Chicago Relocation

West Loop – From Greektown to Haymarket Square

June 12, 2013

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John D’Ambrogio

West Loop.  Near West Side.  Randolph Market District.  Greektown.  Ah yes.  Chicago the city filled with neighborhoods within neighborhoods.  Maybe “districts” is a better word for our little geographical riddles….

Anyway, if you take a stroll over the old cross town highway  you’re officially standing in the greater West Loop.  According to some, just stepping west of Wacker Drive will land you in this expanding neighborhood – but that’s just some people’s opinion. Unarguably this diverse area can be mapped north of I-290, south of Fulton and heading about as far west as Racine before you lose the “feel.”

Back in the 19th century this area was home to immigrants and, most famously, the warehouse district filled with many restaurant suppliers… think MEAT.  Many warehouses are still there but a large number have become lofts, condos, or gone “upscale eatery” in the last 20 years or so.  Eateries such as The Girl and The Goat, (you have to try the ham fat ham fried ham salted fries, although they have no goat in them), The Tasting Room (great deals on Mondays and Tuesday), Vivo Restaurant  (request table 70, it’s in a converted elevator shaft - more romantic than it sounds), N9NE Steakhouse and… well I could keep going.  There’s many many more.

Heading over to DesPlaines and Randolph you can visit the site of the historic Haymarket Riots (depending on your politics the “Haymarket Affair” or “Haymarket Killings”). In short this event started when protesters were honoring those recently killed at the McCormick Reaper Plant while petitioning for an 8 hour workday. (I don’t subscribe to those. Do you?)  Details get hazy, but police opened fire and/or/before/when an anarchist threw a bomb.  When the smoke settled over a dozen were dead, many indicted, and four hanged.   And the “political” holiday of May Day was established.  Yes, here in Chicago, tovarich, not Russia.

In true Chicago style a pub stands there now.

Cross over to Halsted and let out an “opaa” as you’re magically transported to a little bit of Hellenic Heaven.  Boisterous Greektown runs the length of Halsted in the West Loop.  Of course, the north end of Greektown hosts Dugan’s the decidedly Irish watering hole.  But really, who doesn’t love a frothy Guinness after some heavy cuisine?

Speaking of heavy (delicious) cuisine, wander down Halsted where the rows of restaurants host similar menus.   All are very good but each has its own specialty.  Find out by trying Pegasus, Santorin, Parthenon, The Islands… you get it.  Of course in the 80s no place said Greektown like Dianna’s Opaa.  Who didn’t come of age drinking roditis and being kissed (male or female) by Petros, the gregarious owner?  Sorry kids, this establishment is long gone.  For some non-food related culture check out the Hellenic Museum - my kids love it!

Fitting that it rhymes with Opaa – Oprah’s old haunt, Harpo’s, is just down the street.  You can walk by it since I don’t think they’ll let you in now-a-days… I also don’t think Oprah hangs there much anymore.

As far as the ever popular housing in the West Loop – think lofts, lofts, loft, midrise, midrise, midrise, loft.  Not much in the way of courtyard, SFHs, etc.  Hey, wanna do a search?  You can just click right here to see for yourself.