West Loop & Fulton Market District
Meat Markets & Warehouses Give Way to Cool
If you are buying a house in Chicago and considering the West Loop and Fulton Market District, use this neighborhood real estate guide for an insider's take before you purchase a home. Chicago's West Loop and Fulton Market District is a hot area with condos for sale and duplex homes for sale.
Throngs of foodies making their way past factories, meat warehouses and produce markets. The rumble of the 'L' train overhead while late night revelers hop between bars. A worker manning a forklift is on the move while bicyclists, BMWs and delivery trucks navigate through. Day or night, the barrage of activity shows a neighborhood transforming right before your eyes. And at hyper speed.
Randolph Street between Ogden Avenue and Halsted Street — aka "Restaurant Row" — is the hub for a chef-driven dining scene that shows no sign of stopping. Extending from here is the historic Fulton Market District, a pocket of turn-of-the-century buildings and streetscapes.The parcels of land that fill the gap from here to Grand Avenue (the West Loop's northern border) have an industrial edge to them, and are belted by train tracks. Around the intersection of Halsted Street and Jackson Boulevard, the ethnic enclave Greektown adds a Mediterranean flair to the culinary landscape.
The Morgan station, for the Green Line and Pink Line 'L' trains, was added in 2012 and paved the way for the influx of office tenants, and residents, to move in. Convenient and quick commuting via this central station on Lake Street is rounded out by 'L' stations all around the edges of the West Loop: UIC-Halsted, Racine and Grand are Blue Line stops, while Ashland is another Green/Pink Line stop. The Kennedy Expressway and Eisenhower Expressway are also neighborhood boundaries, though keep in mind that it's easy to get on the roadways yet parking in the West Loop is a big challenge. Several bus lines, and Metra/Amtrak trains at nearby Ogilvie Transportation Center and Union Station, add to the accessibility.
Leaving its gritty past behind, the West Loop and Fulton Market District neighborhood is beyond up-and-coming. It is booming, and undoubtedly the hottest neighborhood for new development in Chicago. Let's start with the old: The Fulton-Randolph Market District was designated an official historic Chicago Landmark in 2015. Buildings in this area were built between 1880 and 1929, though it served as a bustling food market beginning in 1850 with an overflow of grain, livestock, vegetables and fruit passing through for wholesale distribution.
And today? The massive mercantile buildings persevere: brick behemoths standing low to the ground and taking up entire city lots. Poultry, fish, eggs and butter — many of these commodities are still sold here. But new neighbors have moved in next door to the meat packers. First it was Oprah and her Harpo Studios, and now the Google office is the new landmark — IKFulton as the Fulton Market Cold Storage building is called. Soon, McDonald's headquarters will fill the space where Harpo once stood. With flashy offices for the burgeoning tech and creative hub also thriving here, it's fitting that a flashy sign now marks the area entrance at Halsted and Fulton Streets, the neon color-changing Fulton Market Gateway.
Also catering to this crowd is Soho House Chicago, a hotel and private club where members are privileged to a variety of perks: art talks, live performances, documentary screenings... and a rooftop pool. Other creative outlets include a robust gallery scene: Kavi Gupta, Mars Gallery and Packer Schopf Gallery are just a few.
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The Essentials: Eat & Drink
Culinary powerhouses have made this a sector of the city synonymous with dining. Randolph and Fulton Streets are the stomping grounds of Chicago's biggest chefs building their food empires, while Halsted Street is the city's historically Greek neighborhood and has the saganaki and spanakopita to prove it.
The Publican: A meat market in a different sense, this rollicking dining hall packs in plenty of pork and seafood on the menu
Blackbird: Restaurant no. 1 from James Beard Award winner Paul Kahan (Outstanding Chef, 2014); though you can sample his follow ups Avec, Publican Quality Meats and The Publican in the West Loop area too
Little Goat Diner: Is renowned for inventive dishes (with many starring goat, the Goat Chili Cheese Fries for example) and hinting at Asian influences (see Pork Belly Pancake); get more from Top Chef winner Stephanie Izard at her other area hot spots Duck Duck Goat and Little Goat Diner
Au Cheval: One of the neighborhood's best kept secrets... jk. The lines can still max out at 3 hour waits, even years after winning Best Burger in America by both Bon Appetit and Food Network
Cruz Blanca Cervecería: Television host and award-winning chef Rick Bayless continues to wow West Loop crowds with Mexican food, this time pairing a taquería with new world brews that are interpretations of classic German, Austrian, and French styles of beer
bellyQ: Where spicy asian giardiniera adorn plates of curry BBQ pork butt
The Aviary: Takes cocktails to uncharted territory with concoctions so uber-creative they come with instructions
RM Champagne: Where 280+ types of bubbly are served under the glow of soft candlelight (or charming string lights if you sit in the cobblestone alley hideaway)
Federales: A simple premise (tacos, ceviche and tequila-based cocktails) get upgraded to party proportions when a retractable roof and "Ice Glass Shots" get thrown into the mix
Pizza Parlor: Two words... outdoor rooftop! Strung with string lights, the second story deck overlooks the sprawling patio and both boast tables filled with wood-fired pizzas and the biggest, cheese-smothered loaf of Craziest Bread you ever laid eyes on
City Winery: A 35,000 sq.ft. one-stop-shop that combines restaurant, winery, event space and concert hall
Parthenon Restaurant: A standby from 1968 famed for their flaming saganaki (fried cheese) and exuberant servers shouting "Opa!"
Pegasus Restaurant and Taverna: Traditional Greek flavors with city skyline views — tables on the rooftop veranda look right out to the Willis Tower
Anchoring the Area
A recreational playground, Union Park rests on the western border of the West Loop. Find 13 acres for all-seasons activities — swimming, tennis, basketball — though some weekends swell with crowds for summer festivals like Pitchfork.
Very popular with the stroller set, Mary Bartleme Park is a gem of greenery amid a surrounding of brick buildings and glass towers. A children's area, off-leash dog park and misting water plaza encourage play. The stunning park design, particularly the shining steel sculptures with a skyline backdrop, encourage Instagram selfies.
The National Hellenic Museum was first founded as the Hellenic Museum and Cultural Center in 1983. It has since grown its collections to 17,000 artifacts spanning thousands of years, and has moved to more modern digs: a 4-story building of its own in the heart of Greektown.
Locals Who Live Here
Young professionals, successful entrepreneurs, forward-thinking tastemakers — the distinctly urban energy of the West Loop and Fulton Market District draws them all in. Well educated and diverse, this new population is also affluent. Luxe city living comes at a price, particularly with tenant amenities like rooftop cabanas, pools, fire pits and dog runs. But for those who can afford it, the conveniences of the West Loop and Fulton Market District equates to being able to walk to work and walk to dinner and drinks. While the neighborhood offers more and more for families, larger 3+ bedroom condo units for sale and for rent are a premium. A wave of new apartment towers and luxury developments intermix with industrial-chic loft conversions for sale and modern condos for sale, mostly geared toward singles and young couples.