A Guide to West Loop: Where to Eat, Shop, and Play

INSIDER’S GUIDE: With the opening of a new el stop and summer fests galore, Oprah’s old stomping ground is now a juicy destination all its own

Clockwise from top left: Publican Quality Meats; enjoying food at Randolph Street Market Festival; dresses at Décollage; lamps at the Guerrilla Truck Show. For more photos, launch the gallery »

The West Loop used to be Oprah’s neighborhood and that was it. But just when the queen of daytime TV pulled up stakes (see “Oprah Winfrey and OWN on the Ropes”), dozens of exciting new restaurants, bars, and shops began putting down theirs. “It’s exploding,” says the designer Morlen Sinoway, the brain behind the Guerrilla Truck Show on June 12. “I look out my window and see the city on the move.” And with a new el stop opening in late May at Lake and Morgan Streets, getting there is easier than ever.

[1] Grant Achatz’s restaurant next is one of the hottest tickets in town. At his more accessible lounge next door, the futuristic drinks come with instructions—the ginger, for instance, requires that a carafe of vodka be mixed into a beaker with lime, Fresno chilis, and Peychaud’s pudding. 955 W. Fulton Market; 312-226-0868, theaviary.com.
RELATED: Is the Aviary Redefining Cocktailing in Chicago? »

[2] A late-night diner from Chicago’s restaurateur of the moment. For more on Brendan Sodikoff, see “Brendan Sodikoff’s Chicago Food Empire”. 800 W. Randolph St.; 312-929-4580, aucheval.tumblr.com.
RELATED: Best New Restaurants 2012—Au Cheval »

[3] This 7,500-square-foot warehouse has everything you need to brew and bottle your own beer, and it offers classes. You’ll find supplies for making cheese and growing microgreens, too. 19 s. Morgan St.; 312-243-0005, brewandgrow.com

Small West Loop map
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[4] Kelsey Tanner-O’Connor stocks her vintage clothing boutique with bounty gleaned from scouring estate sales and general globe-trotting. Find items priced from $25 to $948 (an early-1990s Christian Lacroix gown with tags), plus an unusual trove of corsets, swimwear, and lingerie. 1219 W. Madison St.; 312-226-8087, shopdecollage.com

[5] Stephanie Izard’s two-year-old farm-to-table resto is the epicenter of the Randolph Street dining revival. 809 W. Randolph St.; 312-492-6262, girlandthegoat.com.
RELATED: Our review of Girl & the Goat » | Profile of Stephanie Izard »

[6] Designophiles flock here for a selection that ranges from the sophisticated to the kitschy—and for Sinoway’s own line of custom furniture and accessories. 1052 W. Fulton Market; 312-432-0100, morlensinoway.com

[7] The Kourvas family’s small but meticulously stocked market is a family operation, with products handpicked by John Kourvas and his mother, Georgia (the G in N&G). In June expect daily shipments of veggies from Benton harbor. 902 W. Randolph St.; 312-226-7552

[8] This Mediterranean-inspired stunner, which we named one of the best new restaurants (No. 20) of 2012, channels both the French countryside and the Rolling Stones. 833 W. Randolph St.; 312-432-0500, nellcoterestaurant.com. RELATED: Our review of Nellcôte »

[9] After Aron Packer settled into this two-story space five years ago, he found his niche: contemporary artists who obsess over craftsmanship. In June he exhibits sculpture by Catherine Jacobi. 942 W. Lake St.; 312-226-8984, packergallery.com

[10] Don’t have a reservation for The Publican? Head next door for counter service at its locavore-minded sibling, a charcuterie with a mean meatball sandwich ($8) made from Midwestern beef. 825 W. Fulton Market; 312-445-8977, publicanqualitymeats.com. RELATED: Publican Quality Meats and 7 Other Spots for Budget Dining »

The antiques at the monthly Randolph Street Market Festival [11] draw a stylish crowd starting May 26 (between Washington and Randolph streets; randolphstreetmarket.com). . . . Sample area resto fare and hear dozens of bands at the Taste of Randolph Street [12] June 15 to 17 (900 to 1200 W. Randolph St.; tasteofrandolphstreet.com). . . . Morlen Sinoway showcases indie designers at the Guerrilla Truck Show [13] June 12 (1052 W. Fulton Market; theguerrillatruckshow.com). . . . Feist headlines the Pitchfork Music Festival [14] in Union Park July 13 (1501 W. Randolph St.; pitchfork.com). RELATED: Pitchfork 2011—The best and worst of the festival »

New York import City Winery, a 33,000-square-foot wine bar and concert hall, lands in August (1200 W. Randolph St.). . . . Stephanie Izard’s diner-style spinoff, Little Goat, opens early fall (820 W. Randolph St.).


Photography: (meat counter) Courtesy of Publican Quality Meats; (woman) courtesy of Randolph Street Festival; (dresses) Courtesy of Décollage; (lamps) Morlen Sinoway

Photo gallery



2 years ago
Posted by moe

What a typical and poorly wirtten article that is so commonly found in Chicago publications today. This article is in no way enticing me to visit this neighborhood is I was not already familiar with it. It has no imagination. You can tell the author didn't spend anytime doing their research.

Where are the interview with business owners and residents waling around with their children. No information about schools, the neighborhoods, the history of the neighborhoods or what makes the West Loop unique and different from other neighborhoods. Why are people flocking into the West Loop and Near West Side neighborhoods?

Please, please put some effort into your articles.

2 years ago
Posted by Curly

After reading this article I'm ready to head out to the west loop and see what all the hoopla is about. The author clearly mentioned the most attractive things about any neighborhood. Great places to eat, great places to shop and plenty of great places to hang out. The article even mentions the best way to get to this up and coming neighborhood. If you're looking for information about schools or where residents walk with their children, try consulting a realtor. One thing is clear, the west loop is not the kind of neighborhood for a curmudgeon.

4 months ago
Posted by Painted Rubbish

It's a guide to the West Loop, not an article on the West Loop. I found it very helpful/informative in knowing what's around town.

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