In Chicago's West Loop neighborhood, the meat-packing industry blends with upscale lofts and restaurants, resulting in an area that's trendy with a dose of industrial grit. It's the city's unofficial restaurant hub, and with many of Chicago's top chefs opening up multiple restaurants in the area, West Loop is perfect for a culinary adventure.
On the north side of the neighborhood, the Blue Line stops at Grand. In the heart of the area, the Green and Pink lines drop off at the Morgan Street stop. Many buses run through and around the periphery of the neighborhood, including the 8 Halsted, 65 Grand, 20 Madison and 9 Ashland.
Where to Eat and Drink
At upscale diner Au Cheval, the legendary burger gets all the attention. But dishes like a perfectly made omelet and the chilaquiles—served after midnight only—are equally as divine.
The Publican focuses on gourmet pork, oysters and unique brews in a beer hall-atmosphere, while Publican Quality Meats has salads and sandwiches perfect for lunch or a casual dinner, plus a curated selection of packaged goods and a butcher case.
Since 1937, the family-owned JP Graziano Grocery & Sub Shop has been dishing out Italian subs and sandwiches.
When it comes to libations, CH Distillery is crafting pitch-perfect spirits, then using them in unique cocktails in its tasting room.
Where to Find Fashion and Relax
Maria Pinto has long designed clothing for some of the most stylish women in Chicago—think Oprah and Michelle Obama—and at her new boutique, M2057, she's created a line of dresses, jackets, wraps and other women's apparel made from Italian fabrics. The clothing is design-forward while still remaining accessible. Dapper dudes head to Notre for on-trend men's clothing and accessories.
Stock up on gift-worthy home goods, stationery, jewelry, accessories, kids' items and more at The Fig Tree. Next door, Tribeca Boutique stocks contemporary women's clothing from brands like Tracy Reese, Dolce Vita and Michael Stars.
Smitten Boutique creates custom stationery for any event, while also stocking beautiful ready-made cards, home accessories, baby goods and personalized items.
To escape the hustle of the city, duck into lillieAnn's for a customized massage, facial or other spa treatment in one of its tranquil rooms.
What to Do
Vintage hunters, here is your mecca: The Randolph Street Market features nearly 300 vendors hawking vintage and retro clothing, furniture, jewelry, housewares, records and hundreds of other items.
A similar smorgasbord awaits at Chicago French Market, only this time, the wares are ready to be devoured, with dozens of food folks—from up-and-coming chefs to well-known restaurants like Saigon Sisters and Pastoral Artisan Cheese, Bread & Wine—dishing up their creations, plus a small grocer with fresh produce and other foods.
Challenge yourself at Brooklyn Boulders, the Chicago offshoot of the popular New York climbing gym. With classes, events and group activities, there's as much emphasis on community as there is on climbing.
Finally, drop in to see Old St. Patrick's Church, the oldest public building in the city—and one of the only buildings to have survived the Chicago Fire.