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Piggie Smalls inside Wells Street Market
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20 Excellent Lunch Options in Downtown Chicago

Make the workday better with gyros, barbecue, Asian fusion, and more

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Piggie Smalls inside Wells Street Market
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Lunch is perhaps the best motivator for getting through a long morning so don't settle for leftovers or a sad PB&J when there are better options available. From customizable salads and poke bowls to grilled cheeses and lobster rolls, these 20 great spots in the downtown area will make the a.m. slog a little more bearable.

New additions to the map for 2018 include food hall Wells Street Market, sandwich specialist Gayle V’s Best Ever Grilled Cheese, and Rotisserie Ema’s Mediterranean food bars. Be forewarned: An afternoon siesta may be necessary afterwards.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Seoul Taco

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738 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 265-1607
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Tacos are popular at any hour but even more so during lunch. This taqueria, originally hailing from St. Louis, does things a bit differently, though, by blending Mexican and Korean flavors to make sweet-and-savory bulgogi beef, spicy pork, and soy-marinated chicken. Try them in tacos, quesadillas, burritos, gogi bowls, or nachos.

2. Left Coast Food

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717 N Wells St
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 877-5500
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Sometimes the body just needs a liquid lunch. Left Coast Food, a health-conscious, coastal-inspired spot with three locations, helps guests revitalize with cold-pressed juices, fresh smoothies, and even kombucha on tap. There are heartier options, too, like green and grain bowls, avocado toast, buckwheat pancakes, and wraps.

3. Sweetgreen

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623 N State St
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 374-8173
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Salads are a reliable, but often boring, go-to lunch. This D.C.-based chain bucks that trend by boasting an extensive variety of locally-sourced ingredients. Skip the usual Caesar and build a healthy and tasty bowl packed with roasted sweet potatoes, heirloom tomatoes, hot chickpeas, salmon, falafel, and much more.

4. Ramen Misoya

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213 E Ohio St
Chicago, IL 60611
(847) 437-4590

A bowl of ramen during the lunch hour helps fend off cold Chicago weather. The Japanese shop’s signature miso broth — available in several flavors — is teeming with noodles and toppings like char siu pork, chicken karaage, fried shrimp, ground pork, and more.

5. Eataly

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43 E Ohio St
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 521-8700
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Pizzas, pastas, wine, and more — the dining options at the Italian emporium are almost endless so visitors will have to make some tough decisions. After lunch, peruse the aisles for some groceries and dinner ideas.

6. Rotisserie Ema

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74 W Illinois St
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 527-5586
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Chef CJ Jacobson showcases Mediterranean fare created with a lighter California style of cooking at his popular River North eatery. During lunchtime, Ēma offers a self-serve experience for those short on time. The hot and cold bars — priced by the pound — are brimming with greens, grains, meats, and hummus spreads. Customers can eat their customizable meals in the dining room or take them to go.

7. Xoco

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449 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 661-1434
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It’s nearly impossible to go wrong at Rick Bayless’s sandwich shop. The signature tortas are loaded with meats like Baja chicken, pork carnitas, and braised short ribs. They’re paired with meal-in-a-bowl soups and crispy churros for a quick and always popular Mexican meal.

8. 3 Greens Market

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354 W Hubbard St
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 888-9195
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Hogsalt Hospitality’s marketplace features a collection of the company’s greatest hits. Munch on a Doughnut Vault old fashioned, pastrami from Dillman’s, or Small Cheval’s vaunted cheeseburger. In addition, there are hot and cold bars stocked with dozens of items.

9. Naf Naf Grill

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326 Michigan Avenue
Chicago, IL 60601
(312) 263-0019
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The local Middle Eastern chain makes things simple and easy. Choose a pita or bowl; add meats, salads, and garnishes; and finish it off with sauces. What separates it from the competition is the quality — the fluffy bread is freshly baked on site, juicy chicken shawarma comes straight from the spit, and falafel bear a perfectly crisp exterior.

10. Wells Street Market

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205 W Wacker Dr #100
Chicago, IL 60606
(312) 614-4176
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Chicago’s food hall trend continues to grow, which is good news for the city’s hungry workers. Wells Street Market is among the latest to open and sports a tantalizing roster of vendors. Diners can chow on ‘nduja and sandwiches and from Tempesta Market; nigiri, sashimi, and maki rolls from Takashi Yagihashi’s Tabo Sushi; and fresh-off-the-spit gyros courtesy of Piggie Smalls, a new restaurant from Jimmy Bannos Jr. and the team behind the Purple Pig.

