We're always looking for alternatives in the Loop to fast food. So recently I decided to hop on the train with my son and track down a few of the best places to go when you've had enough of McD's.
We were introduced to Pret a Manger, the organic, freshly made sandwich and soup venue in London two years ago, where there's a 'Pret' on every corner. They make a wide variety of food daily and leftovers are donated to the Greater Chicago Food Depository. My son loves the Salmon Snack Box and Blueberry and Honey Yogurt, while I munch on the Egg Florentine Toastie. The staff is helpful and you can "grab and go" or sit and eat. Avoid the Loop lunch rush hour-a little early or a little later is your best bet. Pret A Manger has several new Chicago locations and one in Evanston.
A drink at Argo Tea is a refreshing treat, and kids who are new to the beverage will find plenty here to love, from tea/juice sparklers to Bubble teas with chewy tapioca at the bottom or smoothies like the Red Velvet-red tea, raspberries and white chocolate. Most locations have seating, but if you have a stroller, be aware that seating-and bathrooms!-are often on the second floor. Argo Tea has several Chicago-area location.
My son's favorite meal spot for years has been the Marketplace food court in the basement of Marshall Fields. It went through a rough patch when Macy's took over the store, but in recent visits it has improved and once again makes a great place to grab lunch.
I don't recommend the grill (slow service, so-so food), but two sections can't be beat: The salad bar with fresh ingredients put together to your specs, and the old-fashioned "comfort foods." They've always been the real attraction here and all of them are kid-friendly: mac 'n' cheese, chicken breast tenders, mashed potatoes, pot pie and gravy. My son will eat a real meal and still have room for a stop at the candy department, also located in the basement. A bag of penny candy for him and a designer chocolate for me and we're fortified to hop back on the train for home. Macy's Marketplace is located on the lower level at 111 N. State St., Chicago.
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