Chi Weekend: Cinco de Derby - NBC Chicago

Chi Weekend: Cinco de Derby

312 Dining Diva's weekend picks



    Chi Weekend: Cinco de Derby
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    If you can't make it to Louisville this weekend for the Derby, there's plenty of things to keep you busy closer to home.

    Some serious high rollers will get to indulge in the Woodford Reserve $1,000 Mint Julep at the Kentucky Derby.

    That's cool because Chicago's so hot this weekend with the openings of Loft Six Ten, Market and Rockit Wrigleyville, there will be plenty of options for Derby—and Cinco de Mayo—parties right here at home.

    Here's where else the 312 Dining Diva thinks you need to be:


    AIDSCARE's annual Dining Out for Life happens today, and all you have to do is dine out at one of the participating restaurants to help out those in need, including Club Lucky, Broadway Cellars, Angelina Ristorante, Blackbird and La Creperie. Each spot will donate a percentage of the night's $$$ to the cause.

    An early-1990s R&B heartthrob is back with a new record and new attitude. Uptown Magazine and Hidden Beach Recording host a party for the triumphant return of Al B. Sure. If you don't know who he is, you'd better ask somebody. Party happens at Griffin Lounge 9pm-2am, with a preview from his new album, Honey I'm Home. Free with RSVP:


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    Get ready for Battle of the Belgians at Jake Melnick's. The private dining room will be converted into a "battlefield" with three pairing stations of Belgian-style ales and dishes like five-spice ribs, BBQ Mussels and dark chocolate crème brûlée. 7-10pm. $25.

    Or, if you're in the mood for vino, head to Enclave for the Wines of the World Tasting. Party promises generous pours of wines from all over the globe, plus heavy appetizers and an after-party all for $20 ($30 at door). 7-9pm.

    The Metroboard of the Chicago Urban League hosts a Spring Fling First Fridays at Hotel Sax (333 N. Dearborn St.). Watch these young professionals loosen up on the dance floor to hip-hop, soul and R&B jams by deejays Mark Fullaflava and Timbuck 2. 9pm-2am. $20.


    Apparently, not everyone's interested in Derby and Cinco de Mayo mayhem. For mommies-to-be and nursing moms, a special pre-Mother's Day brunch happens at hip, Middle Eastern-focused Turquoise. Hosted by trendy maternity boutique Kickin', the event includes a fashion show and exotic brunch bites. 9:30-11am. $24. RSVP to Kickin' at 773-281-6577.

    The first-ever Mole de Mayo festival happens in Pilsen at the El Zocalo outdoor plaza (18th and Paulina Streets). The event includes traditional mariachi performances, beer garden and open-air market, but the highlight should be the mole cook-off where amateur cooks go head to head with chefs from area restaurants (Mundial Cocina Mestiza, Fig Catering, Zocalo). Judges for the contest include Check, Please! host Alpana Singh and 312DD! 11am-7pm. Cannot believe the daylong fest's only $1!

    Do Derby Day at In Fine Spirits, which sounds like a blast for its free-spirited take on the event. Wear the most outrageous hat you can find to win a free Mint Julep or take your chances by picking your horse to win prizes every time you buy a drink. You'll also get to pick your poison for your Mint Julep with bourbon, brandy, gin or whiskey. 3pm-2am. No cover.

    Or, make your way to a more traditional Derby deal benefiting local charity Equestrian Connection, over at The Pony. Your ticket includes an open bar and a Southern spread of fried chicken and biscuits. $5 traditional Mint Juleps will also be on sale. Derby wear encouraged. 1:30-5:30pm. $40. Click here for even more local Derby Day ideas.

    Too bad Cuatro has such a tiny dance floor because you'll want to stay swirling around to the sounds of Mark Grant and Mario Romay. Groove Parlor's deep soul and house music party also includes a performance by vocalist Russoul. Get there early because this thing will get packed early. 10pm-2am. $5.


    And fashionable French-American bistro La Tache's back with a new look and menu. Of course we're especially excited about the brunch at the Andersonville staple, with updated classics like the Croque Madame, crab cake Benedict, and signature burger with balsamic onions, gruyere and truffle aioli. 11am-3pm.

    Audarshia Townsend is the creator of the local food blog She also provides content for Dining Chicago, Chicago Tribune Sunday Magazine, and Concierge Preferred.