There is no shortage of bars near the South Loop Chicago apartments at NEMA to provide the setting for a memorable night out. But for a truly epic evening, fortunate residents of NEMA can turn to nearby spots where the live music and distinctive atmospheres elevate these Windy City establishments to legendary status.

M Lounge features live music every first Thursday of the month and DJ sets throughout the weekend. This fall, come for the live performances by Delivery Point and enjoy a Saint Germain Pear Tree cocktail, featuring pear vodka with Saint Germain liqueur. It’s a combination that’s as classy as it sounds — the kind of signature night M Lounge is known for. This also helps explain why it has become known as an inadvertent matchmaker, with at least 12 married couples who met inside its doors to its name. Husband-and-wife owners Reginald and MaryAnn Marsh are not necessarily surprised. They set out to create a space that felt both elegant and comfortable, and they ended up attracting a no-nonsense crowd with a love of music that has been known to include the likes of Angela Bassett and players from the Chicago Bears.

And then there is Buddy Guy’s Legends, a venue whose name speaks for itself as well as for its namesake — the blues guitar master who usually graces the stage for a series of shows in January. This blues palace is the kind of place people travel to Chicago for, and residents of NEMA can catch as many upcoming acts as they choose given its proximity to these South Loop Chicago rentals. This month, catch Mike Wheeler, a renowned blues singer and guitarist whose first time performing was with Muddy Waters’ pianist Lovie Lee. With the Chicago Blues Angels as the opening act, this is a show you won’t want to miss, offering an access point to the rich history of the blues in Chicago. With a full dinner menu, you can make a night of it with a catfish po’boy and a freshly poured pint.

To find the heart of the jazz scene in Chicago, look no further than Jazz Showcase, a venue that has been bringing the jazz greats to the Chicago stage since 1947. Coming to the club in September is vocalist Alyssa Allgood, a performer whose debut run at Jazz Showcase in 2017 was praised by the Chicago Tribune: “When she stretched phrases, elongated words, rewrote rhythms, and remade melody lines, you knew she was a jazz singer to the core.” Upcoming highlights also include Eric Schneider and Marques Carroll Quintet.

These are the kinds of venues that help define a city, and your life at NEMA, offering the best of Chicago culture and nightlife.