Immerse yourself in the enchanting world of Chicago’s waterfront dining as we unveil the city’s most captivating culinary gems. Chicago’s finest restaurants along the city’s skyline offer more than just a dining experience, reflecting the magnificence of the Great Lakes. Join us on a journey along Lake Michigan’s shorelines and riverbanks, where the fusion of gourmet cuisine and breathtaking views creates an unforgettable tapestry. From elegant riverside bistros to lakeside retreats, each venue captures the spirit of the city while providing a feast for the senses. Discover the perfect blend of gastronomy and ambiance as we guide you through the Best Waterfront Restaurants in Chicago, where every bite is accompanied by a panoramic vista of this vibrant metropolis.
Located right on the riverwalk in River North, Chicago Cut Steakhouse is a fine-dining American steakhouse from seasoned restaurateur duo David Flom and Mathew Moore. They have a dry-aging room onsite, serving the highest quality aged USDA beef. Their wine list is one of the best in the city, making this establishment great for a private party. Their classic steakhouse menu gives you a customizable steak, cooked and prepared to your liking. I recommend the bone-in ribeye cooked medium-rare with bleu cheese fondue and lobster mac n’ cheese.
Offshore Rooftop offers the best views of Lake Michigan and the Chicago skyline because it’s located on Lake Michigan’s Navy Pier. The romantic rooftop hosts events like yoga classes and DJ brunches during the day. It’s also a charming and cozy dinner destination with fire pits and hanging tea lights. The large menu at Offshore Rooftop is upscale New American, with pizza, appetizers, salads, and rich entrees. My favorite dish was the Faroe Island salmon with sweet onion and parsnip puree.
River Roast is a classy and lively New American tavern located right along the Chicago River in River North. They specialize in whole roasted fish, chicken, and roast beef served family-style on rustic-chic wood boards and cast-iron skillets to be shared family-style with farm-fresh sides. They have a rotating roast of the month offering, with everything from roast beef to pork shank. I recommend the whole Branzino with tomatoes and capers accompanied by their beautifully colorful beet salad with strawberries, fennel, pistachio and sliced radish. The large rooms and upscale feel make River Roast perfect for wedding dinners.
Perhaps the most stunning and free-spirited culinary destination in Chicago, Beatnik On the River is a globally-inspired bistro, fashioned off the beatnik generation’s style and cultural artisanry of Morocco, Italy, and France. Located a few blocks from City Hall overlooking the Chicago River, Beatnik on the River will be a memorable experience, transporting guests in space and time. There’s a delicious dish from every corner of the world on Beatnik’s exquisite menu, with a cocktail to match. I went for brunch and had the patatas bravas with caviar. Consider this place if you want to plan a private dinner with friends.
From the famed fine-dining Gibson’s steakhouse group, Gibsons Italia is an Italian-inspired steakhouse and restaurant in the Fulton River District. Thrillist voted their rooftop patio as one of the best in Chicago. Gibson’s Italia offers a chef-driven menu that puts a gourmet and creative twist on classic Italian food. I recommend starting with a traditional dish of spicy rigatoni with vodka sauce and ricotta for a comforting beginning to an extravagant steak or seafood entrée. Their filet mignon is the most tender I’ve tried. Their exceptional food makes them perfect for wedding dinners.
Located a block from River Roast in River North, Pizzeria Portofino is an authentic Neapolitan pizzeria with a casual, family-friendly atmosphere modeled off a summery Mediterranean Italia coastal eatery. The Italian coastal wines, wood-fired pizzas, and Mediterranean décor might trick you into thinking you’re overlooking the Amalfi coast instead of the Chicago River. Their perfectly bubbly and charred crusts are classic Neapolitan style, topped with high-quality imported ingredients. I loved the Pugliese pizza with house-made spicy fennel sausage, Calabrian chili flake, rapini, parmesan, and green fennel seeds. Consider booking them for a private dinner with friends.
