The Least-Awful Clubstaurants In Chicago

Get ready for some mediocre food with a side of untz-untz.
Cavernous dining room with rows of red tables and high ceilings and a giant multi-armed bodhisattva statue at one end

photo credit: Veda Kilaru

The mutant mashup of a nightclub and restaurant serves a very specific purpose—an educational opportunity about sparkler varietals and places to perfect your untz-untz-ing. If you accept that clubstaurants are not about great food or impeccable service, they can be fun places for your next birthday or bachelorette party. Sure, they’re all sort of awful. But the ones on this guide have at least one redeeming quality. Here are Chicago’s least-awful clubstaurants.



Fulton Market

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What To Expect: This West Loop Greek spot is known for TikTok-ready tableside preparations. If you love watching servers twirl napkins, be here at 11pm on the weekends for a ritual that also involves singing and waving sparklers to clubby Greek music. 

What’s Up With the Food: A selection of spreads are just fine, and the spanakopita is nice and flaky. Gyros prepared tableside are tasty enough, even if the dish is really just lamb shoulder that a server listlessly shreds with a fork.

Verdict: The food is hit-or-miss, but that’s not why you’re here. Come to Lyra if you love being surrounded by an absurd amount of wicker lampshades and some ouzo-fueled shout-talking.

photo credit: Veda Kilaru



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What To Expect: Costera likes to party: you can tell by the pounding bass bleeding onto the Fulton Market sidewalk and the liberal use of straw, palm trees, and basket lights inside. After 11pm on the weekends, this Tulum-themed clubstaurant gets even livelier when airplane-shaped trays full of shots and sparklers fly around. 

What’s Up With The Food: Al pastor is flambéed tableside and then fizzles into a jammy disappointment. You could do considerably worse at some other places on this guide, but stick to the just-fine tacos, a quesadilla, or one of the pastas. 

Verdict: The real draws here are the tasty fruit-forward cocktails and flame-topped margaritas.

What To Expect: Even if you’ve never stepped foot in a clubstaurant in your life, chances are you’ve heard of Tao. The sprawling, multi-level Asian-themed behemoth in River North has locations in NYC, Vegas, LA, and (inexplicably) central Connecticut. 

What’s Up With The Food: Most dishes are expensive and lean overly sweet or oily, and are slightly worse than what you’d get at a chain. The fruity, watery cocktails aren’t much better. And thanks to the work dinner that decided to do bottle service on a Wednesday at 7:30pm, you’ll probably have to wait a while for a refill as the staff halfheartedly parades around with sparklers and an LED sign. 

Verdict: A weekend visit to the club is perfectly fine, but dinner in the completely separate dining room isn’t good enough for a dedicated visit (and doesn’t guarantee entry into the main club anyway).

What To Expect: Sometimes it’s critical to sip flower-topped fruity cocktails and listen to a fantastic mashup of Mariah Carey and national treasure T-Pain. And you can do that at this small West Loop spot that’s more of a lounge and music venue, along with watching live performances, singing karaoke, or dancing during their all-day Sunday party brunch.

What’s Up With The Food: The surprisingly long Caribbean menu includes lots of fish and shrimp options, wings, and a solid jerk salmon wrap. Just be aware the tables are small and you may end up eating with a plate in your lap.

Verdict: Tribe is lower-key (at least before it turns into a club at 10pm) than some of the other places on this guide. But it’s lively enough for groups who want their go-to Thursday night Happy Hour meet-up to feature a live DJ.

What To Expect: Before 8pm, this massive Middle Eastern-themed clubstaurant in the West Loop is as sleepy as it is filled with Moorish decor. But at 9pm on Fridays and Saturdays, dinner comes with a side of belly dances and variety shows. An hour or two later, the multi-level main dining room turns into a dance party complete with strobe lights and a DJ.

What’s Up With The Food: Expect decent mezze and huge kabob platters piled high with rice. The expensive cocktails are fine too, if a little watery.

Verdict: Alhambra may belong in a grown-up version of Epcot, but it works well for big (and small) groups looking for dinner, entertainment, and some dancing all in one.

What To Expect: Moe’s in River North calls itself a Mexican restaurant, but it’s actually just a large bar that’s only open Thursday-Saturday nights. There are TVs, big booths, lots of tables, and a massive bar—perfect to host all 100 members of your alumni club until the furniture is cleared away and the place turns into a club.

What’s Up With The Food: It costs $13 for quesadillas that are like grocery-store tortillas microwaved with a slab of congealed cheese in the middle. But after enough margaritas, you won’t mind taking advantage of the $4 taco special even if the chicken tinga tastes freezer-burned.

Verdict: The music is good and the crowd is lively, so come here for a decent Happy Hour with just-fine drinks. But if you decide to stick around later in the night, when 2005’s Top 40 hits turn into Reggaeton, just subsist on guac and chips.

What To Expect: If revisiting the ‘70s sounds fun for a night out, check out Good Night John Boy. And thanks to multiple disco balls, TVs playing clips of Happy Days, and the general feeling that you’re drinking in your grandparents’ wood-paneled basement, this West Loop bar and club does a surprisingly good job with the time warp. 

What’s Up With The Food: The menu mostly consists of disco-era latchkey kid staples like french bread pizza that tastes like it was once frozen and TV dinners with sad mac and cheese. The gimmicky cocktails are better, like the “What’s Shakin” with tequila and lemonade.

Verdict: Skip the food and let yourself be hypnotized by the incredible (but very loud) sound system and a mood ring martini’s glittery swirl. Then head upstairs to the dance floor and live out your dancing queen dreams.

What To Expect: This Prohibition-themed underground spot in River North is probably better than most places that have three separate bars and a burlesque stage that later doubles as a DJ platform.

What’s Up With The Food: The menu, which leans vaguely Italian and American, is hit-or-miss. Stick to things like the lamb pasta, despite the offputting translucent cheese shavings on top, or sea bass (and don’t bother with the accompanying rice cake masquerading as risotto).

Verdict: Don’t come here specifically to eat. But if you’re looking for dinner and drinks with a show—whether that’s a live band or variety acts—or want to know what clubbing was like in the 1920s, keep Untitled in mind.

What To Expect: Gino & Marty’s is a buzzy Italian spot that’s also expensive, chaotic, and not very good. The dining room overflows with people waiting 40 minutes past their reservation time. And while the second floor operates as the club, expect confusing music (think: show tunes mixed with Chubby Checker hits) and plenty of sparklers to appear on the already crowded main floor. 

What’s Up With The Food: Prepare for an uninspired meal that takes way longer than it should, filled with overdressed salads, mealy pasta, and entrees like an overcooked $75 steak. 

Verdict: Come here if you want to see and be seen—and maybe participate in a raffle for a pair of Louboutins, which apparently happens here.

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