The best Chicago Loop restaurants
Consider this expansive Loop food hall a collection of the city's best neighborhood eats under one roof. An impressive 15 food vendors include The Budlong with fried chicken, Union Squared with Detroit-style pizza, Aloha Poke with fish-filled bowls and The Fat Shallot with stacked sandwiches. Stop by for a quick bite or a leisurely cocktail—there's something for everyone with plenty of seating to make your next lunch stop an enjoyable one.
Meet The Gage's little sister, Acanto, offering a casual but quality dining experience on Michigan Avenue. Start with a cheese plate, which comes with an array of accompaniments, before moving onto well-executed pastas, fried artichokes and tender octopus. End with the smoothest, creamiest gelato in town.
With a falafel joint on every corner, the Loop is competitive territory in which to open a Middle Eastern restaurant. Fortunately, Naf Naf (which has locations in the suburbs) is a veritable lion, a place whose creamy falafel, juicy chicken shawarma or crispy chicken schnitzel can easily go head-to-head with any existing quick-serve spot in the city. The secret to the success: exceptional condiments and the just-out-of-the-oven pitas (rolled and baked on site).
For years, Everest has lived up to its name for those looking for a lavish experience, and in the process it has become the pinnacle of high-end French dining in the Windy City. Atop the Chicago Stock Exchange, it is still the height of elegance, with views of the rooftops that made the city famous. The menu offers carefully executed dishes such as roasted rack of lamb, foie gras and poached halibut, each given some sort of Alsatian flair or French accent. If you’re looking for fancy, you found it.
Tucked behind the Game Room in the Chicago Athletic Association, Cherry Circle Room used to be where club members refueled. Now that it’s open to everyone, the kitchen turns out gorgeous dishes like a seasonal risotto, grilled Spanish octopus with almond romesco and king crab spiked with sweet corn. A roving cocktail cart serves drinks and ice cream concoctions to finish off the meal.
Small-batch artisan cheeses are cut to order at this friendly, well-stocked wine-and-cheese shop. The place is attitude-free, and menu items, like the Nut N’ Chutney sandwich of spiced almond butter and cranberry chutney on cracked wheat bread, are perfect for a quick lunch in one of the handful of seats on the outdoor patio and Spanish cheese plates (with Mahón, rosemary Manchego and pata cabra) are perfect for a picnic.
Whether you're looking for a pre-theater snack at the bar or a new weekend brunch option, The Dearborn has you covered with its versatile menus and sprawling dining room. Go casual with a burger and fries or turn things up with rich options like beef short rib, veal sweetbreads and gnocchi and octopus. Just be sure to save room for dessert—the proper banana split is divine.
Owner Billy Lawless nailed the gastropub with this Mag Mile hit. The whiskey list is lengthy, beer options reach beyond the basics, and wines are accompanied by clever, straightforward descriptions. The food is rich and aggressively flavorful, from the perfect-for-snacking Scotch egg to the Gage venison burger, served a juicy medium-rare and dripping with pickled onions and gouda.
Lunch isn't a snore at Brightwok Kitchen, where build-your-own bowls are the main attraction. Choose your sauce (Thai basil, creamy cashew, golden miso and more), base (rice, noodles, greens), protein (chicken, steak, tofu, veggies) and vegetables and top it off with 'shrooms, a crispy egg or caramelized pineapple. The menu is gluten-free, dairy-free and peanut-free, making it a vibrant option for health-conscious folks who don't want to sacrifice taste.
There's a lot going on at Cochon Volant, so follow along: This Loop restaurant offers weekday breakfast, lunch, dinner, weekend brunch, bar bites and a full cocktail and wine menu. Get the full experience at dinner, when you can order signature plates like chicken liver and foie gras mousse, pommes frites, orecchiette with country pork ragu and a selection of dry-aged steaks. If you haven't figured it out already, Cochon Volant isn't for the calorie-conscious—plan to splurge.
A classy choice for the symphony set and couples looking to indulge, this institution proves excess is best. Slide into a cozy booth and start the assault with classic borscht, sour cream–slathered dumplings and caviar blini. Follow up with creamy beef Stroganoff or oniony, nutmeg-laced, ground beef–stuffed cabbage rolls. Finish up with hot farmer’s-cheese blintzes or Klara’s apricot-and-plum strudel, a family recipe. Be sure to order a flight of house-infused vodkas (horseradish, black currant tea, coriander and more).
After a long day at the office, Roanoke beckons with happy hour deals on wine, hearth oven pizzas and an endless supply of starters. We're particularly fond of the griddled jumbo lump crab toast with avocado and the southern fried chicken served with fresh-baked biscuits and chipotle honey.
If you're looking to impress a client or take advantage of having mom and dad in town for the evening, Prime & Provisions is worth your consideration. The posh, new-age steakhouse specializes in beef, hearty sides, decadent desserts and strong drinks. It's worth noting that there's a special gluten-free menu available, so no one feels left out.