Out of the Loop: The West Loop Side Story

By Nikhita Giridhar, Class of 2019

By Nikhita Giridhar, Class of 2019

Winter will soon strong-arm you into believing there is no world beyond the Loop. So while I still have your attention and Fall lingers with us, I use my hand wisely. Chi-Town, the Windy City, is known most poignantly, as the City of Neighborhoods. Look no further then, than the recently gentrified, speakeasy-laden, duck-franchise haven of the West Loop. It is home to a street that famously parades its moniker, ‘Restaurant Street.’ And we thought River North was everything!

The vibrant West Loop Neighborhood is always welcoming

The vibrant West Loop Neighborhood is always welcoming

As most of Chicago, weekends in the West Loop begin on Thursdays:

Thursday, Happy Hour:

This is my dutiful goat-franchise shout out. At Little Goat Diner, across the street from its fine-dining counterpart, on a red-leather-back diner counter is your sloppy goat sammiche. The weekend vibe is best washed down with 1.21 gigawatts (you’ll know what I mean - it’s happy hour!). If you prefer, just tell yourself you're a student and you can do this - indulge in the Mint Chocolate Chip shake!

Friday, Ramen:

Slurp that Ramen at the teeny High Five Ramen

Slurp that Ramen at the teeny High Five Ramen

The order of the day needs you to stand in line at the opening hour (6pm) at High-Five Ramen. Your table (bar stools in the 14-seater dimly-lit ramen secret spot) will be ready in an hour. Walk across to Bar Siena and soak in the neighbourhood gathering over soda (and/or more!). The music and din of the weekend is an all-weather remedy! Head back to High Five Ramen and prepare to be amazed by how much is packed into 300 sq ft!

Saturday, Coffee & Music:

Get your caffeine on at La Colombe

Get your caffeine on at La Colombe

If you continued back to Bar Siena or chanced upon the latin-music gem of Ronero, you will need La Colombe’s cold pour, rain-watching windows and barista vibe the next morning. If you're sans company, this is where you’ll make a new friend.

Catch a gig at Sofar Sounds

Catch a gig at Sofar Sounds

When you walk down Randolph between Sangamon and Halsted, this alfresco neighbourhood of warehouse-turned-lofts will fit into your day like a song. Speaking of, Sofar Sounds is always hosting pop-up gigs at pop-up venues in the West Loop. There is no greater way to reduce the degrees of separation between us and our live-music co-aficionados. An ideal Saturday night.

Sunday, Brunch:

Enjoy Margaritas on tap at Federales

Enjoy Margaritas on tap at Federales

Channel your costume-party alter ego and make Federales your own! The hip-hop, beer garden, high-energy vibe is more than you can pack into your Sunday afternoon and yet somehow, you will! The music feels live and the ambiance is contagious. Margaritas on tap is a thing!

Bad Hunter is where all bad things come to an end. This forage specialty is the peaceful antidote to the whirlwind week ahead of you. Ask for their choice of wine, stay for dessert, have a great conversation and walk back to the Loop along the river.

Winter can only do so much to the ‘hood that holds Chicago’s character. But since it ought to be on your list, treat yourself to Fall in the West Loop. Get over here quick, au cheval.

Nikhita is one those Boothies that doesn’t live in MPP and chooses to call West Loop home. She’s always willing to show you around the incredible neighborhood or go on adventures to explore more of Chicago!