Chicago has some truly gorgeous scenery, a turn of good fortune that’s always enhanced by dining and drinking opportunities. In turn, local hospitality operators have capitalized on the lure of the sweeping cityscape by creating plenty of restaurants and bars with exemplary views. Draw inspiration from modern and historic structures, not to mention the grey-blue depths of Lake Michigan, by exploring Eater Chicago’s lineup of the top spots for food, cocktails, and a stunning city backdrop.Read More
Where to Dine With Gorgeous Views of the Chicago Skyline and Lake Michigan
Everything tastes better with a spectacular backdrop
One of Chicago's most picturesque dining experiences is at this Michelin-starred spot next to a pond in Lincoln Park. The farm-to-table restaurant feels like taking a trip to the country while downtown skyscrapers rise in the distance.
The J. Parker
This rooftop draw atop Hotel Lincoln gives bird’s-eye views of the lakefront and downtown, along with excellent cocktails and small plates. A retractable roof makes it comfortable year-round.
Head to the rooftop above the Second City complex and discover a sprawling adult playground full of colorful furniture, picnic tables, lush plants, lawn games, tire swings, and more. The views only add to the fun while the menu features tailgate-themed foods like sliders, pizzas, and nachos, plus large-format cocktails and house shots. Sports fans will appreciate that there are numerous TVs showing the games throughout the space.
The Wicker Park hotel the Robey has multiple options for a good time. Cabana Club, a rooftop bar on the building’s sixth floor, features a pool, two bars (serving frozen drinks), and unobstructed 360-degree views. For those seeking a more intimate setting, saunter over to the Up Room, the midcentury modern lounge on the 13th floor, to enjoy creative craft cocktails and dazzling sights.
In an ideal situation for view-seekers, Latin seafood spot Azul offers a look at the Chicago River on one side and the Downtown skyline on the other. The restaurant houses multiple levels, including a lounge and a spacious rooftop bar.
Chicagoans can live their best lives at this swanky rooftop lounge and bar in the Gold Coast. Devereaux, located up high on the 18th floor of the Viceroy Chicago, combines sophisticated design with sweeping sightlines. The food and beverage program is equally impressive, boasting expertly crafted cocktails and elevated refreshments like truffle deviled eggs and Maine lobster sliders. There’s even a pool for those hot summer days.
The Signature Room at the 95th
Very few restaurants anywhere in the world offers views that can match those experienced from the Signature Room, the fine dining restaurant on the 95th floor of 875 North Michigan Avenue (formerly the John Hancock Center) — unless it’s those from the Signature Lounge on the 96th floor, for those who just want a drink. (And for visitors who only want the view, it’s worth stopping by the women’s bathroom.)
Homestead on the Roof
Although it’s not near the lake, Homestead on the Roof is green oasis above a bustling Chicago neighborhood. Sample dishes made from seasonal ingredients, plus standout desserts and drinks. Fun fact: Some of the restaurant’s produce comes directly from its rooftop garden.
At Z Bar, the contemporary cocktail lounge on the Peninsula hotel’s sixth floor, one can sip a Manhattan served over ice that’s laced with 24-karat gold flakes and garnished with black truffle or saffron bitters. The cocktail list spans the globe in terms of flavors and spirits, while the terrace provides glowing views of the Mag Mile.
One Off Hospitality opened a second location of its popular Mediterranean-inspired wine bar Avec last year in River North. With it also came a rooftop patio, dubbed Bar Avec, on the eighth floor of the same building. Complementing the stunning views is a menu that channels the Iberian Peninsula. Folks can enjoy items like smoked salmon conserva, clam toast, cheese plates, gin and tonics, and frozen daiquiris.
The views from this seasonal lakefront spot on the Ohio Street Beach are nearly unparalleled. Sit in the shadows of some of the city’s tallest buildings and dine on sandwiches, burgers, light starters, accompanied by a solid selection of libations, including fish bowls. Pups are welcome to join the fun, too.
