Downtown Lunching – Something for Everyone

There really is something for everyone. It is insane how many options there are for a quick (and not so quick) bite for lunch in Chicago. There is McDonald’s, Burger King, Popeye’s…no, wait, that is so not what we are talking about. How about something you’ll want to tell people about, not just another fast food gut bomb?


Well, why not start at the top? Xoco is Rick Bayless’ fast casual lunch spot on Clark with a menu to be envied. From authentic Mexican chocolate drinks to tortas and caldos, this is one spot that simply cannot be missed.

Street food is a big deal these days, and Xoco has been consistently well ranked as how Mexican street food is done.


A bit further west is Michelin-starred Blackbird. Normally those stars mean big bucks, but not always. Blackbird is one of those exceptions. Offering a $25 three course prix fixe lunch menu lets folks with a bit more time enjoy a nicer option for lunch, and have a bit more upscale experience.

The price also makes this a great spot to take clients or meet that special someone for a lunch date. Enjoy a bit of the fine dining experience without the astronomical prices found elsewhere.

Naf Naf Grill

One of three chains worth a mention, Naperville native Naf Naf Grill offers a Moe’s Southwest Grill/Qudoba/Chipolte style build-your-own experience. From starting with a pita, rice, lettuce or hummus, you then add your choice of shawarma or falafel, garnish, and sauce. All done, and you have a quick lunch with some healthy options, and a different flavor than the usual burrito.

Shake Shack

This is a New York import that started as a food cart. Sound familiar? This time it is kinda the opposite of halal – meat with cheese, and some bacon for good measure. Shake Shack hit Chicago with a bang, and has rapidly become a massively popular lunch and dinner spot.

Featuring made-to-order burgers, dogs, shakes, and the usual sides, Shake Shack is generally the urban favorite in the explosion of burger-centric places opening in the past few years.

Protein Bar

Zagat calls this the best fast casual restaurant in the city. Which is saying something in a city as big on food as Chicago. The menu features items in three formats—bar-ritos, salads and bowls—and has recently introduced new flavors such as Korean Bibi-Q (braised barbecue beef, organic quinoa blend, diced cucumber, pickled carrots, radish, spinach, sweet & spicy Korean chili sauce) and El Verde (chicken, roasted poblano and onions, roasted corn, cheddar, salsa, hemp seed blend, tomatillo sauce, chipotle Greek yogurt, organic quinoa blend).