Best Restaurants in the South Loop

July 25, 2016
by Zagat Staff

Top-rated restaurants in Chicago's South Loop.

American · South Loop · $$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.5 · Service 4.5

"Artistically presented as well as exquisitely good" , the "progressive" New American cuisine at this "hip" South Loop kitchen is complemented by "unique cocktails" and an "impressive" wine selection, all courtesy of an "impeccable" staff; though "expensive" tabs leave some to save the "beautiful" , somewhat "formal" dining room for a "special occasion" , the "casual excellence of the bar menu" is a more affordable alternative.
Mercat a la Planxa
Spanish · South Loop · $$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.4 · Service 4.3

"Exquisite" , "high-end" Catalan small plates, "excellent wines" and an atmosphere full of "buzz" evoke "memories of Barcelona" at this "festive and fun" Spanish spot in the South Loop’s Blackstone Hotel; a "beautiful" , "striking" space with an open kitchen and windows "overlooking Grant Park" cements its status as a "must."
Tapas Valencia
Tapas · South Loop · $$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.5 · Service 4.5

The "amazing variety" of "flavorful" , "well-prepared" Spanish tapas "encourages sampling" at these "authentic" kitchens tended by "cordial" servers; the Naperville location is set in a "charming old mansion" with an outdoor "garden paradise" for "dining under the stars" , while the South Loop outpost has colorful, Miró-esque decor.
Bongo Room
American · South Loop · $$
Food 4.5 · Decor 3.9 · Service 4.0

A "crazy good" menu of "decadent" daytime grub, including "to-die-for" pancakes, draws hordes to these "reliable" American "breakfast and brunch joints" ; diners sit "elbow to elbow" in the colorful spaces, and though you should "prepare for a long wait" (unless you "come early" ), "large" portions and small bills help ensure they're "well worth it."
Aurelio's Pizza
Pizza · South Loop · $
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.0 · Service 4.3

"Tangy" tomato sauce with a "tiny bit of sweetness" is what distinguishes the "tasty as heck" thin-crust pies at this "consistently good" area chain where the salads are also "delicious" and you can "wash it all down with a pitcher of beer" ; the settings differ by location, but service is generally "efficient" , and it's an overall "local favorite."
Gioco Restaurant
Italian · South Loop · $$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.3 · Service 4.2

"Delizioso" Northern Italian fare "true to the authentic flavors of Italy" does it for diners who recommend the "perfectly cooked pastas with complex and satisfying sauces" at this "rustic" South Looper set in a circa-1890 building; "friendly service" , a "thoughtful wine list" and moderate tabs also help ensure it's a "keeper."
Pizza · South Loop · $
Food 4.4 · Decor 3.9 · Service 4.0

When the "mood for Chicago-style pizza" strikes, this locally grown chain is an "excellent standby" , delivering "on-point" deep-dish pies, including especially "great stuffed" versions; a "nice selection" of "traditional" Italian dishes like pastas and parms rounds out the menu, and while some locales offer craft brews, sangria and cocktails, others are BYOB.
Opart Thai House Restaurant
Thai · South Loop · $$
Food 4.4 · Decor 3.7 · Service 3.7

"Authentically" prepared dishes are "aromatic and flavorful" at these Thai mainstays where "converts" also preach about the "nuanced spicing" and all-around "delicious" fare; decor is "nothing to look at" , but "relatively inexpensive tabs" add to the reasons fans still find them "hard to resist" ; P.S. Lincoln Square is BYOB.