Your friend who’s running the marathon this weekend probably has her entire Sunday planned, down to how many minutes before start time she’ll eat her pre-race banana. You, the spectator, should probably do the same. While you may not be worried about proper fueling, you should worry about the fact that the city environs will be more or less unnavigable once the festivities begin.
So keep your eating hyperlocal: The Chicago dining team found 26 great spots for eating and drinking, all within a few blocks of each mile of the race. On your marks, get set, feast!
Mile 1: Columbus Dr. between Monroe Dr. and Grand Ave., Grand Ave. to Rush St.
Do-Rite Donuts & Chicken
233 E. Erie St., Streeterville, 312-344-1374
Your friend woke up willingly at 5:30 a.m. on several consecutive Saturday mornings and then ran several miles, so no complaining about an early call time to catch the start of the race. Especially when you can pop into Do-Rite for a cinnamon old-fashioned doughnut.
Mile 2: Grand Ave. to State St., State St. to Jackson Blvd.
Glazed & Infused
30 E. Hubbard St., River North, 312-226-5556
There are going to be a lot of doughnuts on this list, because doughnut shops understand that it sucks to be up early on a Sunday morning without coffee and sugar.
Mile 3: Jackson Blvd. to LaSalle St., LaSalle St. to Kinzie Ave.
JW Marriott Chicago, 151 W. Adams St., Loop, 312-660-8866
Your other safe bet for Sunday a.m. eats? A hotel restaurant. The Florentine is a pretty good one, and its brunch menu has a nice Italian lilt.
Mile 4: LaSalle Dr. to Division St.
519 N. Clark St., River North, 312-284-1377
Certain people in the Chicago office rave about the lemon pancakes. Others are too busy eating giant cookies and caramel pie to notice that Beatrix serves real food.
Mile 5: LaSalle Dr. into Lincoln Park, following Stockton Dr. to the South Pond
1547 N. Wells St., Old Town, 312-624-9430
Don’t stand too close to the aid station near the end of this mile, or a racer may be all too happy to snatch one of La Fournette’s croissants out of your hands in lieu of a cup of Gatorade.
Mile 6: Stockton Dr. to Fullerton Dr., Fullerton Dr. to Cannon Dr.
1800 N. Lincoln Ave., Lincoln Park. 312-981-7070
You’ve got options here: Sit down for a full farm-to-table meal at PV (get the grilled cornbread) or grab caffeine and yet another pastry at sister spot Elaine’s Coffee Call to tote over to the park.
Mile 7: Cannon Dr. to Sheridan Rd., Sheridan Rd. to Lake Shore Dr., Lake Shore Dr. to Roscoe St.
Stan’s Donuts and Coffee
2800 N. Clark St., Lake View, 773-868-0173
Second-to-last doughnut place on the list. Stan’s third location opens the day before the race, so expect long lines and fights over banana-Biscoff pockets.
Mile 8: Lake Shore Dr. to Addison St., Addison St. to Broadway St., Broadway St. to Aldine Ave.
3415 N. Broadway, Lake View, 773-305-0024
Giant cinnamon roll addicts, you can get your fill at this mainstay Lake View eatery.
Mile 9: Broadway St. to Clark St., Clark St. to Deming Pl.
2552 N. Clark St., Lincoln Park, 773-248-4580
This is a great stretch for sidewalk spectating, with outdoor dining options aplenty lining Clark Street. Frances’ offers you matzo ball soup, if you’re past breakfast at this point.
Mile 10: Clark St. to Webster Ave., Webster Ave. to Sedgwick St., Sedgwick St. to Menomonee St.
Eleven Lincoln Park
2301 N. Clark St., Lincoln Park, 773-244-1112
“To order anything less than corned beef and pastrami hash is to sacrifice the gift of being able to order corned beef and pastrami hash.”—Steve Prefontaine, probably, upon being presented with Eleven’s menu.
Mile 11: Sedgwick St. to North Ave., North Ave. to Wells St., Wells St. to Hill St.
1233 N. Wells St., Old Town, 312-548-3319
Watching people run can be exhausting! About now, a mocha with an extra shot of espresso will give just the right amount of jolt.
Mile 12: Wells St. to Hubbard St., Hubbard St. to Orleans St.
540 N. Wells St., River North, 312-527-1850
This breakfast-friendly mini-chain is always a solid choice for artisanal juices sans sticker shock.
