Cool and Chill Places in The West Loop

The West Loop has become kindof my second home and I get that there are some of the best restaurants there – I read Emily Belden’s “Hot Mess” (and also interviewed her on a West Loop Entrepreneur panel) and partnered with some Randolph Street restaurants. I get it – I love the shimmer and sparkle of the west loop. But sometimes, I want to be low key and just grab a good drink and be silly with my girls.

So, since I get asked this question – the question of where to go and what to do in the west loop – as a community and marketing manager for luxury coworking space, Co-Optim, I want to share with you those cool and chill places where you can unwind and get those much needed laughs with friends in the west loop.

Parlor Pizza

I’m not biased – even though Parlor Pizza regramed my cheese pull video. It seriously is always happening at Parlor Pizza- maybe because it’s right next to SoHo house or just off the ever-busy Randolph Street. I love the rooftop during the summer. If you do go, don’t order the pizza, order the pizza bread. It’s so good that me and my friend ordered it and had it delivered to a bar while watching a basketball game. It is life changing and the salads are pretty good.

Also, my friend and fellow blogger, Sany, did an insane video on Parlor Pizza covering their dessert bar – dessert tacos never seemed so appealing.


CH Distillery and Cocktail Bar

CH Distillery has a flight of vodka – need I say more. It’s across the street from Olgilvie Transportation Center. Fair warning, it opens at 4 pm and they have a cute patio.

The cocktails can be a little bit much – don’t order the mojito. It’s not good. I heard the Rosemary’s Baby cocktail is good. Oh, and P.S. the burger looks insane. P.S.S. they have a cocktails and humor night with stand-up comedians on September 8, 2018. You can learn more and get tickets here. 

Lone Wolf

Lone Wold is right next to Au Cheval. Good beer list and artisanal hot dogs on the menu. A fellow Chicago blogger, Blair Bitove from The Blair Necessities shared “[Lone Wolf] was a nice little bar where you can actually talk to people but still have fun.”

Blind Barber

For a cool experience  – Blind Barber is a barber shop by day and an old school bar at night. It’s still on my list to go – so if you do go, tag me in your Instagram post please. One of my favorite Chicago bloggers, Tavi from Chi At A Glance wrote a Yelp review about it – sharing that it is like a speakeasy because “Unless you know about this spot you’ll never find it. Lol. You actually have to enter the barber shop and then walk through the unmarked door once inside.”

Punch Bowl Social

Punch Bowl Social is so nice and chill. Their motto is “Here’s to going out right.” When you walk in, you feel like you are at the wrong place because it looks like a laundromat, but you go up the stairs and there’s so much to explore. Punch Bowl Social is huge – like Marco Polo huge. With karaoke bars and a bowling alley and a gigantic scrabble board – you are sure to have one of the best nights of your life. Once you get bored of one activity, there’s another. It’s perfect for a windy/cold/too hot – basically every other day in Chicago. It’s seriously The Monopoly of this year – with multiple locations throughout the nation. We were lucky to get one this spring.

El Che Bar

El Che Bar was inspired by time spent eating, drinking and traveling in Argentina and you definitely get that flavorful cool and trendy vibe from the interior to the patio. I had a few drinks there with fellow Chicago food bloggers, but honestly – you go there for the food, particularly their steak because it’s an Argentinian-style steakhouse. I wouldn’t pass over the appetizers – the braised beef and horseradish aioli empanada was delicious as were the Spanish olives and their – never discounted – buttery and grilled oysters.


So, these are some of the gems in Chicago’s West Loop to chill grab a drink, and just live after a long day at work. My next question is – who are you taking with you?

Amanda Elliott is a writer and speaker and a relationship builder. She believes that meeting people in person is important. After attending numerous fashion, startup, and creative events, she founded Windy City Cosmo is 2015 to help people make connections in the city as they build their businesses, start and end relationships and see and be seen. Over the past three years, the entrepreneurs she’s interviewed have become the most successful in Chicago and Windy City Cosmo won an award in 2017 for her work for female entrepreneurs.


