When you live in the city that is home to Lollapalooza and restaurants such as Alinea and Next, it’s only natural to want to combine the two. That probably won’t happen anytime soon but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t rock out with your fork out.1. Uncommon Ground Lakeview Hidden amongst Cubs fans and country bars on Clark Street, is one of my favorite restaurants and spots for live music. If you’ve heard of Uncommon Ground, you probably know it for their menu of locally grown and sourced dishes. Maybe even the rooftop garden at their Edgewater location or their brand-new, 1st in Illinois, certified organic brewery. But did you know they also feature nightly acoustic music, mainly of the singer-songwriter variety? One suggestion: the performance space is intimate so make a reservation. Past performers include Jeff Buckley, Andrew Bird, The Frames and more.Music Calendar (http://www.uncommonground.com/pages/calendar/51.php) 2. Heartland Cafe/Red Line Tap Jump on the Red Line and head north to the Heartland Cafe and its sister venue, Red Line Tap. The Roger’s Park restaurant’s menu is on the wholesome side, with breakfast served all day. I say grab the buffalo burger and a side of cornbread - there are also plenty of vegetarian/vegan options too! After dinner, catch a show at the Red Line Tap. Whether its punk, funk or something in between, you can hear live music 7 nights a week. Shows are low-priced (sometimes free!) and the whiskey selection is fantastic. Events Calendar (http://www.redlinetap.com/events/)3. Havana If you think mojitos and music go hand in hand, Havana in River North is the spot for you. As the name suggests, the menu is full of Cuban food and has something for everyone - like Cuban sandwiches and steaks for meat lovers and Chiles Relleños for vegetarians. And don’t forget to order one of their exotic Caribbean cocktails or a mojito. After dinner, get in a little dancing thanks to awesome music from a live band. Check the music calendar (http://havanachicago.com/eventos/) before you go - bands don’t play every night. And be prepared for a loud and lively environment!4. Beat Kitchen When your name is Beat Kitchen, you either have a combination food/anger problem, or you are a combination restaurant/music venue. Located in Roscoe Village, off all the spots on my list, this is the only one with a real concert feel. Come early and grab a table to eat; then head to the back and stand to watch a show. The venue itself is on the small side, so grab tickets ahead of time if a band you really want to see is playing. As far as food goes, it’s a lot better than you’d expect. I recommend the quesadillas or a specialty pizza. Event Calendar (http://www.beatkitchen.com/calendar/)5. Bandera Bandera, in River East, is all about ambiance. Dim lighting, a view of Michigan avenue and live jazz music while you eat definitely set the mood. The music is second fiddle to the food here so come with an appetite. Portions are very generous. If, after your house-ground burgers or a Macho salad, you are still hungry, pat yourself on the back. Then order a Bandera-made ice cream sandwich.Extra: Lunch at Potbelly’sIf you’re just looking for a hot sandwich, a cup of soup and some jams from a local musician, then Potbelly’s should be your new lunch spot. Besides being known for their extensive secret menu, Potbelly also has a lengthy musician directory (http://www.potbelly.com/Company/MusicianDirectory.aspx). Don’t listen to your mom - playing (music) with your food is okay!Read More
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According to Dictionary.com a power lunch is defined as: a high-powered business meeting conducted over lunch. While we might not all be C-Suite executives, we do all need to eat lunch. Why not network while you dine? Do you know where the best spots in Chicago are to shake hands over a Cobb salad?Chicago Cut This has been dubbed as the holy grail of Chicago steakhouses and is often visited by celebrities and athletes. With a wall of 21-foot-tall windows there is no better view of the Chicago Loop and River. Diners can scroll through the extensive wine list via an iPad and the lunch menu offers much more than steak with a large selection of salads, tacos, and sandwiches. An appetizer that is definitely worth splurging on is the Lobstercargot. This is a spot