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Best Riverside Restaurants In Chicago

By Rachel Azark

Before you know it, fall will be blowing into Chicago. So enjoy the last two months or so of nice weather while you can; and what better way to do it than enjoying either lunch or dinner outside along the Chicago River? I may be bias, but I think sitting alongside the river and eating lunch outside gives you some of the best views of the city with the river sparkling (although not sparkling clean) and the sun bouncing off the glass office buildings. It really makes you appreciate what a great city Chicago is.

Bridge House Tavern

Bridge House Tavern

321 N. Clark St. (River Level)
Chicago, IL 60610

Probably the newest restaurant on the River, Bridge House Tavern tries to play the upscale, downtown restaurant with the gastropub scene. They invite you to pull up your boat (no really, you pull up your boat and climb over the edge right into their patio), grab dinner and sit under the stars. They offer daily drink specials listed on their website and good food to boot. Their lunch menu offers everything from popcorn for appetizers to fish or burgers for entrees.

Fulton's On The River

Fulton's on the River

315 N. LaSalle St.
Chicago, IL 60610

Fulton's is a classic seafood and steakhouse with a bit of an upscale vibe to it. They serve seafood that is either wild or that has been sustainably farmed. For dessert try their house-made banana cream pie – it's a house specialty. Chicago Magazine voted them best steakhouse dessert in November 2008. If you want to bring the office there or have a party, they have plenty of space and private dining rooms.


Smith & Wollensky

318 N. State St.
(On the River at Marina City)
Chicago, IL 60654

Continuing on down the River, Smith & Wollensky has a large outdoor patio when the weather is nice and turn-of-the-century décor inside when it's not-so-nice. Smith & Wollensky got its start in New York in 1977 and claims to be the only national steakhouse to dry-age and butcher on site, fly in lobster daily and make their own sides and pastries by hand. You can't ask for much more than that. If you're looking for a nice hearty lunch then visit here. Or if you're having a small business meeting, ask for the little room in the downstairs kitchen so you can watch them prepare the food.

Riverwalk Cafe & Bar

Riverwalk Café & Bar

401 N. Michigan Ave.
Chicago, IL 60611

If you are looking for something very casual at lunch or looking for after work cocktails specials, take a little trip to the river front at 401 N. Michigan. Better yet, the Shoreline Water Taxi service drops you off right at the patio, so if you're coming from Navy Pier or Union Station this would be an easy stop. At lunch, they have a full cafeteria inside offering everything from salads, to sandwiches to quesadillas. After work they set up the bar outside when it's nice and serve their cocktails right from there. If it's raining, they'll move it back to the bar inside.

Chicago burger Company

Chicago Burger Company

901 E. North Water Street
(Riverwalk level)
Chicago, IL 60611

Looking for a good, juicy burger at lunch? Stroll on down the riverwalk to the Chicago Burger Company to feed your craving. They serve all-American beef burgers, turkey burgers and healthy vegetarian options. They also offer cool shakes and icy-blended cocktails for those hot August days. If you're going at night, make sure to go on a Wednesday or Saturday night, grab a table outside and watch the Navy Pier fireworks right from there with a cocktail in hand.

Rachel Azark is a writer and lives on Chicago's Northwest side. Read more of her work on her blog

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