Women Win in Every Category for RedEye’s Big Idea Awards 2015

It was a big win for young, female entrepreneurs in Chicago, who won in all four categories at RedEye’s Big Idea Awards on Thursday, November 5, 2015, at Morgan Manufacturing (401 North Morgan Street) in the west loop.

The Big Idea Awards hope to foster entrepreneurship and help progress ideas in Chicago through the categories: Art & Design, Technology, Food and Drink, and Community Development and Civic Involvement.

RedEye’s Big Idea Awards event was open to the public with a $30 ticket in advance or $35 at the door. In a science fair set-up, the top 14 finalists pitched their ideas throughout the three-hour event from 6:30 – 9:30 pm. Each attendee received four chips to cast their vote for winners, who were announced at the end of the night.

Big Idea Award Winners:

RedEye Chicago tweeted, “Who run the world?” with a photo of the four female entrepreneur winners. All winners were under the age of 35.

Art and Design Award Winner:

Emma Robertson created something more than a hostel when she envisioned, Troubadour Hostel, Chicago’s premiere artist hostel with boutique amenities. Robertson created a hub for creative ideas and collaboration in Chicago neighborhoods and amongst global budget travelers. Robertson won the Art and Design Award.

Technology Award Winner:

Marylynne Schwartz, a mother, developed an idea, ClassCrasher to help fellow parents schedule classes for their babies and toddlers with little planning in advance.  Schwartz won the Technology Award.

Food and Drink Award Winner:

Nikkita Randle created a catering service for a variety of unique and traditional egg rolls, Twisted Eggroll, which opened January 2015. Randle won the Food and Drink Award.

Community Development and Civic Involvement Award Winner:

Nicole Vasquez, Founder and Community Connector at The Shift, a coworking space on the north side of Chicago opened in 2014 as a place for meetings, networking events, and as a workspace for entrepreneurs. Vasquez won the Community Development and Civic Involvement Award.

The winners not only walked away with the clout of being Big Idea Award winners, but they also won resources to help them further meet their business needs as new companies. RedEye will be connecting the winners with a personal mentor, such as Chris Taylor, general manager of Uber Technologies Chicago, and supplying them free advertising to promote their idea.

Immediately following, the winners and attendees celebrated at the after party held at 10pin bowling lounge (330 N. State Street).

1871 Keynotes:

The Chief Operating Officer at 1871, Tom Alexander was the keynote speaker and RedEye’s Senior Video Editor, Sean Ely, was the host for the Big Idea Awards.

Congratulate Winners:

Share some love to your fellow entrepreneurs and congratulate and connect with them as they grow their big ideas to make Chicago better.

Congratulate Nicole Vasquez:

The Shift: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter

Congratulate Nikkita Randle:

Twisted Eggroll: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter

Congratulate Marylynne Schwartz:

Class Crasher: Twitter

Congratulate Emma Robertson:

Troubadour Hostel: Facebook, Twitter



Wine Down Wednesday in the West Loop

To the trendy person you set out to be, happy wine and cheese day to you.

Bin 36 Ambiance:

Among the earthy tones, the layers of wine bottles, and the black framed landscapes, you feel that you have escaped to a vineyard.

In April, Bin 36 (161 North Jefferson Street) joined the elite, al fresco, and elevated, yet reasonable eateries in the West Loop area. The new location suits this restaurant, which has been serving Chicago wine lovers for over 15 years.

Patrons can select between al fresco dining, a semi-private main seating with overhanging curtains, private dining in the back, or a seat at the secluded bar area near the front of the restaurant.

While casual, Bin 36 has a semi-secluded vibe. Each patron has a rich and attentive experience, much like Bin 36’s artisanal, global cheeses and copious wine selection.

Discounted Wine Flights:

There is a wide selection of over 50 wines offered by the glass—not simply the bottle—and for a new consumer, it can be a bit overwhelming.

