There are a lot of places to visit in the West Loop. As we explained on your tour, we have just brought you through and introduced you to the Gateway to the West Loop so that you can feel comfortable exploring the neighborhood further.
Here’s a quick list of some must do’s in the restaurant scene (in no particular order).
Girl & The Goat (Top Chef winner)
809 W Randolph St
You might know the chef, Stephanie Izard, from Top Chef, where she won Fan Favorite. She’s won a James Beard award for Best New Restaurant, Food and Wine named her Best New Chef, and she won Iron Chef, among many other honors. She owns three restaurants here in the neighborhood. Girl and the Goat opened in 2010 and was one of the first restaurants in this corridor that really got the buzz going. Girl and the Goat features an eclectic menu of family style dishes with global influence.
Au Cheval (Bombtastic Burger)
800 W Randolph St.
Yes, the rumors are true: the single cheeseburger (which confusingly has two griddled patties) at this trendy diner really is next-level, and worth the inevitable wait to procure. Upgrade it with a couple slabs of thick-cut bacon and a runny fried egg for the proper yolk-and-grease-drenched effect, and revel in triumph — you just devoured one of the best burgers in America!
(837 W. Fulton Market)
One Off Hospitality (Big Star, Violet Hour, Avec, Blackbird) has their most popular restaurant, Publican. Publican has an eclectic menu which they call a homage to oysters, pork and beer. They’ve got simple farmhouse fare in a space setup to feel like a European Beer Hall. You can get Belgian-style mussels, seafood stew, house-made charcuterie, ribs, all the way to beef heart tartare. They’re very serious about local and sustainable. The decor has got a rustic charm to it. You eat at big communal tables. The atmosphere is lively and fun. I recommend it. And if you want just a quick bite on your lunch break, but you don’t want to break the bank…just head down the street from the Publican and hit up Publican Quality Meats…which combos as a butcher shop a bakery, a café, and a gourmet market.
(953 W. Fulton Market)
Have any of you been to or heard of Alinea? It’s over in Lincoln Park and is rated one of the top restaurants in Chicago and basically the world. In the West Loop there’s another restaurant from the Alinea group called Next, which is all about what’s next, literally. They change their prix fixe menu every four months. They won the James Beard award for Best New Restaurant in America in 2012, and Next is regarded as one of the 50 Best Restaurants in the World. Give them a try.
Lena Brava/Cruz Blanca
900 W. Randolph St.
Rick Bayless is probably Chicago’s best-known chef. He won Bravo’s Top Chef Masters and he hosted a cooking show on PBS for years. He has nine different cookbooks, and has won a handful of James Beard award winners. His first restaurant, Frontera Grill, in River North, serves up some an excellent assortment of regional Mexican cuisine. Lena Brava, which means “ferocious wood,” has cuisine inspired by the seaside region of Baja California Norte – live-fire cooking and world class wines. It’s a great spot for seafood. And right next door they have Cruz Blanca, a taco and beer joint inspired by Mexico’s Oaxaca region, which features wood-smoked meats on tostadas and in tacos. Cruz Blanca also has a small brewery on site, so definitely try one of their house beers if you go.
Green Street Smoked Meats
If you like BBQ, Green Street Smoked Meats is the spot for you. The vibe is Very-Cool-Chicago-Warehouse. It’s set up almost cafeteria style, where you grab a try and stand in line for the delicious…the smells of Central Texas BBQ waft up to your nose the second you enter. They serve a killer brisket, as well as chicken legs, pork belly and short ribs. Two can’t miss dishes – the frito pie – a mix of goodies literally in a big bag of fritos, and their elote style corn is worth the visit itself.
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