Chicago Dining Ideas – The Loop, River North, Ravenswood, Evanston

People who live in great big cities yet never leave their neighborhood to dine out baffle me. Culinary meccas like Chicago have a multitude of food establishments from pizza to tacos to fine dining establishments all around town which you should be exploring. The easiest way to navigate Chicago’s food scene is to

ride public transit, to avoid traffic, parking, road rage.  What’s more, is that you will be doing your part do reduce pollution and D.U.I.s.  Below are Chicago dining ideas in The Loop, River North, Ravenswood, and Evanston which are all accessible via public transit.

 

The Loop

 

312 Chicago 

This bright Italian restaurant is popular for business lunches and dinner.  Keep it on your list of Chicago dining ideas when you take in a show in The Theater District.

 

On a recent visit, I enjoyed a warm mixed mushroom and arugula salad with goat cheese and balsamic vinaigrette.

 

 

Chicago dining ideas 312 Chicago Theatre District

Warm mushroom and arugula salad with goat cheese and dates

 

 

For my second course, I chose the halibut over cauliflower puree, roasted cauliflower, olives, fava beans, spinach, and garlic.

 

 

 

Chicago dining ideas 312 Chicago The Loop

Halibut with Fava beans, spinach, cauliflower puree

 

(136 N. LaSalle – 2 blocks south and one block west of the Clark/Lake stop on the Brown, Orange, Green, Pink, Purple and Blue lines) 

 

 

River North

 

Sweetgreen

 

This organic, counter-serve salad chain opened its first location in Chicago this year.  I love this place because you can control your caloric intake while loading up on both cold and warm bowls of in-season greens, grains, and other healthful veggies.  

 

 

Chicago dining ideas Sweetgreen salads

‘Shroomami salad

 

 

My favorite menu item as this salad haven is the “‘Shroomami” bowl with a warm, marinated mushroom medley, raw beets, kale, sprouts, roasted tofu, spicy sunflower seeds and ginger-miso dressing.  All the salads are made to order, and you can choose how much dressing you wish to have.  What a healthy option in this meat-loving city!

 

(623 N. State St. – 2 blocks north of the Grand stop on the Red Line)

 

 

Taco Joint

 

I am updating my existing list of Chicago’s Best Tacos to include Taco Joint in the River North neighborhood.  The menu at this place is large, and the tacos are a generous size compared to other spots in Chicago.  Also, they have some of the freshest guacamole in the city, so don’t forget to order some of that on the side.

 

 

Chicago dining ideas Taco Joint River North

Freshest guacamole in Chicago!

 

I enjoy the different pork tacos here such as the crispy pork belly al pastor with lots of pineapples and the Mole-Q carnitas with confit pork shoulder, Puebla-style BBQ sauce, avocado slaw, and toasted sesame seeds.

 

 

Chicago dining ideas Taco Joint menu

 

 

 

Chicago dining ideas Taco Joint River North

Pork belly al pastor

 

Taco Joint also has a fabulous vegetarian tortilla soup made from a pasilla chilis, and their house salad with a lemon-serrano dressing is lovely!

 

(158 W. Ontario – 2 blocks north and two blocks west of the Grand ‘L’ stop on the Red Line)

 

 

Ravenswood

 

Ampersand Wine Bar

 

The north side of Chicago has some great dining options, and Ampersand Wine Bar is a lovely addition to this established neighborhood.

 

 

Chicago dining ideas Ampersand Ravenswood

Roasted asparagus with Bearnaise sauce

 

 

Chicago dining ideas Ampersand Wine Bar

Beautiful cod with olive tapenade, roasted tomatoes, fresh mint

 

This cozy wine bar has small and medium plates with ingredients that reflect the seasons.  I dropped by Ampersand last week for the roasted asparagus with a Bearnaise sauce and the super fresh cod with olive tapenade, roasted tomatoes, and mint.  Both dishes were winners.

 

(4845 N. Damen – 4 blocks north of the Damen ‘L’ stop  on the Brown Line).

 

 

Evanston

 

Campagnola

 

Evanston is a nearby Chicago suburb accessible via the ‘L.’  It is best known as the home of Northwestern University but, it also has some great restaurants.  Campagnola is located right near the Northwestern near Main St.  I stopped in for dinner the other night before an acoustic concert at SPACE.

 

I chose a high top near the window so I could absorb the last bits of daylight while I enjoyed some Prosecco to start my weekend off right.

 

 

Chicago dining ideas Campagnola Evanston

Arugula salad with fennel, Pecorino, Marcona almonds

 

 

Next up, I ordered the arugula salad with fennel, artichokes, Pecorino, Marcona almonds and basil oil.

 

 

Chicago dining ideas Campagnola Evanston Italian

Gnocchi with veal ragu, peas, Pecorino and sage

 

 

The gnocchi with veal ragu, peas, Pecorino and fresh sage was delightful!

 

(815 Chicago Avenue – 1 block south of the Main St. stop on the Purple Line)

 

I hope you enjoy these Chicago dining ideas which will give you a feel for the different neighborhoods in The Windy City.

 

I’d love to hear your Chicago dining ideas.  Do tell!

In keeping with the spirit of Feeding Off The Rails, I encourage you to leave your car at home and take the CTA trains and buses to get to these great Chicago restaurants in The Loop, River North, Ravenswood, and Evanston.  Save on gas. Avoid traffic, road rage and parking.  Reduce pollution. Don’t drink and drive!