Chicago - Around Town - South Loop (part 2) - Bars & Clubs, Places to Eat

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Exploring South Loop


Start by grabbing coffee and an oreo cookie flapjack at The Bongo Room (

  • ,

  • 1152 S. Wabash Ave.

  • 312 291 0100

). From there, walk through Grant Park to Museum Campus. Here you can choose between the Field Museum , Adler Planetarium , and Shedd Aquarium all within walking distance of each other. If you plan to visit other museums on your trip, it makes sense to purchase a City Pass . If you opt to see the highlights of each, end up at the Shedd, where the Soundings restaurant offers good food and great views overlooking the lake.

Hail a cab (plenty wait outside the museums) or walk to the nearby pedestrian bridge at 18th Street to get to the Prairie Avenue District , where you can stroll the historic streets and maybe even catch the 3pm tour of the Glessner House (see Prairie Avenue District). If you’ve still got the energy, walk one block west to the fascinating National Vietnam Veterans Art Museum.


Head over to Wabash Avenue for an early supper at one of the trendy eateries on what is now a burgeoning strip. Mayor Richard Daley has been known to frequent Gioco for its stellar Italian fare (reservations are recommended). Ready for more? Then stay up late to hear the blues at Buddy Guy’s Legends .

Bars & Clubs

  1. Buddy Guy’s Legends

    Run by bluesman Buddy Guy, this club is arguably the city’s best. To get a table, come early and dine on decent barbecue.

    • 754 S. Wabash Ave.

  2. Hothouse

    Not-for-profit Hothouse serves up a gumbo of music in art-filled digs. Acts range from jazz to Afro­pop, with a smattering of poetry readings and performance art.

    • 31 E. Balbo Dr.

  3. M Lounge

    Listen to traditional and modern jazz in style on comfy couches and low-slung seating in cranberry, chocolate, and sage. Stop by for live jazz on Wednesdays.

    • 1520 S. Wabash Ave.

  4. The Velvet Lounge

    Ignore the threadbare decor; The Velvet Lounge offers some of the city’s best jazz including jam sessions with the bar’s owner, a saxman himself.

    • 67 E. Cermak Rd.

    • Cash only

    • Closed Mon

  5. NetWorks

    A popular gathering place, NetWorks airs news and sports on an array of TVs.

    Hyatt Regency McCormick Place

    • 2233 S. Martin Luther King Dr.

    • Free

  6. South Loop Club

    This sports bar boasts a 70-inch TV screen, 10 different draft beers, and twice as many bottles, plus a full menu.

    • 701 S. State St.

  7. Bar Louie Taylor

    One of several popular Bar Louies in town, this Little Italy outpost plies generous martinis (and great bar food) to a twenty-something crowd.

    • 1321 W. Taylor St.

    • Free

    Bar Louie Taylor
  8. Beviamo Wine Bar

    This dark, intimate Little Italy hideaway is a great place to cozy as a couple before or after dinner with one of 40 by-the-glass wines, or a “sampling flight” of three wines.

    • 1358 W. Taylor St.

    • Free

    • Closed Sun

  9. Vernon Park Tap

    Also known as Tu fano’s, this popular bar counts legions of local and celebrity fans who pile in for house wine and generous, inexpensive pastas.

    • 1073 W. Vernon Park Pl

    • Free

    • Closed Mon

  10. Hawkeye’s Bar & Grill

    Try this sports bar for beer-fueled camaraderie and a genuine slice of Chicago fan zeal. A shuttle bus even delivers patrons to the United Center and US Cellular Field.

    • 1458 W. Taylor St.

    • Free

    • No DA

    Diners, Hawkeye’s Bar & Grill

Unless otherwise specified bars and clubs charge admission, are open nightly, and have DA.

Places to Eat

  1. Phoenix

    Phoenix attracts dim sum diners from near and far. Go early on weekends or prepare for long waits.

    • 2131 S. Archer Ave.

    • 312 328 0848

  2. Opera

    Trendsetter Opera serves contemporized Chinese food in a former 1930s warehouse. Don’t miss the five-spice squid and slow-braised pork.

    • 1301 S. Wabash Ave.

    • 312 461 0161

    • Closed lunch

  3. Gioco

    Rustic Italian food is the draw at this stylish restaurant and one-time speakeasy.

    • 1312 S. Wabash Ave.

    • 312 939 3870

    • Closed lunch Sat & Sun

  4. Lao Szechuan

    Located in the Chinatown Square shopping mall, this simple eaterie serves authentic Chinese Szechuan cuisine.

    • 2172 S. Archer Ave.

    • 312 326 5040

  5. Chez Joel

    A quaint French bistro in the heart of Little Italy charms fans with its sunny decor and fine classics like steak au poivre.

    • 1119 W. Taylor St.

    • 312 226 6479

    • Closed lunch Sat, Sun & Mon

  6. Pompei Bakery

    A top Little Italy lunch pick, Pompeii showcases a dozen varieties of square, by-the-slice pizzas. Hot sandwiches and stuffed pastas round out the offerings.

    • 1531 W. Taylor St.

    • 312 421 5179

    • No reservations

  7. Francesca’s on Taylor

    The Little Italy branch of Wrigleyville’s Mia Francesca offers generous portions of refined Italian cuisine at reasonable prices.

    • 1400 W. Taylor St.

    • 312 829 2828

    • Closed lunch Sat & Sun

  8. Rosebud Cafe

    Its Italian cooking isn’t daring but Rosebud’s convivial vibe is hard to resist. Long waits for tables are common.

    • 1500 W. Taylor St.

    • 312 942 1117

    • Closed lunch Sun

  9. Chicago Firehouse

    The menu at this former fire station is best at its most basic, including burgers and sandwiches.

    • 1401 S. Michigan Ave

    • 312 786 1401

    • Closed lunch Sat & Sun

  10. Penang

    Chicago’s only Malaysian restaurant. Ask your server to recommend the best dishes on the menu.

    • 2201 S. Wentworth Ave

    • 312 326 6888

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