The West Loop is like the Disney World of neighborhoods when it comes to restaurants. In fact, there's so much going on that it was hard not to list every restaurant in the neighborhood and tell you to eat at them all. But just like Disney World, some rides are still better than others (It's A Small World > everything else).
With that in mind, we're here to help you sort through all of the restaurants in the neighborhood for the next time you need to make plans. In no particular order, these are the best spots in the West Loop to cover you for any occasion
Girl & the Goat is an excellent restaurant, but not for shock value reasons. It’s not great because it’s cheap, BYOB, or a 400 course tasting menu that will blow you away. Instead, it’s an eclectic menu of things done exceptionally well all of the time, which is hard to do. Make sure to try a few goat dishes.
Michelin stars are what’s hot in the streets these day, and Grace earned 3 of them in 2015. The fine dining tasting menu is great for any special occasion, just make sure it’s special enough for the $400 a person price tag assuming you get the wine pairing.
When all else fails, Avec. You can never go wrong here, and we encourage you to eat at Avec every now and then to remind yourself how reliable and great it is. New menu items keep the romance alive and interesting, but it’s the staples like chorizo-stuffed bacon-wrapped dates that keep us hooked.
Like Jay Z on his 2000 record The Dynasty, Monteverde has gone and changed the game. The pasta game, not the rap game. And not only for West Loop restaurants, but for any restaurant in the city. Monteverde can go toe-to-toe with the best of 'em, and even better, it's not that expensive. Order all of the pastas, which change seasonally but are always great.
Blackbird is the modern fine-dining Mafia Don of the West Loop. It was a crazy idea to open this place up in 1997, or at least that’s what the general public said. Blackbird is still chugging along though, and it’s always good for an elegant night.
Bar Siena combines a trendy crowd and vibe with familiar dishes. A heavy focus on pizza and pasta makes it a great place for food and drinks with friends. Post up at the downstairs bar with one or two other people, or gather a bigger group for a table upstairs.
We’d travel across town for this burger. Hell, we’d travel across the country for this burger. That’s how good we think it is. They don’t take reservations and waits can be a pain, but sometimes you just need to commit.
We admit that Tanoshii can be a bit sterile at dinner, but the sushi itself is good enough that we overlook it at times. And that’s all that matters here – excellent sushi. We suggest sticking to the basic stuff and mixing in a funky roll or two. The sushi chefs have a tendency to get carried away with truffle sauce if left to their own devices, so make sure to keep them in check.
Loud, cool, hip, and not always easy to get into – that’s High Five. The ramen bar is a sixteen seat basement restaurant below Green Street Smoked Meats, which makes it an awesome place but not always practical. We suggest hitting it solo to take in the experience, or make a night out of it with friends that includes drinks both before and after at Green Street upstairs.
A modern take on a traditional French brasserie, that’s what you’ll find at Maude’s. It’s a top choice for any Date Night and is sure to win you brownie points with whomever you take. We can’t promise you a successful date, but we can promise Maude’s is a step in the right direction. Save the fact you still sleep with your baby blanket for the next time around.
Texas BBQ meets West Loop warehouse at Green Street Smoked Meats. The entrance is in a somewhat mysterious alleyway entrance, and you instantly feel like you stepped into a hip but low-key warehouse party. The music is loud and the open, battered looking space is good for a number of occasions. Rather than argue the best barbecue styles, we’ll just argue that you should eat here and see for yourself.
The O.G. Italian sub spot in the West Loop, and the go-to move if you need a quick sandwich. The basic turkey is our favorite, but you can’t go wrong with anything. Give the special Mr. G a try if you’ve never had it.
Nonna’s is a modern version of J.P. Graziano, but the difference is they also offer hot subs. If you’re looking for something cooked like a meatball or chicken parmesan sub then Nonna’s is your spot.
Parlor is a quick return to college in the West Loop. It's not here because it has the best food, although the pizza is good enough, but because it's one of the most fun places you can eat. Come with a group, drink more Miller Lites than you know what to do with, and make sure to wash it all down with some pizza and cheesy bread. And yes, you’re washing the beer down with the food, not the other way around.
Forno Rosso sneakily slid into the West Loop and started serving some of the best Neapolitan-style pizzas in town. But no pizza sneaks by us, and this pizza shouldn't sneak by you either. That's why we're blowing up their spot. If you like thin-crust Italian style pizza, you're going to love what's going on at Forno Rosso.
Few things are more satisfying than a plateful of tacos and a couple of beers, which is what makes Cruz Blanca a great place. Downstairs, you'd think it was a casual and quick taco spot where you could grab some food and get out. But what you want to do is head upstairs where there's much more of a beer hall and party vibe.