On Wednesday’s, Bin 36 offers a discounted wine flight at $12 compared to flights ranging upwards of $20. I experienced my first wine flight (pictured below) at Bin 36. Here, the restaurant not only serves, but informs.

Spanish Wine Flight at Bin 36 in West Loop Photo: Amanda Elliott

Fine Cheeses and Appetizers:

While wine is a stand alone, cheeses and other pairings are welcomed.

My friend and I had a cheese platter and fresh brussel sprouts. The cheese platter arrives on an elegant, large tile complete with crackers and fresh jam. The spread can easily be split between two people for dinner.

There are several cheese platters to choose from.

I will  forewarn you, the menu is hard to sift through. There are legends and various menus, which are in large part due to the personalized offerings and the plentiful selection.

I ordered the best in class cheese platter, the “Globetrotters”. The sampling included two Spanish cheeses, the Bufalet and Flor de Esgueva.  The Spanish cheeses paired nicely with an Italian, sharp cheese, Pecorino Toscano and a crusted, lavendar—yes, lavender cheese from Utah, Barely Buzzed.

This month, Bin 36 is making preparations to unveil a new fall menu.

Bin 36 Brussel Sprouts Photo: Amanda Elliott Cheese Platter for Wine Wednesday at Bin 36 Photo: Amanda Elliott

The Chef & New Owner:

With the move to the West Loop, came new ownership. Beginning in 2015, previously the Director of Beverages, Enoch Shully, became the new owner. He greeted each table with an anecdote and a warm smile.

Like the owner, Chef Shane Graybeal, is warm and welcoming (and talented). He joins Bin 36 this year from Washington, D.C., where he was an Exec Sous Chef at Firefly-Kimpton, an environmentally, conscious, hotel restaurant which offers seasonal American dishes, for the past four years.


Real Estate Professionals of Chicago Event Mixes in Men’s Fashion at BOGA

“Can I offer you some wine or vodka?”

Well, this is going to be an interesting mixer. I enter a small door in the west loop and turn a corner to what appears to be a service elevator. On the fifth floor I am met by a fashionable brunette. Behind her, is a European man with shinny, full-body blond hair perfectly framed in the picture for inspiration. Off to the side is a large work area lined with racks of momentary works in progress. I turn the corner and fine European clothing hang to my left, and fine business-savvy men similarly dressed are to my right. A platter of Old Fashions and Manhattan’s are strategically placed to liven this gem and transform it into a man’s cave for the evening.

It’s a Thursday evening, August 20, 2015. I am currently informed that I am the only woman to arrive, and in turn am the only woman to attend.

As a real estate professional, I thought that the playing field had been leveled in this industry. But, for this event in particular, I didn’t get the memo. My thoughts are interrupted by a smiling man, who hands me a freshly made vodka soda.

I am standing in one of the finest men’s clothing stores. BOGA (133 N. Jefferson), much like Frank & Oak, was exclusively available online. In this past year, BOGA has committed to one and only one retail store in Chicago. That retail store is this very one in the west loop.

Secluded, posh, and calming, BOGA’s ambiance is up to par with the quality of its European designed clothing.

Luxury Price Meets Luxury Clothes

Owner and visionary of BOGA, Jeff Burkard, took a fresh approach to luxury menswear. The Chicago-based company encompasses the class and luxury of fine Italian clothing, and is matched with a fitting price tag, much like the clothes you will take home.

I gather around one of the many groups of men. This group is complied of employees from the boutique realty group, Vesta Preferred. After exchanging niceties and travel adventures, we ventured off to take-in the clothes. We stopped at the dress shirts.

“How much do you think this costs?,” I posed the question to the group. I was standing in front of a mix of shoppers ranging from the bargain hunter to the man fanning Gucci (shoes).

The Express man said he didn’t pay over $50 for a dress shirt. The Gucci guy said he paid upwards of a $100. BOGA shirts range from $140-$290.

Our attention was turned towards the lead designer, who surprised us with a business card drawing. The two winning attendees were immediately measured for their very own custom BOGA dress shirt.