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May 4, 2012 12:19 PM

Staying South of the Loop - anything close by?

My husband and I will be visiting for the first time during the last week of June for 5 days. We are staying in a condo a few blocks from the Sears Tower, a place called River City. From what I can tell, there aren't a lot of worthwhile spots in the immediate vicinity - more of a DBD area, correct? I am thinking the Gage might be one of the few places we might try if we are very hungry or thirsty & don't want to walk too far...

Don't get me wrong, I have scouted out lots of places to go over the course of our trip, I am just wondering about what is REALLY close to us - a mile or so's walk for

1. worthwhile food or drink
2. a market where we might buy a few things for our fridge - fruit, beer, maybe something to throw on the grill.

***I have just edited the thread name - thanks Ferret & Masha for telling me which neighborhood I will call home for a few days!******************

Thanks in advance!

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  1. River City is actually in the area known as the South Loop, which is south of Congress Parkway (maybe 6 blocks south from the Sears Tower). Unlike the Loop, which is mainly office buildings, there is amount of residential in the South Loop. So, if you walk more or less due east from River City (i.e., towards the Lake) there are quite a few dining opportunities. For example, if you are interested in Chicago style deep-dish pizza, there is a Lou Malnattis on State St., just south of Polk. Mercat a la Planxa is in the Blackstone Hotel, on Balbo, near Michigan Ave. Search the Board for "South Loop" or "Printers Row" for more suggestions of restaurants in your immediate vicinity.

    Also, you are within easy walking distance of the L -- especially the Red or Blue Lines -- which you can take south to China Town (the Red Line to Cermak), or north to River North or the Gold Coast (the Red Line to Grand or Chicago), or further north along the Blue line to Wicker Park, Bucktown, or Logan Sq., or north along the Red Line to LakeView.

    As to grocery stores, there is a small grocer in the apartment building across the street from River City. And, further south, along Roosevelt Road, you will find both Jewel and Dominicks (our 2 major chain supermarkets), as well as Target and Trader Joes.

    3 Replies
    1. re: masha

      Due East (and a bit South) you have Tapas Valencia, Gioco (Italian) and Zapatista (Mexican). None are the finest examples of their respective cuisines but I've visited each in the past and will continue to do so in the future. They're good neighborhood spots with a lively atmosphere and above-average food. So if you don't feel like venturing too far, there are still options.

      That area also boast a Bongo Room location - really good breakfast place.

      1. re: masha

        That is really helpful, Masha - thank you!

        btw, I was just reading some other posts of yours. I actually was pretty dismayed to realize Taste of Chicago will be going on during our visit. I have two questions for you - Will the whole lakefront area be mobbed? meaning - Does it spread all over the Millennium park & Art Institute area? I am having a hard time figuring out just how big it is.

        .... and Do you still highly recommend Spiaggia/Cafe Spiaggia? Our only definites so far are G&the G and Alinea.

        1. re: foster

          The Taste won't be set up in Millennium Park itself but there will be a lot more people downtown than normal and so MP may likely be a little more crowded than normal. If I had to guess, the Taste is usually in the area bordered by Lake Shore Drive, Monroe, Michigan and Balbo.

      2. River City is in the South Loop, which isn't actually the Loop (and should more appropriately be called South of the Loop). You're right about not being in the immediate vicinity of anything but not horribly far, either. There are a number of restaurants in the South Loop, primarily East of your location (no more than 10 minutes away). The complex also has a shuttle service into the loop.

        There's a Whole Foods and a Target about a half mile away (the condo is in a slightly pedestrian unfriendly spot, but once you go a block or two East, North or South, it gets better).

        1. "Close" is relative -- and I wouldn't necessarily consider The Gage close to River City (or that River City is close to the Sears Tower). Having said that, The Gage is pretty good and reliable. Even closer is a very casual bar/restaurant called Hackney's. Food is good for what it is - burgers, fish 'n chips, etc. with a better-than-average beer list. There's also Custom House. It has gone through a number of chef/ownership changes over the years but recent reports are generally positive. Mercat a la Planxa is pretty close, too, if you want tapas/Spanish food.

          There's a Whole Foods not too far from River City that should get you covered with groceries. It might be tricky to get to - or at least the route is rather round-about -- Polk to Clark St, then up to Roosevelt and west a little. Or you can go East along Roosevelt to a Jewel (regional mega-chain of grocery stores). And, really, I'd be surprised if there wasn't a mini-mart type of place in River City itself.

          And area wise, it's fine. Not as touristy as the Loop or River North but there's a fair amount of college housing and other residential developments around.

          2 Replies
          1. re: danimalarkey

            Well, I guess it is safe to say - it is a good thing my husband has a decent sense of direction! I sure don't.

            Thanks Danimalalrkey. As for "close," I will try to clarify and say I am just trying to get a feel for what is closest.

            1. re: foster

              Chicago has a truly rational street naming/numbering system that makes it almost impossible to get lost. Look at the nearest street sign and you you'll know immediately what direction you're heading and how far away from your destination you are. Pick up a street guide and get familiar with it.

          2. In the other direction, you're not too far from Greektown. Along with many Greek restaurants, you'll find Artopolis Bakery for baked goods and breakfasts. Just go straight west on Jackson. (Also on Jackson is Lou Mitchell's, for what can be a very interesting Chicago breakfast.) A little bit further up on Clinton is Chicago's relatively new French Market, where you'll find some unique specialty shops along with basic groceries. And, if you're here on Sunday morning you'll be close to the Maxwell Street Market on Canal, home of some of the best Mexican street food in the country.

            1. I am a huge south loop fan. If anyone didnt Acadia is pretty amazing!