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Chicago Lyft riders love dining in the West Loop and traveling to university locales

The data reveals both usual suspects and surprises

Jeffy Mai
Written by
Jeffy Mai

There are numerous ways to get around the city, and rideshare apps are definitely one of the most popular. But where exactly do Chicagoans like to go the most? Lyft has shared data with Time Out Chicago about the top destinations around the city, from the best restaurants to top brunch spots, and it looks like riders are really gung-ho about eating out and, curiously enough, college-affiliated venues. These rankings cover the period between July 2022 and July 2023.

Of the top spots overall, which are determined by the total number of rides, Northalsted gay bar Sidetrack lands at No. 1. Dining is a big attraction—modern steakhouse Maple & Ash is No. 2, followed by a collection of West Loop restaurants, including Bandit, Aba, Federales, Lyra and Duck Duck Goat. Time Out Market Chicago—the Fulton Market food and cultural hub—also appears on the rankings. West Loop restaurants are some of the best in the city and it would take many trips to even scratch the surface of what the neighborhood has to offer so plenty of traffic is to be expected.

Looking at top tourist spots, out-of-towners are fond of staying at the Royal Sonesta Chicago Downtown Hotel, placing it first. Kasama, the Filipino hotspot in West Town that draws lines down the block, comes in at No. 4. Its ascendance since opening in 2020 has earned it a Michelin Star and an appearance on FX's hit television show The Bear. Of course, no visit to Chicago would be complete without trying its most iconic foods so usual suspects like Pequod’s, Portillo’s and Giordano’s are all in the top 10.

Lyft’s ranking of the top local spots from riders who typically take most of their trips in Chicago is filled with a variety of bars. Whether it's late-night dives or cocktail havens, Chicagoans seem to enjoy a good watering hole as Woodlawn Tap, Estereo, The Empty Bottle, Sleeping Village, Joe’s on Weed St. and Lottie’s Pub all crack the top 10. Some of these establishments double as music venues, making them extra inviting. But in somewhat of a surprise, Woodlawn Dining Commons, the cafeteria for University of Chicago students, is the most popular local spot according to the rideshare company. 

On weekends, everyone loves to brunch and the busiest place for it is at Fremont, followed by Bandit, Summer House Santa Monica, Aba and Happy Camper. Folks understandably need their caffeine fix, too—the Starbucks Reserve Chicago Roastery is the sixth most visited spot on Saturdays and Sundays from 9am-2pm.

Finally, riders are willing to go the farthest distances (within 20 miles) to get to the Foster-Walker Complex, a student residence hall on Northwestern’s campus. Other “Worth Traveling Spots” include the aforementioned Royal Sonesta Chicago Downtown hotel, The Promontory and Irish pub Cork & Kerry at the Park, which is located near Guaranteed Rate Field and a beloved gathering point for White Sox fans before and after games. 

Curious about where else people are going? Check out more of the data below.

Chicago spots most popular with Lyft users:

Chicago's top spots for tourists using Lyft:

Chicago brunch spots most popular with Lyft users:

Chicago's Lyft users' top spots worth traveling to:

  • Foster-Walker Complex
  • Drink
  • Royal Sonesta Chicago Downtown
  • 200 E Touhy Ave
  • Promontory
  • LSG Sky Chefs
  • Promontory
  • Royal Sonesta Chicago Downtown
  • Cork and Kerry
  • 115 Bourbon Street

Chicago's local haunts popular with Lyft users:

Chicago's fastest-growing destinations among Lyft users:

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