Let’s grab a bite: U.B. Dogs, Mixed Greens and 5411 Empanadas

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Your guide to great restaurants near campus. This week we explored the Loop campus.

U.B. Dogs

185 N. Franklin St.

Since 2010, U.B. Dogs has been serving up American classics like hot dogs, cheeseburgers, and chicken sandwiches. The staples are rock solid, as they should be — it’s hard to mess up a Chicago dog when you’re using a Vienna Beef wiener and you’ve got all the right items. Where U.B. excels though is in the subtle twists it puts on old favorites. The Joey Dog in particular (presumably named after owner/operator Joe Plonka, who greets patrons at the register with the kind of smiling enthusiasm that you just don’t see enough of these days) adds a savory spicy garlic wasabi aioli to the traditional meat and bun pairing, along with a drizzle of Tabasco and a sprinkling of salty, fresh-cut french fries. You can teach an old dog new tricks.

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(Photo by Brian Pearlman / The DePaulia)

Mixed Greens

175 N. Franklin St

Without a doubt the busiest of the three locations during the lunchtime rush, Mixed Greens has gained a reputation as the place to go for fresh, custom salads. Choose your greens (baby spinach, romaine, or mixed greens), your dressing (there’s over 15 different kinds) and go to town on toppings like raw mushrooms, edamame, maple-glazed pecans, and grilled salmon.

5411 Empanadas

175 N. Franklin St

Sure it’s a chain, with locations in Miami and Houston as well as Chicago (they’re also in Lakeview), but this unassuming spot, just steps away from U.B. Dogs, 5411 Empanadas has left its mark in the city. Run by friendly folks who serve up wondrously soft pockets of Argentine goodness, with flavors like Malbec beef; mushroom, thyme and blue cheese; and spinach and cheese — this place is one of the best food spots in the Loop.