11. Blackwood BBQ

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307 W Lake St
Chicago, IL 60606
(312) 621-9663
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Good, quality barbecue in the downtown area is scarce but Blackwood’s multiple locations help make up for it. The meats are slowly smoked for hours and include brisket, pulled pork, and pulled chicken. Slather them in regional-style sauces and order some homemade sides for a Southern feast.

12. Pierogi Heaven

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169 N Wells St
Chicago, IL 60606
(312) 263-9305
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These Polish dumplings have been making downtown eaters happy for more than seven years now. They’re filled with traditional flavors, such as potato and cheese, sauerkraut, and fruit. The kitchen makes other Eastern European favorites like borscht and stuffed cabbage as well.

13. Brown Bag Seafood Co.

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340 E Randolph St
Chicago, IL 60601
(312) 496-3999
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Fresh and pristine seafood at an affordable price point doesn’t have to be a rare catch. Brown Bag Seafood Co. reels in diners with an assortment of sustainable fish, shrimp, lobster rolls, and more. The restaurant also delivers for those who can’t escape the office.

14. Luke's Lobster

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134 N La Salle St
Chicago, IL 60602
(312) 982-2977
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Chicagoans don’t have to travel to the coast to get luscious lobster rolls. This Northeast chain brings the Atlantic to town with lobster, crab, and shrimp sandwiches alongside chowders and bisques.

15. Gayle V's Best Ever Grilled Cheese

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108 N State St level b1
Chicago, IL 60602
(312) 285-2202
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Proclaiming her product to be the “best ever grilled cheese” is a bold move but Gayle Voss has the chops to back it up. The sandwich maker was a longtime fixture at local farmers markets before turning the business into a full-scale operation inside Block 37 a few years ago. Her offerings range from the “Classic” (Prairie Pure butterkase cheese, Bennison’s Bakery sourdough, Nordic Creamery butter) to original creations like “Abreo” (cheddar, Honeycrisp apple, bacon-onion jam) and the “Sebastian” — lobster grilled cheese that’s only available on Fridays.

16. Pokeworks

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79 E Madison St
Chicago, IL 60602
(312) 868-0261
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With one on seemingly every corner of the city these days, poke restaurants have reached peak capacity in a very short time. But this California-based chain might just be the best of the bunch thanks to an impressive array of ingredients, such as scallops, albacore tuna, seaweed, Hawaiian salt, lotus chips, and much more. The possible combinations are endless so patrons can keep lunch fresh by trying a different poke bowl, salad, or burrito each visit.

17. Revival Food Hall

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125 S Clark St
Chicago, IL 60603
(773) 999-9411
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Feeling indecisive? The Loop’s bustling dining hall has nearly all the bases covered. Several of the city’s most popular restaurants are vendors here, such as The Budlong’s Nashville hot chicken, Smoque’s barbecue, tacos from Antique Taco, and more.

18. Brightwok Kitchen

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21 E Adams St
Chicago, IL 60603
(312) 583-0729
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This fast-casual stir fry spot in the Loop has grown popular for its healthy Asian meals. Chef Kolter Livengood’s accommodating menu is free of gluten, dairy, and peanuts, while his sauces are also vegan-friendly. Dishes change seasonally but diners can always expect favorites like “Earth, Curry and Fire” (chili coconut curry, white rice, tofu, kale, onions, carrots, bell peppers, crispy egg).

19. Saucy Porka

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400 S Financial Pl
Chicago, IL 60605
(312) 662-1351
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The unique mash-ups at this Asian-Latin spot make downtown lunches a little more creative. Chef Rafael Lopez crafts unique fusion bites like chorizo egg rolls, “bacos” (bao tacos), Cuban banh mi, and Asian-style paella.

20. Cafecito

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26 E Congress Pkwy
Chicago, IL 60605
(312) 922-2233
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Cafecito’s popular and filling Cuban sandwiches have been winning over the South Loop for many years now. Its Cubanos are highly regarded but other selections, such as the Ropa Vieja (skirt steak, plantains, black beans, tomato creole sauce) and Chivito (steak, ham, bacon, fried egg, mozzarella), are equally noteworthy. And if an afternoon jolt is needed, try the café con leche, a Cuban espresso sweetened with sugar and mixed with steamed milk.

