If you want to experience Chicago like the average tourist, your culinary agenda is easy: loaded hot dogs for breakfast, Italian beef for lunch, and deep-dish pizza for dinner. Okay, maybe not in that order. Plus, you should probably also have a big serving of vegetables and Tums.
But the point of Upswell isn’t for you to be a Chicago tourist. It’s for you to immerse yourself in the nuances of the community, to really get to know the people, neighborhoods, context, and culture.
And one thing that ties all of those together? Cuisine.
Designed by the people who know Chicago best, Upswell Community Dinners offer a deliciously diverse range of menus and venues to show you what it means to eat like a local. From brownstones to breweries, each dinner is hosted by a purpose-driven business. In between mouthwatering bites (of which there will be many), you and your fellow Upswell diners will have the chance to talk with local leaders about how they’re using the power of great food to strengthen their communities.
You can add a dinner during the registration process (or email firstname.lastname@example.org with questions). And while it might seem impossible to choose just one dinner, don’t spend too much time deciding. The dinners have a very limited capacity and sell out fast.
Owner Kenny Johnson has turned his passion for public service into a restaurant group that fuses art, community service, workforce development – and, of course, fantastic food.
Menu: Crab Cake Sliders, Collard Dip, Bureau Mini Macs, House Salad, Bureau Fish Fry, Braised Short Ribs, Grilled Asparagus, Collard Greens
Located in Pilsen’s dynamic Art District, DeColores is a community-focused Mexican restaurant celebrated for its award-winning Mole Pablono – made with a top-secret recipe.
Menu: Taquitos de Papa, House-made chips and salsa, Arroz Mexicano, Frijoles Guerros, Tortillas, Ensalada Azul, Mole Poblano, Chipotle Shrimp, Tilapia Fajitas
With a belief that delicious food can change lives in unexpected ways, founder Lisa Nigro began a business designed to help Chicago community members overcome homelessness and poverty.
Menu: Assorted Cheese, Empanadas, Kale Brussels Sprouts Salad, Caramelized Onion Braised Beef Brisket, Honey Ginger Soy Glazed Salmon, Roasted Cauliflower Steaks, Herb Roasted Potatoes, Four Cheese Macaroni and Cheese, Roasted Balsamic Vegetables
Find yourself awed by a stunning creative space, nourished by a delicious meal, and inspired by the young people and artists who have built a community at Marwen.
Menu: Baby spinach salad with toasted walnuts, crumbled blue cheese, and lemon vinaigrette; artisan breads and rolls with butter (classic French baguette with brioche, sesame semolina, and harvest dinner rolls); balsamic and honey glazed Amish chicken breasts; stuffed tomatoes with dried cranberries, wild rice, and toasted almonds; roasted fingerling potatoes with sea salt; seared brussels sprouts and roasted butternut squash; and assorted housemade bars (decadent chocolate brownies, raspberry crumble bars, and brown butter rice krispie treats)
Learn more: Marwen: empowering youth through visual arts
Marz Community Brewing Co.
Founded on the premise that art, culture, food, and beer would (and should) be enjoyed by the community, Marz was created as a platform for ongoing experimental collaboration.
Menu: Smoked Baby Back Ribs, Tandoori Chicken Skewers, Vegetarian BBQ Sliders, BBQ Pulled Pork, Dill and Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Rooibos Tea Deviled Eggs
Serving the Bronzeville community and Chicagoland for more than 30 years, owner Darrell Green hires and promotes members of the community while showcasing the neighborhood’s pipeline of artistic talent.
Menu: Specialized by the chef on the night of the dinner, the Soul Food Favorites buffet will include food like Fried Chicken, Turkey, Pork Chops, Dressing, Macaroni and Cheese, Red Beans and Rice, Collard Greens
Sinhá (SOLD OUT)
Finding herself situated in a restaurant desert, founder Jorgina Pereira converted her brownstone home into a Brazilian restaurant where community and camaraderie come to life.
Menu: Pineapple Salsa and Chips, Risoles, Yucca/Cheese Biscuits, Burrata Salad, Chicken Bobo, Beef Bacon, Grilled Sausage & Shrimp, Basmati Rice, Black Beans, Red Cabbage and Mango Salad, Baked Potatoes, Chutneys/Hot Peppers, Red Velvet Cake with Flan