Chicago: A Neighbourhood Guide to The West Loop

By: Liz Behler

December 5, 2014

Chicago‘s old industrial district is now one of the city’s hippest. Not that long ago, the West Loop was a cultural desert, but a recent influx of notable restaurants, bars, and even a trendy hotel have made the neighbourhood a destination in itself.

A Neighbourhood Guide to The West Loop | Blackbird
Roasted wild salmon with apple cider-miso glaze, sunchokes, rapini, and chamomile vinaigrette © Blackbird

Located in the heart of the West Loop, Randolph Street has quickly become the city’s premier restaurant row, with more buzzed about restaurants, block for block, than anywhere else in the city. It’s here that you’ll find one of the city’s 3-Michelin starred restaurants, Grace, as well as culinary beacons like Stephanie Izard’s Girl and the Goat and Paul Kahan’s Blackbird.

A Neighbourhood Guide to The West Loop | Au ChevalAu Cheval’s burger is one of the best in Chicago © Au Cheval

Randolph also has a number of lower key spots for when you want to chow down without having to make a reservation. Au Cheval’s burger is consistently rated as one of the city’s best, and Little Goat Diner (sister restaurant to the Girl and the Goat) serves up diner food with a twist, like banana waffles with peanut butter and bacon maple syrup.

A Neighbourhood Guide to The West Loop | RM Champagne Salon
Sip champagne at RM Champagne Salon’s patio in warm weather © RM Champagne Salon

A number of bars here have also made a name for themselves. Located down a cobblestone alley just off Randolph, RM Champagne Salon pours estate-grown wines in a romantic atmosphere complete with crystal chandeliers and candlelight. On warm evenings, head to the patio for a more bohemian vibe. The Aviary, the high-concept cocktail lounge that has been known to concoct libations with liquid nitrogen and employs an “ice chef”, is worth a visit for an entirely different kind of bar experience.

A Neighbourhood Guide to The West Loop | Randolph Street Market
Crowds shop the outdoor vendors at the Randolph Street Market © Randolph Street Market

The West Loop has also seen a rise in the number of boutiques moving into the neighbourhood, but one of the biggest shopping draws is the Randolph Street Market. Held one weekend each month, this indoor/outdoor market has over 250 vendors selling everything from vintage finds to jewellery to home decor. Tickets are required for entry, but buying your tickets ahead online will help save some cash (which you can then turn around and spend once you’re inside).

A Neighbourhood Guide to The West Loop | Soho HouseThe Drawing Room at the newly opened Soho House Chicago © Soho House

A burgeoning neighbourhood demands a hot new hotel, and the West Loop got theirs when Soho House, the London members-only hotel brand, opened late this summer. Housed in the former Chicago Belting Factory building, the hotel has 40 bedrooms, three restaurants (all open to the public), a private cinema, a spa, aerial yoga classes and a retro-inspired gym complete with a vintage boxing ring. Not a member? No problem; it’s possible to book non-member room rates so you can stay close to the action.


Header Image: View of the West Loop © Flickr/SethAnderson


It’s easy to book your flight to Chicago with Virgin Atlantic’s seasonal direct service.


Do you have any favourite spots in the West Loop? Tell us about them in the comments section below.


Written by Liz Behler


Liz Behler

Liz Behler is a Chicago-based writer and editor who covers food, drink and travel. Her work has been published by a number of outlets, including Fodor’s, Wine Enthusiast and National Geographic. She previously worked as Features Editor for AOL Travel before leaving her post to travel non-stop for a year. Follow her @LizBehler

Categories: Our Places