Above: The main stage at the Chicago Magic Lounge in Chicago

Where the Magic Happens in Chicago

The first trick of the Chicago Magic Lounge was its most impressive: transforming a commercial laundry building into a stylish cocktail bar and theater. This year-old venue is reason alone to visit the Andersonville neighborhood, a formerly Swedish enclave that’s now home to a cluster of appealing independent restaurants, brewpubs, home décor stores and the compact Swedish American Museum.

The laundry-area entrance to the Chicago Magic Lounge - Steve Hall/ Hall+Merrick

No reservations or tickets are necessary to enjoy the bar, where a magician performs card tricks and other close-up magic, usually accompanied by ridiculous puns. The cocktails are almost all delicious — I’m particularly fond of the strong and bittersweet Dark Arts, mixed with rye, Cynar, cherry liqueur and black strap rum. (But I was disappointed by my spouse’s Gift of the Magi, which came garnished with a half-brown rosemary sprig.) Even if you don’t see a main-stage show, it’s absolutely worth stopping in for a nightcap at the bar if you’re in the neighborhood (say, having dinner at Brass Heart).

Close-up magic at the Chicago Magic Lounge - Photo by Hideaway Report editor

Advance tickets are required for the shows in the main theater, which has cabaret-style seating. If you prefer not to share a table with another couple, opt for front-row seats, which are at tables for two instead of four. Shows start with a number of magicians wandering from table to table performing tricks as a warmup to the main act. We visited on a Wednesday to see “David Parr’s Cabinet of Curiosities,” but the Signature Show is equally fun. It’s also possible to purchase tickets to more-exclusive performances in the 654 Club after certain shows.

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