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Theater is back in downtown Chicago (and music and dance and opera, too)!
Barry Brecheisen

13 Great Restaurants in Chicago’s Theater District For Dinner and a Show

Yes, it’s possible to find food in the Loop after business hours

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Theater is back in downtown Chicago (and music and dance and opera, too)!
| Barry Brecheisen

After a long pandemic hiatus, live theater is back in downtown Chicago. Theatergoers will finally be able to experience the performing arts in person — and will need to scrounge for something to eat before the lights go down or after the final curtain.

This map can help, outlining a variety of restaurants within four blocks of the main theaters and the Civic Opera House, including some quick-service options for those rushing to make it to the show on time.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Beatnik On The River

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180 N Upper Wacker Dr
Chicago, IL 60606
(312) 526-3345
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The interior of Beatnik on the River, meant to evoke the glamorous existence of the international jet set in the ’50s and ’60s, is as dramatic as anything visitors are likely to hear inside the nearby Civic Opera House. The menu is light and modern, full of vegetables and seafood to keep theatergoers alert during a long performance; there’s also brunch for before a matinee, and it’s open till 11 p.m. for a post-curtain nightcap.

2. Petterino's

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150 N Dearborn St
Chicago, IL 60601
(312) 422-0150
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Petterino’s, reopening just in time for the new theater season, evokes a more swanky era of theatergoing, when men wore suits, women wore furs, and everyone ate steaks and drank martinis while lounging in red leather banquettes. During the pandemic, ownership transferred from Lettuce Entertain You to the Good Plate Hospitality Group, but the restaurant will still serve steaks, seafood, Italian classics, and offer pre- and post-theater specials.

3. Chicago Athletic Association

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12 S Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60603
(312) 940-3552
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Everyone knows about Shake Shack and the burgers. But if diners have time, venture upstairs in the Chicago Athletic Association hotel to Cindy's for gorgeous views of the city on the roof or have a robust meal at the Cherry Circle Room, which offers old-school steakhouse charm, including a traveling bar cart. Planners should make a reservation at the exclusive Milk Room bar for a seating before or after the show for small bites and some of the city's most creative drinks. You can play pool and other parlor games in the Game Room, too.

Wooden front doors in a white stone building, with an awning overhead
The Chicago Athletic Association contains several restaurant options
Marc Much

4. JIAO by Qing Xiang Yuan Dumplings

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18 S Wabash Ave
Chicago, IL 60602
(773) 598-4093
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JIAO, the quick-service Loop outpost of Chinatown’s Qing Xiang Yuan Dumplings, makes especially good dumplings from fresh ingredients. Choose from eight different fillings prepared steamed or fried and expect them on the table within five minutes, before you dash off for the opening curtain. Tea and Chinese appetizers are also available.

5. The Gage

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24 S Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60603
(312) 372-4243
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Billy Lawless' Michigan Avenue mainstay has a great bar, accommodates groups, and serves upscale bar food like fish and chips and steaks. The service here is also top notch, as they're used to accommodating folks who have theater plans after their meal.

A glass front door of a restaurant, with a patio on the right, separated from the sidewalk by a small fence, filled with tables shaded by yellow umbrellas
The Gage has a patio on Michigan Avenue
Barry Brecheisen

6. Italian Village

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71 W Monroe St
Chicago, IL 60603
(312) 332-7005
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The Italian Village, open since 1927, boasts that it’s Chicago's oldest Italian restaurant, though it’s actually three restaurants that share one kitchen. La Cantina, the steakhouse, and Vivere, the contemporary option, are still temporarily closed, but the oldest of the three, The Village, is open once again and serving pizza, pasta, Parmesans, and other red-sauce classics in a dining room that looks like a stage set of a Tuscan village.

Three tables covered in white tablecloths with twinkly lights overhead in front of a backdrop of a rustic Italian village, with a villa on the left, a house on the right, and a church spire in the middle.
The Village, one of the three restaurants inside the Italian Village
Marc Much

7. The Kimpton Gray Hotel

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122 W. Monroe Street
Chicago, IL 60603
(312) 750-9012
Visit Website

The Kimpton Gray hotel provides a breath of fresh air for Loop diners with Boleo, the beautiful Peruvian spot upstairs on the rooftop. There’s also Vol. 39 on the second floor, which allows drinkers to fulfill their Mad Man fantasies, with stiff drinks and fellow tipplers in Don Draper-like suits. Both bars are open till 11 p.m.

