Once an industrial neighborhood, West Loop has seen rapid gentrification in recent years. Now, this hip nabe is a hotspot for dining and nightlife. There are some epic food halls, pubs, and venues for live music. You can also enjoy top-tier shopping at an array of upscale boutiques and vintage markets.
The Near West Side community lies along the western bark of the Chicago River. Its general boundaries are considered Grand Avenue to the north, Eisenhower Expressway on the south, Ashland Avenue to the west and the Chicago River to the east. Once full of manufacturing plants and warehouses, these industrial buildings have been transformed into trendy loft condos, art galleries, bars, and restaurants.
West Loop Restaurants
One of the city’s top dining destinations, there are some pretty well-known eateries in the nabe. Stop by Girl and the Goat, the restaurant from Top Chef winner Stephanie Izard. For more famous dining, eat at Leña Brava from Rick Bayless, the restaurateur behind PBS’s Mexico: One Plate at a Time. Other popular outposts predate TV fame. J.P. Graciano Grocery has been selling the best old-school Italian sandwiches in West Loop since 1937.
Wander Randolph Street to find whatever you’re craving—from Mediterrenean to Japanese and an array of contemporary American eateries.
West Loop Hotels
You’ll find a lot more places to stay across the river to the east of West Loop. There are a few hotels here, just as unique as the nabe. There’s the swanky Publishing House Bed & Breakfast, an urban B&B with 11 rooms in the historic Free Methodist Publishing House (built in 1909). There’s also Hotel West Loop Chicago, if you need a more economic option that’s convenient to mass transit.
West Loop Tourist Attractions & Tours
Due to its culinary provenance, there are a few foodie tours and pub crawls that focus on West Loop. You can also try the one-stop-shop at Time Out Market Chicago, housing 18 kitchens, tree bars, and a beautiful rooftop terrace in the nabe.
If you’re feeling adventurous, West Loop is home to climbing venue Brooklyn Boulders as well as Bad Axe Throwing. Or, learn about Chicago’s Greek community at the National Hellenic Museum. Punch Bowl Social Chicago is an adult’s playground with bowling, karaoke, and vintage arcade games. (Try the spiked milkshake.) Another on-trend locale here is House of Vans, which hosts concerts, screenings, and skate nights free throughout the year.
West Loop Architecture
West Loop is home to the architectural wonder that is Chicago Union Station. Built in 1925, the Beaux Arts train station features Bedford limestone facades, marble floors, large Corinthian columns, and a Great Hall. Throughout, the space is lit with brass lamps.
West Loop Shopping
West Loop houses a mix of high-end retailers and independent boutiques. It’s home to well-known stores like Free People and Aesop. There’s also an array of swanky men’s suiting boutiques, interior design stores, and women’s fashion shops. Discover your next read at Open Books, or haggle for the best deals on vintage goods and furniture at Randolph Street Market.
West Loop Theater
You won’t find much traditional theater in this trendy nabe, but there is a lot of nightlife and live music around. Catch a punk or electric show at the Bottom Lounge, a rocker hangout that doubles as a destination for Blackhawks fans during hockey season.
West Loop Festivals & Events
Randolph Street Market also hosts the West Loop Art Fest, drawing more than 150 artists as well as food, music, and interactive family events. Union Park also hosts the annual Pitchfork Music Festival, with multiple stages set up on the lawn.
West Loop Parks
Union Park is the most popular expanse of green space here. There’s also a swimming pool, fitness center, sporting courts, and an auditorium.