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,
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,
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,

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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,

[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,
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,

[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, 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,

[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, 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; . . . 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.; . . . Morlen Sinoway showcases indie designers at the Guerrilla Truck Show [13] June 12 (1052 W. Fulton Market; . . . Feist headlines the Pitchfork Music Festival [14] in Union Park July 13 (1501 W. Randolph St.; 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