Welcome Summer at the Best Waterfront Restaurants in Chicago
Chicago may be Midwestern to its core, but its swath of Lake Michigan shoreline and winding river mean that it’s easy to cop a coastal vibe at times in an otherwise land-locked state. From a secluded retreat at the edge of a pond to a bustling steakhouse on the bank of the Chicago River, here are nine of the best places to dine by the water in Chicago.
With its picturesque surroundings and seasonally driven tasting menu, this waterfront hideaway nestled within Lincoln Park is easily among the most romantic restaurants in Chicago. The summer menu spans from fresh artichoke pasta shells tossed with English peas, herbed goat cheese, basil rye crumb, candied violets, and calendula petals, to red wine ribeye lozenge with Chanteduc potato pave, smoked piquillo pepper, charred knob onion, and raisin chimichurri; every dish reflects that natural beauty within which the fine dining spot is set.
Whether you’re out for a midweek power lunch or an alfresco date night, the expansive riverside patio at chefs Tony Mantuano and John Hogan’s meat-centric tavern is a must-try outdoor dining experience during the summer months. Small bites like country-fried rabbit, harissa-infused blistered shishitos, and shucked-to-order oysters set the stage for the main event: one of the restaurant’s shareable roasts, carved table-side.
Stop by this stylish steakhouse for breathtaking Chicago River views and perfectly cooked USDA Prime steaks to match. The restaurant is also a favorite among both local and international celebrities; if you’re lucky, that juicy, dry-aged Delmonico will come with a star sighting or two ("look, it's that guy from that thing!").
Though this hotspot may not be located directly along the water’s edge, its 18th-floor vantage point offers magnificent lake and skyline views best enjoyed out on the wraparound terrace. Enjoy a selection of breakfast pastries and cheddar biscuits drenched in sausage gravy for weekend brunch, and Elysian Fields lamb leg with spiced carrot, caraway yogurt, and harissa jus at dinnertime.
This summer-ready outpost of the West Loop favorite is positioned right along Chicago's riverwalk, and comes outfitted with plentiful umbrella-shaded seating for comfortable outdoor dining and imbibing. Score wine through the concept's unique tap system, a curated lineup of gourmet sandwiches and salads, a rotating selection of sorbets and gelatos to help you stay cool.
This cozy gastro-pub promises well-executed American fare all year long, but it’s the sweeping patio along the river that makes Bridge House a highly coveted dining destination when the weather’s nice. Treat yourself to a little extra vitamin D as you throw back crab cakes, tavern fries dunked in bacon aioli, and the pub’s signature 10oz burger.
This Denver-born bistro made a big splash on Chicago’s riverfront when it opened back in 2014, and has remained a bustling waterside mainstay ever since. Hearty offerings like cheese and charcuterie boards, seared gnocchi, and Slagel Family Farm's grilled pork tenderloin pair well with a soft breeze off the water and any and all of the signature cocktails.
While undeniably still tourist-y, Navy Pier has managed to step up its dining game recently, thanks in part to the arrival of this twofer from lauded chef Michael Kornick. Sip boozy milkshakes and tackle all things surf and turf here before you take a ride on the $26.5 million Ferris wheel we don't really need.
This casually elegant spot has rightfully earned bragging rights as Chicago’s only seafood restaurant on the waterfront. The Navy Pier gem boasts a mouthwatering array of seafaring entrees, as well as massive seafood platters flush with oysters, shrimp, King crab bites, and more. There’s also a small selection of steaks and chops for those who are red meat-inclined.
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