Lunching in the Loop: Quick, delicious options
Workers in the Loop have more options these days for a quick and delicious lunch. ABC7's Hungry Hound has been eating lots of lunches and looking for some new places where fast food actually tastes good.
Lunching in the loop is a minefield of fast food, but there are some gems. Petterino's and Atwood Cafe go a bit more upscale. Chipotle offers fast and fresh Mexican and the Haifa Cafe cranks out tasty Middle Eastern fare. But four other newcomers are giving Loop lunchers some options from around-the-clock cereal to some of the best Thai food in the city.
Whoever said you had to eat a salad or sandwich at lunchtime? The newest option in the Loop is Cereality, an all-cereal-all-the-time concept on the West side of the Loop, where you can create your own cold or hot concoction, and load it up with fruit, nuts and other goodies.
For something more substantial, head to Poag Mahone's, at the Southwest corner of the Loop.
"This is an old Chicago tavern with an Irish twist."
That means in addition to great beers on tap, beef rules. The Stockyards burger is pure ground sirloin, topped with grilled onions, mushrooms, lettuce and tomato. Marinated skirt steak is served open-faced on a grilled Italian loaf, along with 'shrooms, onions, peppers, jack cheese and chipotle mayo.
"We do about 50% of our lunch sales in burgers, great steaks, great salads, terrific garbage salad. I don't think you could have a pub in Chicago without having a great garbage salad," said Dan Rosenthal, Poag Mahone's.
Just a few blocks North, a taste of authentic Thailand awaits at the popular Siam Rice. Skip the predictable spring rolls and start off with a refreshing green papaya salad, loaded with peanuts, tomatoes and long beans, dressed in fish sauce and palm sugar. Chicken coconut milk curry with egg noodles, or kao soy, is a Northern Thai specialty...it's sprinkled with crispy noodles on top. Steak is marinated in Thai seasonings, grilled, then served with spicy sauce and sticky rice. Speaking of which, do not miss the classic Thai dessert: coconut cream-laced sticky rice with a side of fresh mango.
Just around the corner, you can try a taste of old Bavaria, in the form of Hannah's Bretzel.
"A bretzel is a pretzel. You may know it from other eateries, it's the nicely rounded shape with the arms bread item. In Germany and in Europe we spell it with a 'B,'" said Florian Pfahler Hannah's Bretzel.
The bretzels are baked on site, and can be had plain or whole grain. During lunch, the same dough is used to make long, slender bread for sandwiches. Choose from ham, turkey or veggie - just about everything here is organic or all-natural, including the chips or almonds that arrive alongside, plus the dizzying array of more than 20 chocolates from all over the world.
"We love chocolate, we think it's one of the simple pleasures in life and we suggest strongly to have a little bit of chocolate everyday."
The only Vietnamese restaurant in the Loop - To Pho on Wabash - serves the namesake beef noodle soup. A perfect antidote for the upcoming cooler weather.
100 S. Wacker Dr.
333 S. Wells St.
117 N. Wells St.
180 W. Washington
19 N. Wabash
165 N. Wells St. 312-332-0063
410 S. Clark St. 312-235-9000
318 W. Adams St. 312-346-2288
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