Where to Eat in South Loop

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The South Loop’s dining options have expanded in recent years.
Garrett Sweet/Eater Chicago

There’s plenty of variety in one of Chicago’s most history neighborhoods

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The South Loop’s dining options have expanded in recent years.
| Garrett Sweet/Eater Chicago

South Loop is one of the city’s most historic districts, a district with well-known residents like Marshall Field and George Pullman. One of the city’s first residential neighborhoods, it was one of it wealthiest. In present day, the area near Soldier Field and McCormick Place Convention Center, isn’t known for its restaurants, but with the construction of Wintrust Arena, there’s been a surge of new restaurants. South Loop has a solid collection of old-school Chicago favorites, blended with international newcomers. Eater Chicago highlights some of the best in the area below.

For updated information on coronavirus cases, please visit the city of Chicago’s COVID-19 dashboard. Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; it may still pose a risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial COVID transmission. The latest CDC guidance is here; find a COVID-19 vaccination site here.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

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One of the South Loop’s favorite lunching spots, Cafecito is an excellent place for a sandwich. Pick a traditional Cuban or go for one of their more out-of-the-box options, and don’t forget to add a side of spicy black bean soup or grab a container of whole olives to share.

For tapas, sangria and cocktails, head to Mercat a la Planxa. Olives, tomato bread, boquerones and a Spanish tortilla are all on the menu, and larger plates consist of meats and paellas. Pair the tapas with a build-your-own gin and tonic to complete the meal.

This Quad Cities-style pizzeria, which serves thin-crust pies cut into distinctive strips, has earned a place in the hearts of many Chicagoans with locations in South Loop, West Town, Lincoln Square, and Old Town. Known for a family friendly vibe and mammoth mozzarella sticks (shaped into hearts for Valentine’s Day), Roots’ Dearborn Street outpost offers an expansive indoor-outdoor dining space with a high-tech retractable roof.

A large dining room filled with long tables under a retractable roof.
The retractable roof is well-suited for Chicago’s warmest months.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Traditional Indian and Nepalese dishes are abundant at Chicago Curry House. Try creamy chicken tikka masala or rich biryani paired with naan and a cooling mango lassi. Or stop by for all-you-can-eat brunch with made-to-order naan.

This Ashkenazi-style Jewish deli serves up huge sandwiches and ice cream floats in a traditional diner setting. Melts, massive Reubens, egg creams, and matzoh ball soup are available (plus latkes). Founded in 2006, this neighborhood stalwart continues to draw hoards of locals and tourists.

This Chinese restaurant, an expansion of the Las Vegas original, is an experience with light shows and robotic servers. The food is decadent with plenty of wagyu beef offerings (there’s even wagyu hot pot broth). Look for a deep sake selection and cocktails.

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A South Side institution since 1959, Aurelio’s operates more than 40 locations, including this 5,000 square-foot flagship restaurant with a spacious outdoor patio. The chain specializes in thin-crust tavern style pies — often favored by locals over hefty deep-dish.

This elegant South Loop outpost from essential Chinese dim sum specialist MingHin Cuisine is especially well-suited for groups, with roomy booths and enormous tables with spinning Lazy Susans. Patrons can count on plate after plate of dim sum favorites, from shrimp dumplings and barbecue pork buns to chicken feet and congee.

The tavern-style pizza and wings are what have made a name for this South Loop landmark. The menu also features pierogi and meatballs, giving diners a great taste of old Chicago.

The former Asian Outpost has reconfigured pushing out an assortment of dishes, including poke bowls, the focus on Hawai’i. There’s a smattering of food from Asia, including Asian American favorites like orange chicken. The bar also pours tiki drinks, so it’s a good place for friends to catch up.

In a city flush with steakhouses, this restaurant stands apart with a distinctive space inside a former Chicago Fire Department firehouse. This upscale spot is a favorite for prime beef, seafood, and all the traditional accompaniments. It also offers a number of private dining rooms and a charming outdoor patio.