A dark library with a leather sofa in the foreground, marble topped tables and club chairs, and, on the right, bookshelves with a set of books with gilt spines
Vol. 39 is one of the drinking options at the Kimpton Gray Hotel
Kimpton Gray Hotel

8. Revival Food Hall

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125 S Clark St
Chicago, IL 60603

Where else will you find Smoque BBQ, Art of Dosa, and Lito’s Empanadas under one roof? The dazzling array of fast-casual spots make Revival a runaway hit. But be sure to check the hours, as not every stall shares the same opening and closing times; most, however, are open until at least 7 p.m.

9. The Dearborn

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145 N. Dearborn St., Chicago
IL, 60602
(312) 384-1242

On the ground floor of Block 37 shops, the Lawless sisters, Amy and Clodagh, have created a lively restaurant and tavern that tourists would be lucky to stumble upon. There's creativity in how they serve their meats, which come with a choice of sauces, and you can also snack on a good raw seafood selection.

10. Brightwok Kitchen

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21 E Adams St
Chicago, IL 60603
(312) 583-0729
Visit Website

Brightwok Kichen offers a vibrant selection of sauces that add heat and flavor to customizable stir-fries. The quick-service restaurant is a great choice for vegans, vegetarians, and those under a time crunch — don't forget to try one of their unique beverages like a custom-brewed non-alcoholic ginger beer from Filbert’s Soda Co. on the South Side.

Glass front door flanked by tall windows and a sign; inside, counters and seats can be seen
Brightwok Kitchen serves custom stir-fries
Barry Brecheisen

11. Russian Tea Time Restaurant

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77 E Adams St
Chicago, IL 60603
(312) 360-0000
Visit Website

This Russian spot just around the corner from Symphony Center knows its audience: it offers a special prix fixe dinner on concert nights for $50 that includes an appetizer, entree, and wine. There are vodka and caviar for the high-rollers, and, for the rest of us, tea service from a samovar and comfort foods like borscht, blinitchki, and pelmeni.

12. The Berghoff

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17 W Adams St
Chicago, IL 60603
(312) 427-3170
Visit Website

A Chicago classic that specializes in German-American food and beer, The Berghoff serves small bites at the bar as well as wiener schnitzel, brats and other specialties. The downstairs cafe is still closed, but the main restaurant and bar have reopened.

13. Cafecito

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26 East Ida B. Wells Drive #1
Chicago, IL 60605
(312) 922-2233
Visit Website

For theatergoers in a hurry or on a budget, Cafecito, just around the corner from the Auditorium Theatre, serves up excellent pressed Cuban sandwiches with a variety of fillings beyond the classic Cubano, including ham, chorizo, guava, and plantain. There’s also a large selection of vegan options and extremely delicious café con leche.

1. Beatnik On The River

180 N Upper Wacker Dr, Chicago, IL 60606

The interior of Beatnik on the River, meant to evoke the glamorous existence of the international jet set in the ’50s and ’60s, is as dramatic as anything visitors are likely to hear inside the nearby Civic Opera House. The menu is light and modern, full of vegetables and seafood to keep theatergoers alert during a long performance; there’s also brunch for before a matinee, and it’s open till 11 p.m. for a post-curtain nightcap.

180 N Upper Wacker Dr
Chicago, IL 60606

2. Petterino's

150 N Dearborn St, Chicago, IL 60601

Petterino’s, reopening just in time for the new theater season, evokes a more swanky era of theatergoing, when men wore suits, women wore furs, and everyone ate steaks and drank martinis while lounging in red leather banquettes. During the pandemic, ownership transferred from Lettuce Entertain You to the Good Plate Hospitality Group, but the restaurant will still serve steaks, seafood, Italian classics, and offer pre- and post-theater specials.

150 N Dearborn St
Chicago, IL 60601

3. Chicago Athletic Association

12 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60603
Wooden front doors in a white stone building, with an awning overhead
The Chicago Athletic Association contains several restaurant options
Marc Much

Everyone knows about Shake Shack and the burgers. But if diners have time, venture upstairs in the Chicago Athletic Association hotel to Cindy's for gorgeous views of the city on the roof or have a robust meal at the Cherry Circle Room, which offers old-school steakhouse charm, including a traveling bar cart. Planners should make a reservation at the exclusive Milk Room bar for a seating before or after the show for small bites and some of the city's most creative drinks. You can play pool and other parlor games in the Game Room, too.

12 S Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60603

4. JIAO by Qing Xiang Yuan Dumplings

18 S Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL 60602

JIAO, the quick-service Loop outpost of Chinatown’s Qing Xiang Yuan Dumplings, makes especially good dumplings from fresh ingredients. Choose from eight different fillings prepared steamed or fried and expect them on the table within five minutes, before you dash off for the opening curtain. Tea and Chinese appetizers are also available.

