Updated Jan. 17, 2018.
Running east to west across what was once the semi-skeezy Fulton Market District, Chicago’s Randolph Street is the major artery through the heart of the vibrant West Loop dining scene. Close to the offices of the Loop and Union Station and directly on the access path to the United Center, Randolph Street is uniquely placed and highly accessible. Perhaps that’s one reason it’s proved a magnet for top Chicago chefs and restaurateurs like Paul Kahan, Stephanie Izard and Brendan Sodikoff, who saw the potential early on — nothing succeeds like success.
Here are some of our favorite places in the city, all conveniently located on a two-mile stretch of Randolph Street. And keep in mind that there are more treasures to explore on nearby Fulton Market (The Publican, PQ Meats, Swift & Sons) and Lake streets (Momotaro, Bar Takito, Saigon Sisters).
It’s a distillery, so you know the adult beverages are going to be killer, but you might not expect the food to be this good. Chef Bobby Mayo has his finger on the pulse of what you want to eat with your Lapsang Suchong-infused CH London Dry Gin. More fun: Distillery tours offered Tuesdays and Saturdays at 5:30 p.m. 564 W. Randolph St., 312-707-8780
Chicago’s original shared-plates resto. Current chef Perry Hendrix incorporates Midwestern and Mediterranean ingredients to great effect. Don’t worry; their classic Chorizo-Stuffed Dates and Focaccia with Taleggio remain. 615 W. Randolph St., 312-377-2002
The first restaurant of Chef Paul Kahan’s One Off Hospitality empire, Blackbird opened in 1997 to rapturous reviews, and they haven’t lost a step in nearly 20 years. Make no mistake, this is fine dining. 619 W. Randolph St., 312-715-0708
Chef Ashlee Aubin is killing it with everything from Pintxos (Uni Toast, Jamon Croquetas) to Platos Fuertes (Duck Breast a la Plancha, Poached Halibut with Green Garlic Dumplings). And the Spanish-style Gin Tonics are altogether on point. 621 W. Randolph St., 312-466-1000
Everything you’ve heard about their burger is true — it kicks the tushy of practically every burger in town. But the matzo ball soup! The fried chicken! The foie gras terrine with orange marmalade (whaaaaaaa?)… I mean, yum. 800 W. Randolph St., 312-929-4580
“Top Chef” winner Stephanie Izard’s flagship (see Little Goat Diner below; her newest, Duck Duck Goat — a fresh take on Chinese food — opened this year on Fulton Market) has been packed from the get-go and has yet to slow down. The Wood Oven-Roasted Pig Face is as remarkable as it sounds, but Izard has a deft hand with veggies, too. 809 W. Randolph St., 312-492-6262
I tend to come here for the tacos (the Duck Confit, Al Pastor and Spicy Chorizo in particular), tamales and made-from-scratch margaritas (Ginger-Cucumber-Lemon or Passion Fruit are faves), but no matter how full I get, I must have their coffee- and coconut-scented flan. 816 W. Randolph St., 312-455-9100
Breakfast, lunch, brunch, dinner, late night … Little Goat does it all. And there’s not an item on this menu that I would willingly pass up. So go ahead. Have your burger done banh mì style; grab a Fat Elvis waffle with bananas, peanut butter and bacon-maple syrup. It’s — literally — all good. 820 W. Randolph St., 312-888-3455
Remember when you were cool? This is where you ate. “Top Chef” Fan Favorite Fabio Viviani knows what the people want: thin-crust pizza, fresh from the wood-burning oven, and fresh bombolini (Italian donuts). Or is that just me? 832 W. Randolph St., 312-492-7775
You don’t need to be a member of the exclusive Soho House to partake of The Allis (the funky-cool lobby bar, filled with super comfy seating), Chicken Shop (spit-roasted chicken and homey sides) or the tiny Fox Bar. And you will feel so very, very in-crowd when you do. 113 N. Green St., 312-521-8000
Step inside this cavernous BBQ honky tonk and you are immediately transported to Austin, Texas — at least in spirit. Grab a tray of chopped brisket, hot links, baked beans and pickled veggies, order up a brew, plop down at a picnic table and enjoy. 112 N. Green St., 312-754-0431
Well-executed bistro classics dominate the menu here, from a classic Lyonnaise salad to herby steamed mussels and golden roast chicken. But it ain’t called a liquor bar for nothing. The sparkling cocktails and the Whiskey Smashes are particularly magnifique. 840 W. Randolph St., 312-243-9712
There’s a distinct rock-and-roll vibe here, appropriate as the restaurant is named for the famed villa in the south of France where the Rolling Stones recorded “Exile on Main Street.” Chef Jared Van Camp is milling the flour for the house-made pasta and breads himself in the basement from heritage grains. No, seriously. 833 W. Randolph St., 312-432-0500
Grass-fed cows and free-range poultry sacrifice themselves for a better burger. Surprisingly, even your vegetarian and vegan friends have real options here. And did I mention fried pickles? 844 W. Randolph St., 312-491-0844
Try the Canestri with Sunday Gravy and Shrimp Dejonghe, both loved in house and by fans. If Tony Soprano weren’t fictional, he’d be eating here with his friends. 925 W. Randolph St., 312-690-7295
Known for their eclectic mix of live music acts, Chicago’s City Winery location has hit its stride. Yes, they make their own wine here, but it’s performers like comedian Kevin Nealon and musical legend Graham Nash that bring in the crowds. 1200 W. Randolph St., 312-733-9463
Chef Bill Kim has his way with Asian BBQ, and we will follow wherever he leads, because it’s all crazy good. Standouts include the Tea-Smoked Duck Breast with pillowy buns; Marinated Korean Short Ribs and the PB&J Soft Serve Parfait. Sooooooo tasty. 1400 W. Randolph St., 312-563-1010
Sun-filled Randolph Street storefront by day, beguiling by night, Bad Hunter is one of my new favorites on Chicago’s Restaurant Row. Chef Dan Snowden favors a veggie-centric menu (thus the restaurant’s playful moniker) and yet if you want some crispy bacon on your veggie burger, all you have to do is ask. The pillowy Rye Gnocchetti ($16), available at both dinner and brunch, sauced with wood ear mushrooms, Thai basil pesto, Brazil nuts and English peas, is a party in your mouth that you never want to end. The dish is herbaceous, substantive and, when topped with a runny poached egg at brunch, perfection. 802 W. Randolph St., Chicago, 312-265-1745
If you haven’t yet experienced Roman-style al taglio pizza, get ready for your world to be rocked at this West Loop newcomer, the first American outpost of pizza master Gabriele Bonci. Belly up to the counter, where 15 or 20 large, oblong pizzas are on display, with countless inspired topping combinations in rotation. The pizza is sold by the pound, cut with sharp Fiskars scissors to your size specification. This is not thin-crust pizza, but crispy beneath, with an airy crumb. It’s scrumptious. The flour mix, imported from Bonci’s Italian mother ship, is a blend of 0, 00 and whole-grain flours. 161 N. Sangamon St., Chicago, 312-243-4016