Loop Lunch Ideas

Loop Lunch Ideas

Photo of Chicago Tribune

When we set out to discover the Loop's best midday meals, we found so many that we needed to break the area into quadrants, highlighting the best of each. And then we ordered a side--lunch choices along Michigan Avenue.

20 Places
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    Zodiac is on the fourth floor of Neiman Marcus, squirreled away behind the holiday ornaments and chocolate Santa Clauses. I suggest ordering simple--the grilled cheese and soup ($13, above).
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    Sit by the large oval window overlooking Michigan Avenue. Order the Sardinian Parmesan-Anchovy Pizza (above). Admire how many varieties of saltiness mankind has managed to cram on a small single slice of sauceless pizza.
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    It's best ordered in-the fantastically craveable corn bread, if you stick around, arrives at your table in a (scalding) cast-iron skillet. As takeout, however, it's better, and juicier, than it needs to be. For instance, that French dip ($18).
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    Nothing bowled me over, and nothing bored. My pulled pork sandwich was full of smoke. My chair was lime green. You’d swear it was Swedish.
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    We love the $5.99 combos lunches at this steamed bun emporium that brims with energy, freshness and bold Asian flavors. Service is fast, tables are clean and the quality of the ingredients never fails to impress.
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    In addition to sandwiches and salads, Pastoral offers a small but fine selection of meats, cheeses, sweets, condiments and wine.
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    This gorgeously appointed dining room in the historic Burnham Hotel is quiet enough to talk about biz but interesting enough to amuse you if the talk is boring.
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    We tried one of their lunch-only sandwiches, the slow-roasted chicken sandwich (crusty baguette crammed with marinated artichoke hearts, cucumber, goat cheese, basil, tomato and chunks of chicken, $10, above).
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    Crepe creations (spinach and mushrooms, coq au vin, etc.) fill the menu, as do omelets, sweet crepes and more. A budget-minded diner can also get "Le Brunch" menu (11 a.m.-3 p.m. Tue.-Fri.) of a crepe choice plus soup or salad.
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    The tempura still had crunch, the tuna was lush. The menu also boasts 25 sushi/sashimi items and 30-plus rolls.
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    This crowded place may overwhelm toddlers, but if your crew includes preteens and teens, the opportunity to get a sandwich "as big as your head" and a milkshake ($3.50) may win 'em over.
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    We crunched through a big plate of fritto misto, a perfectly crisped pile of fried bay shrimp, pickled cauliflower and zucchini ($12), along with grilled organic pork loin (yummy with its pebble-like pasta called fregola, grilled figs and hazelnuts, $23).
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