Because of onerous city regulations, Chicago has failed to develop much of a food truck scene. These laws, which severely restrict where food trucks can operate, deprive aspiring chefs of a first rung on the ladder up to a brick-and-mortar restaurant, and they deprive residents of the sort of vibrant street-food culture found in Portland and Los Angeles.
Chicago has responded by developing indoor food halls, starting with the delightful French Market, which opened in 2009 under the train tracks of Ogilvie Transportation Center. Since then, Eataly opened in the city, along with several other notable food halls. I’m most excited about the food hall planned by Time Out, set to open in the West Loop sometime later this year. The Time Out food hall in Lisbon was great fun to visit, and I hope the Chicago iteration will live up to that example.
In the meantime, I found three food halls downtown that all make fine stops for a fast lunch. Most of the stalls offer meal-size portions, alas, making it more difficult to graze unless you bring friends.