Mile 13: Orleans St. to Franklin St., Franklin St. to Adams St., Adams St. to Canal St.
401 N. Franklin St., River North
The brick walk-up is teeny-tiny, with barely enough room for a counter and register, and doughnuts fly out of there on a normal weekend. They’ll go even faster on Sunday, so get your butt in gear.
Mile 14: Adams St. to Loomis St.
Little Goat Bakery
820 W. Randolph St., West Loop, 312-888-3455
More than halfway done! Fuel up for a hearty round of cheering with a bagel slathered in kimchi cream cheese and a goat’s milk latte.
Mile 15: Adams St. to Damen Ave., Damen Ave. to Van Buren St.
The Palace Grill
1408 W. Madison St., West Loop, 312-226-9529
Your Denver omelet and hash browns probably have the same amount of calories the average marathon runner burns off.
Mile 16: Van Buren St. to Ogden Ave., Ogden Ave. to Jackson Blvd., Jackson Blvd. to Throop St.
230 S. Ashland Ave., West Loop, 312-666-7253
Plates of chilaquiles are known to induce a powerful runner’s high-esque endorphin surge (okay, maybe that’s not true, but it sounds good, right?).
Mile 17: Jackson Blvd. to Halsted St., Halsted St. to University of Illinois-Chicago
Rubi’s at the Maxwell Street Market
800 S. Desplaines St., University Village, 773-318-9526
Three tacos on handmade tortillas make for a stellar mid-race snack.
Mile 18: Halsted St. to Taylor St., Taylor St. to Laflin St.
1337 W. Taylor St., Little Italy, 312-733-8881
Cannoli for now, biscotti for later, happiness forever.
Mile 19: Taylor St. to Ashland Ave., Ashland Ave. to 18th St.
1725 W. 18th St., Pilsen, 312-226-2654
There is no wrong time to eat ultratender pork, which must be the reason why Carnitas Uruapan opens at 7 am on Sundays.
Mile 20: 18th St. to Halsted St.
1227 W. 18th St., Pilsen, 312-526-3851
On a recent visit, this pretty Pilsen spot’s output was a bit lackluster. Stick to a beermosa or two and then order one of their great pastries to go.
Mile 21: Halsted St. to Archer Ave., Archer Ave. to Canal St.
Dia De Los Tamales
939 W. 18th St., Pilsen, 312-496-3057
The feeling of fullness you get from chowing down on a couple of Cuban slow-roasted pork tamales sneaks up on you, kind of like how the extreme fatigue a runner feels in his legs sneaks up on him around mile 21.
Mile 22: Archer Ave. to Cermak Rd., Cermak Rd. to Wentworth Ave., Wentworth Ave. to 26th St.
2618 S. Archer Ave., Chinatown, 312-808-1999
Dim sum is kind of like the endurance race of dining: It’s all about pacing yourself so that you can enjoy every last pork shu mai.
Mile 23: Wentworth Ave. to 33rd, 33rd St. to State St.
234 W. 31st St., Bridgeport, 312-842-9200
Order a burger on a pretzel bun and a Lagunitas IPA and you may just end up sticking around this sports bar until the Bears game starts.
Mile 24: State St. to 35th St., 35th St. to Michigan Ave., Michigan Ave. to 29th St.
3901 S. Michigan Ave., Bronzeville, 773-285-1700
FYI: Seating for Pearl’s massive Sunday soul food buffet (complete with chicken and waffles) ends at 11:10 a.m.
Mile 25: Michigan Ave. to 21st St.
Joy Yee’s Noodle Shop
2139 S. China Pl., Chinatown, 312-328-0001
Have you heard of the Wall? That’s the dreaded part of the marathon where a runner’s brain—and body—is ready to give up. Consider mile 25 the hungry spectator’s version of the Wall. It’s slim pickings in this stretch, so you may need to walk almost a whole mile (the horror!) back to Chinatown for a worthy snack. The bubble teas at Joy Yee’s make for a good reward for all your exertion.
Mile 26: Michigan Ave. to Roosevelt Rd.
The Bongo Room
1152 S. Wabash Ave., South Loop, 312-291-0100
Congratulations! You successfully watched someone else perform a serious athletic feat! Reward yourself with red velvet hotcakes. You’ve earned it.