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May 8, 2009 11:06 AM

Fun & trendy lunch spot, still a bit casual

I'm looking for some fun, trendy-yet-casual lunch options downtown, preferably serving alcohol. No stuffy french bistros or the like, as we'll be coming straight from the airport and ready to relax.


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  1. Where, downtown? "Downtown" covers quite a wide area, from the Gold Coast and Mag Mile down to the South Loop.

    Depending on which downtown neighborhood you'll be heading to, I recommend the following places for a fun, trendy, casual lunch...

    Magnificent Mile:
    Cafe Spiaggia (Italian) -
    Cafe des Architectes (contemporary American) -

    River North:
    Frontera Grill/Topolobampo (Mexican) -
    Nacional 27 (Latin fusion) -
    Cafe Iberico (tapas) -
    Quartino (Italian "small plates") -
    Bin 36 (wine bar) -

    Park Grill (American) -
    The Gage (gastropub) -

    South Loop:
    Custom House (contemporary American) -
    Mercat a la Planxa (tapas) -

    West Loop:
    Blackbird (contemporary American) -
    Red Light (pan-Asian) -
    Carnivale (Latin fusion) -

    Incidentally, French bistros are not at all stuffy - quite the contrary! The whole idea behind French bistros (and any other kind of bistros), as opposed to fancier, more formal restaurants, is that they are supposed to be casual, moderately-priced, friendly neighborhood-type places. Just to cite one of our best as an example, I've never heard anyone refer to La Sardine ( ), in the West Loop, as "stuffy", LOL!

    1. Thanks- this looks good. I think Mercat a la Planxa is exactly what we're looking for.