South Loop's best restaurants, from casual breakfast to fancy dinner



Finding a great place to dine in Chicago’s South Loop, a trendy neighborhood booming with development, and near Grant Park, Soldier Field and near tons of hotels and college campuses. It's filled with tiny and terrific restaurants and bars, where you can grab a quick bite, impress a date, or enjoy a cocktail with friends. From brunch hot spots like Yolk, lunch favorites like Oysy and dinner fans who favor fine dining at Acadia, the South Loop packs a lot of flavors in a small footprint.

Local institutions like the Jewish deli, Manny’s, has served Presidents Bill Clinton and President Barack Obama. For those who want a great view of the city’s Grant Park, head to Artist’s Café in jeans and a t-shirt, or enjoy a more formal dining experience at Mercat a la Planxa. Reggie’s is a hidden gem with its rooftop restaurant and music lounge below. And Acadia's award-winning contemporary American food ranks among the city's top restaurants.

Chicago’s South Loop neighborhood is packed with great dining options from affordable and quick to high-end dining and several offer outdoor seating which is highly desirable when Chicago weather cooperates.



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This breakfast, brunch and lunch chain is expanding into new locations across the city because, well, the food is excellent. Yolk has all the standard breakfast foods you'd expect, like omelets, frittatas, crepes, oatmeal, French toast and eggs benedict. But they also do unique twists on traditional dishes, such as the Kale Scrambler, which mixes eggs with sauteed kale, carmelized onions, tomato and goat cheese, or the Pot Roast Benedict, which is pot roast and poached eggs on an English muffin. A separate kid's menu is available, although they might want the Oreo or smores pancakes. Fans wax poetic over the red velvet French Toast and egg benedict. It's a busy restaurant - expect to wait for a table on weekends.


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Flacos Tacos is a cute little taqueria that is perfect for a casual lunch or happy hour with friends. It prepares simple Mexican food: tacos, burritos, tamales, tortas and quesadillas and everything is made fresh daily. Order at the counter and then sit down with your number and the staff brings your food to your table. Specials let your dollar stretch farther although their prices are quite reasonable. Choose from beef, pork, chicken, fish or veggie tacos a la carte for about $2.35 each (3 make a nice meal). It gains bonus points for using green, bio-degradable or recyclable packaging.


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Set above Reggie's Music Joint, if you can pass the two layers of security (checking of IDs) and climb three flights of stairs, you'll be rewarded with a very cool rooftop dining experience. Ample seating on the rooftop means everyone can enjoy a great meal, participate in a basketball game or shoot some pool (for free), and if you happen to get a little dirty, there is an outdoor shower so you can clean up before heading out. The bartenders are experts are pouring drinks but the place offers daily food and cocktail specials so make sure you check it out before ordering food or a drink.


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Upscale Mediterranean food, with a Lebanese focus, is served in this beautifully-decorated restaurant. One of the most popular items on their menu are the bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with goat cheese and pecans. But fans also rave about the rosemary-infused baba ghanoush, and the duck shawarma platter with saffron basmati rice and grilled vegetables. Everything is served with warm pita bread, made fresh each day in their brick oven. The drink menu has wines from Lebanon, Syria and Israel along with Israeli beer. If the weather's nice, grab one of the 30 patio seats, which are perfect for people-watching along Michigan Avenue.


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Finding a great sushi place in the South Loop isn't easy but Oysy fits the bill. Oysy is an Izagaya, a bistro type restaurant serving traditional food in a relaxed atmosphere. Its contemporary atmosphere includes modern designed tables and lighting and a lot of open space so you won't feel crowded. Service can be spotty depending on your expectations but prices are about right (specialty maki rolls range from $10-15). Fan favorites include the seaweed salad, Godzilla and Chicago maki rolls and Chilean sea bass with black bean sauce. If you prefer cooked maki rolls, opt for the Firecracker which is a bit spicy and fully cooked.


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Popular among local college students who attend classes nearby and locals alike, the Artists Caf� offers a delicious mix of artisan sandwiches and wraps, fresh and flavorful salads, fresh-baked pastries and homemade gelato at very reasonable prices considering its prime real estate location. "Not Your Kids" Grilled Cheese is a highlight featuring aged cheddar, fresh mozzarella and goat cheese, tomatoes, pesto and thick cut country bread. Open mic every Thursday night creates a fun neighborhood atmosphere and the outdoor patio is great for people watching and dining al fresco. The gelato flavors change regularly and the place serves Intelligentsia coffee.


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This famous, old-school, no-frills Jewish deli has been around for almost a century. In June 2016, it opened a new deli and bakery, so you can take meat and treats to go. But you also can stay and enjoy the cafeteria food, which includes piled-high pastrami and corned beef sandwiches, with fried potato pancakes on the side. And they have excellent bagels and soups, including matzah ball and kreplach. The restaurant's a favorite among the blue collar crowd and politicians, including Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. Knowing how to order will help you not feel out of place: grab a tray by the door as you enter, then grab utensils and get in line.


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It may not look like much on the outside, but on the inside is one of Chicago's best restaurants. The recipient of multiple Michelin stars, award-winning chef Ryan McCaskey serves contemporary American cuisine in either 5-course or 10-course menus. It's pricey - expect to spend at least $150 per person - but you'll have the finest, artistically presented dishes, like Shetland Island salmon, Stonington lobster, and Madagascar chocolate. Many of the dishes pay homage to the Northeast, especially Maine. The lovely, minimalist-styled dining room has comfortable, plush seating. You can also find excellent food at the bar, such as a lobster roll, oysters or an Acadia burger.


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The light streaming through the massive, arched windows enhance the vibrant colors of this Catalan restaurant located in the Blackstone Hotel. The tables and chairs carry off sleek, modern lines that are contrasted with bright greens and oranges and rich purples. It seems more like a Spanish market than a restaurant. The festive ambiance is further enhanced by the selection of small dishes. Traditional tapas like octopus with smoked paprika can be found alongside flatbreads served with beef shortribs, horseradish, and bacon. There's even the option for ordering a whole roasted suckling pig, which the chef will gladly carve himself.


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Meet Jamie Bartosch

Jamie Bartosch is a lifelong Chicagoan who thinks her hometown is the greatest city in the world. She is an award-winning newspaper reporter, a freelance travel writer, and the mother of two great kids.

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