Another stylish River North destination, RPM Seafood is a fashionable and lively seafood restaurant in a multi-story dining space with a giant outdoor patio right on the Chicago River. Owned by celebrity couple Bill and Giuliana Rancic and famed Chicago restaurateur company Lettuce Entertain You, RPM Seafood is a popular destination for fancy cocktails and seafood dinners. In my opinion, the best way to sample RPM’s various seafood offerings is with their extravagant seafood towers, featuring prawns, Maine lobster, Alaska King crab, and raw oysters. You might book RPM for a private birthday dinner.
Teetering between Lincoln Square and Roscoe Village, Metropolitan Brewing is a casual, family- and pet-friendly brewery and taproom, with onsite food vendors. Their giant patio and indoor-outdoor seating replete with large ranch-style wooden tables are home to wholesome events like Bingo! Night and yoga on Sunday morning. They offer house-brewed beers and small-batch imports on tap for adults, along with gluten-free beers and non-alcoholic beverages. When I went, they had a local food truck called Arigato Market with a fusion of Mexican and Japanese dishes to accompany an ice-cold German lager.
A James Beard Award finalist and AAA Four Diamond winner, North Pond is a picturesque and intimate farm-to-table bistro in a historic turn-of-the-century stone building overlooking a pond in Lincoln Park. Thrillist, Time Out, and Eater all praise North Pond as the best restaurant for romantic dinners, weddings, and date nights. The fine-dining, multicourse menu features creative New American dishes that are as stunning as the restaurant’s surroundings. I recommend the Duck Mole with confit leg, mole negro, pumpkin puree, smoked pearl onions and Marcona almonds.
Although it’s located in the heart of Chicago’s touristed Streeterville District across the river from Navy Pier, Pinched on the River offers a serene and secluded setting to enjoy Mediterranean food and fine wine. The lovely Bennett Park shrouds the restaurant in lush greenery while the patio overlooks the river and Lake Michigan a few blocks east. The Mediterranean dishes at Pinched encompass a wide range of European and Middle Eastern dishes. I recommend heading there for an evening cocktail over a delicious traditional mezze platter with hummus, falafel, marinated veggies, tahini, and mixed greens. Pinched is a great choice for a private dinner with friends.
Located right across the river from Beatnik in the Fulton River District, Porter Kitchen and Deck is a classy yet cozy American grill and cocktail bar with a lovely outdoor patio on the Chicago River. Porter Kitchen and Deck is a wonderful place for business lunches, romantic cocktail hours, and date-night dinners. I like salads for lunch, and they make a delicious chicken cobb salad with egg, tomato, bacon, onion, avocado, sweet corn, bleu cheese, dill, and ranch dressing.
Raised is a trendy, urban cocktail bar overlooking the busy Chicago Riverwalk in The Loop. Raised has fashionable industrial-chic décor and a lively atmosphere that’s perfect for happy hour and late-night get-togethers over high-end cocktails and elevated bar fare. The small plates and cocktails use local ingredients and change seasonally. I couldn’t get enough of their signature thick-cut fries with various spicy and savory dipping sauces.
Located in The Loop a few blocks from the University of Illinois-Chicago, Rivers Restaurant is a large, fine-dining New American restaurant with a minimalist industrial interior and a large romantic riverside deck. They offer cocktails, wine, craft beers, a formal lunch and dinner menu, and a fast market menu. If you’re there on a cold day, I recommend a bowl of their hearty chili with cheddar cheese and diced yellow onion. The gorgeous brick interior makes the restaurant a nice option for company dinners.
Why Trust Us?
When it comes to local restaurant recommendations, we pride ourselves on being a reliable and trustworthy resource. Our suggestions are not just based on our personal experiences, ensuring a more authentic and well-rounded perspective, but also on extensive online research. We diligently searched the internet and reviewed 5 credible sites and blogs, including Timeout.com and Secretchicago.com.
We compiled all the findings in one location and sorted them by the frequency of mentions to ensure you receive top-notch recommendations. We strive to present you with a curated list of establishments that truly stand out, allowing you to enjoy the best dining experiences possible.
Interested in the sources we consulted? Check out the list of all 5 sites we referenced below this paragraph, offering transparency and an opportunity for our readers to explore further. Our commitment is to deliver trustworthy and unparalleled recommendations, helping you make informed decisions on your culinary journeys.