Working in the loop has its advantages (view of the lake, thank you very much), but eating is not one of them. Having tried to bag myself lunches to bring to work and failed, I'm resorting to an all-out search for anything to eat for lunch in the neighborhood.
After OD'ing on Chipotle (and realizing that there must be something unhealthy about eating a burrito the size of my bicep and still wanting more) I ate Oasis every day for the last 3 years. As much as I love it, I'm a little bit sick of it. When Kabob 2 opened in the place where Oasis had been (and has now returned to) it was a huge relief. What delicious baklawa! And the variety of sandwiches! Alas, a crane fell on them May 2007 and they closed and back to Oasis I went, with my tail between my legs. I'm not much of a babaganoush guy, and I'm not a fan of their Morrocan chicken, so it's been chicken shwarma or falafel sandwich for me. They are satisfying, made with loving care, and are a good value. I still recommend it to all (21 N. Wabash in the back of the Jewelry Mart) who hunger in the Loop.
The other place I eat regularly is Pizza Ria (formerly Got Pizza) on 719 S. State. The slices are huge and foldable like in New York (ask them not to cut the slice) and pretty tasty to boot. They are a bit fascistic about the soda machine, but it's cool. For near $6 bucks, I'm satisfied.
So these are the restaurants on my radar, but if you know of any others let me know and I will try them out.
Khyber Pass 233 E Wacker Dr
Chicken Planet 21 West Jackson
Epic Burger 517 S. State
Sushi Sai 123 N Wacker
Max's Take Out 20 East Adams
Taza 176 N. Franklin Street
Pastoral 53 East Lake Street
Perry's Deli 180 N Franklin
Ricobene's 222 N Wells
Khyber Pass: I discovered this restaurant recently and just as quickly I've decided never to return. The lunch buffet is full of good looking dishes that just don't go anywhere. I had a lamb curry that tasted neither of lamb nor particularly of curry: soggy and flavorless. It's hard to kill the lamb flavor in a piece of lamb, but they figured it out. It's all you can eat, but how much would you want to eat, anyway? The tandoori chicken they throw in is dry, more than usual. Feels like the leftover dinner special is being forced on the lunch crowd. Samosa, crusty crust, but the inside was just mush.
Chicken Planet: Admittedly, a great deal in the loop. I get a quarter bird with only dark meat and it satisfies. The sides I've tried so far are pretty uninteresting: the corn tasted like it was soaking in a salty broth for days, I knew I was biting into a cob, but the kernels would just pop like little water balloons releasing flavorless water. The potato salad was tolerable. The mashed potatoes with gravy are the only side I would repeat. The piece of pita they throw in there, though, oh man, I could eat a plateful of those. Anyway, it's all about the value. if you ever want to picnic in Millenium or Grant Parks, I would say get yourself a bird at Chicken Planet.
Epic Burger: Man, what a burger. If only they had American cheese, I'd be set. I'd get the bacon and the egg, too. But for some reason, American is out, blue cheese and cheddar are in. So I get the plain burger and it still trounces Patty's, in my opinion. This burger tastes and looks like a real burger. Shakes are good, but are like $5. Fries are beautiful and tasty, but one portion will feed two. I might just do a shake and fries lunch there. Eating a burger at lunch kinda hurts, so not a place I'll be going to often, though I recommend it to anyone seeking the future of burgers.
I will keep posting as I keep eating.
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