Step inside the Chicago Theatre, and it’s easy to see why it was called the Wonder Theatre of the World upon its opening in October of 1921. Built as an upscale movie house, the theater felt influences from the French Baroque style, with a replica of the Arc de Triomphe above the marquee. Inside, the French influence continued with a lobby reminiscent of the Royal Chapel at Versailles and a staircase like that of the Paris Opera House. It’s hard not to get swept up in the immensity and grandeur of the theater.
After hosting a variety of live shows and film productions for decades, the theater closed in 1985, only to be purchased and remodeled the following year before reopening. The 3,600-seat venue now hosts a range of performers and productions. The theater reaches seven stories high, spanning nearly a half city block long and wide. Once seated, you have no shortage of intricate detailing and murals to enjoy while you wait for the performance to start.
The theater resides in the Loop district of Chicago. As the bustling downtown area of Chicago, you can always find action in the Chicago Loop. In addition to the theater, Loop attractions include Millennium Park, historic State Street and the Chicago Riverwalk, to name a few. The area also boasts amazing food options in almost any variety you can imagine. Whether you want a bite before the show or have a late-night craving after, check out our picks for the best places to eat near the Chicago Theatre to satisfy your hunger.
Best Donuts: Do-Rite Donuts
Have you ever rolled up to your favorite doughnut shop later in the day only to bite into a stale doughnut? You won’t have that issue at Do-Rite Donuts. They make their doughnuts from scratch in small batches, and they keep them coming out fresh all day long. They even serve up made-from-scratch vegan and gluten-free options. The shop stays open until 7 p.m., so you can satisfy your craving throughout the day. After all, there’s never a wrong time for a doughnut.
If you’re not in the mood for doughnuts, Do-Rite also offers breakfast sandwiches and chicken sandwiches. Everyone in your group gets something they want in one stop.
Best Bakery: Magnolia Bakery
For “Sex and the City” fans, Magnolia Bakery is a must before or after a show at the Chicago Theatre. The bakery originated in New York and became well-known after being featured on the show. Thanks to expansion from the original location, we get to enjoy the classic baked goods Magnolia is known for baking. Think rich cupcakes, creamy cheesecakes, silky icebox pies and assorted cookies, brownies and bars. With its wide selection, Magnolia has a treat for every sweet tooth in your group.
The vintage décor makes this a cute spot to get a dessert on theater day, and the fresh-baked goods are sure to please the palette of even the pickiest theater-goers. We recommend ordering extras to go. You’ll be glad you did when the craving for Magnolia hits later.
Best Breakfast: Yolk
Don’t let the name fool you. This upscale breakfast and lunch spot thinks outside the shell, offering a lot more than just eggs on its menu. That’s why it makes the list of best restaurants near the Chicago Theatre.
Yolk focuses not only on delicious, unique dishes, but also on the experience. Expect exceptional service at Yolk, the concept of Taki Kastanis, who grew up in the restaurant business. The first Yolk location opened in 2006 and has grown to include several locations. If this isn’t enough to convince you, consider the accolades Yolk has received: Citysearch.com Best Breakfast and #1 Breakfast based on Chicago Fox News viewers, to name a few.
Yolk is a breakfast and lunch spot that closes at 3 p.m., so visit early if you want to check out the innovative dishes. Several varieties of eggs benedict, skillets, frittatas and omelets top the breakfast menu. For a lunch date at Yolk, choose from creative soups, salads and sandwiches to fill your belly.
Best Steakhouse: Prime & Provisions
If going to the theater brings out the carnivore in you, check out Prime & Provisions. The large steakhouse offers amazing views of the city – one of the reasons the proprietors chose the location. Taking cues from the historical period of the building with modern detailing, Prime & Provisions doesn’t disappoint when you want a hearty meal.
This restaurant fully embraces the steakhouse heritage, going back to the roots with simple, classic meals and décor. Order a steak here, and you’ll get hand-cut, all-natural Prime Heritage Black Angus beef with no exposure to hormones, antibiotics or pesticides. The design is reminiscent of old-school supper clubs with a contemporary vibe.
If you like a cocktail with your steak, Prime & Provisions has you covered. Like the classic food menu, the drink menu sticks with classic cocktails, including old fashioneds, Manhattans and martinis.
Round out your meal with a cigar from the premium selection at the steakhouse. An outdoor smoking area lets you enjoy your cigar right away.
Best Old-School Diner: Lou Mitchell’s
It doesn’t get more old-school than a diner that’s been in business since 1923. Lou Mitchell’s is a Chicago institution, with numerous accolades and visits from celebrities. Countless magazines, newspapers and food critics recommend this diner as a must-see in Chicago.
Step inside this family owned diner to feel like you’ve gone back in time. The diner pays attention to the details, treating customers with the highest quality service and homemade food that you can’t find just anywhere. The orange juice is freshly squeezed, and the orange marmalade is homemade. That’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the culinary delights you can find at this diner. It’s like a small-town gem right in the middle of the city. Don’t overlook this option in the Chicago Theatre area.
Lou Mitchell’s serves up all the classics, but they are only open until 3 or 4 p.m., depending on the day, so get there early. Everyone who walks through the door gets doughnut holes, and women and children get a box of Milk Duds. It’s a fun little tradition that started in 1958 and still goes strong today.
Best Seafood: Luke’s Lobster
Dreaming of a trip to the shores of Maine? A stop at Luke’s Lobsters on your way to the Chicago Theatre makes you feel like you’re there, if only for a few fleeting moments. Luke’s Lobsters started in New York from an idea created by Mainer Luke Holden. After sampling the lobster rolls available in New York, he knew he could do it better. He ditched the overwhelming mayo and fillers found in most of the rolls to focus on the lobster, and it’s all served on a griddled, split-top bun.
