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Where to Go Before and After the Show

Planning a trip to one of Chicago's many fine theaters? Make a night of it at these nearby favorites.
Tuesday Jul 06, 2010.     By Centerstage Chicago Staff
Centerstage Chicago Nightlife City Guide Arts

So, you were able to snag tickets to a hot new production at one of Chicago's favorite theaters. Awesome. But your plans aren't quite set yet. In order to make it a really memorable experience, you'll want to find the perfect place for that efficient, yet not rushed pre-show meal. We've investigated the areas around the city's top stages and found some suitable restaurants at which to start your evening - and some great bars to hit after the curtain falls.

Briar Street Theatre
The intimate setting at Briar Street Theatre makes every seat in the house the best, so you won't have to don a poncho to ensure you get a good view of the resident Blue Man Group.

Before: Have a fun BYOB feast at Andalous Moroccan Restaurant.
After: Make a beeline to Sheffield Avenue for craft beers at Sheffield's or an above-23 atmosphere at Matilda.

Cadillac Palace Theatre
This towering, 2,500-seat gem provides an evening out fit for tourists and natives alike, as it's home to bigtime productions like "The Lion King," "August: Osage County" and more.

Before: Enjoy an appropriately big meal at Rosebud Theater District.
After: Savor the sleek setting at Renaissance Chicago hotel's Bar Novo.

Chase Auditorium
This downtown hall is home to just one major production, but it's a biggie: the live taping of NPR's "Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me!"

Before: Enjoy borscht and vodka flights at Russian Tea Time.
After: Discuss NPR-esque issues in hushed tones at Potter's in the Palmer House Hilton.

Ford Center for the Performing Arts, Oriental Theatre
Like big Broadway shows? You'll feel at home in this huge, ornately designed venue hosting mostly musicals like "Billy Elliott."

Before: Reserve a table at Trattoria No. 10 and let the ravioli feast begin.
After: Continue your super-size evening with a stop at the Hyatt Regency's BIG Bar, which claims to have the longest freestanding bar on the continent.

Goodman Theatre
A key component of the Loop Theater District, the Goodman's current home stretches a full city block with a long, open and comfortable lobby that welcomes audiences to its two theaters for a mix of classic and edgy productions.

Before: Explore one of the three restaurants in the famed Italian Village.
After: Unwind with a craft brew at State and Lake in the Wit Hotel.

Mercury Theater
This 300-seat playhouse was designed as a venue in which to stage fresh off-Loop theater. For a long time, the theater was the home to a sit-down production of the comedy "Over the River and Through the Woods"; more recently, the theater scored a hit with the critically acclaimed "The Screwtape Letters."

Before: Get your fill of meat and wine at the BYOB Tango Sur (just make sure to get there early, as waits can be long).
After: Chill out with some brews at Toon's, or follow the crowds south to packed spots like Sopo.

Second City
If you care about comedy, you've gotta go where it all began, and this is ground zero for improv, having spawned legends like John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Stephen Colbert and more.
Before: Enjoy another Chicago classic with ribs at Twin Anchors. (Those less carnivorous might enjoy Perennial instead.)
After: Head over to Old Town Ale House; you'll likely see a performer or two there before long.

Steppenwolf Theatre
The always-surprising company behind this Chicago institution puts on any number of awesome productions on three stages in its Lincoln Park complex, from experimental world-premieres to classics for the kids.

Before: Visit Boka for a decadent dinner.
After: Keep the Chicago theme going with pints at Goose Island Brewery.

Going somewhere else? Use our Virtual L navigator to find a nearby bar or restaurant, or just ask us for a tip.


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Bars & Clubs

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Get divey on Grace; go downstairs at River North's Curio.

Food & Dining

New Restaurants

New Restaurants

Go Dutch at Vincent and satisfy a familiar sweet tooth at BomBon.

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  • Roscoe's Tavern
    $12 pitchers of Stoli Blakberi lemonade, $3 Off martinis and Manhattans, $3 off double cocktails, $6 frozen cocktails, $6 grape bombs, $2.50 bottles of Bud, Bud Light and Bud Light Lime
  • Mickey's
    $6 domestic pitchers