Where To Eat After Someone Dragged You To The Skydeck

Where to eat after someone a 103-story elevator ride.
Where To Eat After Someone Dragged You To The Skydeck image

photo credit: Kim Kovacik

Seeing Chicago from the top of a former “World’s Tallest Building” title-holder is pretty cool. But the downside is that the Sears—sorry, “Willis”—Tower is located in the Loop, a neighborhood filled with below-average food and out-of-towners overcoming their fear of heights. So we made this guide to filter out the tourist traps trying to lure you in with promises of “deep dish” or “Italian beef” on their sign. Here are the restaurants within a few blocks of the Skydeck that also have great food.


photo credit: Christina Slaton


Irving Park

$$$$Perfect For:BYOBQuick EatsSerious Take-Out Operation
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Somewhere among the sea of buildings that you can see from the top of the Willis Tower is one of Chicago’s best BBQ restaurants, Smoque. Luckily, you don’t have to paraglide all the way to Avondale in order to get their fantastic smoked meats—they have a food stall in Revival Food Hall that’s just a short walk away. And while the menu is shorter than in their original location, classics like brisket, pulled pork, and jalapeno cheddar sausages are all in attendance. Liberal use of any of their four great BBQ sauces is a must. 

photo credit: Christina Slaton



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When it comes to Chicago steakhouses, Prime and Provisions is a bit of an anomaly. It’s not iconic, trendy, or corporate, but a little bit of all of the above. Nice yet not overly stuffy, you can comfortably hang and eat some great steak and potatoes without having to show up to your Skydeck tour in a power suit. And if you're wondering if you should order that thick bacon on the menu covered in maple syrup and dark chocolate, the answer is absolutely yes.

This casual Turkish spot ups the utility factor by being open seven days a week. It also has some of the best Turkish food in the city. And while the large menu has plenty of dishes to get excited about, the one thing that definitely needs to be on the table is their iskender. Thinly sliced döner meat is layered on a bed of crackly croutons and served with a buttery tomato sauce and tangy yogurt. This mountain of food can easily feed a few people, but you should still order some manti or lamacun to share.

Bistro Monadnock can be tricky to spot since its entrance is located on a tiny street that feels more like a glorified alley. But the low-key location means this charming French restaurant is never that busy, so you can generally walk in for some rich bouillabaisse by the open kitchen or to snack on escargot at the bar. The friendly service—from a chef who might give you a tour of the dry-ager to servers happy to chat about how to correctly pronounce “Monadnock”—will also help you like people again after that crowded, 103-story elevator ride.

Having opened in 1923, 50 years before the Willis Tower, this spot might be more iconic than the skyscraper you just paid 30 bucks to see. Lou Mitchell’s definitely has the old-school diner feel, with naugahyde booths, retro counters and bar stools, and staff that’ll probably call you some variation of hun, sweetie, or darling. Foodwise, it’s what you’d expect—some decent omelets, skillets, and pancake stacks, along with a rotating pie of the day. Plus, you can see another Chicago landmark (sorry, former landmark) since it’s where the original start of Route 66 used to be. 

Cafecito has multiple locations and is one of our favorite casual Cuban restaurants in the city. Though their original, larger spot is also in the Loop, this smaller one will save you a few extra steps since it’s only about four blocks away from the tower. Head here to grab a ham, egg, and cheese and a namesake cafecito if you scheduled an early Skydeck trip to beat the midday rush, or try a cubano or saucy ropa vieja for lunch. Seating is a bit limited, but if you’re here in the summer, there’s more space to sit and rest on their patio.

Located on the ground floor of West Loop’s BMO building, this upscale Italian spot seems strategically positioned to target all of the business types in the area. But the six-minute walk from the Willis Tower makes it a solid option for eating bolognese with perfectly al dente casarecce or creamy cacio e pepe after looking out a window for an hour. f you’re there between 3 and 5pm, they also have some Happy Hour deals.

Yes, Shake Shack is a chain, but at the end of the day, Shake Shack is reliably good. And there’s also a location conveniently located in the Willis Tower. So if being 1,353 feet in the sky leads to jelly legs and/or vertigo, regain your composure with a burger (or chicken sandwich, or hot dog, or crinkle cut fries, or milkshake).

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