1. Bavarian Grill
Bavarian Grill is consistently ranked by Zagat and other foodie websites among the finest German restaurants in the United States, which alone is enough to make people visit from across the country. We have a feeling the music has something to do with the popularity too.
Five nights a week, Bavarian Grill hosts live German musical acts to accompany cuisine from Deutschland. You may soon be inspired by accordion music to dance an impromptu polka. Or maybe cheer for a full German brass band. Or just relax and dine to the sounds of a professional yodeler.
2. Box Garden at Legacy Hall
The Box Garden is the new kid on the block, but just like many of the hippest groups in history (The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Spice Girls), there’s a phenomenal energy in the youth of this venue. Centered in the courtyard at Legacy Hall, the Box Garden is designed to house more than 1,500 music lovers; it comes complete with five bars, a barbecue joint and a shaved ice stand.
To top it off, the stage faces the food hall’s outdoor dining areas. Appropriate ticket-holders will be able to watch concerts from the second and third floor balconies while feasting on new favorite food hall finds and imbibing local microbrews from in-house Unlawful Assembly Brewing Co. Denton musician Sarah Jaffe headlined its opening weekend and the venue has since hosted the Peterson Brothers and Polyphonic Spree.
3. Café Bohemia
If the name didn’t give it away, Café Bohemia is the type of place you go for a cup of joe and a casual strum. This cozy cafe is about as free-wheelin’ as Dylan, and invites local guitarists in every Tuesday and Thursday for jam sessions, writers every second Saturday for a songwriters’ workshop and vocalists on the first Friday of every month for open mic night.
Every Friday and Saturday evening promises some kind of local entertainment, even if it’s a comedy show (and almost all events are family friendly, as Cafe Bohemia is an alcohol-free zone). Even if you aren’t jamming, you’re welcome to stop by, no cover, and listen to what happens when people are given the agency of music.
4. Courtyard Theater
Downtown Plano’s Courtyard Theater is the most storied of our local musical venues. The building itself was originally erected as the Plano High School gymnasium 80 years ago. In 2001 the building was restored and transformed into a theater. The blood, sweat and tears that were once spent by student athletes are now the byproduct of a constant influx of local and national music acts.
Dozens of nationally known musicians have performed at the venue as part of the Courtyard Texas Music Series, including Terri Hendrix, Max Stalling, Jason Boland, Hayes Carll, Reckless Kelly and Jonathan Tyler. This season Plano welcomes Bri Bagwell, The Texas Gentlemen and more.
5. Love and War in Texas
Even the name of this venue evokes the romance and grandeur of the state. Fans of country music will not be disappointed. Love and War in Texas is Plano’s contribution to a long lineage of pedigreed music halls (think Floor’s Country Store or the once-great Texas Hall of Fame in Bryan), which are famous for gathering up-and-coming talent, making people famous and welcoming back musical heroes.
This summer alone, Love and War in Texas will host Two Tons of Steel, Radney Foster and Max Stalling, to name a few star acts. But Love and War is also a stomping ground for new groups, and every Monday night local music legend Mark David Manders even hosts an open-mic songwriters anonymous group.
6. McCall Plaza
Anyone who’s ever been to the Downtown Plano Arts District (perhaps to one of the Art and Wine Walkspresented by Plano Magazine) has probably spotted the open-air stage at McCall Plaza. In the past two years since it was built, the stage at McCall Plaza has hosted such varied acts as flamenco dancers, a mariachi band, 80s music sensation Tone Loc and Dallas’ own The O’s.
As one of the true cultural centers of Plano, and in one of the most visited areas in town, McCall Plaza is unique in being one of the most accessible venues for the entire family. Bonus: most of the shows here are completely free.
7. Taverna Rossa
Taverna Rossa is the music venue to choose when in the mood for a chill session. It comes complete with artisan pizzas (try the Smokey Pie), local craft beer (think Community, Peticolas, Lakewood) and house specialty cocktails.
Musical acts here, just like the food, are carefully curated, but non-pretentious. You won’t walk in on any dance party bands. Instead, look for singer/songwriter acts or bluesier bands that pair well with a cabernet and a slice of pizza. Regulars include The Bodarks, Chant Duplantier and Lindsay Hightower Band.
8. The Ginger Man
Looking for that classic neighborhood bar vibe as seen on TV (Cheers, How I Met Your Mother, the Simpsons)? Pull up a stool at The Ginger Man at The Shops at Legacy. With more than 100 international, domestic and local brews on tap, this is a draft-lover’s pub paradise.
Every Thursday, The Ginger Man features live music from local musicians. If there’s one thing better than a few favorite brews, it’s a soundtrack provided by neighbors and friends.
9. II Brothers
II Brothers, pronounced “two” brothers, is a home-cooking and sports bar hotspot with an interesting theme: brothers. Featuring pictures of the Allman Brothers, Jonas Brothers and Manning Brothers, along with national and regional sports memorabilia (we’ve spotted the Plano Senior High Wildcats logo in a few places), the restaurant is welcoming and familiar. Nothing says “come on in” like a little music.
This is also the sort of place to go for the food but stay because an unknown guitarist just played acoustic renditions of Tom Petty, The Wallflowers and Garth Brooks without missing a beat. You want a big name performer? Not gonna give you one. That’s not the deal. Just show up on open mic night and see what happens. Or check out the other type of band that commonly comes to II Brothers, the ever-popular cover band.
10. Urban Rio
Downtown Plano’s Urban Rio is the delectable Latino cousin of our other favorite “urban” joint, Urban Crust. Urban Rio is a fine spots to grab tamales, tacos and specialty cocktails (June’s refresher was Tropic Like Its Hot). It’s also a great place to catch regular weekly jams.
Every Wednesday through Saturday, Urban Rio hosts local musicians. Which makes this downtown favorite the perfect place for A-major margarita and a few good songs along the way.