The Best Grab-and-Go Lunch Spots
Here’s the deal: Quick, packable, healthy lunch recipes are very much our jam—but we all have those days when pre-planning a week’s worth of meals, much less an emergency trip to the grocery store, just isn’t in the cards. The grab-and-go spots below offer low-maintenance alternatives to a packed lunch and, for the most part, won’t set you back from your clean eating goals (we threw in a few indulgences, just for fun).
Filter1373-75 N. Milwaukee Ave., Wicker Park | 773.904.7819
Locals love Filter because in a lot of ways it feels like a friend's living room—lived-in, mismatched couches, dim lighting, and good music. And with disco fries, wraps, sandwiches, and veggie options on the menu, it's pretty easy to set up shop for the day with no real need to leave.
Gaslight2385 N. Milwaukee Ave., Logan Square
From the Mason jar–topped wood tables (huge—so feel free to spread out), to the distressed floors, to the taxidermied deer head on the wall, there’s a distinct rustic flavor to this Logan Square café. Unlike many spots that can easily coast on the quality of their coffee alone, the food offering here—simple, delicious breakfast, toasts, and sandwiches—can also hold its own.
Doc B’s Fresh Kitchen100 E. Walton St., Gold Coast | 312.626.1300
This self-professed “fast-casual” eatery prides itself on giving guests a 100 percent customizable experience. The tech-to-table system allows for lightning-fast service (order from a digital menu board, and then take a wireless tracker to your table), though if traditional waiter service is more your speed, there’s that too. Food-wise, the focus is on healthful, fresh fare, with the menus at both locations brimming with veggie-driven dishes (for the most part, produce is sourced locally) like kale slaw and grilled artichokes, in addition to comfort staples like matzo ball soup and close to a dozen burger variations (the turkey burger is a GP favorite). There's also a location in River North.
Eataly ChicagoThe Shops at North Bridge, 43 E. Ohio St., Magnificent Mile | 312.521.8700
Just like the NYC outpost, and the dozen or so locations all over Italy (as well as recent offshoots in Japan, Dubai, and Istanbul)—Eataly Chicago is a foodie wonderland. The sprawling space is packed with imported sauces, beers, sweets, and so much more. There’s even a selection of housewares and books. Stalls offering house-made breads, pastas, and cheeses are scattered throughout—we recommend doing a lap to get the lay of the land first before committing to any one spot. For more formal dining there are several restaurants that are pretty efficient about taking walk-ins. No big surprise, but they have great gelato.
Cold Storage1000 W. Fulton Mkt., West Loop | 312.733.9420
Cold Storage is actually inside the Swift & Sons steakhouse—it’s their take on a seafood bar, with oysters and tons of shellfish. While the seafood tower doesn’t really make the best to-go order, you can get their excellent grilled fish and sandwiches (crab salad on brioche with avocado and lemon, anyone?) packaged up and ready for take-out. Dangerously, the desserts make for great takeout, too.
Publican Quality Meats825 W. Fulton Market, Fulton Market | 312.445.8977
Situated next door to its sister restaurant, the Publican, PQM offers a full butchery plus sandwiches and old-fashioned breakfasts. In the evenings, it gets converted into a dining room for the Publican's private events.