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 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.
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.)
3. Publican Quality Meats (PQM) – Chef Paul Kahan has done it again in the tastiest way with this laid back offshoot of The Publican next door. I love the casual deli vibe, succulent meats, fresh fish and hearty soups. The burger wars on Monday evenings are a fun competition between local chefs to show off their burger skills. Brunch here is super casual and quieter than other places in Chicago.
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.
5. Avec – Executive Chef Paul Kahan (Nico Osteria, Blackbird and The Publican) is a legend in Chicago. I recently 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!
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.
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.
8. Cold Storage – Tucked neatly inside of Swift & Sons is this recently opened seafood bar. If you love shellfish towers, this place has you covered. I loved their house-made gravlax with beet horseradish. They also have house-made hot sauces which are worth a try.
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.
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 its own entrance. I love the fish tostadas and homemade soups, like this creamy butternut squash.
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!
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.
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!
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!