The West Loop/Near West side is an evolving area. Map. The area was once exclusively the home to wholesale food businesses, meatpacking, warehouses and art galleries and still has an industrial feel. While residential development is booming and prices per square foot rival the nearby developed Loop and River North areas some blocks have no residential development and on weekends, while the wholesale businesses are closed, only one bar, coffee house or restaurant will be open giving it an isolated feel. Land speculation has also lead to many vacant buildings in the area adding to the desolate feel on some blocks.
While retailers, tech firms and more restaurants are moving into the area there’s still only one public hotel and another in the development stage.
The main drag, Randolph Street, is charming with a strip of greenery down the middle and has quaint (and some excellent) restaurants with nice outdoor patios along either side. Other main strips in the area, Washington and Madison Streets, are developed with condos, bars and restaurants and some eclectic retail. The developing Fulton Street Market area also has several restaurants.
The area to the west of the West Loop is economically challenged so you should be aware of your surroundings particularly in the aforementioned desolate areas. At night some blocks don’t have adequate street lighting although the neighborhood is working to improve that.
All that said the West Loop has some great dining and eclectic retail. Although it’s rapidly gentrifying it still has the hipster vibe and energy and is worth a walk around. Map Link
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Free and cheap things to do:
Fulton Green City Farmers Market, Starts Saturday June 6, Fulton Market District at the SE corner of N. Halsted and W Fulton Streets, 799 W. Fulton Market.
Goodwill Store & Donation Center, 1201 W Washington Blvd, (312) 563-1187. It’s always hit or miss at thrift stores. This is the only location downtown and has clothing, furniture, housewares & more.
Mary Bartelme Park, 115 S. Sangamon St., (312) 746-5494. Park Hours:
Haymarket Pub & Brewery, 737 W Randolph St, (312) 638-0700. Every Sunday at 12pm, 2pm, and 4pm. Cost of the tour is $15 and includes a 12 oz beer as well as several smaller tastings. Reservations are recommended.
Goose Island Brewery, 1800 W. Fulton, (312) 226-1119. Every Thursday and Friday at 3:00 pm, 4:00 pm, 5:00 pm and 6:00 pm and Saturdays at 1:00 pm, 2:00 pm, 3:00 pm and 4:00 pm. The cost is $12 and includes six tastes and a souvenir glass. Reservations can be made here.
Dining and drinking
Where to buy groceries in the West Loop:
Mariano’s, 40 S Halsted St, (312) 243-7657. Full service grocery store.
Whole Foods, 1 N. Halsted Street, (312) 207-8400. Full service grocery store.
Walgreens, 111 S Halsted St, (312) 463-9142.
Walmart Express, Presidential Towers, 570 W Monroe St, (312) 470-1460
Areas adjacent to the West Loop: