So you've gotta get to Gotta Dance? Well, you've gotta eat, too—and the area of the Loop surrounding the Bank of America Theatre tends to be friendlier for weekday work lunches than a nice night out. To help you out, we've assembled some suggestions for the best restaurants in the Loop for dinner before the show, brunch before a weekend matinee, a cocktail after the final curtain and a few more fun things to do in the neighborhood.
For a drink after the show
The gastropub is an ideal spot for the last drink of the night—the whiskey list is lengthy, beer options reach beyond the basics and wines are accompanied by clever, straightforward descriptions.
Alpana Singh’s huge Michigan Avenue restaurant has solid food, but the master sommelier also offers an epic wine list.
For dinner before the show
Located inside the Hotel Burnham, the sleek, newly remodeled café serves American dishes like an apple salad with crispy prosciutto and pork shoulder with bacon broth and pickled mustard seeds.
The comfortable Italian restaurant has great views of Michigan Avenue, and great pastas, all made in-house by chef Chris Gawronski. Try the duck egg spaghetti.
For elegant Spanish tapas, head to Mercat for grilled seafood, cured meats and an array of thoughtful veggie dishes.
Brunch spots before a matinee
The Chicago Athletic Association may be historic, but the new flagship restaurant is delightfully fresh. Case in point: French toast with quince and mascarpone and corned beef and duck hash with salsa verde hollandaise.
The adorable patisserie serves lighter fare for brunch: think custardy quiches, ham-lined biscuit sandwiches and an array of French pastries.
It’s hard to beat the views of the skyline from this restaurant at the Art Institute—unless we’re talking about the food. Try buttermilk-thyme biscuits with house-made gravy and challah French toast with nectarine compote.
More things to do in the Loop
You could spend days at the Art Institute and still not have enough time to take in its incredible collection, but it's one of the best ways to spend an afternoon in the Loop. "The New Contemporary," which opens December 13, the same day Gotta Dance begins performances, includes the museum's largest gift ever: 44 pieces of contemporary works by the likes of Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and Jasper Johns.
This 24.5-acre park, one of the city's prime destinations since it opened in 2004, features Frank Gehry's Pritzker Pavilion and serpentine bridge; sculptor Anish Kapoor's 110-ton Cloud Gate (a.k.a. “The Bean”); and Jaume Plensa's Crown Fountain, with its ever-changing array of locals' faces spewing water every five minutes in the summer months. The Lurie Garden wows with year-round flower displays and monthly garden walks.
The view from the top of the Sears Tower (yeah, we still call it that), the second-tallest building in the U.S, allows you to see as far as 50 miles out—and when you step out onto The Ledge, 1,353 feet straight down. Along with 360 Chicago at the John Hancock Center and another observatory coming soon to the Aon Center, the views of the city and Lake Michigan are stunning all around.