People lose their sh*t when Rick Bayless grows a tomato in his backyard, let alone opens a restaurant in the West Loop. In this episode of Rick Doing Things, you'll find a nicer but not too fancy restaurant focusing on "fire and ice." And no, it doesn't mean there's a Dragons vs. White Walkers battle inside - we're disappointed too. But it does mean a menu divided into two distinct parts - cold dishes like ceviches and seafood salads, plus meats and veggies all cooked on an open flame.
The West Loop continue to churn out new restaurants, so it's easy to forget about the ones that have been around a few years. But don't do that to La Sirena Clandestina. It's intimate enough for date night, but fun enough that you can go with a couple of friends, and the Brazilian-inspired food is something a little different for a change. Caipirinhas are good too, especially at La Sirena.
The Publican is like a fancy European beer hall that serves a whole lot of meat, but also shows its softer side with a quality selection of oysters. It’s great for all occasions, so sit at the giant communal U shaped table and make sure to try a bit of everything.
PQM is a butcher shop, cafe, bakery, mini market, and even the private dining room for The Publican at night. But its best role is as a small and casual cafe from morning until early in the evening. With quality coffee, fresh baked bread, sandwiches, charcuterie, and more, PQM is the kind of place where seemingly simple dishes taste more complex than they sound. We attribute it to a Michael Jordan-esque mentality of perfection.
Next is the follow-up restaurant from the Alinea team, and while it’s not as ridiculous, it’s still not a normal restaurant. You have to buy tickets to one of the usually four different menus a year. Recent menus have ranged from “Bistro” to “Chicago Steakhouse” to even a recreation of "The French Laundry." Do a bit of research and plan a night around whichever menu sounds best to you.
Another brainchild of the Alinea team, but this one is basically the cocktail version of Alinea – crazy *ss drinks that are really expensive. But it’s something everyone should experience at least once, so plan ahead and buy yourself some tickets. Lay off the Bud Lights and be a sophisticated drinker for once, even if it’s just for show.
The Chinese restaurant follow-up to Girl & The Goat and Little Goat. Like everything in the Stephanie Izard goat empire, Duck Duck Goat is a cool and fun spot with an interesting menu and delicious food. The idea here is higher-end Chinese food that maintains traditional concepts with an interesting twist - think shrimp wonton soup with a blueberry base. And it's always a good idea to eat anything with goat in it.
Cold Storage is really just a classy oyster bar, and you'll want to post up at the actual bar and eat oysters the whole time. But all of the cooked items are good too, like clams with chorizo and an extremely affordable shrimp bahn mi. Your biggest challenge will be trying not to fill up on the delicious homemade chips they'll continuously put in front of you - we have a tendency to eat 1,000 too many.
The West Loop was missing a steakhouse, and Swift & Sons filled that void. It combines everything we like about a traditional steakhouse with everything we like about Fulton Market. That means great food, service, and action, all in a revamped warehouse space that once served more blue-collar needs. It's a great combination, which makes it one of our favorite steakhouses in town.
The newest restaurant from the Alinea squad is pretty awesome. Roister is their "casual" restaurant to rival the formalities at Alinea, but casual is a relative term. It's not casual compared to most other places, but it is a lot of fun. Feel free to go for the set menu starting at $85 or order a la carte, just make sure to get the chicken and a foie gras candy bar either way.
St. Lou’s, which dubs itself an old-school “meat and three.” Layman’s terms: St. Lou’s is a 1950’s-style cafeteria where you can order one meat (like prime rib or fried chicken) and add any three sides, one of which should always be mac & cheese. It's very casual, and we're very into the excellent patio out back.
Momotaro is basically the Japanese restaurant version of a three-level club, and most of the people are packed into the main floor that serves great sushi and small plates. There's also a more lounge-like izakaya in the basement, which is low-key a very cool spot. You should look like you're hitting the club after dinner, even if deep-down you know you're heading straight to bed.
Most of the good fried chicken spots in town aren't really places you sit and eat. They're better for a carry-out or delivery situation. But not Gus's. At Gus's, you want to take a seat, dine in, and enjoy your fried chicken and sides in their big Fulton Market space. Make sure to enjoy their full bar and pies as well.
How into super fancy, intimate, and elegant dinners are you? If the answer is very, then you won't want to miss Oriole. You'll get at least 15 dishes in a small but friendly 28 seat dining room. The menu is $175 per person (add on a wine pairing and you'll hit $300-plus a head) but it's worth eating Cup Noodles for a week (or three) to give it a try.