My Chicago - #13 West Loop
One of the cities newer neighbourhoods, the West Loop
is the collective area across the Kennedy Expressway on the other side of the financial Loop district.
Historically the place was made up of factories and lofty warehouses, specifically in the meat and food service industry, and some of those companies remain around Fulton Street. Many of the lofts have been converted into apartments and there are some beautiful old buildings in the area added to by some modern high rises tempting Loop workers just a mile or so away from their offices.
In my mind the neighbourhood is still a bit hit and miss, there are certainly some streets, particularly by the railroad tracks leading out of Union Station that you'd not want to be walking around after dark, yet there are some parts that are officially trendy with cool shops and some of the best restaurants in the mid-west.
Bars tend to be of the late variety, and Lake Street particularly has a number of clubs tucked away under the El tracks. Wet
probably being the best according to people more familiar with the situation than me!
I do like Fulton Lounge
though but I'm more familiar with the restaurant scene. West Randolph Street is officially restaurant row with a new opening happening almost weekly. T
here are some great places to eat on this street and too many to list but I love the tiny Avec
and Paul Kahan' Blackbird
, which is next door. My all time top sushi place is Sushi Wabi
, the tarantula maki is to die for and for posh Mexican go to de cero
The whimsical Marche
is like walking into a theatre's costume and prop storeroom, Follia
is a superb Italian and both Carnivale
and Alhambra Palace
are worth having a drink in just to see their mesmerizing interiors.The Tasting Room
down by Union Park on the way to the United Center is a great place to view the city from and taste wine in non-snobby environment. The West Loop is best known for it's restaurants and is a constant source of items on my credit card, the latest place to take my fancy is Sepia
h opened a few months ago.
The day scene is less known, there is not extensive shopping and strangely few coffee shops, however local private and public schools encourage families to buy and do up some of the older properties on streets such as Loomis, Morgan and Sangamon.
Not surprisingly it was the artists that helped changed the demographic of the West Loop. Flatfile galleries
is great for photographic work, contemporary art can be found at Gescheidle
and the Linda Warren Gallery
(left). Mars Gallery
is in the Fulton Market area and there are many others worth a window browse between Peoria Street and Racine Avenue.
I like Fulton Market
because every turn of a corner shows up something different. Many of the fresh food companies still operate around here and galleries and studios compete with cargo trucks and workers carrying crates of produce. Some of the loveliest old loft buildings are around here too.
Oprah Winfrey's Harpo (Oprah backwards) Studios is on 1058 W Washington St.
Oprah, the world's 500th richest person tapes her shows
in front of a live audience 3 days a week at the studio, a former armoury. Visit Wishbone
(right) after and you may even see her tucking into some Southern cooking. Further west from here is the United Center
, home to the mighty Chicago Bulls
and Chicago Blackhawks
. The area in between is a bit iffy though, although getting safer and better all the time.
An unknown gem in this neighbourhood is the Museum of Holography
. Kids will love the three-dimensional images produced by laser lights and get in for nothing. Adults pay $2.50.