (April 14 through May 21, 1650 N. Halsted St., 312-335-1650).
The Oscars telecast may be the film buff’s winter high, but come spring, serious cineastes make sure they’ve got the ➋ Latino Film Festival on their schedules. Now in its 33rd year, this celebration of movie magic features dozens of pictures, including the prison drama Perros, starring John Leguizamo, and Ari Manuel Cruz’s Before the Rooster Crows, the story of a Puerto Rican girl’s thwarted dreams (April 20 through May 4, AMC River East 21, 322 E. Illinois St., 312-431-1330).
With a substantial permanent collection and a dynamic program of special exhibitions—many of which have traveled across the country and from south of the border—the ➌ National Museum of Mexican Art is the premier Mexican cultural organization in the nation. As it celebrates its 30th anniversary, this Pilsen-based institution showcases a host of local artists with Memoria Presente: An Artistic Journey (March 25 through August 13, 1852 W. 19th St., 312-738-1503). The works on view, notes visual arts director and chief curator Cesáreo Moreno, range from “fun and delightful observations of our city to compelling political comments and a desire for change in society. Some artworks will surprise the viewer, some will delight—there’s much to enjoy.”
The Dineamic Group goes Latin with new restaurant Barrio.
Food trends come and go, but the popularity of Latin cuisine never wanes—and new places keep our taste buds popping. Fulton Market spot ➍ Ronero (738 W. Randolph St., 312-600-6105) combines an impressive rum program and a menu that runs from small plates (empanadas, croquettes, meatballs) to seriously shareable dishes like a whole fried red snapper and a 32-ounce pork shoulder.
Spun around a massive oval bar, with a brightly kaleidoscopic floor, the new Dineamic Group effort ➎ Barrio (65 W. Kinzie St.) screams “fiesta.” Top Chef contestant Katsuji Tanabe helms the kitchen, where his Mexican-Japanese heritage is seen in dishes like grilled diver scallops with poblano-uni relish.
And in Logan Square, ➏ Quiote (2456 N. California Ave., 312-878-8571) opens early, serving coffee and conchas, those spiraling, rise-and-shine breakfast buns that are a Mexican staple. By lunchtime, the place is an all-out taqueria, and come evening, a full dinner menu kicks in. Topping it off is the sexy, subterranean mezcal bar, where beverage director Bobby Baker has created a compelling menu of agave-driven cocktails.
PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY OF QUIOTE (BARTENDER); COURTESY OF THE INTERNATIONAL LATINO CULTURAL CENTER OF CHICAGO
(REZA A LENDA, FESTIVAL POSTER); COURTESY OF THE ARTIST (THE LEGACY OF MANIFEST DESTINY); BY BEN MACRI (RONERO)