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Alla Vita dining room
Photograph: Anthony Tahlier Photography

The 23 best West Loop restaurants

From an old-school sandwich joint to the city's top fine dining destinations, these are the best West Loop restaurants

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Written by
Morgan Olsen
Contributor
Samantha Nelson
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Once the center of the city's meat packing industry, the West Loop is home to some of the best restaurants in Chicago, boasting some of the city’s biggest celebrity chefs and most elaborate tasting menus alongside affordable spots for sandwiches and fried chicken. Coveted real estate on "Restaurant Row" (or farther north in Fulton Market) can turn over fast, meaning that you'll typically find some of best new restaurants in Chicago opening their doors in the area. It's best to arrive at West Loop restaurants with a reservation, but if you're on the list for a walk-in table you can always explore the best bars in the West Loop while you wait.

The best of the city under one roof

We've rounded up the best chefs in the city to join us at Time Out Market Chicago, a culinary and cultural destination in the heart of Fulton Market. The 50,000-square-foot space houses 18 kitchens, three bars and one drop-dead gorgeous rooftop terrace—all spread across three floors. Our mission is simple: Bring the pages of Time Out Chicago to life with the help of our favorite chefs, the ones who wow us again and again. You'll find delicious barbecue from chef D’Andre Carter at Soul & Smoke, Mini Mott's delicious burgers, fried chicken from Cleo's Southern Cuisine, creative ice cream from Shawn Michelle's and much, much more.

Best West Loop restaurants

  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • West Loop
  • price 3 of 4

Chef and owner Joe Flamm combines his Italian heritage with the bright flavors of Croatian cuisine at this Fulton Market spot named for his grandmothers and the herb native to both countries. You’ll feel like you’ve taken a trip to the Mediterranean sitting amidst the restaurant’s pale stone and blue tiles while dining on a seasonal menu of shellfish cooked on a custom charcoal hearth, housemade pastas and grilled meats. Pair your meal with a glass from the wine list, which emphasizes bottles from Italy and the Balkans, or a Golden Negroni made with Croatian pear brandy.

  • Restaurants
  • Contemporary American
  • West Loop
  • price 3 of 4

Chicago is home to oodles of fine dining experiences—from big names like Alinea to relative newcomers Smyth and Elske. But no foodie's checklist is complete without a meal at Oriole, chef Noah Sandoval's small restaurant that's plastered with old concert flyers. The multi-course tasting menu—which costs $285 in the dining room and $325 at a kitchen table—is filled with clever, beautiful, indulgent bites that allow guests to be swept up in the experience. If you don’t have the cash to splurge on the full menu, you can reserve a spot in the eight-seat lounge and order a ham sandwich and one of Julia Momose’s cocktails.

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  • Restaurants
  • American
  • West Loop

Vegas Chef Prizefight winner Lamar Moore recently took over as head chef of Eleven Eleven and changed up its menu to add Southern flavors and an emphasis on wood-fired cuisine, with dishes like shrimp ‘n grits with chicken sausage and dry-aged prime ribeye served with shishito pepper sauce. Visit for happy hour to take advantage of $8 cocktails and half-price select bottles or wine or come for brunch and try Moore’s signature buttermilk biscuits served with housemade jam.

  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • West Loop
  • price 1 of 4

The old school vibe at this corner shop isn’t manufactured—the Graziano family has been doing its thing here since 1937. While it’s hard to go wrong with any of their sandwiches, the Mr. G—prosciutto, salami and sopressata, with biting aged provolone and marinated artichokes tucked into crackly-crisp bread anointed with hot oil and truffle mustard vinaigrette—claims house specialty status for a reason. Just be prepared to wait for your order, because the lunch rush is a very real phenomenon here.

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  • Restaurants
  • American
  • West Loop

Housed in the former Checker Taxi building, El Che Bar is Chef John Manion’s Argentine steakhouse, a love letter to his time traveling throughout the country. Locally sourced vegetables, grilled meats and whole seafood are cooked on custom-built grills and chapas in an open hearth. Menu standouts include grilled oysters topped with smoked onion aioli and bacon, quail served with red chimichurri and the Parrillada platter, which includes chorizo, sweetbreads, sirloin cap and marrow bone.

  • Restaurants
  • Mediterranean
  • West Loop
  • price 2 of 4

There are a few things you should know before visiting Avec. First and foremost: Prepare to give up any notion of personal space upon entering. The cozy, always-packed, Mediterranean-skewing West Loop restaurant offers communal seating and shared plates (fear not—you don't have to share with your neighbors). Whether it's your first visit or your 15th, you must order menu mainstays chorizo-stuffed medjool dates and the "deluxe" focaccia with taleggio cheese, airy ricotta, truffle oil and fresh herbs.