where it’s best to dine with someone who can expense the meal.The Gage Inspired by the gastro pubs of Europe with vintage décor, The Gage offers up upscale comfort food. Located in the South Loop, which can often be a tourist trap with Millennium Park and The Bean across the street, this spot caters to the Chicago business lunch crowd. Two items that are hard to resist--the fish and chips and the venison burger.Terzo Piano Situated in the Modern Wing of the Art Institute of Chicago, Terzo Piano is a gorgeous dining option with a breathtaking patio. Featuring dishes created by one of Chicago’s top chefs, Tony Mantuano, you truly can’t go wrong with any option. All of the ingredients are locally sourced and organic, which in turn creates seasonal menus. Save room the dessert and artisan cheese selections. After lunch, you can always opt to play hooky and take in the art exhibits.Southbranch This eatery, located on the Chicago River is a lunchtime staple in the loop. In the summer, catch up on your Vitamin D count by soaking up some rays on their outdoor patio. The menu offers tried and true salads, wraps and sandwiches. Finish your meal with the cookie skillet, which will be sure to put you in a sugar coma. With an extensive craft beer list this is a great spot to sip and shake hands on your lunch break.The Florentine Nestled in the J.W. Marriott hotel is The Florentine. Among many chain restaurant options this spot stands out as one of the best restaurants. The tables are spaced apart well, so you don’t feel like someone is ease dropping on your conversation. The antipasti’s and wood-fired pizzas will certainly fit the bill.Have your people call my people, we’ll do lunch.Read More
Library Bar (Gold Coast) We’ll start with my personal favorite. The bar is located, along with Pump Room, inside the Public Chicago Hotel. Everything feels glamorous here, which shouldn’t come as a surprise, since Pump Room used to be a go-to spot for celebrities like Frank Sinatra and Judy Garland. The Library Bar is perfect before or after your dinner, but it also a warrants a trip on it’s own. Not only is there a gorgeous bar, but the whole room is decorated beautifully and completed with a large custom limestone fireplace. Grab the couch by the fire and order from their extensive wine list, amazing specialty cocktails, small-plates, desserts, and other gourmet global specialties by the one and only Jean-Georges. It also doesn’t hurt that this place has my favorite Old Fashioned in the city.RM Champagne Salon (West Loop) RM Champagne Salon’s outdoor patio is one of the best spots for a summer night in Chicago. Instead of crying about the fact that we are nowhere near patio season, RM is there to cheer us up in their French inspired indoor space, with tables and bar tops nestled around their gorgeous fireplace. Located in the trendy West Loop neighborhood, this elegant wine and champagne salon is the perfect spot to warm up on those chilly winter nights.Range (Lincoln Park) If you don’t know where to go for a cozy date night, this is it. This neighborhood spot is located right in Lincoln Park amongst some of the prettiest brownstones in the city. The food is all locally sourced, and even their beer, spirits, and wine are as local as they can get them. (There are 6 Chicago beers on draft!) The atmosphere is inviting any time of day, but the fireplace at night is extra lovely. I recommend the seasonal Hot Toddy cocktail and the Buffalo Cauliflower appetizer. Yum!Wilde (Lakeview) This upscale Irish pub is a Lakeview gem. The antique bars and comfort food are great, but in the winter, it’s all about the Grand Library. The room literally has books from floor to ceiling, along with a roaring fire and leather armchairs. This is where one drink with friends turns into two, three, four…Half Shell (Lincoln Park) From the outside, Half Shell doesn’t look like much – but this cash only dive offers some of the best seafood in Chicago. Since we can’t take one of the outdoor tables in the winter, they cozy up the indoor space with not one, but two fireplaces. The laid back atmosphere is the perfect place to indulge in their famous oysters and (my favorite!!) crab legs.Want more? I asked my readers about their favorites, and they told me that I should also check out Scofflaw, DOC Wine Bar, Allium, Barrelhouse and Uncommon Ground!Read More