1. Seoul Taco

738 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60654

Tacos are popular at any hour but even more so during lunch. This taqueria, originally hailing from St. Louis, does things a bit differently, though, by blending Mexican and Korean flavors to make sweet-and-savory bulgogi beef, spicy pork, and soy-marinated chicken. Try them in tacos, quesadillas, burritos, gogi bowls, or nachos.

738 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60654

2. Left Coast Food

717 N Wells St, Chicago, IL 60654

Sometimes the body just needs a liquid lunch. Left Coast Food, a health-conscious, coastal-inspired spot with three locations, helps guests revitalize with cold-pressed juices, fresh smoothies, and even kombucha on tap. There are heartier options, too, like green and grain bowls, avocado toast, buckwheat pancakes, and wraps.

717 N Wells St
Chicago, IL 60654

3. Sweetgreen

623 N State St, Chicago, IL 60654

Salads are a reliable, but often boring, go-to lunch. This D.C.-based chain bucks that trend by boasting an extensive variety of locally-sourced ingredients. Skip the usual Caesar and build a healthy and tasty bowl packed with roasted sweet potatoes, heirloom tomatoes, hot chickpeas, salmon, falafel, and much more.

623 N State St
Chicago, IL 60654

4. Ramen Misoya

213 E Ohio St, Chicago, IL 60611

A bowl of ramen during the lunch hour helps fend off cold Chicago weather. The Japanese shop’s signature miso broth — available in several flavors — is teeming with noodles and toppings like char siu pork, chicken karaage, fried shrimp, ground pork, and more.

213 E Ohio St
Chicago, IL 60611

5. Eataly

43 E Ohio St, Chicago, IL 60611

Pizzas, pastas, wine, and more — the dining options at the Italian emporium are almost endless so visitors will have to make some tough decisions. After lunch, peruse the aisles for some groceries and dinner ideas.

43 E Ohio St
Chicago, IL 60611

6. Rotisserie Ema

74 W Illinois St, Chicago, IL 60654

Chef CJ Jacobson showcases Mediterranean fare created with a lighter California style of cooking at his popular River North eatery. During lunchtime, Ēma offers a self-serve experience for those short on time. The hot and cold bars — priced by the pound — are brimming with greens, grains, meats, and hummus spreads. Customers can eat their customizable meals in the dining room or take them to go.

74 W Illinois St
Chicago, IL 60654

7. Xoco

449 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60654

It’s nearly impossible to go wrong at Rick Bayless’s sandwich shop. The signature tortas are loaded with meats like Baja chicken, pork carnitas, and braised short ribs. They’re paired with meal-in-a-bowl soups and crispy churros for a quick and always popular Mexican meal.

449 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60654

8. 3 Greens Market

354 W Hubbard St, Chicago, IL 60654

Hogsalt Hospitality’s marketplace features a collection of the company’s greatest hits. Munch on a Doughnut Vault old fashioned, pastrami from Dillman’s, or Small Cheval’s vaunted cheeseburger. In addition, there are hot and cold bars stocked with dozens of items.

354 W Hubbard St
Chicago, IL 60654

9. Naf Naf Grill

326 Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL 60601

The local Middle Eastern chain makes things simple and easy. Choose a pita or bowl; add meats, salads, and garnishes; and finish it off with sauces. What separates it from the competition is the quality — the fluffy bread is freshly baked on site, juicy chicken shawarma comes straight from the spit, and falafel bear a perfectly crisp exterior.

326 Michigan Avenue
Chicago, IL 60601

10. Wells Street Market

205 W Wacker Dr #100, Chicago, IL 60606

Chicago’s food hall trend continues to grow, which is good news for the city’s hungry workers. Wells Street Market is among the latest to open and sports a tantalizing roster of vendors. Diners can chow on ‘nduja and sandwiches and from Tempesta Market; nigiri, sashimi, and maki rolls from Takashi Yagihashi’s Tabo Sushi; and fresh-off-the-spit gyros courtesy of Piggie Smalls, a new restaurant from Jimmy Bannos Jr. and the team behind the Purple Pig.

