Sep 1, 2023 - Food and Drink

Hidden gems for lunch in downtown Chicago

Falafel sandwich in open pita.

Falafel sandwich at Oasis Cafe located in the back of a Wabash Avenue jewelry store. Photo: Monica Eng/Axios

Downtown restaurants were hit hard by the pandemic, with many lunchtime staples closing, but some of the Loop's hidden gems survived.

  • We're highlight three fun ones to impress your friends.

Oasis Cafe: Tucked in the back of a jewelry store on Wabash's Jeweler's Row, this Palestinian-run cafe has been serving up delicious falafel sandwiches ($7.49) for more than a decade.

  • The intrigue: Don't miss the excellent Egyptian koshari specials on Wednesdays and Moroccan couscous on Fridays.
Photo of a plate of bibimpap
Bibimbap from an underground food court in the 105 W. Madison building. Photo: Monica Eng/Axios

Basement food court at 105 W. Madison St.: Walk through the gilded lobby in this vintage building and down a small staircase to the left to find a basement food court where Green Apple PhoEver serves Vietnamese pho ($14.49) and Korean specialties including kimchi stew ($14.45) and bibimbap ($13.45)

  • At La Bamba, you can find burritos, tacos, tortas, tamales and more.
Man pointing to sign that reads 'Welcome to the Food Court' on a gray door.
Justin finds the secret door to the basement food court. Photo: Monica Eng/Axios

Pittsfield Cafe: This fabulous old-school diner is in the lobby of another gilded building you can marvel at while lunching on throwbacks like toasted pecan rolls, cherry Jell-O and Chicago Francheezie — a cheese-injected, deep-fried dog wrapped in bacon.

Three people sitting at a round table with mustard and ketchup on table.
The Axios team indulges in old-school favorites at the Pittsfield Cafe in the ornate Pittsfield Building lobby. Photo courtesy of our kind server, whose name we forget to collect.

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