Restaurant Row: The West Loop’s Dining Paradise
So you’re thinking about finding a home in the city, and one of your top priorities is to be in the vicinity of great food. Downtown is always a hit, River North is packed with great fare, but where do you go if you really want to have access to any type of cuisine? The answer is the West Loop—more specifically, Restaurant Row on Randolph Street.
Restaurant Row essentially spans the entire Northern border of the West Loop, from Ogden on the West to Halsted on the East. You know, that weird street with a two-lane road in the middle, flanked by another lane on either side, which is then flanked by perpendicular parking? Those outer lanes with the separate stoplights, making you sit at a red light as everyone else drives away in the same direction you were heading? Yes, that’s restaurant row. Obscure traffic layout aside, it will be your new home away from home when you hunker down in the West Loop.
It may take a minute for you to start noticing all the restaurants packed in among the industrial buildings. This area holds some history, structures from a time when the West Loop was an industrial and warehouse center. Behind the buildings on Restaurant Row lie many businesses still operating in that vein—meat-packers, distributors, suppliers, and the like.
While the setting can be off-putting at first, it’s part of what gives Restaurant Row its charm. In some ways, it’s a much more “real” view of the restaurant industry; there’s a lot going on behind that pretty brick façade and white linen. Industrial-style buildings juxtaposed with restaurants serving the best food in the city makes for an environment found nowhere but here.
Keep in mind that the streets adjacent to Randolph can be considered in the Row as well. Grand Ave, Fulton Market, and Halsted are just a few nearby hotspots.
Undoubtedly, you’ve either dined on Restaurant Row or at least heard of one of the more well-known names. Girl & The Goat? Blackbird? Au Cheval? All are located on Randolph along restaurant Row.
What do we recommend?
Perez Restaurant is the perfect venue when you want great food without all the frills (and the high price). They offer some of the best Mexican food around, even if the décor is a bit lacking. Come here for the food alone, and you will not be disappointed.
Au Cheval is a Restaurant Row staple, for good reason. We think it’s a great lunch spot, though you’ll enjoy any meal you have here. Do you like putting fried eggs on things? So does Au Cheval! The name actually means “horse” in French, and the culinary world associates this with putting an egg on top. I don’t pretend to understand the slang, but I do know how great a home-made fried bologna sandwich is with a fried egg on it.
Little Goat, the follow-up to Girl & The Goat, is another Randolph highlight. A go-to for the décor alone—clean cut, yet retro and very well done; think Edison bulbs and Victorian wallpaper against warm wood and linear designs. The food, goat-centric for sure, is to die for. We love the nachos especially, but any dish is perfect, goat or not.
One of the best things about Restaurant Row, is that there is always a new venture opening up. Yes, this means that not all culinary endeavors survive the Row, but this ensures a high-quality and extensive selection.
Be on the lookout for Green Street Smoked Meats, on Green Street just south of Randolph; TETE Charcuterie on the Row; and Tanoshii Sushi Mike, also right on Randolph.
What’s your favorite spot on Restaurant Row?