City Winery

8 of the best spots in Chicago for good music and great food

By Nicole Bruce

Awesome live music can only elevate a killer bar or restaurant experience. Here are eight great Chicago restaurants and cocktail bars that double as live music venues, or are slightly adjacent to the main stage, but still steal the show with their exceptional culinary performances.

City Winery Chicago
Nestled in the West Loop, City Winery Chicago—the brainchild of Michael Dorf, founder of the iconic Knitting Factory in New York City—is part working winery and part music venue. The winery hosts intimate concerts in its 300-seat music venue/restaurant/bar space. Bringing artists like Macy Gray, Kurt Elling, and Art Garfunkel to the stage in a wine country atmosphere creates a truly cultural experience. A variety of tap wines (made on site) are available for by-the-glass pours, alongside dishes like grilled octopus, seasonal flatbreads, and braised duck tacos. In the warmer months, the City Winery at the Chicago Riverwalk outpost is a solid spot to take in the river views, socialize over a glass of vino, and listen to tunes to set the mood.
Neighborhood: West Loop MAP Riverwalk MAP

Smoke Daddy BBQ
There's no better place for slow-cooked barbeque, cold beers (or rotating boozy slushies), and free live music than Smoke Daddy BBQ. The restaurant/venue smokes meats in house each day and takes pride in serving up some of the best ribs and pulled meats in the city. On top of that, both locations in Wicker Park and Wrigleyville showcase live music seven nights a week in a laid-back yet lively atmosphere, They've pulled in legendary blues musicians like "Billy Boy" Arnold, Kim Wilson, and Jerry Portnoy, but you'll hear anything from blues and jazz to alt-rock, folk, country, and bluegrass here.
Neighborhood: Wicker Park MAP Wrigleyville MAP

The Promontory

The Promontory
The team behind some of Chicago's preeminent live music venues—Thalia Hall, Empty Bottle, and Evanston SPACE—also own this airy restaurant and bar in Hyde Park, which doubles as a live music spot. The Promontory's modern, bi-level space features an open-hearth restaurant concept on the first floor and a music venue upstairs, which draws a notable slate of established and emerging musicians to the South Side. From slow-roasted pork belly Benedict at brunch to duck cassoulet at dinner to craft cocktails and late-night bites, the eatery promises palate-pleasing dishes at all hours, before or after any show.
Neighborhood: Hyde Park MAP

Uncommon Ground
A neighborhood favorite in both Lakeview and Edgewater, Uncommon Ground focuses on regional, organic ingredients for brunch, lunch, and dinner. The eco-conscious eateries boast house-infused organic cocktails and beers—the Lakeview location is home to the first certified organic brewery in Illinois—as well as contemporary comfort dishes like mushroom ravioli and grass-fed flank steak. They also regularly spotlight homegrown musicians, offering live performances in their intimate listening rooms, where you’ll find full food and beverage service. Chill out to music from singer-songwriters from the community almost any night of the week.
Neighborhood: Lakeview MAP Edgewater MAP

Piece Brewery and Pizzeria
This popular New Haven–style pizza restaurant and brewery is known for its creative pies and award-winning house-brewed beer. Thin, hand-formed pies (as opposed to tossed) are made the New Haven way. Diners choose from three bases: plain (tomato sauce, garlic, and Parmesan), white (olive oil, garlic, and mozzarella), and red (tomato sauce with mozzarella) before adding toppings like the New Haven signature clams, or “Hot Doug’s famous Atomic sausage.” Brews include the Golden Arm German-style kolsch and Dark n Curvy dunkelweizen. Rick Nielsen is co-owner of this Wicker Park hotspot and the legendary lead guitarist of Cheap Trick, so it also has a solid stream of live rock music.
Neighborhood: Wicker Park MAP

River Roast

River Roast
Chicagoans love good food, waterfront dining, and live music. As a nod to the city's vibrant blues scene, River Roast hosts a fantastic Blues and Brews Brunch Series on weekend afternoons, as well as an "After Work Set" every Thursday so you can kick back with special live performances after work over drinks and contemporary American tavern fare—meat, fish, and veggies are roasted and carved tableside. Since it’s located right on the Chicago River, you can take in the river views and cityscape from any seat in the house or on the patio while listening to some of Chicago's finest blues musicians performing live.
Neighborhood: River North MAP

Dusek’s Board & Beer
Pilsen's Czech landmark Thalia Hall—a standout music venue housed inside a beautifully restored 1892 opera house—is a paradise for foodie and indie rock music lovers. Within the opulent and massive building, you'll find the Michelin-starred restaurant Dusek’s Board & Beer with upscale American pub food on the main floor, the punch-themed cocktail bar Punch House in the basement, and the cozy cocktail and piano bar Tack Room in the old carriage house. While the historic theater upstairs sets the stage with a regular rotation of must-see acts, these food- and music-focused restaurants/bars truly round out the show experience, making this the perfect one-stop destination for concertgoers.
Neighborhood: Pilsen MAP Thalia Hall MAP

Tied House
For those looking to grab a top-notch meal before catching a show at Schubas Tavern, one of the most inviting small music rooms in the city, Tied House is right next door. The bold restaurant replaced the venue's old restaurant, Harmony Grill, but still connects concertgoers who've just polished off a quality meal to the music venue/tavern via an indoor passageway. You'll find small plates like foie gras torchon, as well as large plates like sea scallops in saffron risotto. Housed in an old Schlitz brewery, Schubas showcases a diverse lineup of bands—from up-and-coming local acts to more well-known performers in an array of genres, from indie and folk-rock to country, funk, and jazz.
Neighborhood: Lakeview MAP Schubas Tavern MAP

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