Living in Plano in the 90s felt like being in cool-kid limbo; all the good concerts were in Dallas, but they were way too far away to attend and still make it back by curfew. The last few years, Plano’s grown up along with us. Forget driving out of town. Plano’s local venues cater to every type of music in every corner of the city. All so close, you can stay out late—even on a school night.
Here are our top 10 places in Plano to hear live music (in no particular order):
A place that’s not fancy—just fun—and they like it that way. Amid the cozy lights and deer-antler chandeliers, Taverna Rossa’s intimate stage plays host to washboard-playing bluegrass bands, twangy rock acts and everything in between every Friday and Saturday night. With 24 taps featuring unique and local brews (including root beer!), and enough handcrafted cocktails to please your Uptown friends, the family-friendly tavern truly has something for everybody. Plus, it’s tough to pass on Late Night “Hoppy” Hour Friday and Saturday, starting at 9pm, featuring discounts on Texan-approved staples like meatballs and sausage queso. Yum!
LakeSide Market, 4005 Preston Rd., 75093
Urban Rio/On the Rocks
If you haven’t been east of 75 for a bit, you won’t know: Plano’s cool now. Cold, actually, partly due to places like downtown’s restaurant/patio bar combo, Urban Rio and On the Rocks. The restaurant features a worthy selection of Mexican-inspired dishes, and the bar’s namesake attraction—its signature cocktails—are served alongside ice cold shots from frozen taps. Even better: the pair’s sister location, Urban Crust, is just a block away. Between the three, there’s live music almost every night of the week (with live performances Wednesday-Saturday at Urban Rio). Grab some grub on a Friday night, then take your drinks upstairs for an experience that rivals any Dallas rooftop bar.
1006 E. 15th St., 75074
The Ginger Man
Taps. Lots and lots of taps. They’re the first thing customers notice, as their eyes adjust to the mild darkness inside the cozy, inviting pub atmosphere of The Ginger Man. Given the large selection of libations, it’s no surprise the bar’s namesake is the boozy, everyman title character of the 1952 novel by the same name. Located across from Sambuca 360, and with a decidedly relaxed atmosphere that stands in opposition to most its neighbors, The Ginger Man is anything but pretentious. Outdoors, the intimate, urban patio doubles as a stage that hosts blues, rock and the in-between every Thursday at 7pm—perfect for those who prefer to retire closer to dinner time than closing time. In warmer weather months, the patio hosts daytime shindigs as well.
Shops at Legacy, 7205 Bishop Rd., Suite E1, 75024
Plano’s got its very own mega-venue, and you might have heard of it—the original Sambuca’s down in Deep Ellum, after all. But when was the last time you went to Sambuca360? Legacy’s one-stop dining and entertainment destination is the perfect place for dinner and a show. (And the show isn’t limited to just the band. The people watching is A+.) With a large stage, patio and two bars, Sambuca360 pulls the bigger names in town—like Emerald City and The Chris Weaver Band—which you can enjoy while knowledgeable bartenders school you on weird ingredients like elderflower liqueur and cherry bark bitters. Weirder still is how a place that holds just shy of 450 people can still feel intimate on date night, but it totally works. There’s live music literally every night of the week, and of course Thursday-Saturday can get pretty busy. So treat yo’self: The Skip the Line if you Dine deal (valid Thursday-Saturday) lets you past the velvet rope with no wait if you make a reservation after 9pm.
Shops at Legacy, 7200 Bishop Rd. #270, 75024
Love and War in Texas
Texas-themed and (appropriately) a little over the top, Love and War boasts local beers, music and down-home recipes from all over the state. A little piece of country history itself, the beer garden/patio has launched more than one music career (Miranda Lambert, anyone?). Though the entertainment’s a good mix of country, rock and blues, it definitely skews towards Texans’ tastes—live music Wednesday-Saturday features mostly local Texas artists with occasional celebrity guests. If you can manage to wrangle a utensil from the guy playing the spoons, try the campfire s’more sundae. It’s divine!