An Italian American red sauce classic, Victory Tap serves heaping portions of Chicago favorites. Shrimp deJonghe, appetizer pizzas, and an array of pastas make this a great place for families or dates.

This cafe and bistro’s expansive patio is the main draw, while traditional cafe items like baked goods, soups and sandwiches accompany the atmosphere. There’s a large beer list to round out the spot, making it a place to hang out with a brew in hand. The pastries are wonderful.

A nostalgic destination for cakes, muffins, and a plethora of baked goods, this Black-owned indie bakery is a tribute to chef and owner Veranda Runsewe’s mother. A Hyde Park native, Runsewe supplements her food menu with more than 40 loose-leaf teas from Milwaukee-based Rishi Tea.

Garrett Sweet/Eater Chicago

Equipped with a handy rooftop deck, Reggie’s draws crowds for shows from national touring acts and the occasional cover band. The experience is supplemented by a solid selection of beers and the venue’s popular chicken wings. There’s also a rooftop bar.

Located just minutes away from Wintrust Arena, Il Culaccino tempts fans and diners with a menu of Chicago Italian-American classics like chicken Vesuvio, prime steaks, pastas, and salads, plus a wine bar and tree-covered patio. The restaurant is from the owners of South Side stalwart Franco’s, a hit since 1986 in Bridgeport.

This is the Chicago location of a popular Chinese-based chain, the country largest. Haidilao serves Sichuan-style broths with a deep ingredient list like Kobe beef and more. The chain is also known for Dancing Noodle, which offer a bit of presentation. There are also robot servers.

Now operated by Fifty/50 Restaurant Group, this rooftop bar offers great views outdoors and a modern lounge that’s great for groups. There’s plenty of large format drinks, a friendly staff, and the food isn’t an afterthought. Burgers, chicken sandwiches, and more are quality.

James Beard Award winner Erick Williams (Virtue) has taken over the space once belonging to Chef Luciano. This is a casual spot with something for everyone. Chicken gumbo, burgers, and pastas make this a great spot for families.

Stephen Gillanders (S.K.Y.) takes inspiration from his Scottish side with a unique Euro-Mediterranean menu in an elegant space near Wintrust Arena. The pastas are the star (the bucatini is a highlight). Find interesting seafood and a top-shelf dessert menu.

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One of the South Loop’s favorite lunching spots, Cafecito is an excellent place for a sandwich. Pick a traditional Cuban or go for one of their more out-of-the-box options, and don’t forget to add a side of spicy black bean soup or grab a container of whole olives to share.

For tapas, sangria and cocktails, head to Mercat a la Planxa. Olives, tomato bread, boquerones and a Spanish tortilla are all on the menu, and larger plates consist of meats and paellas. Pair the tapas with a build-your-own gin and tonic to complete the meal.

A large dining room filled with long tables under a retractable roof.
The retractable roof is well-suited for Chicago’s warmest months.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

This Quad Cities-style pizzeria, which serves thin-crust pies cut into distinctive strips, has earned a place in the hearts of many Chicagoans with locations in South Loop, West Town, Lincoln Square, and Old Town. Known for a family friendly vibe and mammoth mozzarella sticks (shaped into hearts for Valentine’s Day), Roots’ Dearborn Street outpost offers an expansive indoor-outdoor dining space with a high-tech retractable roof.

A large dining room filled with long tables under a retractable roof.
The retractable roof is well-suited for Chicago’s warmest months.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Traditional Indian and Nepalese dishes are abundant at Chicago Curry House. Try creamy chicken tikka masala or rich biryani paired with naan and a cooling mango lassi. Or stop by for all-you-can-eat brunch with made-to-order naan.

This Ashkenazi-style Jewish deli serves up huge sandwiches and ice cream floats in a traditional diner setting. Melts, massive Reubens, egg creams, and matzoh ball soup are available (plus latkes). Founded in 2006, this neighborhood stalwart continues to draw hoards of locals and tourists.

