The 6 Best Piano Bars In Chicago
By Chicagoist_Guest in Food on Mar 2, 2016 3:41PM
By Emilie Shumway
The definition of a piano bar can be a bit vague. Plenty of bars have pianos but don’t, in our minds, fall under into the category of “piano bar”—The Green Mill, for example. For the purposes of this list, a piano bar not only features a piano, but foregrounds it, and it alone, at least one night a week.
Since the local community of bar-performing pianists turns out to be small, piano bars rely on their atmosphere and culture to distinguish themselves from one another. Those listed below work just a little bit harder and offer something not easily found elsewhere.
The interior of the Tack Room.
Tack Room may be the newest addition to Chicago’s piano bar scene, but it makes a thoughtful statement. Tucked away inside the mini-township of the Thalia Hall property, Tack Room is the antidote for the piano-bar-turned-frat-party. Drinks are notable for their quality—not their size—and the ambiance is that of a lively Western saloon. Pianists take a seat every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night. No cover.
Tack Room is located at 1227 W. 18th St.
A cabaret piano bar, Davenport’s delivers show tunes, karaoke, sing-a-longs, and more. Attracting a mix of talented musical theater types (including most of the wait staff) and amateur lovers of the form, the piano and its accompaniment are more than a sideshow. Drop in on a Saturday night for the expertly comic Nitz & Howe Experience—one of Chicago’s longest running cabaret shows ($3 cover).
Davenport’s is located at 1383 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Yes, the grocery store. With its homemade candy display, oyster bar, and booze-while-you-shop policy, the chain has wormed its way into even the most resistant Chicagoan’s heart. But the real cherry on top is the piano bar, which lends an unexpected grandeur to the shopping experience. Stop in any given night of the week and you may be drawn to abandon your cart and enjoy a glass of piano-side Malbec.
Mariano’s has more than two dozen locations throughout the Chicago area.
via Zebra Lounge
Zebra Lounge, a Gold Coast mainstay established in the 1929, is known for its request-taking pianists who will play the gamut, from Sinatra standards to contemporary rap. With a speakeasy appeal—the bar is covertly located inside the Canterbury Court apartment building—the Zebra Lounge offers cheaper than average drinks (for the Gold Coast) and the gamest pianists seven nights a week.
Zebra Lounge is located at 1220 N. State Parkway.
via the Drake Hotel
Located inside the posh Drake Hotel, Coq D’or was the second establishment in the city to obtain a liquor license. It opened on Dec. 6, 1933—just one day after Prohibition was repealed. The combination bar/restaurant retains its historical verve, and you can eat a lobster roll on a dimly lit mahogany table while listening to live piano music every Friday and Saturday night.
Coq D’Or is located at 140 E. Walton St.
Howl at the Moon
Howl at the Moon caters to groups looking to celebrate—you’ll see at least one bachelorette party—and there’s a corporatized-fun feeling to the bar, but if you can get past the $10 cover charge and the wacky Bourbon Street-sized drinks, the dueling pianos do not disappoint.
Howl at the Moon is located at 26 W. Hubbard St.