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  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • West Loop
  • price 2 of 4

The latest project from the Boka Group and Chef Lee Wolen (Boka) takes over the former home of Bellemore, serving Italian dishes in an ornate space where diners sit under an arched pergola draped in greenery or flowing sheets of fabric that hang from the ceiling. You'll find crispy arancini, salads, homemade pastas, pizzas, meats and veggies on the menu—including Wolen's signature chicken parmigiana, topped with fire roasted tomato sauce and buffalo mozzarella. Lesser known Italian and West Coast Italian wineries are the focus of Alla Vita's bottle list—and there are cocktails (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic) for those who don't need a glass of red or white with their meal.

  • Restaurants
  • American creative
  • West Loop
  • price 4 of 4

John Shields and Karen Urie Shields’s two-for-one special in the West Loop offers elevated tasting menus upstairs and the city’s best burger (yeah, we said it) in the dark, sultry basement. Talk about a winning combination. Here's your game plan: Hit the Loyalist on any 'ol Friday night for patties and a cocktail, and save Smyth for a very special occasion.

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  • Bars
  • Wine bars
  • West Loop

Situated below The Publishing House B&B, the 1920s-themed spot leans into the speakeasy feel by hosting regular cabaret shows and cigar events. The tiny kitchen cranks out top-notch eats to pair with their lengthy wine list, including steak tartare with egg yolk jam, scallops with bacon marmalade and shishito peppers served with pickled chilis. Those looking to chit-chat the night away over bottles should order a cheese and charcuterie board that includes jamon serrano, aged gouda and housemade pickles.

  • Restaurants
  • West Loop

Be forewarned: A trip to Proxi will undoubtedly leave you wanting more. It’s not that the menu is lacking; on the contrary, it’s rife with so many tough decisions that you’ll have to book a second visit to try it all. Tempura elotes or soba noodle salad? Khanom krok or yellow curry custard? Braised pork belly or smoked lamb chops? It’s not for the indecisive, but Proxi has officially landed on the short list of restaurants we’d gladly frequent every weekend if we could.

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  • Restaurants
  • Indian
  • West Loop

Traditional Indian dishes are made with local ingredients and modern cooking techniques at ROOH Chicago, which has made its mark on Randolph Street since opening in 2019. While the menu has plenty of noteworthy meat dishes like tandoor-smoked pork belly with fig and ginger sauce, it’s especially friendly to vegetarians and vegans with options such as sweet potato chaat with kale tempura. ROOH's well balanced cocktails incorporate ingredients used in Indian food such as persimmon, cumin and turmeric.

  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • West Loop
  • price 2 of 4

Sarah Grueneberg left Spiaggia to open her own restaurant in 2015, and while she brought along the masterful Italian techniques she honed there, she left the fine dining trappings on Michigan Avenue. Monteverde is warm and welcoming, making it ideal for an indulgent date night. It'd be a crime to visit and not try the housemade pastas—from spaghetti with roasted tomatoes to potato-filled zlikrofi with fresh shaved truffles. Balance out the meal with a few piattini (small plates) and stuzzichini (snacks); just be sure to save room for dessert.

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  • Restaurants
  • American
  • West Loop
  • price 2 of 4

Diners come to this megaproject from Paul Kahan for three things: to sample the massive list of brews while basking in the golden-hued, beer hall–like space; run through the current roster of impeccable charcuterie and oysters; or begin their weekend days with arguably the best brunch in town (think waffles with honey butter and jam and thick slabs of housemade bacon).

  • Restaurants
  • Contemporary American
  • West Loop
  • price 3 of 4

Sepia has become a bona fide West Loop stalwart for elegant dining. The warm and sophisticated room is a destination for dishes like duck breast with plum, sunflower seeds, fennel and chamomile—not to mention a cocktail and wine program that sets the bar for Chicago. Combine the best of both by attending a four-course dinner featuring pairings from guest wine and spirit makers.

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  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • West Loop

Hailing from Lodi, Italy, Federico Comacchio helms the kitchen at Gioia Ristorante e Pastificio, showcasing a rotating menu of regional Italian dishes and housemade pastas including roasted hen ravioli with Tuscan kale and chickpea tagliatelle served with sea urchin and clams. The really hungry can order the Orecchia di Elefante for two, a breaded double veal chop served on a wood platter with roasted potatoes and arugula. Just make sure that you'll have enought room to sample the frozen tiramisu souffle paired with a glass of limoncello.

