River North is one of Chicago’s most-frequented neighborhoods with gobs of tourists and city dwellers descending toward blocks of riverfront views, luxe shopping options, and reputable art galleries. And then there’s the area’s food and drink scene — a bustling collection of upscale eateries, hotel hangouts, crowded nightlife, and budget-friendly bites. From the big-ticket steakhouse, to the serious sushi newcomer, to the tasting menu fixture and oyster haven, here are the best places to dine and drink right now in River North.Read More
Where to Eat and Drink in River North
One of downtown Chicago’s best dining and drinking neighborhoods has something for everyone
1. Good Measure
Folks looking for terrific cocktails at good prices, creative bar food, and more edge than other downtown spots will find that and more at this relaxed industry-approved hangout on Chicago Avenue. Chef-owner Matt Troost (Three Aces) gives downtown drinkers and eaters much more than boring wings and flatbreads, churning out fantastic bar bites including Nashville hot fried duck livers, a patty melt with foie gras caramelized onions, and loaded baked potato brandade. Cocktails are fun riffs on classics, such as the signature Toki highball.
Michelin-starred Entente, helmed by chef and co-owner Brian Fisher (Schwa), relocated from Lakeview in March, much to the delight of River North residents. Fisher puts an innovative spin on modern American dishes like a fanciful wedge salad studded with Benton’s bacon, cambozola, and tomato, and a buttery Slagel Farms shortrib (bulgogi, bone marrow butterscotch, Tokyo turnip, sushi rice) will both delight and sate hungry diners.
The Dana Hotel’s restaurant prides itself on a selection of sustainable seafood options, alongside several ingredients sourced locally from nearby farms. Those details pay off in simple but flavorful dishes: The King Crab Louis with melon and avocado is one of the best ways to settle in here, as is the cacio e pepe, a classic made memorable with uni butter and black peppercorn. Bread service here is heightened, as evidenced by bonito flake sourdough, nori ciabatta, and smoked salmon, and caviar brioche — a dinner accompaniment that’s as exciting to admire as it is to eat.
4. Pacific Standard Time
This breezy, effortless California-cool restaurant from One Off Hospitality and Underscore Hospitality opened to much fanfare in April 2018 and awards and accolades have rolled in ever since. It was voted one of America’s best new restaurants in 2018. The sleek, midcentury modern decor earned the restaurant a 2019 Beard Award for Outstanding Restaurant Design. The menu keeps the West Coast vibe alive with seafood options including roasted black cod (English pea, shabazi vinaigrette, onion puree, crispy shallot, radish) and whole branzino. Diners would be advised to leave room for pastry chef Natalie Saben’s sweet offerings, including a summery citrus pavlova with lemongrass pudding, yuzu curd, grapefruit granita, and mint. Chef Erling Wu-Bower is planning a new bar and restaurant on the rooftop called the Laurel Room.
5. Osteria Via Stato
It was a trip through Italy for Lettuce Entertain You founder Rich Melman and chef David DiGregorio that inspired the philosophy behind this restaurant, where a commitment to seasonal and local produce and traditional Italian flavors and techniques are paramount. Today those practices show up in plates like parmesan-crusted sweet onions, hand-rolled ricotta cavatelli with wild mushrooms, and pan-roasted Faroe Islands salmon, served alongside salsa verde and a shaved fennel salad.
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6. Broken Shaker at Freehand Chicago
Tucked within the Freehand Hotel, this Miami outpost offers unpretentious relief from the area’s occasionally over-packed restaurants and nightclubs. The name of the game is creative cocktails inside a dimly-lit room filled with a younger crowd compared to the rest of River North. Guests are best off at the bar, where they can witness the team’s prowess for kitchen-forward classics like the “Cashin’ In” (with foie gras-infused St. Germain, Bols Genever, and barley shochu) or the “Fiesta de Jardin” (with Peloton de la Muerte mezcal, raspberry, watermelon radish, and alfalfa sprouts).
7. Tanta Chicago
It’s a medley of Chinese, Japanese, Italian, and Spanish ingredients and techniques that make up this restaurant’s Peruvian plates, which celebrate the diverse landscape of the South American country. As such, expect dishes like the Chaufa Aeropuerto, an ode to the Canton immigrants of the 1800s that’s includes garlicky pork fried rice with a fluffy shrimp omelet. For a bite that’ll prove most memorable, make it the pobre nikuiri nikei, a Japanese-inspired strip of rice that’s topped with tender skirt steak, ponzu gel, and a quail egg.
8. GT Fish & Oyster
Seafood is the focus at this corner spot from Boka Restaurant Group, where chef Giuseppe Tentori serves up modern interpretations of coastal classics. Do start with oysters on the half shell, then dive into some of the eatery’s handheld favorites, from the oyster po'boy slider with kimchi and peanuts, to the Maine lobster roll with fried onions and pickled vegetables. Turf fanatics are well taken care of, too, thanks to options like the roasted lamb shank with eggplant and Moroccan flatbread, and black angus strip loin alongside kale and bone marrow cappelletti.
9. Gene & Georgetti
This family-owned institution is Chicago’s oldest steakhouse. Founded in 1941, the restaurant offers exceptional steaks and chops, as well as pasta, seafood, and classic Italian entrees like veal, eggplant, and chicken parm. Owners opened a suburban location in Rosemont in 2015.
Recently crowned with the “Outstanding Restaurant” title at the 2017 James Beard awards, this fine-dining fixture from Rick Bayless and team is best known for the upscale Mexican tasting menus that have been on offer since 1991. Guests can choose between five- and seven-course experiences, the latter of which is themed and changes with every season. It’s the hub of Bayless’s empire in the neighborhood, whichincludes the wildly popular Frontera Grill, subterranean drinking spot Bar Sotano, and casual counter-spot XOCO.
11. Imperial Lamian
Imperial Lamian’s CEO promised exceptional Chinese fare when this noodle haven opened in 2016, and true to his word, the restaurant delivers. Diners can expect bowls piled with long, hand-pulled noodles and round bamboo containers of steaming xiao long bao, or soup dumplings in a festive, cheery environment. The bar offers a nice selection of original cocktails and the interactive “Lunar Blossom” dessert (pandan cake, almonds, cocoa, vanilla bean) is a real show-stopper.
12. Three Dots and a Dash
This adored tiki hotspot offers an otherworldly experience in a bustling neighborhood, transporting customers to the tropics the moment they step inside. Staff source cocktail ingredients from around the world for classic and modern tiki concoctions. Tropical food items like coconut shrimp and tuna poke are also available. Owners opened the Bamboo Room, a bar-within-a-bar, in February to offer diners a more refined setting.
13. RPM Steak
Celebrities and locals love this gorgeous steakhouse that exudes understated glamour. Opened in 2014, RPM Steak staff have served President Obama, Taraji P. Henson, and Lady Gaga, among other famous faces to make an appearance at this see-and-be-seen spot. It’s also known for excellent Japanese and Kobe beef and over-the-top desserts like a 14K chocolate cake.