Once home to plenty of the city’s bars, brothels, and burlesque theaters, South Loop has a lot of history as the vice district and having Soldier Field and the Shedd Aquarium. Now, with mid-rises, old train stations and historic buildings abound, there are plenty of excellent options for eating and drinking in the neighborhood. Here are 13 popular places to eat and drink in South Loop, from Thai to old dive bars, listed from north to south.Read More
Where to Eat and Drink in South Loop
From a Michelin-starred restaurant to fancy Spanish cuisine
One of the favorite lunching places in South Loop, Cafecito is an excellent spot for a sandwich. Pick a traditional Cuban or go for one of their more out-of-the-box options, and don’t forget to add a side of spicy black bean soup or grab a container of whole olives to share.
2. Kasey's Tavern
Regardless of the name, the space is one of the oldest bars in the city — being Kasey’s Tavern since 1974. With over thirty beers on draft, ranging from Miller Lite to Three Floyd’s Gumballhead, Kasey’s is an excellent spot to grab a beer. There’s always a special, whether it’s a $4 craft draft or a $3 domestic, which makes this place even easier to wind down the day.
3. Mercat a la Planxa
For tapas, sangria and cocktails, head to Mercat a la Planxa. Olives, tomato bread, boquerones and a Spanish tortilla are all on the menu, and larger plates consist of meats and paellas. Pair the tapas with a build-your-own gin and tonic to complete the meal.
4. Chicago Curry House Restaurant
Traditional Indian and Nepalese dishes are abundant at Chicago Curry House. Try creamy chicken tikka masala or rich biryani paired with naan and a cooling mango lassi. Or stop by for all-you-can-eat brunch with made-to-order naan.
5. Eleven City Diner
This Jewish deli serves up huge sandwiches and ice cream floats in a traditional diner setting. Melts, Reubens, loaded mac and cheese, and chicken matzoh ball soup are available (plus latkes). This diner’s truly a gem.
6. Burger Bar Chicago - South Loop
Out-of-the-box burgers are the name of the game at Burger Bar. There’s a burger of the month and burgers made out of interesting meats, like a bratwurst burger with sauerkraut, swiss cheese and mustard on a pretzel bun.
7. The Scout Waterhouse + Kitchen
For a great spot to watch a game in South Loop, head to the Scout. The menu’s classic American, with a long list of burgers and foot-long grilled cheeses paired with a well-rounded beer menu perfect for cheering on the Bears. Plus, there’s a kid’s menu for the little ones.
8. Lobo Rey
The owners of The Scout have brought modern Mexican dining to the neighborhood, courtesy of chef Daniel Espinoza, a former contestant on the Mexican version of Top Chef. It’s part taqueria/sit-down restaurant, with Espinoza pushing the standard definitions of what Americans think of Mexican food. There’s also a flattop grill for a hibachi-like experience.
9. Chicago Waffles
Both sweet and savory waffles are on the menu at Chicago Waffles, plus pancakes, omelettes and egg plates. Waffles in abundance aren’t available at most breakfast and brunch places in the city, but from green tea waffles to cheddar and short rib waffles, there are plenty of options at this brunch spot.
For a fancy meal, Acadia’s the South Loop resident Michelin-starred restaurant. Sit at the bar or on the patio and enjoy a still-upscale but a la carte meal with a fancy burger, oysters and blistered shishito peppers. Or make a reservation for the five- or nine-course meal and enjoy the full prix fixe experience.
11. The Spoke & Bird (South Loop)
This cafe and bistro’s expansive patio is the main draw, while traditional cafe items like baked goods, soups and sandwiches accompany the atmosphere. There’s a large beer list to round out the spot, making it a place to hang out with a brew in hand.
12. Opart Thai House Restaurant
All of Opart Thai’s locations are popular Thai fixtures, including the South Loop location. Dishes are traditional, from chicken or pork larb to tom yum soups. A long list of curries and noodle dishes round out the menu for a hearty Thai meal.
Baderbräu’s been serving beer for a long time, but just opened its taproom and restaurant in the last year. The space overlooks the brewery, so diners can check out what’s going on behind the scenes. There’s ten beers on draft, both flagships and seasonally rotating brews, to pair with an indulgent mac and cheese waffle with dill ranch and buffalo aioli.