While the salads are often overdressed, the grilled sandwiches are surprisingly good.
'Lunch in the Loop' on Serious Eats
GRK Greek Kitchen is yet another lunch spot in the Loop that's adopted the efficient Chipotle model, where you order a format of food (in this case a wrap, pita, salad, or plate), choose a protein or filling, and then you pick condiments and toppings. You know the monkey drill.
Blackwood BBQ is the first barbecue joint to show up in the Loop, and they're serving some of the best lunch downtown, especially since the prices are so reasonable.
While my luck hasn't been all that great lately, and the hits just keep on coming, the experience of a good lunch helps ease the pain a bit. Enough to take the slight edge off, at least.
There's an odd dearth of hot dog joints in the Loop. You'd think a city that has its own hot dog style would have more banged up stands downtown, but you'd be wrong. Dead wrong.
Emerald Loop is just on the border of the north Loop, and it has a fairly large sidewalk seating area, where you can eat outside. The restaurant serves Irish pub food, just like the countless other bars in Chicago, but it's also one of the only places in the area to try a full Irish breakfast.
Green Apple Yogurt (or is it Green Apple Grill and More?) is a perplexing place. Until today, I had no idea it even existed.
You know you've made it when you can name a restaurant (or anything, for that matter) after yourself. For example, take Wolfgang Puck, or a Foley catheter.
One of the coolest things at Eppy's Deli is that they base their soup prices off the temperature outside—no kidding. When I visited, it was 63 degrees, which translated to a $0.63 cup of soup!
I've always been curious about Pierogi Heaven. Sadly, when you walk in, there are no angels or cherubs made of pierogi, which, now that I think about it, would be pretty creepy. Creepy, yet delicious.
Saucy Porka is yet another fusion place, turning Puerto Rican, Southeast Asian, Japanese, and Korean food into its own culinary Frankenstein.
When I found the Soups in the Loop truck last week, it was on an unseasonably cold day—blustery, damp, and in the 40's. I eagerly stood in line while I listened to my coworkers complaining about the weather for ten minutes straight.
It seems like the food world has an enormous hunka-hunka burnin' love for Rick Bayless. Even though I've had plenty of tastes of his food, I'm still on the fence on whether or not I like his style.
The previous pizza businesses in this location haven't had much luck. One of the last versions, Pizza Broker (best name ever) disappeared. Then it was Nicola's Pizza, which wasn't much different. Now it's Loop Pizza. Maybe the spot is just suffering from a curse. A pizza curse.
Pret is an extremely quick-serve sandwich restaurant. You can be in and out within two minutes, which is perfect for office folks rushing to their next meeting.
Boni Vino Ristorante and Pizzeria is on a stretch of Van Buren just behind the Chicago Board of Trade, and the front windows are so dark that the interior has been a mystery to me for years.
If I had to summarize the entire Shark's Fish and Chicken experience in a few words, I'd say this: Get the catfish, honey barbecue wings, gizzards, or maybe the taco puff. Also, there's a pawn shop next door with a TV show.
Roly Poly Sandwiches, as I learned during my research, is a chain restaurant that only serves wrap sandwiches. But my child-like curiosity got the better of me, and I knew I had to visit. Besides, the place is called Roly Poly, how could you not want to go?
One thing I've discovered during my food writing journeys is that if you want to learn about new lunch places, ask your coworkers. They might be holding onto some gems you've never known about. Case in point: Osaka Express.
Considering I've done about 60 Lunch in the Loop posts, it's still a wonder to me that there really aren't that many classic hot dog joints down in Officeville. That makes Max's Take Out a gem, especially if you're looking for a hometown Chicago lunch.