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May 12, 2010 06:04 PM

Good lunch in lower loop?

Where can I entertain a business prospect over a good lunch in the lower loop? Budget isn't an issue. Specifically, near the Lyric Opera.

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  1. You're pushing the definition of "Loop" but you're right by Rivers, which is a good option for lunch.

    1. I've never heard of the "lower loop". But most people I know include the area out as far west as the train stations (just across the river) when referring to "the Loop".

      Rivers is a nice enough place, the food is okay albeit not amazing, and it's a good choice if you want something within a block of the Opera.

      If you want something a little bit classier with more creative food and you don't mind walking about four blocks, consider Blackbird, for contemporary American cuisine. Prairie Fire is about the same distance, for American cuisine. Vivere is about five blocks away, for upscale Italian.

      1. Rivers is close, but ... I don't recommend it in this instance. To the Blackbird, etc. recommendations I'll add Sepia to the list ... easy walk to the Lyric, excellent quality, nice place. About the "Lower Loop" comments ... I'm a life-long Chicagoan and I work Downtown ... and I've never heard that description used before. "West Loop" may be what was intended, and that's a description generally accepted for Wacker Dr. and over the Chicago River to the west a few blocks.

        4 Replies
        1. re: gomexico

          I've heard the term "West Loop" applied further west than that - from the river west past Halsted, including Greek Town and the entire Randolph Street corridor with its concentration of restaurants and nightlife (i.e. not only the part with La Sardine and Red Light, but all the way out as far as one sixtyblue where it hits Ogden Avenue).

          Names of neighborhoods have a tendency to change over time. 20 years ago, before that area underwent redevelopment, you never heard about the West Loop (although you heard about Greek Town).

          1. re: nsxtasy

            I agree that the change in names for neighborhoods is driven, for the most part, by real estate brokers and developers. If they think a new name, or expansion of area for a given name, will help sell property they'll try to change it. I think that's what's happened with the "West Loop."

            1. re: gomexico

              "I agree that the change in names for neighborhoods is driven, for the most part, by real estate brokers and developers."

              . . . and hoteliers, too. See "South Loop Hotel" on W. 26th St.


              1. re: gomexico

                Yup. Especially when the name of a neighborhood has become "trendy", so the realtors and developers start using it for adjacent areas, which may eventually become considered part of that area. It has happened with Bucktown, which originally extended from Fullerton to Armitage and Western to Damen, but is now considered to go from Fullerton to North and the Kennedy to Rockwell. It's happening with Andersonville, too, which realtors are extending south of Foster and north of Bryn Mawr.

          2. Sandwich type places:

            Hannah's Bretzel, on Washington just east of Wells. Awesome ingredients on a pretzel roll. Great selection of gourmet chocolate bars, also.

            Artisan Cellar, at the Merchandise Mart. Have a panini and take home a nice bottle of wine.

            Tons of options at the Chicago French Market, which is located under the tracks between Washington and Randolph, just west of the river. Fumare for sandwiches is one of my favorites there, but there are a lot of interesting choices to be had.

            4 Replies
            1. re: bricap

              Sandwich type places don't cut it when you need to entertain a business prospect.

              1. re: nsxtasy

                I will leave it to the OP to determine what does or doesn't cut it. While the budget might be unlimited, time might not be unlimited.

                Moving up the scale, in the Loop proper:

                Italian Village on Monroe, in between Clark and Dearborn.

                Rhapsody, at Adams and Wabash

                Petterino's, at Randolph and Dearborn (IV is better, though)

                The Gage, on Michigan just south of Washington

                Atwood Cafe, at State and Washington (haven't tried it, but hear good things)

                Cibo Matto, at the WIT Hotel (haven't tried, it, but also hear good things)

                State and Lake, also at the WIT Hotel, on State and Lake, of course (also haven't tried)

                A little further away, in South Loop:

                Mercat a la Planxa, in the Blackstone Hotel (can be kind of noisy, but food wise, this is the best one on my list)

                Custom House, on Dearborn just south of Congress

                Custom House Tavern
                500 S Dearborn, Chicago, IL 60605

                150 North Dearborn, Chicago, IL 60601

                Cibo Matto
                201 N State St, Chicago, IL 60601

                1. re: nsxtasy

                  I disagree. Not all business engagements / lunches are formal or in the "usual" places. There's no cookie cutter method to selecting the right place. The entainer should understand, best she/he can, the person being entertained ... and adjusted accordingly. Some of my most successful business meals have been in off-the-beaten-path restaurants.

                  1. re: gomexico

                    A specific request for a venue "Where can I entertain a business prospect over a good lunch" carries a connotation that a nicer place is sought, absent any qualification to the contrary. If the OP had asked for someplace "quaint" or "off the beaten path", that would be a different matter, but he/she did not. The words "entertain" and "GOOD lunch" make the intention very clear. While I enjoy places like the French Market and sandwich shops when looking for a quick bite (especially to go), they are absolutely inappropriate when I have a specific need to entertain a client or prospect in a nice place.

              2. Thank you all for the recommendations, and for improving my geographic sense in Chicago. I am from out of town, but a confirmed Chicago food fan.