West Loop Neighborhood Guide: Where to Eat, Drink, Park, and More

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The West Loop has all the makings of one of the trendiest neighborhoods in Chicago: new restaurants owned by famous chefs which seem to pop up every month, architecturally unique, luxury apartments, and high end retailers.

It’s a great neighborhood to spend the day exploring. You can splurge on mid-century furniture and gourmet meals or eat on a budget and window shop.

We’ve rounded up the best restaurants, bars, shops, and more, plus how to find affordable, convenient parking in the West Loop.

 

Where is the West Loop?

The West Loop is aptly named for its location, which is just west of the Chicago Loop.

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Where to Go in the West Loop

Planning a day in the West Loop? This map will point you to the best restaurants, shops, and more all within walking distance from one another.

 

Where to Park in West Loop

There’s abundant parking in West Loop. Once you know where you’d like to start your day, use this interactive map to find and book the convenient, affordable West Loop parking.

 

The Best Places to Eat, Drink, and Explore in West Loop

 

Where to Eat

Au Cheval ($$)
800 W Randolph St

Au Cheval makes the most decadent, juicy burgers you’ll find in Chicago. And surprisingly for a burger joint, they also have gluten-free and dairy-free options. Be prepared for a long wait on weekends.

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Girl & the Goat ($$$)
809 W Randolph St

Girl & the Goat quickly became a major Chicago hot spot after chef Stephanie Izard opened its doors in 2010. Featuring a welcoming, eclectic environment, the popular restaurant offers family style meals and a mean cocktail and wine selection.

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Just across the street, Little Goat Diner (below) and an adjoined bakery also offer amazing food from Izard at a more modest price.

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Green Street Smoked Meats ($)
112 N Green St

Green Street Smoked Meats is owned by the same group as Au Cheval. Strung lights, exposed brick walls, and long, family-style tables make for a relaxed atmosphere, and a good place to make new friends.

Make sure to check out their cocktail menu. It features the perfect southern-inspired drinks, like sweet tea with bourbon and a Peach Vodka Gimlet.

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Located underneath Green Street Smoked Meats is High Five Ramen, a small restaurant rumored to have some of the best ramen in town.

The Publican ($$$)
837 W Fulton Market

The Publican, owned by reputable Chicago chefs Paul Kahan and Cosmo Goss, serves only the best quality of pork and seafood. The hearty menu offers a seasonal rotation of meals, such as their famous chicken, grilled squid, and mussels.

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Fulton Market Kitchen ($$$)
311 N Sangamon St

Fulton Market Kitchen is as much an art gallery as it is a restaurant. On a weekly basis, artists use the restaurant as their studio space and create work right in front of you as you eat.

The menu features dishes that are meant to be shared, like glazed carrots with honey-whipped goat cheese and short rib ravioli.

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Formento’s ($$)
925 W Randolph St

Formento’s opened February 2015 and quickly became one of the most popular Italian restaurants in Chicago, making the hot list of every major local publication. The dining room is retro with a modern glean and the food is classic and cooked to perfection.

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The Allis at Soho House ($$)
113 N Green St

The Allis is located on the first floor of Soho House, an exclusive club for creatives founded in London. The swanky bar and restaurant serves brunch, snacks, dinner, and a afternoon tea. It’s a great spot to walk in and enjoy a quick drink or snack if you’re spending the day in the West Loop.

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Also on the first floor is the Chicken Shop, which serves rotisserie chicken and burgers.

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Want more? Check out these other top-rated West Loop restaurants (with convenient, affordable parking nearby):

Alhambra Palace ($$$)
1240 W Randolph St

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Mad Social ($$)
1140 W Madison St

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Kaiser Tiger ($$)
1415 W Randolph St

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Le Pain Quotidien ($$)
135 N Clinton St

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Parlor Pizza Bar ($$)
108 N Green St

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Nando’s Peri-Peri ($$)
953 W Randolph St

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Avec ($$$)
615 W Randolph St

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Cone Gourmet ($)
1047 W Madison St

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Where to Drink

Bottom Lounge ($$)
1375 W Lake St

Bottom Lounge is a popular music venue and bar that also serves your typical, hearty bar food. The two-floor bar with a rooftop patio makes it an ideal place to see shows year round and hang out in the summer.

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The Office (Exclusive bar at The Aviary) ($$$$)
995 W Fulton Market

The Office is an exclusive, small speakeasy located underneath The Aviary. The cocktails are unique takes on classics, typically costing $20 each. Go here for the experience, and be prepared to spend a pretty penny.

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Jupiter Outpost Cafe ($)
1139 W Fulton Market

Jupiter Outpost not only serves great coffee, but it also has a nice selection of breakfast and lunch fare, like egg burritos and veggie sandwiches. Heads up: it’s closed on Sundays.

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RM Champagne Salon ($$$)
116 N Green St

RM Champagne is the perfect bar to celebrate. Among their champagne selection, they also offer a full cocktail and wine list and dinner options. The restaurant itself is beautiful and cozy.

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Want more? Check out these other top rated West Loop bars and coffee shops (with convenient, affordable parking nearby):

Lone Wolf ($$)
806 W Randolph St

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La Colombe ($)
955 W Randolph St

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CH Distillery ($$)
564 W Randolph St

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Haymarket Pub & Brewery ($$)
737 W Randolph St

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Where to Shop

Shopping in the West Loop is about quality not quantity.

Here are five of the best shops to visit in West Loop:

1. Morlen Sinoway Atelier 
1052 W Fulton Market

What you’ll find: Unique and modern quality furniture and home decor

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2. Smitten Boutique
1047 W Madison St

What you’ll find: An adorable gift shop with knick knacks galore

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3. The Fig Tree
1037 W Madison St

What you’ll find: Another gift store that also has a great selection of toys for kids

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4. Live Grit
1010 W Monroe St

What you’ll find: You’re local bike shop with everything you’ll need for a great ride

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5. Open Books
651 W Lake St

What you’ll find: A cozy bookstore with affordable prices and many nooks to spend an hour or two reading.

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Festivals in West Loop

Chicago is hotbed of summer street fests, and West Loop hosts some of the city’s most popular.

Here is a list of the top 4 festivals in West Loop:

1. Randolph Street Market Festival

  • When: May
  • Where: Beaux Arts Plumbers Hall at 1340 West Washington
  • What is it? “Vintage, Antique, Indie Designer, Global Goods, Fancy Foods”
  • How much? $8 for General Admission and $10 at the gate
  • Insider’s tip: Bring cash. While some vendors accept credit cards, many don’t. There’s an ATM at the event if you need it.

2. Taste of Randolph Street

  • When: June
  • Where: 900 W Randolph St
  • What is it? Local music (check out the 2016 lineup), meals, and artisinal foods
  • How much? Suggested $10 donation at entrance

3. West Loop Art Fest

  • When: September
  • Where: Washington Boulevard, between Aberdeen and Halsted Streets
  • What is it? Food, music, and art, such as paintings, glass, ceramics, photography and jewelry
  • How much? Suggested $10 donation

4. Pitchfork Music Festival

  • When: July
  • Where: Union Park
  • What is it? A 3-day, mid-size festival with major headliners
  • How much? $65 per day, or $165 for all three days

 

Did You Know?

West Loop wasn’t seen as a popular or appealing area until a couple decades ago, when trendy restaurants started popping up. Since then, the neighborhood has grown exponentially. And it makes sense that the popularity of fine and trendy dining remains present and continues to define West Loop.

 

Neighborhood Resources