Eating Out in the South Loop 

September 24, 2019

The South Loop offers some of the best dining in the city. There’s everything from white tablecloth fine dining to white paper towel sandwiches. Here’s our guide to the places to grab a bite, or plan a date, in our neighborhood. 

Mercat a la Planxa 
Classic Mediterranean dishes at this Catalan-named joint are some of the best we’ve tasted this side of the Atlantic. Be sure to get the Pan con tomate, a Catalan classic that combines bread, olive oil, garlic and tomato for a side that is way more than the sum of its parts.  You can order main dishes, or share several tapas. If you’re in the mood for a rice dish like a paella, you’ll have to find someone to share, or be very hungry, but it shouldn’t be hard to persuade anyone to join you for the delicious seafood and rice combinations. Looking for an aperitif? Be sure to try a Vermouth, its a Catalan staple. 

Acadia 
Acadia is the crown jewel of the South Loop scene with two Michelin stars and a constantly changing seasonal menu it reflects what is best about the Chicago dining scene. Cuisine at Acadia is inspired by Chef Ryan Mcaskey’s childhood in Maine but filtered through a modern Midwestern lens. You’ll find meandering and enchanting twists on everything from a lobster roll to risotto. If you don’t fancy the full tasting menu experience then don’t worry, their burger served at the bar on a brioche bun with Gruyère, truffle-Gouda Mornay sauce, and bacon-onion jam is worthy of the two stars on its own in our opinion. 

Chicago Firehouse 
This spot really was once a firehouse, Engine Company 104 to be precise. The building is rich with history and feels like taking a step back into the twentieth century. Ironically, the Firehouse was rebuilt after a fire destroyed it but it has retained its classic charm. But even the new incarnation feels like a trip back in time. If you’re feeling classic decor, great service, and dishes like Dover Sole and Oysters Rockefeller or, of course, a hefty steak, this is the place to head to. From the private dining rooms to the immaculately dressed staff this is the place to come if you want to feel that old Chicago glamour for a day. 

Cafecito
A great spot for lunch, especially if you’re feeling a hankering for their delicious Cuban sandwich. Time Out Chicago selected this as one of the city’s best sandwiches and we don’t disagree. If you’re feeling a salad, they have great options that aren’t just the standard “caesar or cobb” offerings many lunch spots offer. Whatever you pick, don’t forget to add a side of spicy black bean soup or grab a container of whole olives to share.

Chicago Curry House 
Curry is a staple from London to Lahore and deserves a place in any multi-cultural city’s cuisine. Chicago Curry House offers dishes from Nepal and various regions of India. You can stick to familiar options like tandoori chicken, or branch out and enjoy a traditional Nepali “Thali” (meal combination) of “dal-bhaat” (rice and lentils) or “gundruk” (fermented and dried vegetables). If you wake up on a weekend feeling hungry for something other than eggs, the curry house’s all-you-can-eat brunch with made-to-order naan is legendary with locals.

Eleven City Diner 
Looking for something comforting? Eleven City Diner brings the East Coast to the Midwest with its huge sandwiches, ice cream floats, matzo ball soup and bagels with lox. Expect a warm welcome and friendly service as well as a pickle with your sandwich,  eating at Eleven City is like taking a step back in time and not just across the street. Portions are large, so you’ll get your money’s worth, but you might have to wait for a table. That’s ok, it’s worth it. 

The Scout
For classic American fare with a modern twist, we love The Scout Waterhouse and Kitchen. It’s a sports bar, but it’s a sports bar done right. There’s a great outdoor patio to enjoy one of their selection of craft beers. Bears fans pack out The Scout to enjoy the game, a few drinks, and one of the 14-inch grilled-cheese sandwiches that are only dwarfed by the huge 30 inch TVs. Enjoy a quiet weeknight burger with friends, or a gameday brunch special at the Scout and you’ll realize why it’s become the go-to spot for fans and families alike.