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 Girl & The Goat 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 20 places to eat lunch in the West Loop.
Cabra is a busy rooftop restaurant in the Hoxton Hotel, and it’s from the same team as Girl & The Goat. This place serves very good Peruvian-inspired food, and the menu is mainly small plates. You’ll find ceviches (the duck and leche de tigre are standouts), a salmon huancaina dip, and a variety of empanadas. It also has a great view and a large outdoor deck located right next to the hotel pool. This could confuse you into thinking you’re on vacation, so you might want to plan on coming here for lunch when you aren’t concerned with going back to work.
Cira is another 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.
We like finding more opportunities to eat at The Publican, so it was good news when they decided to start serving lunch. Not only is the food here consistently great, but this place works for a lot of different situations. The communal wooden table in the center of the restaurant makes it ideal for groups of all sizes, and though this place is known for pork and beer (even the sign is a pig in front of a keg), it has plenty of vegetables and seafood options, too. And lunch is the only time they serve their cheeseburger.
Girl & the Goat might not be open for lunch, but Little Goat, the diner from the same team, is an all-day spot. And while the food here can be hit or miss, this place is a solid choice if you’re with anyone visiting the Midwest. After all, the sooner you can expose your California friend to hot crab dip with Ritz crackers and delicious Fat Elvis waffles (made with banana, bacon maple syrup, and peanut butter), the better.
Cold Storage is the casual seafood restaurant attached to the steakhouse Swift & Sons, and it also has an oyster bar. So it’s perfectly valid to come here for lunch and eat 35 oysters by yourself. But the cooked dishes (like the clam roll or the fish and chips) are really good, too. And if you don’t want fish at all, there’s an excellent cheeseburger.
You can never go wrong at Avec, and if you have the opportunity to eat here, we suggest taking it. The lunch menu is 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 roast pork or a fantastic lamb burger. And most importantly, the chorizo-stuffed bacon-wrapped dates are always available.
The Allis is the restaurant attached to Soho House, so it’s a great place to have a lunch meeting with someone who’s probably a lot more creative than you. The space is large and comfortable, and the food (salads, sandwiches, and some large plates like roast chicken) is very good. Just don’t be surprised when your muse disappears into Soho House after lunch, never to be seen again.
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.
Limitless is a coffee shop with a short food menu, and what they serve - mainly biscuit sandwiches and toasts - is delicious. There’s also a vegan tofu scramble that’s way tastier than it has any right to be. Plus the space is big and bright, with high ceilings and plenty of tables, so it’s perfect for getting some work done.
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.
Forno Rosso is one of our favorite places for Neapolitan-style pizza in Chicago. The space is modern, with sleek wooden walls and tables, and the service is efficient and friendly. It’s a relaxed spot, and there’s even a small, quiet patio where you can eat during the summer. Check it out if you want a perfectly charred and chewy thin-crust pizza - which studies have shown is less productivity-destroying than deep-dish.
Ballast Point started out in San Diego, but we’re glad it came to Chicago, because it has great beer and above-average bar food (including a “California burrito” that’s just like a regular burrito but with fries - proving that occasionally the West Coast can be just as unhealthy as the Midwest). The huge space feels like a sports bar, and is perfect for big groups who want to hang out and watch any sport that happens to be on around 1pm.
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.
Sometimes you want a fancy lunch. When that’s the case, go to Blackbird. It’s from the same restaurant group as Avec (they’re right next door to each other), but is much more upscale. Blackbird serves beautifully plated American food in a minimalist environment, and at lunch they do a three-course prix fixe for $25 (or you can just order a la carte).
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.
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 prosciutto and fig pizza has a nice balance of sweet and savory, and the duck mac and cheese is always delicious. Think of this as the practice bunny hill before going all-out for a sceney downtown Chicago dinner.
St Lou’s Assembly is good for a leisurely lunch, primarily because you’re not going to want to leave its awesome backyard. There are picnic tables, round tables, and stadium seating benches, plus bocce and an outdoor bar. The food is upscale cafeteria-style stuff (like meatloaf and sides), and other small plates like foie gras with biscuits. Between the outside area and the tasty (but heavy) food, you should probably only plan on eating here if you have the day off.