The Best Things to Do This Week, According to Our Editors: Oct. 18

We recommend Boo at the Zoo, a trip to the Oriental and more.

1. Boo at the Zoo


Last week my husband and I went to Boo at the Zoo to review the event for the magazine (full story to come). We got there at 8 p.m. on a Thursday and had the drive-through Halloween display mostly to ourselves. It was a spooktacular experience, and great for fans of the family-friendly Halloween fun. 

2. See a Movie at the Oriental Theatre


I actually saw one film during the pandemic – Wonder Woman 1984 at a Marcus theater. It wasn’t a great movie, but it was fun to be back inside a theater, even an almost empty one. The Oriental (2230 N. Farwell Ave.) only recently reopened (in August), and for anyone worried about crowds, they have strict COVID protocols which you can read more about on their website. Now, I’m not the world’s biggest James Bond fan, but I do appreciate the actor Daniel Craig. And to spend a couple of hours getting lost in the latest Bond flick, No Time to Die, was just the escapist ride I needed.

3. Eat Some Snacks at Red Light Ramen


You probably already know about this basement offshoot of Ardent, and might even know how it spun out of its sibling restaurant’s after-hours staff hangout and ramen meal. But when you go, you probably go there, you know, for the dish in the title of the dang restaurant, and I don’t blame you for that. The tonkotsu, chicken and mushroom ramen offerings are rich and delicious. But don’t scrimp on the small plates. The seafood tins elevate, say, sardines and crackers to a culinary level that I didn’t think was possible. And good lord, the stingray. Thin slices are cured like jerky, then served with a little earthenware grill. Like roasting marshmallows, you will need to find your own preferred level of char, and like roasting marshmallows, they key is in the caramelization of the sugars imparted to the flesh by the curing. That sweet crunchiness is set against against the lightly fishy flavor of the ray wings. It’s an unforgettable dining experience.

Stingray and sardines at Red Light; Photo by Shannon Semmerling

4. Watch The Straight Story


David Lynch once made a Disney movie, and it’s great. The Straight Story was released in 1999 and tells the true story of Alvin Straight, a 73-year old who road his lawnmower from Iowa to Wisconsin to see his estranged brother, who had just had a stroke. Lynch forgoes the usual surreality and instead tells a … straight story about family, aging and self-reliance. It’s a deeply touching film, especially when you learn that Richard Farnsworth, the actor who plays Straight, was dying of terminal cancer while the movie was being filmed. He never told anyone what he was going through. His performance netted him an Oscar nomination for best actor. The movie is available now on Disney+.

5. Get Brunch at Honey Butter Cafe


This weekend my friends wanted to take me out for brunch as part of a birthday celebration. We landed on a spot in our hometown, Franklin, called Honey Butter Cafe. We got on the (long) wait list in the morning and were seated by noon. As soon as we sat down, the served us honey butter donuts, which were a tasty surprise. For my order I got the chicken and waffles. Both the chicken and waffles were crisp and delicious.