Where To Have Lunch In The West Loop
photo credit: Sandy Noto
There are so many restaurants in the West Loop that even some of the restaurants have restaurants. Like nesting dolls, or whatever was happening during Inception. But not all of those places are open for lunch—and nothing is worse than showing up at Rose Mary at at 1pm, only to realize that it’s only not-crowded because it’s closed. We don’t want this to happen to you, so we made this guide. Here are the best places to eat lunch in the West Loop.
photo credit: Sandy Noto
Ok, Monteverde is only open for lunch on Friday and Saturday, but it would be irresponsible not to let you know that the best Italian restaurant in Chicago is available for a sit-down lunch, no matter how limited the hours are. The daytime menu has a bunch of Monteverde's greatest hits (like the cacio whey pepe and ragu alla napoletana) along with some lunchtime exclusives, like a chicken parm sandwich.
photo credit: Christina Slaton
You can never go wrong at Avec, and if you have the opportunity to eat here, we suggest taking it. The lunch menu is a little shorter than the dinner menu, but don’t let that discourage you. Lunchtime is when they serve sandwiches you can’t get in the evening, like one with roasted pork or a fantastic lamb burger. And most importantly, the chorizo-stuffed bacon-wrapped dates are always available.
photo credit: Christina Slaton
Come to Cruz Blanca for a plateful of tacos and a couple of beers when you don't have to go back to work. Downstairs is a casual spot good for grabbing a quick lunch and getting out—but if you don't need to worry about the rest of your day, head upstairs, where there’s more of a laid-back atmosphere.
Cira is a restaurant in the Hoxton (a.k.a. the one that isn’t Cabra). It’s located on the first floor, and the Mediterranean-inspired menu is meant to be shared. There’s hummus, octopus, a mezze plate, and a somewhat random-seeming housemade cacio e pepe we’re not complaining about since it’s tasty. The space is large, with plenty of big booths and tables for small groups. Come here for a business lunch in the neighborhood.
photo credit: Kenny Nakai
This is one of the only spots in the city that specializes in okonomiyaki—savory Japanese pancakes topped with things like shrimp, chicken, and beef. Gaijin has a few different varieties to choose from (for example “Hiroshima-style” where the batter is layered with yakisoba), and we like them all. Be prepared, though—this small place gets very crowded.
Beatrix works well for a variety of situations - for instance, lunch with someone you don’t know very well. But since the well-rounded menu has lots of salads, grains, and things like bulgur wheat poke bowls, it’s a particularly good choice for a sit-down meal when you’re looking for something kind of healthy.
For the best chance to eat the Au Cheval burger without a wait, come here during the day in the middle of the week. Then wait for three hours with everyone else who had the exact same idea. To be clear, yes, you’ll probably still have to wait - but it’s worth it.
PQM is a butcher shop, cafe, bakery, and mini market from the owners of The Publican. Come here for sandwiches, charcuterie, and anything baked (like the delicious cookies). And if you need to pick up some duck fat or foie gras for the house, you can do that here as well. No need to make that extra stop on the way home.
This BBQ spot doesn’t take reservations, and is often crowded. But the chance of getting a table increases significantly during the week. The food is served cafeteria-style, and you can get meats like ribs, brisket, or pastrami by the half-pound. The space feels like a fancy warehouse, and when it’s nice out you can sit at one of the communal picnic tables outside. A good strategy is to divide and conquer - have someone grab a table while another person goes through the line. Then hope that person actually comes back with the food.
This place has been around since 1937, and its industrial-looking exterior doesn’t seem to have changed much since then. But inside are some of the best Italian subs and sandwiches in the city. You can order at the counter and eat there, or take yours to go. The Italian is our favorite, but you can’t go wrong with anything else (the muffaletta is another good choice). Go ahead and get a cannoli, too—dessert shouldn’t just be for after dinner.
Nonna’s is another casual Italian sandwich shop—it’s the modern version of J.P. Graziano. The big difference? They also offer hot subs. If you’re looking for a meatball or chicken parm sub, then Nonna’s is your spot.
There are a lot of spots for good fried chicken in Chicago, and Gus’s is the best in the West Loop. It’s a big, casual space that works equally well for taking out or dining in (the benefit of eating here is that you can utilize the full bar). Either way, make sure to get some pie (see above).
La Josie has three bars and a great rooftop deck, and it’s a lively place at any time of day. But it also happens to serve really good food, so it’s worth visiting even if day-drinking isn’t on your agenda. The best things here are the tacos (all on house-made tortillas) and Mexican classics like enchiladas. And if you do decide to stay and have some margaritas, we support that decision, too.
Bar Siena is loud and fun, and an overall great place to go with anyone from out of town. There’s a huge bar dominating the first floor, and a larger dining area upstairs that’s perfect for groups. Pastas and wood-fired pizzas make up most of the menu, and they’re great—the truffle mushroom is as truffle-y as you want it to be and the short rib lasagana is always delicious. Think of this as the practice bunny hill before going all-out for a sceney downtown Chicago dinner.