  • Restaurants
  • Steakhouse
  • West Loop

Executive chef Johnny Besch pays tribute to classic steakhouses of the 1950s while also offering some new twists on old indulgences with a menu including steak tartare with sriracha aioli, lobster bisque and steak frites with beef fat fries and bone marrow butter. The dining room also embodies the classic Hollywood vibe with chandeliers hanging over silvery pod-like booths perfect for a celebratory meal. For a taste of decadence without the full splurge, come for happy hour from 5-6:30pm daily, where you can enjoy $7 king crab deviled eggs and $3.50 oysters Rockefeller.

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  • Restaurants
  • Mediterranean
  • West Loop

The sister restaurant to Ēma in River North, Aba showcases chef CJ Jacobson's lighter style of Mediterranean cooking. The Lettuce Entertain You Restaurant features spreads and cold and hot mezze options including crispy short rib hummus, housemade stracciatella and crispy potatoes. Diners looking for substantive fare can enjoy slow-braised leg of lamb wrapped in eggplant and black garlic shrimp scampi. On the beverage front, expect summer-ready sippers like the Aloe? It's Me, a tantalizing blend of mezcal, aloe, green juice, lime and jalapeño.

  • Restaurants
  • Contemporary American
  • West Loop
  • price 3 of 4

If you need a break from the traditional (read: hoity-toity) fine dining experience, book a seat at Roister in the West Loop. There are no white tablecloths, the music is loud and you can totally get away with wearing jeans. Brunch is available, but you'll want to go for dinner, when you can fully appreciate the open-hearth kitchen and everything it has to offer. The whole chicken is a must for first-time visitors and includes perfectly braised, poached and fried poultry. Toss in an order of truffled cheddar rillettes and marinated hamachi ceviche, and you'll see what all the hype is about.

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  • Restaurants
  • Contemporary American
  • West Loop
  • price 2 of 4

Few Chicago restaurants possess the staying power that Girl & the Goat has been able to maintain since 2010, when it opened on Restaurant Row in the West Loop. It's still tough to nab a reservation at Top Chef Stephanie Izard's flagship spot (she recently opened a satellite location in Los Angeles), where diners can nosh on wood-grilled broccoli, goat empanadas, duck tongues and wood-oven–roasted pig face.

  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • West Loop
  • price 3 of 4

Boka Restaurant Group's (Boka, GT Fish & Oyster and others) foray into Japanese fare is a huge success, with a variety of elegant raw fish dishes and other classics of the cuisine. Favorites include wagyu beef skewers seasoned with Japanese sea salt and a garlic-ginger marinade and beef fried rice with maitake mushrooms. You can also opt to have the chef choose a selection of sushi for you and spice it up with a bit of freshly-grated wasabi.

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  • Restaurants
  • Soul and southern American
  • West Loop
  • price 1 of 4

A family-owned Tennessee fried chicken restaurant dating back to 1973 has grown into a franchise with 31 locations across 14 states, including two in Chicago. Head to Fulton Market for a plate of hormone-free, never frozen chicken fried in peanut oil and served with baked beans, slaw and white bread to help you handle the heat. The tasty Southern fare doesn't end there—make sure to try fried green tomatoes and sweet potato pie with a bottomless cup of sweet tea.

  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • West Loop
  • price 2 of 4

When temperatures drop, many feel the urge to escape to somewhere remote and exotic. After some boozy slushies in this hidden oasis under Green Street Smoked Meats, you can almost pretend you’ve been transported to a gritty basement ramen shop in Tokyo. Reminiscent of the cautioning one might find from a buffalo wing-centric sports bar, the menu features a stern warning of how spicy the soup can be—and spicy it is, but worth the momentary pain. If you can’t take the heat, you can still get the classic High Five Ramen with half or even no spice or you can opt for one of the milder bowls like the shoyu ramen.

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  • Restaurants
  • American
  • West Loop

Sure, this Lettuce Entertain You concept has locations all over the city, but if you're ever in the West Loop over the lunch hour, you'll find that the masses flock to Beatrix and the adjacent Beatrix Market for fresh, feel-good eats that actually taste good. Take a seat inside Beatrix proper for blackened halibut tacos, shrimp and sweet corn risotto or the Straight "A" salad, with arugula, avocado, Asian pear and asiago.

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