Mona Sang's Khmer chicken curry
Mona Sang's Khmer chicken curry Credit: courtesy Mona Sang

Remember those long, lazy pandemic weekends when there was nowhere to go and nothing to do but get drunk on hand sanitizer and measure the growth of your fingernails against the claw marks in your padded walls? Those days are over.

If you’re finally ready to break out and sweep your quaran-trauma under the doormat, there’s a slew of IRL food- and beverage-related events this weekend, each with its own reassuring safety protocol. Many of them involve some of our favorite hospitality industry friends who’ve alluded to these very doings under Reader headlines back when it was only safe to dream.

Here’s a select few:

OK, you don’t really have to go anywhere for Mona Bella Catering’s same-day menu on Friday, but there was a time when you had to think at least a few days ahead if you wanted to enjoy one of chef Mona Sang’s abundant Khmer feasts. She’ll still deliver her rice noodles with red coconut Bolognese, banh xeo, and chicken curry to your door, but jeez, give her a break and go get it yourself.

Back in March Thommy Padanilam of Thommy’s Toddy Shop was plotting his second Malayali pop-up at Superkhana International, promising portable pothi choru; toasted banana leaf packets stuffed with rice, chutney, seasonal vegetables, and some kind of protein (egg scrambles, fried fish, or chicken). Saturday is the day, though looks like preorders via Tock are going fast. All proceeds benefit COVID-19 relief in India.

I’ve been eyeballing more than a few of the folks popping up at La Ofrenda on Saturday, a new monthly market in Dvorak Park in Pilsen. Among them Big Bucks BBQ and Birria Ta-Ta-Tacos. Rubi’s Maxwell St. will also be there as well as Nine Bar and Big Mich Chicago.

Adobo Loko chef Rob Menor, of Ube Doobie fame, foretold a series of culinary cannabis drops, releases, and pop-ups last year. He already delivered on a Mother Day brunch, and now he’s back on Sunday with a five-course microdosed Filipino brunch at a TBA location in Portage Park.

Later that afternoon there’s a Backyard Barbacoa Pop Up in Little Village hosted by pozole-pivot Limon y Sal, and featuring Vargo Brother Ferments (see this space next week) and 50 percent of Viet-Guatemalan pop-up Giống Giống David Hollinger, among others. Rain date is May 30.

After, for your third square of the day, the Talking Farm in Skokie is kicking off a series of outdoor picnic concerts, the first with Jon Langford and a menu featuring Carolina-style barbecue by Big Jones.

Finally, they used to call it a Burger Battle, but Publican Quality Meats is relaunching its kinder, gentler Burger Night on Tuesday, featuring a special burger created by guests chefs along with a unique PQM patty special. First up: Bar Sotano chef Rishi Kumar and his boss Rick Bayless with a 28-day dry-aged beef patty with choriqueso sauce, cilantro-jalapeño crema, and tomato jam, on a sesame bun, (and a surprising absence of salsa macha). Makes no difference. We’re all winners.   v