The West Loop, formerly an industrial center, has evolved into a vibrant culinary destination. This thriving neighborhood boasts a diverse range of dining experiences, from smoky barbecue joints to creative small-plate destinations. In addition to its culinary scene, the West Loop offers various shopping options and opportunities to take in the best of Chicago, making it a captivating destination for business travelers.
Situated along the Chicago River’s western bank, the West Loop encompasses vibrant districts like Fulton River, Fulton Market, and Greektown. Bordered by Grand Avenue to the north, Ashland Avenue to the west, the Eisenhower Expressway to the south, and the Chicago River to the east, this neighborhood has undergone rapid gentrification and is now a bustling epicenter for food enthusiasts and urban explorers alike.
Former warehouses and manufacturing spaces have been converted into trendy loft condos, art galleries, bars, and restaurants. While enjoying Randolph Street’s assortment of casual and Michelin starred eateries on “Restaurant Row,” you’ll witness the fusion of Chicago’s rich history with its dynamic culinary and cultural scene. Whether you’re strolling along the area’s charming streets or discovering its chic boutiques, the West Loop offers a captivating blend of old and new sure to fill every spare moment of your business trip.
High Walkability/Public Transportation Options
Cityscape: Modern Architecture/Industrial Heritage
West Loop Weather:
Like most of Chicago, the West Loop experiences all four seasons — sometimes to the extreme.
Spring | March to May | 50s-70sF (10-15°C).
Tip: Grab an umbrella as afternoon showers can happen quickly.
Summer | June to August | 70s-90s°F (25-37°C) “Warm & Humid”
Fall | September to November | 40s-60s°F (20-5°C) “Mild Temps getting colder as you get closer to November”
Winter | December to February | 20s to 30s°F (-5 to 5°C) “Cold & Snowy”
City Customs & Business Culture
The West Loop offers diverse and dynamic business culture, reflective of its entrepreneurial spirit. Here, you’ll encounter a blend of professionals, creatives, and tech entrepreneurs, creating a unique and trendy professional atmosphere. The area is known for its collaborative work environments, fostering networking and community engagement. Expect a balanced blend of professionalism and a laid-back, approachable vibe in business interactions.
In general, Chicagoans are known for their professionalism and punctuality, so try to be on time or call ahead. Handshakes are the proper greeting at most business meetings. Clear, direct, and concise communication tends to be the norm, but don’t hesitate to ask for clarification if you find something unclear or confusing.
On the dress front, smart business casual attire is recommended (feel free to ditch the neck tie unless you are attending a formal meeting). You can’t go wrong with a classic cut knee-length or midi dress and if you’re looking for that extra touch of formality, a blazer will do the trick. Minimalist jewelry and accessories are recommended, but most professional environments in the West Loop will respect your individual choices as long as they meet the standards of professionalism your role requires.
Currency/Average Cost of Goods:
USD is the currency in Chicago. Most locations accept all forms of payment (cash, debit, credit cards), although contactless payment is preferred.
West Loop is generally considered one of the nicer areas of Chicago. As a result, prices tend to be moderate to high compared to other areas of the city. Expect dinner to range from $40 to $65 per person, while a beer or cocktail costs around $8 to $19 depending on brand and spirit choice. Groceries tend to be slightly more expensive than the national average in the West Loop.
Chicago, like any major city, has its own set of social and cultural etiquette rules. Here are some general etiquette standards to keep in mind when traveling to Chicago.
Politeness and Respect — Chicagoans are generally friendly and polite, so a simple “please,” “thank you” and a “respectful attitude” will go a long way.
Tipping — Tipping is customary in Chicago, so tip servers in restaurants, bartenders, taxi drivers, and other service providers. The standard tip for restaurant service is around 15-20% of the bill.
Public Transportation — When using public transportation, especially during rush hours, yield your seat to the elderly, pregnant women, or individuals with disabilities. And, always let passengers off the train or bus first before boarding.
Sidewalk Etiquette — On a busy sidewalk, try to maintain a quick pace, don’t stand shoulder to shoulder in groups, and stay to the right to allow others to pass.
Personal Space — Chicagoans appreciate personal space, so maintain a comfortable distance when interacting with others, especially in crowded areas like public transportation.
Smoking Rules — Smoking is prohibited in many public places, including restaurants and bars. Pay attention to no-smoking signs and designated smoking areas.
West Loop is generally considered a safe and welcoming area for both residents and visitors thanks to its active community and law enforcement presence. That said, it’s essential to take precautions to minimize your risk. Just like any major city, it’s advisable to research specific areas you plan to visit and take appropriate safety measures and follow our Chicago Traveler Safety Tips.