18 S Wabash Ave
Chicago, IL 60602

5. The Gage

24 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60603
A glass front door of a restaurant, with a patio on the right, separated from the sidewalk by a small fence, filled with tables shaded by yellow umbrellas
The Gage has a patio on Michigan Avenue
Barry Brecheisen

Billy Lawless' Michigan Avenue mainstay has a great bar, accommodates groups, and serves upscale bar food like fish and chips and steaks. The service here is also top notch, as they're used to accommodating folks who have theater plans after their meal.

24 S Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60603

6. Italian Village

71 W Monroe St, Chicago, IL 60603
Three tables covered in white tablecloths with twinkly lights overhead in front of a backdrop of a rustic Italian village, with a villa on the left, a house on the right, and a church spire in the middle.
The Village, one of the three restaurants inside the Italian Village
Marc Much

The Italian Village, open since 1927, boasts that it’s Chicago's oldest Italian restaurant, though it’s actually three restaurants that share one kitchen. La Cantina, the steakhouse, and Vivere, the contemporary option, are still temporarily closed, but the oldest of the three, The Village, is open once again and serving pizza, pasta, Parmesans, and other red-sauce classics in a dining room that looks like a stage set of a Tuscan village.

71 W Monroe St
Chicago, IL 60603

7. The Kimpton Gray Hotel

122 W. Monroe Street, Chicago, IL 60603
A dark library with a leather sofa in the foreground, marble topped tables and club chairs, and, on the right, bookshelves with a set of books with gilt spines
Vol. 39 is one of the drinking options at the Kimpton Gray Hotel
Kimpton Gray Hotel

The Kimpton Gray hotel provides a breath of fresh air for Loop diners with Boleo, the beautiful Peruvian spot upstairs on the rooftop. There’s also Vol. 39 on the second floor, which allows drinkers to fulfill their Mad Man fantasies, with stiff drinks and fellow tipplers in Don Draper-like suits. Both bars are open till 11 p.m.

122 W. Monroe Street
Chicago, IL 60603

8. Revival Food Hall

125 S Clark St, Chicago, IL 60603

Where else will you find Smoque BBQ, Art of Dosa, and Lito’s Empanadas under one roof? The dazzling array of fast-casual spots make Revival a runaway hit. But be sure to check the hours, as not every stall shares the same opening and closing times; most, however, are open until at least 7 p.m.

125 S Clark St
Chicago, IL 60603

9. The Dearborn

145 N. Dearborn St., Chicago, IL, 60602

On the ground floor of Block 37 shops, the Lawless sisters, Amy and Clodagh, have created a lively restaurant and tavern that tourists would be lucky to stumble upon. There's creativity in how they serve their meats, which come with a choice of sauces, and you can also snack on a good raw seafood selection.

145 N. Dearborn St., Chicago
IL, 60602

10. Brightwok Kitchen

21 E Adams St, Chicago, IL 60603
Glass front door flanked by tall windows and a sign; inside, counters and seats can be seen
Brightwok Kitchen serves custom stir-fries
Barry Brecheisen

Brightwok Kichen offers a vibrant selection of sauces that add heat and flavor to customizable stir-fries. The quick-service restaurant is a great choice for vegans, vegetarians, and those under a time crunch — don't forget to try one of their unique beverages like a custom-brewed non-alcoholic ginger beer from Filbert’s Soda Co. on the South Side.

21 E Adams St
Chicago, IL 60603

11. Russian Tea Time Restaurant

77 E Adams St, Chicago, IL 60603

This Russian spot just around the corner from Symphony Center knows its audience: it offers a special prix fixe dinner on concert nights for $50 that includes an appetizer, entree, and wine. There are vodka and caviar for the high-rollers, and, for the rest of us, tea service from a samovar and comfort foods like borscht, blinitchki, and pelmeni.

77 E Adams St
Chicago, IL 60603

12. The Berghoff

17 W Adams St, Chicago, IL 60603

A Chicago classic that specializes in German-American food and beer, The Berghoff serves small bites at the bar as well as wiener schnitzel, brats and other specialties. The downstairs cafe is still closed, but the main restaurant and bar have reopened.

17 W Adams St
Chicago, IL 60603

13. Cafecito

26 East Ida B. Wells Drive #1, Chicago, IL 60605

For theatergoers in a hurry or on a budget, Cafecito, just around the corner from the Auditorium Theatre, serves up excellent pressed Cuban sandwiches with a variety of fillings beyond the classic Cubano, including ham, chorizo, guava, and plantain. There’s also a large selection of vegan options and extremely delicious café con leche.

26 East Ida B. Wells Drive #1
Chicago, IL 60605

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