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Eating and Drinking in the South Loop of Chicago
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Eating and Drinking in Chicago's South Loop

Sep 8th, 2014

Today, it’s one of the most happening parts of town, but not long ago Chicago’s South Loop was hardly considered a desirable place to live. It had a wealth of potential, but needed the movers, shakers, entrepreneurs, and developers that make a place “hip” to start working their magic.

The change underway in the South Loop may be a classic case of urban renewal, but the recent developments in the area are definitely worthy of publicity.

As AMLI Residential just opened the doors of our latest Chicago apartment project, AMLI Lofts, it seems a fitting time to discuss the South Loop and some of the dining and entertainment options it has to offer.

South Loop Grub

If South Loop apartment residents have a hankering for a particular type of food, chances are you can find it within walking distance of your apartment. One of the most popular restaurants in the neighborhood is Meli’s Cafe and Juice Bar. Meli’s is a breakfast and brunch spot that has received accolade upon accolade for dishing up fresh and tasty food. The portions are large, and the general nutrition and low-calorie character of its menu items means there is no need to feel guilty about eating everything on your plate. Meli’s Cafe is known particularly for the quality of its eggs, homemade marmalades, and challah bread. If you want to switch things up or get even more bang for your buck, be sure to check out Yolk, another fingerlicking good lunch spot, or The Bongo Room, for their sweet and savory brunch menu.

Another noteworthy South Loop restaurant is Devil Dawgs, a favorite among nightlife enthusiasts who like to cap off a night with something greasy and satisfying. The late night snacks people line up for every night can make getting out of bed in the morning a little bit easier. You don’t have to be a lush in order to enjoy the hot dogs and hamburgers served up by this well-known joint. Even dedicated health nuts can be tempted by their greasy delights.

Coffee for the South Loop Caffeine Aficionado

There are plenty of other excellent dining options in the South Loop, but we will save those for another blog post. In the meantime, let’s turn our attention to a few coffee shops that happen to also serve small bites, if not full meals. Housed in the Chicago Hostel International, Cafecito is an inexpensive Cuban joint that serves up tasty sandwiches and some of the best coffee around. The cortadito, prepared in the traditional style with condensed milk, is especially popular. The sweet jolt it delivers takes only a minute or two to kick in and lasts for hours.

Another popular place to down a cup of joe in the South Loop is the Monadnock Coffee Bar. Proudly serving Intelligentsia coffee beans, the mouthwatering java at this Italian-style espresso bar is sure to give you the stimulation you need to feel productive and alert. In fact, the aroma you detect when you walk through the door may be powerful enough to kickstart your day even before you take your first sip.

Grocery Shopping in the South Loop

Living on a budget and doing your best to cook your own meals and brew coffee in your apartment kitchen? No problem. The South Loop, especially sub-neighborhood Printers Row, is one of the most walkable neighborhoods in the country. South Loop Market, Mariano’s Fresh Market, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Target, and Urban Pantry all have a presence in the area.

Not only do South Loop residents have their pick of grocery store. They also have the luxury of being able to shop without having to worry about lugging a week’s worth of groceries back to their apartment with them. Picking up ingredients for dinner is as easy as dropping by your favorite supermarket after work and carrying a (hopefully reusable!) bag or two home. If you forget something you need, returning to the store to pick it up should be quick and easy.

Bars, Breweries, and Wine in the South Loop

When it comes to grabbing a drink after a hard day’s work, Printers Row is as hot a place right now as any in Chicago. Recently opened, First Draft has already been the subject of exuberant praise. The Clark Street public brew house boasts a selection of more than 200 beers, ranging from locally brewed craft favorites to classic imports from around the world. If the drinking you do at First Draft makes you hungry, give their beer-infused pizza a shot. And don’t miss Vice District Brewing, a brand new brewery that just opened up last month in the neighborhood. There won’t be any food on-site, but take advantage of the food trucks in the area, get something delivered, or bring in your own food and taste one of the beers they have on tap while watching the brewers at work through the viewing windows.

If you prefer wine, the Printers Row Wine Shop may quickly turn into your favorite place to unwind. With a premium selection of reds, whites, bubbly, and craft beer, this hot spot has something to please every palate. If you haven’t stopped by this well-stocked beverage emporium, turn up for your first visit on a Friday evening between 5 and 8PM for a free wine tasting. It’s easy to see why the wine shop has quickly turned into a neighborhood favorite.

Chicago’s South Loop has so much more to offer than we could possibly hope to cover in just one blog post. For more recommendations of things to do in the South Loop, keep an eye out for future posts covering the area. And if you are one of the thousands of Chicagoans looking to relocate to a South Loop apartment in or near Printers Row, be sure to check out AMLI Lofts and AMLI 900.

What did we miss? What local eateries and activities deserve shout outs in future posts? Let us know about your favorite things to do in Chicago’s South Loop by leaving a comment below!

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