March 15, 2006 | Comments

Loop Lunch Roundup

I have spent the past year and a half working in the Loop, and I can tell you that lunch hour is challenging. For a section of the city that is extraordinarily densely populated for the vast majority of the week, the Loop has painfully few outstanding lunch options.

Before you start sending me emails about your favorite little spot, please note the use of the word "outstanding" in the paragraph above. There are plenty of places to eat, most of which are perfectly satisfactory, but few, if any, would draw you to the Loop if you didn't have to work there. Perhaps it is the sheer volume of people that these places have to serve that forces them to compromise their quality. If you owned an eatery and 98% of your business happened during the same ninety minute period, five days a week, you'd probably be tightly focused on feeding more people rather than focusing on feeding them better food.

I'm interested in the Loop places that can strike the happy medium of putting together good food, and doing it fast enough to keep the doors open. I'm not too interested in places that you have to put your name on a list or wait in line to get a table. This is a list for people who need to get something good to eat, and get back to work. So, I present, after an eighteen month study, the Loop Lunch Roundup:

The six things that I actually enjoy, in no particular order:

Honorable Mention:

The also-rans:

There are a lot of other places that people fill up during the lunch hour that I dislike. Don't email me telling me that I really need to go to these places. I've been there and I don't like them: Tokyo Lunchbox, Elephant and Castle, Sopraffina, Poletto, Heaven on Seven, Ada's Deli, any of the reheated-grilled-chicken joints, Alonti, Uncle Abe's, Shalom Deli, Billy Goat, Haifa Cafe

And definitely don't mention Potbelly's (or Chipotle or Corner Bakery). Yes, it's true, there are people there who don't like Potbelly's.

Obligatory contact info:
Hannah's Bretzel 180 W. Washington, 312-621-1111. I won't link to their website because it makes noise.

La Cocina Multiple Locations: 45 N Wells, 312-346-1638, 406 S Clark, 312-922-8211, 11 W Jackson, 312-427-2094

Korean Express 330 S Wells, shares an entrance with Billy Goat at Van Buren, 312-986-8009

Sixty-Five Chinese Multiple Locations: 201 W Madison, 312-782-6565, 176 N Wells, 312-346-6565, 111 W Jackson (entrance facing the CBOT courtyard.) 312-566-6565. More locations just outside the loop.

Oasis Cafe 21 N Wabash Ave, At the rear of the Jeweler's Mall. 312-558-1058

Petra Cafe 331 S. Franklin, 312-913-9660

Finkl's Deli 400 S Financial, 312-360-9911, also a Kendall College Location

Ceres Cafe 141 W. Jackson, inside the CBOT building, 312-427-3443

Skrine Chops400 S. Financial, 312-566-9334,

Board of Trade Cafeteria 141 W. Jackson, Lower Level

Chase Bank Building Cafeteria Monroe, between Clark and Dearborn, Lower Level

Luke's 215 W Jackson

Perry's Deli 174 N. Franklin, 312-372-7557

Harold's Chicken Shack Many locations. In the loop at 39 N Wells, 312-345-1200

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