Whenever you’re downtown, you may find yourself working up an appetite, and if you want a little live music along with your food, head to Freedom Beat in Downtown Grand. The restaurant is a large cafe space with a long bar, booths and tables on the floor, a second raised area for more booths and high tops and even a stage. The stage is important in defining the restaurant and its cuisine as Freedom Beat brings in musical acts from local singer-songwriters to world-renowned guitarists.

The menu is designed by Chef Scott Commings, a winner of the popular food competition television show Hell’s Kitchen, who after his victory in season 12 took over the kitchen at Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill.

Commings’ goal with the cuisine at Freedom Beat is to both represent different areas of the U.S. and to match the wide range of musical acts the space attracts. He calls it “high-energy, fun food” and that means a lot of hearty dishes from different regions of the country.

For those in the mood for a patriotic breakfast, the Red, White and Blue Velvet Waffle is decorated in the colors of the flag, as a red velvet waffle is topped with cream cheese whip and blueberries.

If you’re looking for a cocktail to start, Hanky Panky is the cocktail of choice, with its combo of Aviation gin, sweet vermouth, Fernet-Branca and an orange twist all working harmoniously together.

Two appetizers that have that real American feel to them are the chicken-fried bacon and the hoppy ale and cheese soup. The former is as interesting as it sounds, taking a traditional fried chicken dredge and applying it to hunks of pork belly, then giving them a quick fry. The latter is a nod to Commings’ home state of Wisconsin with a blend of cheeses mixed with ale, creating a thick yet velvety soup. It’s topped with bits of pork belly and popcorn to bring in different textures.

From the sandwich section, you’ll want to try the double grilled mac and cheese. It might not sound like it makes sense, but the roasted chili mac is finished on the flattop, giving it an excellent, cheesy crust that sticks to the sourdough bread. It gives the diner both the gratification of a good gooey mac, and a hot sandwich at the same time. The hand-cut fries it comes with are high quality, too.

If a family-style meal appeals, you may want to try the Full Smoke platter, with brisket, pork shoulder, hot links and fries. On the lighter side of things, herb-marinated grilled chicken is packed with flavor both from the grill and the toasted pistachio pesto that tops it. A bed of delicious charred veggies sits beneath the fowl.

Finish things off with perhaps the most American of all dishes, skillet apple pie is an individual serving the familiar favorite. Vanilla ice cream comes on the side, and those who like the Midwest motif can add cheese on top.

Downtown Grand, 24 hours daily. 702.953.4343