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Mini-review: South Branch

South Loop's new destination for happy hour

February 06, 2012|By Emily Van Zandt | RedEye

South Branch
100 S. Wacker Drive 312-546-6177
Rating: !!! (out of 4) Off to a good start

The team behind Sweetwater, The Boundary and Trace bring another happy hour-centric spot to the Loop with South Branch, a sleek, riverside bar and eatery on Wacker.  With an already-bustling lunch and post-work crowd, expect this spot to see an even bigger influx this spring when they open up a sprawling outdoor seating area with room for more than 150.

You shouldn’t have to wait long … for a drink. With two sizeable bars and a bartending staff that seems to be on top of their game, even the busiest of after-work surges shouldn’t be too much for the space to handle. The drink menu is straightforward, but not underdone with a dozen draft beers, more than 50 bottled beers, plus a sizeable wine list and well-stocked bar.

If happy hour isn’t your thing … don’t overlook this spot as a go-to lunch option. The eatery includes a strong list of sandwiches, wraps and salads—not to mention some well-suited eye candy at every other booth. The baked goat cheese ($9.99) is a definite winner, and the only dessert—“Baked Cookie Dough” served with vanilla ice cream ($7.99)—looks like a reason to return.

The space is another reason to crave … summer in Chicago. The large back patio (clocking in around 4,000 square feet) is set to include a glassed in outdoor bar which will feature retractable walls to catch breezes while avoiding any harsh sun. Outdoor drinking season cannot come soon enough.

Bottom line: This spot has the formula down: Great food, sleek decor, solid menu and the promise of an even better see-and-be-seen vibe to come.

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