700 S. Wabash Ave.
Chicago Illinois 60605United States
Downtown's most prestigious blues venue has bigger digs now, with clear acoustics and decent sightlines, plus a menu with Southern flavors.
The vibe at the new Legends is similar to the downtown-blues-club feel of the old Legends, which guitarist Buddy Guy ran from 1989 to 2010, just down the street. The new venue's a bit bigger, but the walls are still dotted with photos, guitars and blues memorabilia. Unless you show up early in the evening, it can be tough to get a table near the stage (or food service, for that matter). There's plenty of standing space in the 500-capacity first-floor music room, however. If you're tall enough, you can see the band from just about anywhere in the room. (And if you can't, check out the televisions scattered around the club, showing a video feed of the concerts.)The sound is mixed well without being overpoweringly loud. Ranging from authentic old-timers to more generic bands, blues musicians play seven nights a week and at lunchtime on weekdays. Guy plays a string of shows every January, and don't be surprised to run into him inside the club on any given night. He sometimes shows up to sign T-shirts and CDs at the front counter.Two bars flank the stage, with a decent but not exceptional selection of beers. The second floor, featuring a bar and three pool tables, is a cool place for lounging, but the service can be slow, especially if you get in line to order a meal. Guy is a native of Louisiana, so it's no surprise that his kitchen serves mostly Southern and Cajun dishes, such as po' boys, jambalaya, gumbo and touffe, along with ribeye steak, chicken and burgers. If you're looking for something to munch on, try "Buddy's Bucket" -- a sampler of crispy appetizers, including crawfish tails, chicken wings, catfish, okra and fries. Sandwiches are around $9, and entrees range from $13.95 to $21.95. The main attraction is music. Chicago doesn't have as many blues joints as it did when Guy came to the city in 1957, but he's keeping the tradition alive with a venue that feels friendly whether you're a longtime blues fan or a newcomer. The cover charge varies from $10 on most weeknights to $20 or more for big-name acts.