13 Great West Loop Restaurants

Chicago’s West Loop is a vibrant restaurant mecca.  Randolph Street alone is known as “restaurant row.”  I have eaten and imbibed in most of the places in this neighborhood and some stand out more than others.  Below are my picks for 13 Great West Loop Restaurants, in no particular order.

*Click on the restaurant names for more information and directions

1.  Girl & The Goat – I have been enjoying Chef Stephanie Izard’s fantastic culinary skills, since before she competed on and won Bravo’s Top Chef.  She continues to call Chicago “home” with this kick-ass restaurant.  I absolutely love everything she touches.  While Chef Stephanie loves her some goat, there is a wide array of other tasty proteins here from which to choose.


Chick pea fritters at Girl & The Goat

Chick pea fritters


2.  Bar Siena Chef Fabio Viviani (another extremely popular Top Chef alum), opened this more chill and rustic sibling to his superstar restaurant, Siena Tavern.  While everything here from brunch, lunch and dinner is wonderful, I must insist you get the sausage and peppers sandwich. It’s the best I’ve had outside of NYC.  Oh, don’t forget some hand-pulled gelato and bomboloni (Italian, filled doughnuts.)



Fabio Viviani's Bar Siena

Hungry yet?


3.  Embeya – One of the sexiest spots in Chicago and one of the best Asian restaurants I’ve visited here to date.  The green curry as well as the green papaya salad are “must-haves.”



Embeya's menu

Tofu in green curry sauce


4.  Salero – Chef Ashlee Aubin (Wood) – is serving up modern Spanish cuisine which focuses on the Basque region.  He’s got you covered with everything from pintxos (small bites) to tapas to main dishes.  You absolutely do not want to miss dessert here.  The churros and flan are phenomenal.



Salero West Loop



5.  Avec – Executive Chef Paul Kahan (Nico Osteria, Blackbird and The Publican) is a legend in Chicago.  I recentlyb stopped into Avec for lunch, after a long time away.  Wow!  It was incredibly delicious. The menu changes but if you can get the mouth explosion that is the charred sweet potatoes with pomegranate seeds, cipollini onions, tahini and mint, do it!



Avec's lunch meu



6.  La Sirena Clandestina – This cozy Brazilian-inspired restaurant has a seaside feel and Chef John Manion is turning out lovely small plates.  So many great things to choose but I suggest you include their baked empanadas and ceviche as part of your meal.  



La Sirena Clandestina

Refreshing ceviche



7.  Swift & Sons – I’m not convinced that Chicago needed another huge steakhouse but, at least, this one is paying homage to the titans of the cattle trade in the historic Fulton Market.  Chef Chris Pandel (Balena) is at the helm.  It’s a beautiful, sprawling space with a pretty tasty burger and some great desserts.



Swift & Sons burgers

Love the carmalized onions!



8.  Cold Storage – Tucked neatly in  the side of Swift & Sons is this recently opened seafood bar.  If you love shellfish towers, this place has you covered.  I loved their housemade gravlax with beet horseradish.  They also have housemade hot sauces which are worth a try.



Seafood at Cold Storage

Don’t forget to try all 4 hot sauces at Cold Storage!



9.  Bar Takito – This colorful, modern taqueria with some shared plates has live music on Thursdays and Flamenco dancers on Friday.  That’s a party!  I really appreciate the different flavored tortillas that Chef Dworshak makes.  The popcorn butterscotch mousse is a must-do for dessert.



Bar Takitos' tacos


Bar Takito Chicago



10.  Little Goat Diner – Chef Stephanie Izard does it again with this total “comfort food” diner with huge portions.  There is even a separate bakery/bar in the back with it’s own entrance.  I love the fish tostadas and homemade soups, like this creamy butternut squash.



Little Goat Diner Chicago

Butternut squash soup


11.  Formento’s – This old-school, Italian-American restaurant is one of the latest additions to the West Loop.  It’s an elegant and comfortable space which is paying homage to some very specific traditional dishes that other restaurants seem to have forgotten like relish trays and clams casino (one of my all time favorites and way better than any baked clams).  I loved these summer squash blossoms stuffed with mascarpone cheese and ‘nduja vinaigrette.  So light!



Squash blossoms at Formento's

Squash blossoms filled with house made mascarpone cheese and ‘nduja vinaigrette



12.  Sepia – Visiting Sepia is always a delight.  The space is beautiful.  Everything is great but I particularly love all the seafood options.  Don’t forget dessert, they are quite lovely as well.



Sepia in Chicago



13.  Saigon Sisters – If you love Vietnamese food, this place is for you.  It’s a family-run spot turning out steaming hot bowls of pho, banh mi and much more.  They also have an outpost in Chicago’s French Market around the corner.  Yum!



Tofu pho at Saigon Sisters


Shrimp banh mi sandwich at Saigon Sisters


So there you have them.  13 Great West Loop Restaurants.  How many have you tried?  Do you have a favorite restaurant in the West Loop?  I would love to hear all about it!  Leave a comment and I’ll get back to you.

In keeping with the spirit of Feeding Off The Rails, I encourage you to leave your car at home and take the CTA Green and Pink Lines to these “13 Great West Loop Restaurants.” Save on gas.  Avoid traffic, road rage and parking. Reduce pollution. Don’t drink and drive!