We know what you’re thinking right now: who willingly eats dinner in the Loop? Valid question. But situations always come up when you need to eat dinner around here, whether it’s for business or perhaps an event you have somewhere downtown. There are even restaurants in the Loop worth going out of your way to eat at for a regular night on the town. You just have to know where to find them, and, as always, that’s what we’re here for.
The rebirth of the Chicago Athletic Association building on Michigan Avenue is a win for all of us. There’s a lot of great stuff going on here, including Cherry Circle Room, the formal restaurant that’s been restored to it’s former glory days with a lot of wood and whisky. We suggest going big here with large quantities of red meat, so consider the OG, a 20 oz bone-in ribeye.
Cochon Volant has the whole French brasserie vibe down, even if it’s technically underneath a Hyatt hotel. Between the vintage-looking design, bakery counter, and French staples on the menu, Cochon Volant has quality food in a space that helps you forget that the neighboring stores include a Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, Wendy’s, Noodles & Co., and McDonald’s.
What constitutes a classic? Being one of the oldest family-run restaurants in the country and in operation since 1898 probably makes the cut. When The Berghoff first opened, it was a men’s-only saloon that gave you a free corned beef sandwich when you bought a beer. Things have changed a bit, but the principals of hearty German food and good beer stand strong.
Located in the historic Gage Group buildings right across from Millennium Park, The Gage serves rustic American food in a cool, bar-like setting. Come for dinner and a cocktail or two.
Did you know there’s a fancy French restaurant on the 40th floor of the Chicago Stock Exchange? We sh*t you not. Kind of a fitting spot for it actually, because whether the market is up or down somebody is making money off it it, and we all might as well spend our money on food. Hit up Everest for a special occasion, or if your holiday bonus happens to be bigger than you expect.
Acadia might be located in the South Loop, but hey, it’s still the Loop. It’s also worth having on your dinner radar if you’re looking for a nicer night on the town. The inside is a modern, simple, and bright space, and the food is inspired by the great American outdoors. Not that all food doesn’t come from the outdoors, but Acadia is all about coastal Maine, nature, and what not. You get the point.
Latinicity is Latin street food’s answer to Eataly. You hear that Mario Battali? You’re not the only one who can open world-dominating markets dedicated to a particular cuisine. Just like Eataly, there’s a whole lot worth checking out inside of this large space at Block 37 on State Street. And who knows, maybe MTV will bring back Celebrity Death Match and we can see Latinicity creator Chef Richard Sandoval and Mario Batali fight for food market supreme.
Need a restaurant to keep some less adventurous people happy? Seven Lions can help. The space is large and stunning, there’s no doubt about that. And while we think there are more interesting options around, Seven Lions fits a specific need in that it’s a safe bet.
Ever see the SNL skit with the Chicago Super Fans sitting around eating, drinking, and talking about Chicago sports? You’ll get similar vibes sitting in the old-school Exchequer while you eat deep dish pizza and drinks beers in the midst of a lot sports paraphernalia on the walls. DAAAAAAAAAAA Bears.
Good news and bad news here. Good news, the food at Mercat a la Planxa is really good. The Catalan-inspired menu has all the typical Spanish favorites, and they make everything incredibly well. The bad news is Mercat a la Planxa definitely suffers from being in an awkward location in the Loop, and from having a semi-awkward space (huge ceilings, hit-or-miss ambience). If you’re with good company, the potential awkwardness is worth overlooking here for a delicious meal.
Cindy’s is the rooftop restaurant and bar inside the Chicago Athletic Association, alongside the Cherry Circle Room. The best part about Cindy’s is by far the excellent views of Millennium Park and Lake Michigan, but the food and drinks are good too.
Cafecito is always packed at lunch, but it’s also open until 9pm during the week, which is basically 2am in this part of town. And while it might not be a whole sit-down to do like some of these other spots, this is the best bang for your buck in the neighborhood.
Looking for some classic deli dishes, like a corned beef reuben or a big bowl of matzah ball soup? Eleven City Diner is one of the few places around that adequately fulfills that need, which is why keep it in our back pocket and pop in every now and then. Its proximity to the Field Museum, Planeterium, and Soldier Field is convenient, too, if you ever find yourself being a tourist in your own city.
Acanto is the Italian spot from the same people behind The Gage, which makes sense since it’s next door. And just like The Gage, we’re down with the things going on here. Go heavy on the handmade pastas and don’t be afraid to get a pizza or two involved.
Shake Shack burgers just continue to grow on us, which is saying a lot because they’ve always been great. The Loop Shake Shack location is also in the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel, so, if we’re being honest, you could just grab dinner here and then head up to Cindy’s for some drinks.
Manny’s isn’t exactly in the Loop, but since it’s kind of in no man’s land between the North and South Loops, now is as good a time as ever to remind you about it. Manny’s is an iconic Chicago restaurant, which is why you have to visit the old-school cafeteria-style deli if you’ve never been. Get a corned beef sandwich and a giant potato latke.