My husband and I have lived in the South Loop, and currently Museum Park, for over 10 years. I still cannot understand the lack of great quality neighborhood restaurants here. Every time I am passing through the surrounding neighborhoods (West Loop, Gold Coast, River North, Bucktown, etc..,) there are hundreds of unique, wonderful restaurants and all we can get are pizza places and sandwich shops. Why is the South Loop/Museum Park not attracting more great restaurateurs and more importantly, what can we do about it? I'm tired of driving and spending money out of our Community. The West Loop is inundated with them and we can't get just a few. I believe our property values and overall attraction to the neighborhood suffer because of this. We are all too often overlooked. Please weigh in...
I see the main issue as density and the relative number of students in the area who are looking for lower cost options. I do think we have a decent collection of great restaurants that include: Villians, Sociale, Sofi, Acadia, Kurah, South Coast, Umai, Mercat a la Planxa, Tapas Valencia, Chicago Firehouse (please return), and Umai. The second level is pretty good as well, Asian Outpost, LM Brasserie, Nepal House and Chicago Curry, etc.
We need to frequent these restaurants to support the area and allow for further density with the removal of lots on Wabash and within Museum Park. Just this year the additions of Sociale and Villians have been great.
As a person who has lived, worked, and played in all the areas you mention. My observatins are that the Gold Coast and Bucktown are very well established neighborhoods. As far back as I can remember, and I won't say how loooooooooong that is, the Gold Coast has always had good restaurants because of the financial demographics. And over there as in Lincoln Park as one restaurant closes, another takes its place. Bucktown wasn't always as established but as it the demographics changed from a largely artistic population, and became the place to be better restaurants replaced some of the momandpop restaurants hot dog stands and pizza places. The West Loop is an area that has changed from basically being rather industrialized to residential. The financial demographic in the west loop attracts a large number of young high earners. As it grew small mom and pop restaurants, again serving the industrial population of workers in that area, including Randolph Street gave way to more expensive higher end restaurants. Many of these were existing structures. The South Loop, which now attracts its share of high earners, used to be, I can't even describe. Part of it is called Central Station because its where the trains used to be. When one looks around, much of the development in the South Loop is new, with restaurants occupying existing spaces that were home to who knows what and had to be converted to restaurant space. The Chicago Firehouse restaurant is a converted Firehouse, for example. It's not that we don't have better restaurants, they are not as concentrated as they are in the older established areas. Piggybacking on the previous poster there are many but they are just more spread out.