This Chinese restaurant, an expansion of the Las Vegas original, is an experience with light shows and robotic servers. The food is decadent with plenty of wagyu beef offerings (there’s even wagyu hot pot broth). Look for a deep sake selection and cocktails.

A South Side institution since 1959, Aurelio’s operates more than 40 locations, including this 5,000 square-foot flagship restaurant with a spacious outdoor patio. The chain specializes in thin-crust tavern style pies — often favored by locals over hefty deep-dish.

This elegant South Loop outpost from essential Chinese dim sum specialist MingHin Cuisine is especially well-suited for groups, with roomy booths and enormous tables with spinning Lazy Susans. Patrons can count on plate after plate of dim sum favorites, from shrimp dumplings and barbecue pork buns to chicken feet and congee.

The tavern-style pizza and wings are what have made a name for this South Loop landmark. The menu also features pierogi and meatballs, giving diners a great taste of old Chicago.

The former Asian Outpost has reconfigured pushing out an assortment of dishes, including poke bowls, the focus on Hawai’i. There’s a smattering of food from Asia, including Asian American favorites like orange chicken. The bar also pours tiki drinks, so it’s a good place for friends to catch up.

In a city flush with steakhouses, this restaurant stands apart with a distinctive space inside a former Chicago Fire Department firehouse. This upscale spot is a favorite for prime beef, seafood, and all the traditional accompaniments. It also offers a number of private dining rooms and a charming outdoor patio.

An Italian American red sauce classic, Victory Tap serves heaping portions of Chicago favorites. Shrimp deJonghe, appetizer pizzas, and an array of pastas make this a great place for families or dates.

This cafe and bistro’s expansive patio is the main draw, while traditional cafe items like baked goods, soups and sandwiches accompany the atmosphere. There’s a large beer list to round out the spot, making it a place to hang out with a brew in hand. The pastries are wonderful.

Garrett Sweet/Eater Chicago

A nostalgic destination for cakes, muffins, and a plethora of baked goods, this Black-owned indie bakery is a tribute to chef and owner Veranda Runsewe’s mother. A Hyde Park native, Runsewe supplements her food menu with more than 40 loose-leaf teas from Milwaukee-based Rishi Tea.

Garrett Sweet/Eater Chicago

Equipped with a handy rooftop deck, Reggie’s draws crowds for shows from national touring acts and the occasional cover band. The experience is supplemented by a solid selection of beers and the venue’s popular chicken wings. There’s also a rooftop bar.

Located just minutes away from Wintrust Arena, Il Culaccino tempts fans and diners with a menu of Chicago Italian-American classics like chicken Vesuvio, prime steaks, pastas, and salads, plus a wine bar and tree-covered patio. The restaurant is from the owners of South Side stalwart Franco’s, a hit since 1986 in Bridgeport.

This is the Chicago location of a popular Chinese-based chain, the country largest. Haidilao serves Sichuan-style broths with a deep ingredient list like Kobe beef and more. The chain is also known for Dancing Noodle, which offer a bit of presentation. There are also robot servers.

Now operated by Fifty/50 Restaurant Group, this rooftop bar offers great views outdoors and a modern lounge that’s great for groups. There’s plenty of large format drinks, a friendly staff, and the food isn’t an afterthought. Burgers, chicken sandwiches, and more are quality.

James Beard Award winner Erick Williams (Virtue) has taken over the space once belonging to Chef Luciano. This is a casual spot with something for everyone. Chicken gumbo, burgers, and pastas make this a great spot for families.

Stephen Gillanders (S.K.Y.) takes inspiration from his Scottish side with a unique Euro-Mediterranean menu in an elegant space near Wintrust Arena. The pastas are the star (the bucatini is a highlight). Find interesting seafood and a top-shelf dessert menu.

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