I kind of struggle with that area. Lots of chains for the tourists and lunch joints for the suits. But I've never gone wrong at The Gage on Michigan. Its a little pricey. In fact the price of the burger was set such that the average tourist would take one look and walk away, but its worth the price. For app, they have a delicious Scotch egg. You'll need a reservation on a weekend night or get their early enough to grab a seat in the bar.
If you really want good food though, it would pay to travel north of the river.
A lot of good steak houses north of the Chicago River, but at typical steak house prices. I think the best not-break-the-bank place is probably Wildfire on Erie.
If you want Chicago-style pie I'd do Giordanos on Rush. Its the original one and much better than the franchises, but packed with suburbanites.
All the good Thai are a trek from the loop if you don't have a car.
For Italian (real Italian, not Ital-American I'd try Spiaggia Cafe ($$$), Coco Pazzo ($$$), Coco Pazzo Cafe ($$) or Quarantino ($).
Giordano's also has locations in the Loop. The one in the Prudential building on East Lake Street is probably the closest to Wabash and Madison.
However, if you've never had Chicago deep-dish, I'd start with one of the others (Pizano's, Lou Malnati's, Uno/Due) rather than Giordano's. The others all serve the classic Chicago deep-dish "pizza in the pan", which is a single-crust pizza, one thick crust with everything on top. Giordano's (as well as Bacino's, Edwardo's, and Carmen's) serves double-crust "stuffed pizza", with the cheese and added ingredients ("toppings") between two rather thin crusts, and the sauce on top.
I like Giordano's as much as I do the others, but the "pizza in the pan" style at the others is what is most commonly known as "Chicago-style deep-dish pizza". That's why I'd start with the others first. Again, Pizano's is right around the corner.
Incidentally, both Pizano's and Lou Malnati's were both founded by sons of Rudy Malnati Sr. He and his sons all worked together at the original Uno and Due in its early decades.
The following previous discussions, which asked about places near the Silversmith Hotel at that intersection, are a good place to start:
Deep dish pizza near Silversmith Hotel? - www.chow.com/topics/797007
cheap eats near Silversmith Hotel, 10 S. Wabash - www.chow.com/topics/801692
Breakfast in Chicago - www.chow.com/topics/761302
Three Days in Chicago - www.chow.com/topics/797431#6704760
Valentines Day in Chicago - www.chow.com/topics/761235
>> What's good pizza?
Deep dish at Pizano's, right around the corner.
>> Sports pub?
Not strictly sports pubs, but pubs nearby include Miller's Pub (a steakhouse pub), the Exchequer (a pizza/cheap eats pub), and the Gage (a gastropub).
>> Steak (without breaking the bank)?
Petterino's is the closest and not overly expensive. David Burke's and Chicago Cut are our best; both are a 10-15 minute walk - if you want to keep it less expensive, go at lunchtime.
>> Thai or Vietnamese?
Nothing close by. You can catch the CTA Red Line subway at State and Monroe and take it north to Sheridan for TAC Quick for Thai food, or continue north to Argyle for the Vietnamese places which line Argyle at the el stop (Tank Noodle is the best known).
See link above.
In addition to the links above, see also:
Lunching in the Loop - www.chow.com/topics/527275
Vivere, in the Italian Village complex of restaurants.
Pizano's Pizza & Pasta
61 E Madison St, Chicago, IL 60603
3930 N Sheridan Rd, Chicago, IL 60613
Pho Xe Tang (Tank Noodle
)4953 N Broadway, Chicago, IL 60640
David Burke's Primehouse
616 N Rush Street, Chicago, IL 60611
24 South Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60603
150 North Dearborn, Chicago, IL 60601
71 W Monroe Street, Chicago, IL 60603
134 S Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL 60603
Exchequer Restaurant & Pub
226 S Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL 60604
Chicago Cut Steakhouse
300 N LaSalle St, Chicago, IL 60654
A bit more about our best Italian restaurants. The Italian Village is a group of three restaurants, and has been around for many years. The other two (the Village and La Cantina) are just your typical red-sauce Italian. Vivere is turning out more creative, contemporary Italian cuisine, and it is very good indeed. It's only a couple of blocks from Wabash and Madison. Also excellent is the Florentine, which is another couple of blocks west of there. Both are within a five-minute walk. There are other excellent moderately-priced Italian restaurants in downtown Chicago, the best of which IMHO is Piccolo Sogno, but they are a mile away.
464 N Halsted, Chicago, IL 60622
71 W Monroe Street, Chicago, IL 60603
151 W. Adams, Chicago, IL 60601