Courtesy of Mercat a la Planxa
Courtesy of Spoke & Bird
Flickr/Laurie Chipps
Nicole Bruce/Thrillist
Flickr/michellerlee
Nicole Bruce/Thrillist
Flickr/Trebz
Cafecito
Asian Outpost
Flickr/carrythebanner
Flickr/Opacity
Flickr/Opacity
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1. Eleven City Diner 1112 S Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL 60605 (South Loop)

A matrimony of the Jewish delicatessen and the old-school diner, Eleven City Diner's a greasy spoon sans the grease, with awesome double-decker sandwiches and generally huge portions of pretty much everything.

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2. Mercat a la Planxa 638 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60605

The South Loop’s Mercat a la Planxa brings the Mediterranean to Michigan Ave from its post at the Renaissance Blackstone Hotel. The menu is replete with Catalan-inspired tapas and cocktails from famed Spanish Chef Jose Garces. Start with a variety of cured meats (read: Jamón ibérico) and a pitcher of sangria before moving on to tapas like boquerones and pulpo con patatas. Finish with classic large-format items like paella and cochinillo asado (the latter of which must be ordered 72-hours in advance -- it is a whole suckling pig, after all).

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3. The Spoke & Bird 205 E 18th St, Chicago, IL 60616 (South Loop)

Spoke & Bird is the perfect day time hang out, whether you’re here to sip matcha lattes while pretending to work on your MacBook or to day drink local beers. Plus, there's a huge back patio.

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4. Kasey's Tavern 701 S Dearborn St, Chicago, IL 60605 (South Loop)

This South Loop neighborhood joint takes a rather low-key approach to its storied history, simply stating on its website that: “A bar of one sort or another has occupied the current location for over 100 years." The sort of bar you can expect now is one with a huge range of taps pouring delicious craft brews.

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5. Kurah 1355 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60605 (Near South Side)

Kurah is a great Mediterranean joint with tapas options, a brick oven for ultimate freshness, and specialty cocktails.

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6. Waffles 1400 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60605 (South Loop)

Equipped with irons specially imported from France, Waffles is doling out both sweet and savory riffs on the breakfast fave, from red velvet with cream cheese icing and cherry compote, to cheddar jobs topped with braised short ribs, to green tea joints with lemon-ginger chantilly cream and ground pistachios, which hopefully weren't on it for more than five seconds.

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7. Vice District Brewing 1454 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60605 (Near South Side)

With 14 brews on draft in their taproom (including porters and IPAs), and windows that allow you to take a look inside the brewing area, this South Loop microbrewery is a place you need to visit.

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8. Chicken Planet 177 W Van Buren St, Chicago, IL 60605 (Loop)

Chicken Planet in the Loop is a bit of a dive, but that's what gives this delectable counter-service chicken house its charm. Lunch crowds get pretty massive, and for good reason: you can get a quarter chicken (with sides and a drink) for less than 10 dollars. You can even watch the cooks preparing massive chickens in the kitchen. If you're in a rush, your meal is served up in a styrofoam container, so it is as portable as it is delicious.

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9. Cafecito 7 N Wells St, Chicago, IL 60602 (Loop)

If you’re craving a taste of Cuba, look no further than Cafecito. This coffee and sandwich shop brings a bit of authentic Latin flair to The Loop, providing fresh, affordable eats like their award-winning Cubano and the fan favorite Chivito, a protein pick-me-up of steak, ham, bacon, fried egg, mozzarella, citrus mayo, and other fixings, served hot in a pressed hero. Whether you’re grabbing grub on your lunch break or swinging through for your daily café con leche, this casual spot has your commuting cravings covered.

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10. Asian Outpost 1315 S Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL 60605 (South Loop)

There are plenty of options at this Asian spot: ramen, sushi, Mom’s Ginger Garlic Fried Chicken, and pork belly sliders with apple slaw to name a few. Pair it all with a house-made mango fruit soda or a cucumber-mint sake slushie and you'll be good to go.

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11. Reggies 2105 South State, Chicago, IL 60616 (South Loop)

This multi-stage music venue/record store/restaurant has a great rooftop bar compete with a basketball hoop and pool table. Plus the 30 specialty bottles, 24 drafts, and 17 flat-screens with the game on TV.

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12. Acadia 1639 S Wabash, Chicago, IL 60616 (South Loop)

Tucked away in a nondescript South Loop building, this Michelin-starred restaurant showcases chef Ryan McCaskey's contemporary take on classic American fare. Inspired by Maine, Acadia is unique for pulling off a sophisticated multi-course tasting menu (available in five or ten courses) and an à la carte bar menu that sports an aggressively indulgent burger. Whether you're there for the complete prix-fixe experience or for a cocktail and oysters at the bar, Acadia is definitely a special occasion spot.

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13. Buddy Guy's Legends 700 S Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL 60605 (South Loop)

This venue has some of the best live music in town. While its known for the tunes, it's got po-boys, gumbo, and jambalaya are available until midnight and they definitely hit the spot.

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