In Chicago from Los Angeles for 2 weeks
I'm not sure what Chicago natives call the area of downtown I'll be staying, but I think it is referred to as the "East Loop" (Monroe stop on the Red).
Can anyone give me recommendations on pubs and places where I can eat solo? Willing to adventure out but places near metro stops would be much appreciated.
One thing that I don't want to eat is deep dish pizza since I've done that the last 3 times I've been to your lovely city.
Eh, I'd say we just call it "the Loop".
Any specific meal requests? Breakfast/lunch/dinner? The Gage and Miller's Pub come to mind as being especially close and worthwhile drinking spots (and dining, though the Gage is more upscale; Miller's Pub is about as 'old school' as you'll find these days in downtown). Both would be perfect for a solo diner.
Across the river in River North, Purple Pig is a good choice - I've rarely had issues waiting for a seat at their bar and the food is great. Frontera Grill would be good, too (and if you sit at the bar, you can order off the more upscale Topolo menu, if you wish). Slurping Turtle or even Frontera's "sister" restaurant, Xoco, would be good for more casual/faster meals.
To the West, you can find avec - great Mediterranean dishes (and even if not marked as such on the menu, most dishes can be ordered in half-portions -- do not hesitate to ask your server!). Normally, I'd suggest the Publican but I really hate eating there by myself - you get stuck at a narrow counter with hardly any room to yourself. Vera is a really nice Spanish wine bar with good food. Nellcote and Au Cheval are newer options in the area, but I'm not sure what the set-up is like for eating solo.
Hopping on a train opens up tons of possibilities for you, too. The blue line can get you to the Paramount Room (Grand stop, a short walk southeast), a really friendly bar with perfectly satisfying food. From the Damen stop, Big Star is a lot of fun if you want some great tacos, bourbon and the best people-watching in the city. At the California stop, you can visit Revolution, the city's best (I think) brewpub. Great beer, really well executed comfort food and a fun, lively crowd. At Logan Square, there's Lula's or Longman & Eagle, both withing steps of the El stop.
Back to the area around your hotel, if you're a fan of coffee, make a bee line to Intelligentsia. Probably the most serious of coffee shops, the price and time it takes to make your coffee is well worth it.
The bar at Trattoria No. 10 (10 N. Dearborn St.) would also be a place where you could eat solo. It's only a few blocks from your hotel.
You might also search this Board for "Palmer House" or "Art Institute" as both are close to your hotel and eateries in close proximity to those locales are the subject of frequent discussion.