205 W Wacker Dr #100
Chicago, IL 60606

11. Blackwood BBQ

307 W Lake St, Chicago, IL 60606

Good, quality barbecue in the downtown area is scarce but Blackwood’s multiple locations help make up for it. The meats are slowly smoked for hours and include brisket, pulled pork, and pulled chicken. Slather them in regional-style sauces and order some homemade sides for a Southern feast.

307 W Lake St
Chicago, IL 60606

12. Pierogi Heaven

169 N Wells St, Chicago, IL 60606

These Polish dumplings have been making downtown eaters happy for more than seven years now. They’re filled with traditional flavors, such as potato and cheese, sauerkraut, and fruit. The kitchen makes other Eastern European favorites like borscht and stuffed cabbage as well.

169 N Wells St
Chicago, IL 60606

13. Brown Bag Seafood Co.

340 E Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60601

Fresh and pristine seafood at an affordable price point doesn’t have to be a rare catch. Brown Bag Seafood Co. reels in diners with an assortment of sustainable fish, shrimp, lobster rolls, and more. The restaurant also delivers for those who can’t escape the office.

340 E Randolph St
Chicago, IL 60601

14. Luke's Lobster

134 N La Salle St, Chicago, IL 60602

Chicagoans don’t have to travel to the coast to get luscious lobster rolls. This Northeast chain brings the Atlantic to town with lobster, crab, and shrimp sandwiches alongside chowders and bisques.

134 N La Salle St
Chicago, IL 60602

15. Gayle V's Best Ever Grilled Cheese

108 N State St level b1, Chicago, IL 60602

Proclaiming her product to be the “best ever grilled cheese” is a bold move but Gayle Voss has the chops to back it up. The sandwich maker was a longtime fixture at local farmers markets before turning the business into a full-scale operation inside Block 37 a few years ago. Her offerings range from the “Classic” (Prairie Pure butterkase cheese, Bennison’s Bakery sourdough, Nordic Creamery butter) to original creations like “Abreo” (cheddar, Honeycrisp apple, bacon-onion jam) and the “Sebastian” — lobster grilled cheese that’s only available on Fridays.

108 N State St level b1
Chicago, IL 60602

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16. Pokeworks

79 E Madison St, Chicago, IL 60602

With one on seemingly every corner of the city these days, poke restaurants have reached peak capacity in a very short time. But this California-based chain might just be the best of the bunch thanks to an impressive array of ingredients, such as scallops, albacore tuna, seaweed, Hawaiian salt, lotus chips, and much more. The possible combinations are endless so patrons can keep lunch fresh by trying a different poke bowl, salad, or burrito each visit.

79 E Madison St
Chicago, IL 60602

17. Revival Food Hall

125 S Clark St, Chicago, IL 60603

Feeling indecisive? The Loop’s bustling dining hall has nearly all the bases covered. Several of the city’s most popular restaurants are vendors here, such as The Budlong’s Nashville hot chicken, Smoque’s barbecue, tacos from Antique Taco, and more.

125 S Clark St
Chicago, IL 60603

18. Brightwok Kitchen

21 E Adams St, Chicago, IL 60603

This fast-casual stir fry spot in the Loop has grown popular for its healthy Asian meals. Chef Kolter Livengood’s accommodating menu is free of gluten, dairy, and peanuts, while his sauces are also vegan-friendly. Dishes change seasonally but diners can always expect favorites like “Earth, Curry and Fire” (chili coconut curry, white rice, tofu, kale, onions, carrots, bell peppers, crispy egg).

21 E Adams St
Chicago, IL 60603

19. Saucy Porka

400 S Financial Pl, Chicago, IL 60605

The unique mash-ups at this Asian-Latin spot make downtown lunches a little more creative. Chef Rafael Lopez crafts unique fusion bites like chorizo egg rolls, “bacos” (bao tacos), Cuban banh mi, and Asian-style paella.

400 S Financial Pl
Chicago, IL 60605

20. Cafecito

26 E Congress Pkwy, Chicago, IL 60605

Cafecito’s popular and filling Cuban sandwiches have been winning over the South Loop for many years now. Its Cubanos are highly regarded but other selections, such as the Ropa Vieja (skirt steak, plantains, black beans, tomato creole sauce) and Chivito (steak, ham, bacon, fried egg, mozzarella), are equally noteworthy. And if an afternoon jolt is needed, try the café con leche, a Cuban espresso sweetened with sugar and mixed with steamed milk.

26 E Congress Pkwy
Chicago, IL 60605

Related Maps