601 E. Plano Pkwy., 75074
Turkish Cafe & Lounge
What is a whirling dervish? Where can I get authentic Mediterranean food? How do you combine live violin with a laser light show? If you’ve ever had any of these questions, Turkish Cafe & Lounge is for you. Real Turkish flavors served alongside a variety of live performances make this hangout one of the few places in town where you can eat and be entertained without having to hop around to another venue. Enjoy belly dancers, DJs and even Latin music throughout the week. On nights with no musicians, you’ll still get a great live show of some sort. A hookah makes a nice after dinner addition to the ambiance of the patio, arguably the best and biggest in Plano, complete with a fountain-view and a huge deck.
8412 Preston Rd. #450 & #332, 75024
“Herzlich willkommen im Bavarian Grill!” reads a sign at the entrance, welcoming you to Plano’s award-winning Bavarian restaurant. Twice voted Best German Restaurant in America, and the current Highest Rated German Restaurant in Texas (now 8 years running), the Bavarian Grill’s definitely doing something right. What’s not to like? Traditional food and beer served by a staff that looks authentically Bavarian, a selection of 60 genuine German beers—always served in the correct style of glass—and live German music five days a week keep customers coming back. Ripe for a hangout in any season, the indoor/outdoor biergarten is the perfect place to enjoy genuine German entertainment like polka-playing accordion performers, yodelers and even the occasional 10-piece brass band. Drop by for dinner Tuesday-Saturday to enjoy food and entertainment more German than Heidi Klum.
221 W. Parker Rd., 75023
Did you know Plano has its very own landmark venue? Once home to the Cox High School gymnasium, the historic setting now holds a 321-seat theater that’s as intimate as it is beautiful, no doubt a perfect location for the weddings and church services it hosts on off-days. But at night, the stage comes alive with bright lights and lyrics from national acts and Texas’ best. Lots of famous names have graced The Courtyard Theater stage: Donny Most (of Happy Days fame) sang swing tunes in September, the Cancer Jam Benefit Concert rocked out cancer a few weeks ago, and even Hayes Carll dropped by in May. The theater also hosts its own concert series. Brought here by some of the city’s most notable citizens, the Courtyard Texas Music Series pulls some pretty big acts—including this year’s closer, Grammy-award winning singer/songwriter Rodney Crowell, who wrapped up the 2015 season on November 5th.
1509 H Ave., 75074
Eclectic and artsy, Cafe Bohemia’s welcoming “music listening room” environment invites you to drop by for a coffee and stay for a sandwich… or an art show, comedy performance, open jam session. Whatever flavor you like, Cafe Bohemia’s bringing creative energy to Plano in full force. Tuesdays and Thursdays, the cafe hosts group jam sessions for local musicians and anyone’s welcome to join. Live music on weekends is best viewed from a comfy sofa with a cream soda in hand. And shows are all-ages, so the kids can come, too—especially if they’re crafty, as owner Evie keeps the cafe stocked with lots of books and arts & crafts supplies for customers to enjoy. For extra hipster points, bring your bike—plenty of racks out front and a big selection of non-alcoholic drinks make two-wheeling it a solid choice.
2320 Los Rios Blvd. #105, 75074
II Brothers’ Grill and Bar
Holding it down right on the edge of Frisco, II Brothers’ has a good thing going. The food is tasty; the location’s great. The bar is always packed full with regulars—fitting, because it’s the kind of place where servers know you by name after the first visit or two. And oh yeah, beer. They’ve got that, too, with plenty of local, imported and seasonal draughts on tap. Weekdays and weekends feature a rotating schedule of live performers on stage: karaoke Sunday-Tuesday, acoustic performances on the patio Tuesday-Saturday, a DJ on Thursday, and a full indoor band Friday & Saturday. It’s the kind of place where cover bands rule, and people aren’t too pretentious to dance and sing along.
8308 Preston Rd. #198, 75024
There are so many good places in Plano to check out live music, we had a hard time choosing just 10. What venues do you think we should have included? Let us know in the comments section below.