HOME > Chowhound > Chicago Area >
Mar 19, 2013 07:00 AM

Thai or Asian near Union Station or Loop

Hello C:
I am going to be taking the train back to school but I have a hefty lay over in Chicago and was wondering about a place to grab dinner. I have been to Chicago before but was living in the Loop, so I am more comfortable with my surroundings there.
I am vegetarian (but eat fish) and LOVE ASIAN CUISINE. Any recommendations?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. The Loop proper is spotty for dinner (and you didn't say when you're going, but it's worse on Sundays). In the vicinity of Union Station, all that comes to mind is AraOn in the W on Adams, but it's a higher-end place. Otherwise I'd suggest a quick cab ride to Chinatown.

    2 Replies
    1. re: ferret

      If I would take the L-train to Chinatown, do you have a recommendation?

      1. re: ateenfoodie_17

        My favorite restaurant in Chinatown is Double Li, which is Szechuan.

        But I still think there's plenty within a five-minute walk of Union Station, between the French Market, the nearby Thai places (per jbontario), and Embeya.

    2. The Thai place in Presidential Towers (a couple blocks away) is pretty good. Can't remember the name. The Thai/Sushi place in Ogilve Station (actually the ground floor lobby of Citibank bldg) is also pretty good. These are two my corporate lunch places.

      1 Reply
      1. re: jbontario

        >> Ogilve Station (actually the ground floor lobby of Citibank bldg)

        Not for a meal, but for a snack to take with you... Another place worth a stop in the concourse at the south end of the Ogilvie Center (Citigroup Center, 500 West Madison) is Garrett's Popcorn. They have wonderful caramel popcorn (with or without pecans or cashews), cheese popcorn, and the "Chicago Mix" of the two. That location is open till 6 pm on Saturdays. www.garrettpopcorn.com/chicago-locati...

      2. The French Market is an absolute must for what you're looking for, as long as it's not in the evening or on a Sunday, when it's closed. The French Market has about thirty different food vendor booths, including some which are the very best of their type. Places where you'll be able to meet your "pescetarian" constraints include Pastoral (cheese, sandwiches), and Saigon Sisters (Vietnamese cuisine including banh mi/sandwiches and pho/soup, with vegetarian and fish options). Save room for dessert, which you can pick up from Vanille Patisserie.

        The French Market is located four blocks north of Union Station, in a concourse in the Ogilvie Transportation Center. This is the same train station to which jbontario refers, but the place he's referring to there - called Thai Urban Kitchen - is in the main concourse at the south end of the train platforms, whereas the French Market is in a separate concourse a block north of there. It's easiest to enter the French Market concourse from the street, with entrances from Clinton Street and Canal Street. For directions as well as other information about the food you'll find there, see their website at www.frenchmarketchicago.com

        Another option is Embeya, which is pan-Asian and is right around the corner from the French Market. www.embeya.com

        P.S. The Thai restaurant jbontario mentions in Presidential Towers is called My Thai Takumi. www.mythaitakumi.com

        7 Replies
        1. re: nsxtasy

          How fun! Thank you so much, I may stop by just for something to do. I will probably want dinner a bit later than when it closes at 5:30 but maybe I can get something to go :)

          1. re: ateenfoodie_17

            Sounds like you'll be there on a Saturday. The good news is, because it's in the commuter train station, all the booths are experts at packaging their food to go. (They also have a seating area there as well.) The bad news is, if you hit the French Market within the hour or so before they close, you may find that some of the shops are running out of some of their prepared foods as they get ready for closing time. Still, it's worth checking out! Heck, you can always stop by and get foods there to take with you for the train, and then go eat nearby at Embeya or Thai Urban Kitchen.

            1. re: nsxtasy

              exactly! thanks :D I am very excited now!

              1. re: ateenfoodie_17

                Sounds like you are set for the French Market, and I enjoy it there. I always get some French macaroons, usually at both Vanille Patisserie and Delightful Pastries, based on flavors and fillings offered at each (I'm partial to ganache or jam for fillings, and while I prefer the cookies at Vanille, they often use buttercream instead).

                Embeya is on my list to try. Friends have gone multiple times and enjoyed it, and it seems to have a new and fun vibe that should be welcoming to a solo diner.

                Has anyone been to the Saigon Sisters restaurant and have impressions to share? I have only been to the stand at the French Market. It looks like it might also meet the OP's criteria.

                Saigon Sisters
                567 W Lake St Chicago, IL 60661
                (312) 496-0090

                1. re: GourmetWednesday

                  I am set for the French Market until 5:30 but if you have any other suggestions for later I am still open :)

                  The problem with Embeya is its a bit expensive...

                  1. re: ateenfoodie_17

                    Saigon Sister's Lake St. restaurant looks like it's in your price range and should be open. Have not eaten there so cannot opine on its quality. I have eaten at Thai Urban Market in the Ogilvie Center, however, and thought it was just so-so.

                    If you decide to go to Chinatown, my personal favorite is Moon Palace, http://moonpalacerestaurant.com/menu..... If you go there, make sure you get the xiao long bao, which compared quite favorably to the ones we had in Shanghai.

                    Note that if you decide to go to Chinatown, the roundtrip L fare will add $4.50 to the costs of your dinner. Also, you need to take the Red Line on the L, which will entail a transfer within the Loop (or bit of a walk), as the Red Line is a North-South line that runs several blocks to the east of Union Station, so give yourself plenty of time. (I am assuming that your stopover in Chicago is within the next few weeks. Note that the Red Line L will be shut down, starting in mid-May for a complete rehab, which would complicate your travels to Chinatown, yet further, if that is when you will be here.)

                    1. re: masha

                      Just remembered that you are a vegetarian/pescetarian, so you can ignore my recommendation of the xiao long bao at Moon Palace, since they have pork.

        2. Saigon Sisters is pretty great, whether you go to the location in the French Market or to their freestanding restaurant. If you don't mind a bit of a walk, Star of Siam is a pretty good Thai restaurant in River North (it's where we always order takeout from). If you go down to Chinatown I'd go for any of the Lao restaurants--you really can't go wrong with any of them. Lao Szechuan is our go-to in Chinatown (apart from dim sum!).