welcome to ROOSEVELT ROAD - THE VELTWAY -
Roosevelt Road is an entertainment and dining destination with nationally known live music venues like FitzGerald’s Nightclub and Wire and juke-joints serving up everything from country and rock to jazz and blues. Dine no matter what you’re craving from Michelin-rated to hometown eats.
Roosevelt Road, Berwyn’s Broadway
Just over one hundred years ago, Roosevelt Road was a newly renamed 12th Street, dedicated in May 1919 in honor of President Theodore Roosevelt. Berwyn of the 20s was the fastest-growing suburb in Chicagoland. A large movie palace, The Ritz, opened in 1926 on Roosevelt as a cinematic sign of the times, and Berwyn’s growth.
While the Ritz is gone, Roosevelt Road maintains its reputation as Berwyn’s premier entertainment hub. Acts head here to play live music venues that all fall within just a few walkable blocks of one another. Each offers something unique, and together, they make what locals call The Beltway, a place locals and visitors alike flock. The true spirit of Berwyn is in full display at these venues, as each space champions one another to make this a know destination for live music – and it’s working.
Live Music and More
FitzGerald’s is TripAdvisor’s #1 thing to do in Berwyn, and for good reason. This legendary music venue—once a Bohemian hunting lodge of the 20s turned 50s nightclub—has been in its current incarnation since the 80s, with a successful transfer of ownership from the FitzGerald family this year. Known for its relaxed vibe and rich musical variety including zydeco, country, swing, folk, and bluegrass, patrons appreciate room to dance and plenty of table seating, with much easier parking than downtown venues. The equally beloved Sidebar connected to FitzGerald’s provides another small music venue known for its Young Artist Open Mics with cozy seating and great cocktails.
The Friendly Tap, a very appropriately named watering hole that opened in 1937, hosts live music as well. In recent years, it has evolved and expanded into a multi-pronged offering of music, school, coffee, and bar, The Friendly Tap, Friendly Coffee Lounge, and Friendly Music School create all-day, family-friendly community gathering places. Beyond evening live music and cold drinks, folks hang on Saturday mornings, work there during the day, or bring kids to a music class or program. The Friendly Tap also hosts live band karaoke and stand up comedy.
Four local music professionals came together in 2013 to open The Wire, a much-anticipated newcomer to the Berwyn music scene. Beyond performances, the Wire is a center for music innovation and education, offering recording studios and instructional classes. During shows, an extensive beer menu highlights local craft breweries, and a knowledgeable staff is known for spinning up creative cocktails. Every detail from the acoustics to the lighting to the site lines to the stage creates a state-of-the-art music experience space and phenomenal guest experience. Beyond live music, the 16th Street Theater is a critically-acclaimed option for live performances from some of the area’s best playwrights.
Before or After the Show
With world-class music and theater options dotting The Veltway, you can be sure phenomenal eating and drinking abound as well.
For an experience rivaling the best restaurants in Chicago with a wonderfully relaxed, neighborhood feel, Autre Monde Café & Spirits is a must. From a chef’s tasting menu to a phenomenal brunch, an exciting, seasonal menu of creative farm-to-table Mediterranean fare shines from this scratch kitchen. A three-season patio provides a quiet oasis off Roosevelt Road.
Capri Ristorante is a longtime popular spot adjacent to FitzGeralds. The rustic setting and consistently excellent service enhance the traditional Italian cooking. Satisfying Old Word flavors and generous portions ensure no one leaves hungry. One faithful patron calls it the epitome of a neighborhood spot, something Mama Capri would surely be pleased to hear.
For seriously delicious street-style Thai fare, look no further than Bodhi Thai Bistro. An expansive menu includes vegetarian and vegan options galore. The restaurant’s wood-filled interior is incredibly calming, and the BYOB option appreciated. For intrepid eaters, ask about the secret menu of favorites.
Quick Bites, Day or Night
Premier dining destinations make for a great date night. After a long night of music, or for a convenient lunchtime option, Roosevelt Road has you covered.
By listening to customers and developing a robust menu with homemade sausages, fresh ground burgers, ribs, gumbo, and delightful dipping sauces, Big Guys Sausage Stand earns awards and loyal diners. Known for making food filled with flavor and love and called deliciously creative by fans, file away that Big Guys also offers catering for events.
Italian beef lovers all over Chicagoland know Buona Restaurant. Popularized in the 20s, the preparation of thinly slicing the meat helped feed more guests at weddings and pirates. In 1981 the Buonavolanto family brought Italian beef to the suburbs. Over three generations and expanding to dozens of locations, Berwyn is the proud headquarters for this much-loved provider of hearty food. While the menu has expanded, the Italian beef stays true to the original.
DiNico’s Pizza & Gelato offers 24 access to pizza for any daytime or late-night cravings. Customers rave about their stadium pizza, great for a crowd.
For delicious traditional options this side of Little Italy, stop by Rachel’s Cafe. Called a hidden gem, this neighborhood spot opened in 2018 and has two desserts that get plenty of attention— their tiramisu and homemade chocolate chip cookies.
Hot summer days and nights bring the crowds to Gina’s Italian Ice. Beyond classic Italian ice that makes the “Chicago’s Best” list, their menu also includes sundaes. Generations of local families make Gina’s a regular summer night stop, and former Berwynites are known to drive in to enjoy a favorite flavor like lemon and watermelon. See if you can spot someone you know on the photo wall while you enjoy a sweet treat. Remember, it’s cash only, so come prepared.
More than Music
Chicago may have its beloved brownie smell. In Berwyn, it’s the scent of bread. For over fifty years, the Turano Baking Company has provided authentically European breads to markets and restaurants. With its national headquarters on Roosevelt Road, you get to enjoy that delightful scent. And, you can pop into Mamma Susi’s Bakeshop for a fresh-baked treat and a free cup of coffee when you spend $5.
While a night out on the town dining at a favorite spot and listening to live music sounds fantastic, there’s plenty to do during the day on Roosevelt Road, too. Since the 1940s, Dan’s Bike Shop’s three generations of family owners have helped kids and adults find the right bike, and keep their bike in good repair. Known for a knowledgeable staff and helpful service, Dan’s Bike Shop also stocks all manner of cycling accessories from gear to clothing.
Hyfaluten is a boutique with a distinct collection of clothing and accessories. Many patrons would say the unmentionables at Central Foundations, offering the finest undergarments, are well worth mentioning.
With a booming music, dining, and shopping scene, there’s a palpable energy about Roosevelt Road. A streetscape improvement plan invested millions into making it an even more enjoyable area for residents, visitors, and touring musicians alike.