What makes the lobster rolls from Luke’s Lobster so special – aside from the lack of fillers and mayo mask? The company uses only traceable, sustainable seafood directly from the source in Maine. That lobster is then processed in Maine at Luke’s seafood company before being bagged and sent to the restaurant locations. We’re glad Luke decided to bring his seafood to the Midwest with the Chicago Luke’s Lobster location. Delicious, sustainable lobster straight from Maine without leaving Chicago? Yes, please!
Best Barbecue: Blackwood BBQ
Blackwood BBQ proves you don’t have to go to Kansas City or Memphis to get mouthwatering barbecue. Imagine hand-rubbed beef brisket with a signature blend of spices and smoked for 15 hours. Even the mac and cheese gets four hours of attention before the homemade cheesy goodness hits your plate.
If the smoky barbecue flavor isn’t enough to tempt you, the quality products may. Blackwood BBQ sources its meat from farms it knows. It uses fresh meats, including pork without added hormones and antibiotics. Stop in before or after a show to get your barbecue fix right here in Chicago.
Best Pub: The Gage
Looking to make the most of an adult night on the town? The Gage is your best bet for a pub atmosphere when it comes to Chicago Loop restaurants. Serving food described as rustic American fare, the restaurant serves everything from house-made sausages and venison burgers to New England lobster rolls and roasted duck breast.
If the alcohol menu is of more interest, you won’t be disappointed. The Gage serves draft beer from a wide selection of breweries, including many based in Chicago. Don’t overlook the creative cocktail menu. While enjoying your libation of choice, take in the history of the building, which is a historic landmark. A favorite drink and a history lesson: The Gage is your one-stop shop on your theater night.
Best Burgers: M Burger
Not interested in the upscale scene? M Burger satisfies your craving for the classic hamburger. Nothing fancy. Just mean, bun and toppings. Think of it as fast food done better. It truly is a fast experience, so if you’re running late for your theater show and still need a bite to eat, M Burger is your go-to option. Pair your burger with classic golden fries for the full experience.
If beef isn’t your thing, M Burger offers chicken sandwiches and turkey burgers. Don’t forget to check out the secret menu. Hint: It’s really not a huge secret. Ask at the counter or watch for a pop-up on the M Burger website to see the options that don’t officially make the menu. Wash down your favorite burger or sandwich with a shake or float.
Best Cuban Coffee and Sandwiches: Cafecito
You can get a good cup of coffee at various spots around the city, but if you prefer the Cuban coffee vibe, check out Cafecito. This coffee shop and café is only open Monday through Friday and only until 6 p.m., so show up early if you plan to hit it on your way to the Chicago Theatre.
The menu at Cafecito includes fresh, natural ingredients that let the rich flavors of the foods shine. Named the best Cuban sandwich place in Chicago, Cafecito uses a homemade marinade on the meats, which go on the toasty, pressed sandwiches.
Pair your Cuban sandwich with your favorite Cuban coffee concoction for the full experience. If you’re partial to American coffee drinks, Cafecito still has you covered. Cappuccino, latte and espresso all make the cut on the drink menu.
Best Deli: Manny’s Deli
If you want a family run spot with a rich Chicago history near the Chicago Theatre, Manny’s Deli is your place. Spend some time scanning the photos, memorabilia and newspaper clippings that cover the dining room walls to learn more about the interesting history of Manny’s.
The Russian-born proprietor, Jack, specialized in Jewish cooking. His first location was previously a restaurant named Sunny’s, so he covered up the “Su” with “Ma” to turn Sunny’s into Manny’s. It fit, since he had a son known as Manny. In the beginning, Manny’s had a van that made deliveries and also picked up customers to take back to the deli for lunch. Once you learn these fun little facts about this family owned deli, you’ll enjoy your experience there that much more.
With a menu featuring salads, hot and cold sandwiches, soups and hot entrees, everyone in your party is sure to find an option that is tempting to the taste buds. This spot is only open until 8 p.m. and is closed on Sundays, so get there early if you want a taste of the rich deli offerings at Manny’s.
Best Pizza: Giordano’s
We saved our favorite category for last. The winner of best pizza near the Chicago Theatre goes to … Giordano’s. We’re not the only ones who say our pizza is the best. NBC, CBS Chicago, Chicago Magazine, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Eater and New York Times are among those who call Giordano’s the best pizza in Chicago. With locations throughout the city, you can find a Giordano’s nearby no matter what your plans include.
So what makes our stuffed pizza better than the rest? It starts with the history behind the pie. Efren and Joseoph Boglio landed in Chicago as Italian immigrants, armed with Mama Giordano’s recipe for Italian Easter Pie, a tradition around Torino, Italy. You can’t argue with tradition, as the millions of Giordano’s fans prove.
Sauce made from California tomatoes handpicked at the peak of ripeness bursts with flavor. The thick, double crust perfectly holds the mozzarella cheese and toppings. If deep dish isn’t your thing, opt for the thin or extra-thin crust, or skip the crust completely and order a salad, sandwich or fresh Italian dishes.
Stop in Giordano’s to enjoy fresh, hot pizza before or after a performance at the Chicago Theatre. Don’t want to wait around for your pizza? Order online and we’ll have the pizza ready to go for delivery or pickup. If you want to share the love, send frozen pizza packs to your friends and family who don’t live in Chicago.
Is your mouth watering yet? It’s evident that the Loop area near the Chicago Theatre boasts a range of noteworthy dining spots. Can’t decide among all of the tempting options? That just means you need to plan more trips to the Chicago Theatre and the Loop so you can try them all.