Posted 06 August 2017 - 11:48 AM
Pret A Manger is probably my favorite location in Washington Union Station; I find their Chicago locations to be a bit lacking, and I can't quite put my finger on it as to why. But one can't really beat the quality of the food; I picked up a couple sandwiches a day or two prior to my departure from CHI last month and had one leftover I took on the train. It came in quite handy as a mid-afternoon lunch as I departed Union Station.
As for nearby dining spots near CUS, if you're in the mood for a burger, I like Epic Burger, with a location about two blocks from CUS [I believe it's the West Loop location at 550 West Adams], and eight locations in Chicagoland. Similar to Smashburger in the western US, though with a focus on high quality and minimally-processed ingredients. (Not often do I get a choice of Havarti on a quick service hamburger.)
A scenic walk along with food can be had by heading to the Merchandise Mart across the river. Along with a very decent Potbelly's location, there's the requisite Starbucks and a few other dining opportunities (some in a food court, some not), all catering to the daytime office crowd. Unlike many Loop lunch-type spots, many of the Mart restaurants are open past 5 PM and a couple open as late as 8 PM.
My favorite restaurant in the Chicago area is Lou Malnati's. Although it was the first place to serve deep-dish pizza, they seem to have perfected it. There are multiple locations throughout the area; the one I usually go to is one block north of the Merchandise Mart CTA station. If you don't want to walk the whole way both ways, you could take the CTA there. The closest station to Union Station is Quincy, which is about a five minute walk east across the river. Because of the Loop's set-up, it is 7 stops when on the Brown Line when going to Merchandise Mart but only 2 stops on the way back to Union Station. If the Purple Line is running (weekday rush-hours only), it runs the opposite way around the Loop so it would get you there in only 2 stops; however it would still be faster to take the Brown Line back. If time is not an issue, I would recommend taking the Brown Line both ways to simplify your plans and so you can experience the entire Loop. Fares for the CTA are $2.25 each way. If you choose this option, look for the scenic Chicago River Bridge just after leaving the Loop and before arriving Merchandise Mart.
Trains travelled: Capitol Limited WAS-CHI, Cardinal CHI-WAS, Carolinian CLT-RGH, Coast Starlight SJC-LAX, Crescent BAL-ATL, Empire Builder MSP-CHI, Empire Service NYP-NFL+NYG-YNY, Lake Shore Limited BOS-ALB, Maple Leaf ALB-NYP, Northeast Regional FBG-RVR+WAS-BOS, Pacific Surfliner LAX-ANA, Pennsylvanian NYP-PGH, Piedmont RGH-DNC, Silver Meteor ORL-NYP, Silver Star FTL-WAS, 2016 Autumn Express NYP-HAR-NYP
Upcoming New Routes: Lake Shore Limited NYP-CHI (December), California Zephyr CHI-RIC (December), Coast Starlight SJC-SEA (December), Empire Builder SEA-MSP (January).
Non Amtrak: Atlanta Streetcar, Caltrain, CTA, DC Streetcar, Hudson-Bergen Light Rail, LIRR, MARC, MARTA, MBTA Subway, Metra, Metrolink, Metro-North, METRO Transit Light Rail, Miami Metrorail, Muni Metro, NJT Commuter Rail, North Star, NYC Subway, PATH, Pittsburgh Light Rail, River Line (NJT), SEPTA Regional Rail, SEPTA Subway, South Shore Line, Sunrail, Staten Island Railway, TECO Streetcar, Tri-Rail, Washington Metro