Food Lovers’ Guide to Near West Side

Authors: Sarah Mason, Ashley Diaz, Tim Hoang and Abigail Kuchnir.

A thriving restaurant culture can be a marvelous asset to a community area.  Restaurants that draw people from across the city and attract dollars provide key financial capital and connect the neighborhoods to broader Chicago.  Restaurants with outdoor seating or with a steady stream of folks entering and exiting provide “eyes on the street” and make the sidewalk vibrant, making pedestrian journeys safer and more pleasant.  Restaurants can reflect healthy diversity and can be a local steward of community, especially since the best restaurants are local businesses that keep resources in the region.

The Near West Side has an exciting and varied restaurant scene, including ethnic cuisines, student haunts, and fancy joints.  The variety and quality of places to eat here reflect the community and help it welcome neighbors from around the city.  Check out a few of our favorites below, and go explore the options for yourself!

Little Goat Diner

820 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60607

 The chef behind famed Chicago eatery Girl and the Goat creates diner-style eats with plenty of creative twists at Little Goat.  With a more affordable menu and casual atmosphere but all the panache of its sister restaurant, you will catch students, families, and tourists munching at Little Goat during weekend brunch.  Try the Chop Chae, a burger on a bed of glass noodles topped with an egg sunny-side-up, and be sure to finish your meal with a Ooey Gooey Cinnabun.




 Image courtesy of Little Goat Diner

 Au Cheval

800 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60607

Over the past three years, Au Cheval has become the spot for a top quality cheeseburger in the Near West Side. Every day, the restaurant sells about 400 cheeseburgers and up to 500 on the weekends. The burger itself, is a masterpiece and only uses the highest quality ingredients. The patty itself is made with prime beef, cooked to medium and then topped with american cheese which melts over the top. The buns are delivered, fresh everyday and toasted to order to add that extra crunch to every bite. Put the two together and top it off with dijonnaise, a fried egg and their famous thick-cut peppered bacon. All together, you get a culinary masterpiece but make sure to get there before dinner time to avoid the average 3 hour wait time. Au Cheval is a must-try and adds its own unique vibe to the foodie culture of the Near West Side neighborhood.


 Source: Pinterest – Au Cheval Chicago

La Sirena Clandestina

954 W Fulton Market Chicago, IL 60607

In an area that is both busy and loud, La Sirena Clandestina has managed to make a quiet and intimate setting that has both locals and visitors craving more Brazilian flavors. The translation of the name to “hidden mermaid” serves a a clue for the type of atmosphere that Chef John Manion aimed to create as he drew from his experiences of growing up in Brazil. This restaurant is  the pricier side for the area, but the food is well-worth the extra money. Stop by for Brunch and enjoy the delicious Empanadas or something sweete like Doughnuts. Want more of a lunch? No problem. Have the Steak and Egg (picture below) to get a tasty start to the afternoon. True to its Brazilian roots, Frango a Passarinho is a huge dinner time favorite and is Fried Chicken with chili, lime, and garlic. La Sirena Clandestina has much to offer the area from wonderful food to a perfect calm setting that is perfect for larger groups. The place is usually packed, so it is best to try to get a reservation. However, if you can’t avoid having to wait, take advantage of the bar and treat yourself to some fine wine.

Source: La Sirena Clandestina

161 N Jefferson St, Chicago, IL 60661

Located in the West Loop, Wishbone is your go-to spot for awesome southern cooking. The restaurant’s founder is actually from New Jersey, but developed a deep affection for North Carolinian grandparents’ cooking. Having worked in restaurants since he was fifteen, he eventually attended culinary school and after working in restaurants in New York and San Francisco, he finally opened Wishbone in Chicago. The menu reflects his passion for good food and southern flavor. For brunch, they have the classic waffles and pancakes and other sweet fare. But where they really shine is in their unique savory dishes. If you prefer adventurous and bold dishes, this is the spot for you. Their brunch menu features blackened catfish, black bean cakes, crawfish cakes, and chicken andouille hash.  Come in for lunch or dinner, and you’re treated to more cajun fares from Po’ boys to shrimp and grits. Overall, this restaurant gets a big thumbs up. They are closed at the moment as they are moving six blocks, but as soon as they open again, you can bet the crowds will return.

Source: ChooseChicago

Final Thoughts

The Near West Side is home to many restaurants from a variety of cultural backgrounds and deep history that have found a community in our neighborhood. Little Goat Diner, Au Cheval, La Sirena Clandestina and Wishbone are just a few of the frequented restaurants that help bring together the community and tourists alike to enjoy some good food. During dinner time, the lines are out the door and the aroma of food permeates the air. If you ever find yourself exploring the neighborhood, be sure to keep your options open and satisfy your cravings. If you name it, Near West Side probably has it.

Bibliography and Sources:

  1. I tried a burger that’s called one of the best in America – here’s the verdict:
  2. Why People Wait for Hours to Eat Au Cheval’s Cheeseburger –
  4. La Sirena Clandestina-

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