Chicago Traveler Safety Tips
Always take precautions and stay in well-lit and populated areas
Use reputable, licensed transportation
Avoid displaying cash and valuables
Travel in groups
Avoid public intoxication
Trust your instincts
Use your phones SOS feature if someone threatens you
Dial 911 for emergencies
Chicago is served by two major airports, O’Hare International Airport (ORD) and Midway International Airport (MDW). The choice of airport often depends on your travel plans, destination, and proximity to your desired areas in Chicago or the suburbs.
O’Hare International Airport (ORD)
Located in the northwestern part of Chicago, approximately 17 miles (27 kilometers) from downtown Chicago.
- O’Hare primarily serves the northern, northwestern, and western areas of Chicago, as well as the surrounding suburbs.
- International Flights: O’Hare is one of the busiest international airports in the United States and offers numerous international flights to destinations around the world.
- Transportation: O’Hare is well-connected to downtown Chicago and the suburbs via the ‘L’ train system (the Blue Line), taxis, shuttles, and rideshare services like Uber and Lyft.
Midway International Airport (MDW)
Midway International Airport is situated on the southwest side of Chicago, approximately 10 miles (16 kilometers) from downtown Chicago. While it does offer some international flights, Midway is known for its domestic routes within the U.S.
- Midway primarily serves the southern and southwestern areas of Chicago, as well as nearby neighborhoods and suburbs.
- Transportation: Midway is accessible from downtown Chicago and surrounding areas via the ‘L’ train system (the Orange Line), taxis, shuttles, and rideshare services.
Traveling to The West Loop in Chicago from O’Hare
UberX rides from O’Hare to the West Loop can range between $40 – $60, while rides from Midway may cost between $35 – $50, depending on traffic and time of day. Be sure to check Uber for the best estimate.
Taxis between O’Hare and West Loop can range from $45 – $65, excluding gratuity. From Midway to West Loop, taxi fares typically fall between $30 – $50, excluding gratuity. Make sure to check with your taxi driver for the most up-to-date rates before hiring the car.
Trains connect O’Hare to the West Loop through The “L” train system via the Blue Line stopping at UIC-Halsted Station. The ride usually takes around 40-45 minutes and costs approximately $5. From Midway, hop on the Orange Line and stop at Clinton Station (near the West Loop). This ride will typically take 25-30 minutes and costs approximately $5. More details on the “L” Train below.
West Loop is well-connected to Chicago’s public transportation system, offering convenient access to various parts of the city. To efficiently use public transit in the area and its surrounding areas, start by obtaining a Ventra Card, a reusable contactless fare card, which can be used on buses and trains. Using the Ventra app or website, business travelers can access schedules, maps, and real-time updates for a seamless and cost-effective way to explore West Loop and its surrounding areas, including both O’Hare and Midway airports.
“L” Train — The Blue and Pink Lines serve the West Loop, with stations like the UIC-Halsted, Clinton, Ashland and Morgan providing access to the neighborhood and other areas of Chicago including downtown.
Metra Commuter Rail — While not in the immediate West Loop, there are Metra commuter train stations nearby, such as Ogilvie Transportation Center and Union Station.
Buses — Many buses also serve West Loop. Check out the Central Transit Authority’s website for up to date bus and train schedules.
Loop Link — The West Loop is connected to the Loop via the Loop Link bus rapid transit (BRT) system. This system offers faster bus service along dedicated lanes, making it easier to travel between the two downtown neighborhoods.
The West Loop neighborhood in Chicago offers a comprehensive range of business support services, including co-working spaces, printing and copying centers, notary services, legal and financial professionals, IT support, marketing agencies, event planning, and more. These services create a conducive environment for businesses to thrive and succeed in this bustling urban district.
West Loop offers various options for pharmacies, supermarkets, and stores to purchase hygiene products.
Walgreens, CVS Pharmacy,
West Loop offers multiple national and regional pharmacies chains, some open 24/7. Most of the pharmacies offer prescription services, over-the-counter medications, personal care and health and beauty products.
Located in various parts of downtown Chicago, Jewel-Osco is a popular supermarket chain offering a wide selection of groceries, fresh produce, and household items.
Mariano’s: Mariano’s has a few locations in the downtown area and provides organic and gourmet products.
Whole Foods Market: Whole Foods Market has a downtown location offering organic and natural foods, fresh produce, and a variety of health-conscious options.
Hygiene and Personal Care Products:
The best place to find hygiene and personal care products in West Loop are at local pharmacies or supermarkets. Walgreens and CVS will have most of what you need on an immediate basis.
Business Attire Shopping
West Loop offers a few shopping options for business attire. If you venture a few train stops away into Chicago’s Loop area, you’ll find numerous additional options on Michigan Ave.
Bonobos — Bonobos is renowned for its modern and tailored business attire, offering a range of suits, dress shirts, blazers, trousers, and accessories. The store provides personalized service and a variety of fits to meet various body types.
Banana Republic — Banana Republic offers stylish business clothing for both men and women. Their selection includes suits, blazers, professional separates, and accessories.
Nordstrom Rack — Nordstrom Rack offers discounted designer and professional clothing for both men and women. You can find a variety of business attire, including suits, dresses, blouses, and accessories at affordable prices.
Zara — Zara is a fashion-forward clothing retailer offering a range of modern and trendy business attire options for both men and women.
The West Loop caters to a wide range of culinary tastes, whether you’re seeking unique flavors, Italian classics, Japanese cuisine, savory barbecue, Michelin starred dining experiences, or a good old fashioned American cheeseburger.
Avec West Loop is celebrated for its Mediterranean-inspired menu featuring a variety of small plates meant for sharing. The cozy atmosphere and communal seating add to the charm, making it a great spot for a relaxed meal with friends or colleagues.
If you’re a fan of fresh-made pasta, Monteverde is the place to be. Chef Sarah Grueneberg crafts exceptional Italian dishes with a modern twist, ensuring a memorable dining experience in a welcoming setting. Reservations are strongly recommended.
For sushi lovers, Momotaro is a standout destination. This restaurant offers out-of-this-world sushi and Japanese cuisine in a chic and elegant setting, making it perfect for special occasions or business dinners. Be sure to check out their speakeasy style Izakaya on the lower level.
Green Street Smoked Meats & Sawada Coffee
Craving barbecue? Green Street Smoked Meats serves up mouthwatering, house-smoked barbecue in a laid-back, rustic setting. From brisket to ribs, their meaty offerings are sure to satisfy your cravings. Sawada Coffee is also attached to Green Street Smoked Meats and is world renowned for their ceremonial grade matcha drinks and pastries.
Au Cheval is renowned for its take on classic American diner fare. Their signature dish, the cheeseburger, is a must-try, featuring a perfect blend of flavors and textures. The restaurant’s retro ambiance adds to the charm, making it a beloved spot for comfort food enthusiasts and burger aficionados. Due to its popularity, wait times tend to be long and Au Cheval does not currently offer reservations.
West Loop offers the business traveler tons of local attractions and points of interest to explore during their down time.
Fulton Market District
Explore the heart of the West Loop at the Fulton Market District, where historic meatpacking buildings have transformed into a hub for dining, art, and culture.
Chicago French Market
Indulge your senses at the Chicago French Market, a bustling marketplace featuring a diverse range of gourmet vendors, artisanal foods, and international flavors. Whether you’re in the mood for crepes, pastries, fresh seafood, or unique artisanal products, this market has it all.
Union Park, Mary Bartleme, and Skinner Park
Escape the urban hustle and bustle at Union, Skinner, and Mary Bartelme Parks, by taking a nice stroll through green space where you can relax and take in one of downtown Chicago’s most beloved parks. Each park also features a dog park.
House of Vans
Located in the heart of the West Loop, the House of Vans is an old Randolph Street warehouse that acts as a cultural hub celebrating creativity, music, and skateboarding. Complete with an old bar from Wrigglyville, this shoe-company sponsored venue hosts an array of free events (RSVP required), from live music performances and art exhibitions to skateboarding sessions in its indoor skatepark.
Aire Ancient Baths
Inspired by ancient Roman and Greek bathing traditions, this luxurious spa is set in the basement of a historic building offering a unique experience with thermal baths, massages, and other curated rituals designed to rejuvenate the body and mind.
The United Center is home to the Chicago Blackhawks hockey team, Chicago Bulls basketball team, and lots of live entertainment, including popular concerts like Taylor Swift, Elton John, and Dave Matthews Band.
Open Books Bookstore
Check out the unique literary world of Open Books, a nonprofit bookstore in the West Loop. Not only does this bookstore offer an extensive collection of new and used books across various genres, but it also supports literacy programs for Chicago’s youth.
Interesting City Fact
The West Loop is home to the significant Haymarket Riot where labor activists and anarchists gathered to protest police brutality and demand an 8-hour workday. Tragically, a bomb detonated during the rally, resulting in casualties among both police officers and protestors. This incident had a profound and lasting impact on the labor movement in the U.S., and it is commemorated by monuments, including a bronze sculpture by artist Mary Brogger, erected in 2004 on Desplaines Street, serving as a reminder of the struggle for workers’ rights and the importance of peaceful protest in the country’s history.
The area is also home to the century old building that was home to the famous Harpo Studios, the legendary location of Oprah Winfrey’s iconic talk show for over 25 years. McDonald’s is one of more than 50 companies that have moved their headquarters to the West Loop. Other big names with West Loop offices include Google, Sara Lee and Uber.
“My first day in Chicago, September 4, 1983. I set foot in this city, and just walking down the street, it was like roots, like the motherland. I knew I belonged here.”