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Photo via Windy City Paws

Visiting Chicago? If you’ve already been to the Beanmuseums and Navy Pier, try something new and step off the beaten path and into one of the city’s 77 unique neighborhoods. 

Each has one-of-a-kind places to shop, eat and explore. Need a little guidance? No problem.

 

This week’s spotlight: West Loop

 

Summary: The West Loop neighborhood on the edge of downtown has transformed from a gritty industrial district to a trendy neighborhood that houses new condos, authentic food in Greektown and the city’s “restaurant row” on Randolph Street.

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(Map Via Neighbors of West Loop)

Food

 

Au Cheval | 800 W. Randolph St.

It’s claim to fame is the burger — a local favorite that’s made national, best-of lists. Come hungry — and be patient, as the wait can stretch two hours or more. On the plus side, you can leave your number with the host, grab a drink nearby and get a text when your table is ready.

Au Cheval in Chicago, IL. Photo by Kevin J. Miyazaki/PLATE

 

Santorini | 800 W. Adams St. 

The white stucco walls aim to mimic the Greek Islands. Go out on a limb for the octopus, or keep it classic with a chicken kebob, just be sure you end the night with baklava. 

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The Corned Beef Factory | 1009 W. Lake St.

The menu is short and simple — six sandwiches packed with fresh-cut meat. Try the reuben and homemade chips — and be sure to bring cash.

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High Five Ramen | 112 N. Green St.

The tiny little ramen house is one of a kind, and it’s spicy! Pair a fruity, slushy, fruity cocktail with the classic High Five Ramen to tame the heat. Try the Shoyu bowl if you’re in the mood for something milder.. 

high 5 ramen

 

Girl and the Goat | 809 W. Randolph St. 

Years after opening, a table can still be hard to get at “Top Chef” winner Stephanie Izard’s West Loop hot spot, where offerings include pork shank, goat empanadas and the famous pig face. For diner-style food, head across the street to her newer eatery, Little Goat.

girl and the goat girl and the goat 4

Blackbird | 619 W. Randolph St.

Whether you drop in for the $25.00 prix fixe lunch menu or stop for a a nice dinner and a cocktail, this elevated southern cuisine is sure to make you one happy customer.

blackbird 4 blackbird

Lou Mitchell’s Restaurant | 565 W. Jackson Blvd. 

Snack on sugar-dusted doughnut holes while you wait. Unsure of what to order? Try stacks of “meltaway” pancakes or the sweet, rich apple-and-cheese omelette.

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Nonna’s Sandwiches & Sundries | 925 W. Randolph St. 

If you had an Italian grandmother, these are the sandwiches she would make. The meatball or chicken parmesan sandwiches will hit the spot, and likely leave you messy.. 

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Green Street Smoked Meats | 112 N. Green St. 

People line up for this traditional barbeque served cafeteria-style in a dim, bistro-lit room. Try the pork belly and brisket, one of the well proportioned sides (corn or macaroni salad) and a craft beer on tap. 

green street green street 2

(Photos: Thomas Y. and Amy K.)

 

Sweets

Cone Gourmet Ice Cream | 1047 W. Madison St. 

Cone is a family operated establishment with an Irish flair that’s found in Guinness, Bailey’s and Jameson-flavored ice creams. Soft serve options include the Shamrock, topped with Lucky Charms cereal.

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Night Life

 

Bar Takito | 201 N. Morgan St. 

Tacos and margaritas are the staple at Bar Takito. Come enjoy the Maria Madarina or Mouthful of Diamonds and other drink favorites!

tokito bar tokito bar 2 tokito bar

 

City Winery | 1200 W. Randolph St. 

Live concerts, small plates and a deep deep deep wine list make for a great way to spend the night in the West Loop.

city winery

 

RM Champagne Salon | 116 N. Green St. 

The entry may be a bit hidden, but inside, you’ll find a beautifully romantic atmosphere full of bubbly, oysters and fancy cheeses.

RM champagn  rm 3

Photos Saba A.  

Haymarket Pub & Brewery | 737 W. Randolph St. 

On the waitlist at Au Cheval wait? Walk across the street and try one — or several — of its house-made beers, such as the Tyranena Hop Whore or the Chimay White

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CH Distillery | 564 W. Randolph St. 

CH Distillery makes its own vodka, which makes every sippable concoctions unique. Try the classic favorite or the Meet Your Matcha. 
CH_Interior_Restaurant CH-Distillery-Cocktails

 

The Aviary | 955 W. Fulton Market

This top-notch cocktail lounge serves some of the swankiest, most creative drinks in town. Try the In The Rocks, where you use a slingshot to crack open an iceball to get to your drink.

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(Photos via Michelle S. , Christopher V. and Willis C.)

 

Activities

 

Randolph Street Market | Randolph Street 

Enjoy the works of over 200 vendors through the summer (from May to September) along Randolph Street. Check its website to see if there’s a market during your visit. 

randolph street

 

Greek Town | 306 S. Halsted St. 

Experience the authentic culture through Greek Town’s restaurants, shops and spirit.
greek town

 

*All photos credited to company websites unless otherwise noted.