Editor's Note: Whether you're a tourist or an office worker in downtown Chicago, you can get sick of eating at chain restaurants all day. So we've started a series to get you the lowdown on where to find a great...
'South Loop' on Serious Eats
My quest to find good pizza in the Loop has been kind of frustrating. Pizza should be a pretty great lunch food. But a lot of places in the Loop that struggle with the basics. Is Pat's Pizza on South Clark the place I'm looking for?
To be honest, the menu isn't that much different from La Cocina, but its interior does look different, with a sleeker urban feel to it. So you'll see burritos, tortas, enchiladas, that sort of thing on the menu.
Mercat is a great place for vegetarians to dine because the expansive tapas menu has such a strong vegetable selection. Under "verduras," there are seven dishes that could easily comprise a filling and flavorful meal. Even the traditional tapas section of the menu has vegetarian bites sprinkles in.
At Mercat a la Planxa, Iron Chef Jose Garces may be the executive chef, but it's chef Cory Morris who is in charge of the kitchen on a day-to-day basis. Garces is only in town intermittently, but he makes sure to stop by Mercat for a full menu tasting at least once a quarter, when Morris presents him with a series of new dishes he'd like to add to the menu.
No matter if you need to try deep dish for the first time or are want to dig deeper into some of the city's more underrated spots, there are loads of great eats around Chicago's McCormick Place.
Frankly, corn smut (otherwise known as huitlacoche) can look a little scary, because it's jet black and mushy, and an infected corn kernel doesn't always scream "eat me!" But in Mexico it's a delicacy, and what's good for Mexico is good for me.
When it comes to brunch in Chicago, it doesn't get more over-the-top than this place, a bastion of overindulgence, hedonism, and guilt. If you're looking for lighter brunch fare, you'd be better off eating an actual drum than dining at this gluttonous Mecca.
McCaskey is a staunch believer in his neighborhood and with Acadia, he's become a pioneer, building a restaurant that boasts the South Loop's only Michelin star. Checkout where else he loves to eat around the area.
The brunch ritual is often mired in screaming children and heinous portions of over-stuffed, over-syrup'd French toast. So it's a welcome relief when a place like Acadia launches brunch, gussying up the weekend tradition with some welcome pomp and circumstance.
Waffles is a whimsical homage to the namesake breakfast staple, and it's the best thing to happen to waffles since Eggo.
The suburb-sized portions are topped only by the improbably low prices (especially on craft beer!), and the dining room bustles with the energy of regulars and first-timers alike.
You can go big at Mercat a la Planxa and have a fine time. But I tend to stick to the smaller menu items, especially the traditional tapas portion of the menu, where almost everything is fried.
Unlike most barbecue joints using aquarium-style smokers, Mary Lee's location in the South Loop near Chinatown and McCormick Place is downright convenient. But how does it hold up to the Uncle John's of the world?
Every time I walk into Eleven City Diner for lunch, I always remember to laugh. It's a lot of fun. The a shiny Jewish diner has a tall, airy space, along with a soda fountain, a full bar, and enormous portions.
Nepalese cuisine is often sold as a package deal with Indian. But can Nepalese food stand on its own amid Chicago's diverse dining landscape? To investigate, I recently ordered a largely Nepalese—and all-vegetarian—meal at Chicago Curry House.
I'll travel anywhere and endure any hardship to experience a great taco. But even after trying all of Flaco's offerings, I couldn't find one worthy taco in the bunch.
Nestled along the borderlands between the South Loop and Chinatown, Cafe Bionda serves a menu of comforting and familiar Italian fare. Butcher paper covers the tabletops in the cozy dining room, which lies adjacent to the dark-wood bar that greets you on your way in.
Bongo Room is, rightfully, known for having some of the best pancakes in Chicago. But if you find yourself there and in a mood for something savory, this beef tenderloin and portobello sandwich is eagerly waiting to be eaten.