The nation’s largest rooftop venue gives locals an enticing reason to visit Navy Pier. The all-seasons bar and lounge spans 36,000 square feet and is decked out with fire pits, a DJ stage, lots of cozy seats, and a glass-enclosed area so visitors can still admire the unmatched views of the skyline from the east when the temperature dips. The menu ranges from pizzas and sliders to oysters and filet mignon.
Chicago Cut Steakhouse
Chicago Cut charges top dollar, which not only gets its customers the finest cuts of beef and possible celebrity sightings, but also sterling skyline views from the River North side of the Chicago River. Bonus points in the summertime for al fresco dining on the elevated riverside patio.
LondonHouse Chicago has arguably the city’s most prominent outdoor terrace and there’s no denying the appeal. The tri-level rooftop on the 22nd floor is a bucket-list-worthy destination that offers panoramic views of towering skyscrapers and the Chicago River. The kitchen rounds out the experience with re-imagined American fare highlighting fresh seasonal ingredients and global influences.
The large restaurant that specializes in large chunks of roasted protein has an elevated outdoor patio that offers one of the best downtown riverside views in Chicago. Diners can even take a water taxi right to the door.
Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises’s Aba serves as the counterpart to Ēma, both of which are helmed by chef C.J. Jacobson and explore the flavors of the Mediterranean. Aba spans 4,000 square feet, including a lush rooftop patio stamped with greenery and killer views, all the better to enjoy both boozy and zero-proof cocktails.
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Perched atop the Loop’s gorgeous and historic Carbide & Carbon Building, patrons at Chateau Carbide are treated to a lovely bird’s-eye view of downtown Chicago in sleek, Art Deco digs. It offers a relaxed atmosphere during the day and at 5 p.m. transitions into a clubby spot with French house music.
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This indoor/outdoor lounge on the third floor of the Renaissance Chicago Downtown Hotel overlooking the Chicago River has one of the city’s most scenic backdrops. Grab a seat on a cushy couch and snack on fancy bar food, such as truffle fries, corn nuts, and cheese-and-charcuterie boards. The beverage program focuses on seasonal cocktails made with locally sourced ingredients as well as beers brewed in Chicago. There are also heat lamps on the patio to help keep things comfortable.
When the chic London-based lifestyle hotel the Hoxton touched down in Chicago in 2019, the company decided to partner with local hitmaker Stephanie Izard of Girl & the Goat fame. Cabra, which claims the Hoxton’s rooftop terrace, is dedicated to Peruvian cuisine and affords awesome views of the West Loop’s cityscape.
Beatnik on the River
The sibling of Bonhomme Hospitality Group’s globetrotting hotspot Beatnik, Beatnik on the River brings the boho-chic vibes to the Loop. The alluring riverside locale is decorated with colorful and comfy couches, tasseled umbrellas, and lush greenery. Guests can expect a menu that’s influenced by Spanish, Mediterranean, and South American flavors from executive chef Marcos Campos.
Prime views and indulgent luxuries are aplenty at the city’s first Nobu Hotel. The ritzy chain co-owned by Robert De Niro pulls out all the stops to impress, and on the rooftop, guests are in for an especially extravagant experience. Celebrity chef Nobu Matsuhisa’s Japanese-Peruvian menu features fresh sushi and hot dishes, such as miso black cod in butter lettuce, to go with the spectacular sights.
The stylish rooftop of the Chicago Athletic Association hotel is one of the hottest spots in town, with gorgeous views of Millennium Park and, beyond that, Lake Michigan. The cocktails and food are also top notch.
There aren’t many rooftops on the South Side so VU was a welcome addition when it opened in 2018. Located near Wintrust Arena and McCormick Place, the 13,000-square-foot space sits 22 stories above ground and has three bars, two patios, a karaoke room, outdoor fire pits, and retractable windows.