Although it's just three months old, The Optima (1252 N. Wells St., Old Town) feels like a longstanding neighborhood spot for live music. The bar's dimly lit ground floor features a large wall papered with concert posters and related fliers that makes it appear like a well-worn music venue. This tribute to rock 'n' roll serves as backdrop to the performances The Optima does host every weekend: from bands to DJs, emerging musical talents entertain patrons from a small balcony that overlooks the main space.
Unlike a concert hall, the setting here is pretty laid-back. The narrow room shelters a few tables and recessed leather booths to sink into, as well as a fireplace that adds a cozy touch. Music venues often have backrooms, though, and here, a surprise awaits on the second floor. Dubbed The Marquee, this lounge features banquet seating where you can order bottle service. It's a much ritzier area than the hall below—a place to go when you want to truly feel like a VIP.
Here's what we saw when we stopped by: