A Walking Guide to Chicago’s Buzziest Neighborhood: the West Loop

CHICAGO’S WEST LOOP neighborhood feels like a separate city—an enclave of art deco warehouses and low-story brick buildings facing a wall of skyscrapers across the I-90 Expressway. Once the site of an open-air 19th-century produce market on Randolph Street and home to meatpackers along Fulton Market two blocks north, the […]

CHICAGO’S WEST LOOP neighborhood feels like a separate city—an enclave of art deco warehouses and low-story brick buildings facing a wall of skyscrapers across the I-90 Expressway. Once the site of an open-air 19th-century produce market on Randolph Street and home to meatpackers along Fulton Market two blocks north, the neighborhood is now a booming development zone. To preserve its distinct architectural heritage, Chicago has granted landmark status to 142 properties in the area, now christened Fulton-Randolph Historic Market. A stay here puts you within scenic walking distance (along the Chicago River) of Michigan Avenue’s Magnificent Mile. Book dining reservations ahead of your visit; Covid culinary withdrawal and staff shortages are exacerbating the competition for tables at sanctums of Chicago celebrity chefs, upscale food courts and bars where the decibels can out-roar the rattling elevated trains above Lake Street. Here, we list a few of the places worth the time and calories, plus choice hotels and diversions.

STAY

Chicago’s outpost of the Hoxton [1], a British boutique hotel chain, blends co-working and hospitality in a new 12-story tower. During the day, the lobby’s midcentury-modern couches fill with folks diligently tapping at laptops. Labor segues into drinks in the basement bar or a meal at Cabra, a Peruvian-inspired rooftop restaurant reached via elevators lined with antique maps of Chicago. Most of the 182 rooms skew small, albeit with big, factory-style windows. Guests partake in yoga flow classes, literary salons and workshops on digital philanthropy. From $139 a night, thehoxton.com

Occupying two stories of the former Free Methodist Publishing House (built 1909), the luxurious, loft-like Publishing House B&B [2] offers 11 rooms adorned with vintage oriental carpets, company safes and steamer trunks. Ample breakfasts, which might include homemade Ligurian olive oil cake and gluten-free doughnuts, live up to the district’s foodie reputation. From $179 a night, publishinghousebnb.com

EAT AND DRINK

A neighborhood staple, chef Stephanie Izard’s Little Goat Diner [3] serves international takes on American breakfast classics, including This Little Piggy Went to China, a cheddar biscuit topped with eggs, Sichuan sausage and smoked blueberries. 820 W. Randolph St., littlegoatchicago.com

Convenient for lunch and with a Sunday Jazz brunch, the 50,000-square-foot Time Out Market [4] serves as a culinary tour of Chicago with 11 eateries and bars created by accomplished restaurateurs from across the city. Options range from artisanal chocolates to Michelin-starred plates; try the hefty fried chicken sandwich from Cleo’s Southern Cuisine. 916 W. Fulton Market, timeoutmarket.com

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