Where to Eat in River North

Must read

Barrington-based Bredwell Brings Healthy Meals For Dogs This Holiday Season

Dog lovers in the Chicago area and beyond now have a unique way to treat their pets...

“Eat & Evolve” Raising Funds For The Evolved Network

Chef Sebastian White of The Evolved Network, along with event partner, The Paramount Group, are excited to...

8 Chicago Breweries With Seasonal Winter Beers This Year

If there’s one thing that’s always in season, it’s beer. There’s always a good time to have...
The Chicago flag lit on a building.
TheMart is a River North landmark.
Shutterstock

Downtown Chicago’s most competitive neighborhood for restaurants has a few stellar choices

View as Map

TheMart is a River North landmark.
| Shutterstock

When most people mention Downtown Chicago restaurants, they’re usually locked on one neighborhood in particular. River North is many things, with Hubbard Street overburdened with tourists during the summer, and long lines pouring out of deep-dish pizza joints. But a River North dining experience doesn’t have to be pedestrian. Check out this listing of the best the neighborhood has to offer. Tourist traps have their charms, but these spots will have your party applauding your dining judgment.

For updated information on coronavirus cases, please visit the city of Chicago’s COVID-19 dashboard. Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; it may pose a risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial COVID transmission. The latest CDC guidance is here; find a COVID-19 vaccination site here.

For all the latest Chicago drinking and dining intel, subscribe to Eater.

Read More

Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

If you buy something or book a reservation from an Eater link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics policy.

Obelix expertly navigates modern and traditional French cooking in a comfy space, hidden away from downtown’s skyscrapers. The beef Wellington is spectacular. The oysters and escargot are top-notch. But there’s a smile from the French American owners who grew up in Chicago, the children of the founders of Le Bouchon, a French mainstay in Bucktown. Fun dishes like a foie gras taco bring different flavors and perspectives to the table and make Obelix special. There’s also a portion of the menu dedicated to duck

A round blue plate holds a seared duck breast dish.
Seared duck is a house specialty.
Chris Peters/Eater Chicago

This is it: the Italian beef stand that the first season of The Bear took place at. Well, the TV show didn’t really take place here, they just filmed the exteriors because the real-life Mr. Beef is much smaller than the fictional Original Beef of Chicagoland. Chicagoans have varied opinions of Italian beef, but it’s best to pick an independent that actually cooks the beef onsite versus one that just heats meat from a bag. 

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.

This Greek mini chain continues to excel. Louie Alexakis wants to give diners more than gyros (but do try the gyros here; they’re delicious). Lamb chops and skewers are juicy and tender. The spreads are satisfying, and the wine list doesn’t disappoint.

Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Torchio Pasta Bar remained closed for much of the pandemic, but it’s back and this noodle-focused restaurant delivers. This isn’t a red sauce Italian spot, but a restaurant with carefully made pasta, including a memorable pappardelle. Come hungry and check out this family-owned spot.

Phil Stefani is a beloved Chicago restaurant owner, and Bar Cargo is what happens when his children take over. A fun spot in the middle of River North, Anthony and Gina Stefani has created a fun pizza bar with a unique pizza that differs from other attempts at square Roman-style pies. The Stefanis have done a good job at combining Chicago with Italy, and serving tasty pizza and cold drinks in a friendly atmosphere. There’s also a solid brunch.

Sign up for the newsletter Eater Chicago

Sign up for our newsletter.

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.

One Off Hospitality successfully transformed this River North spot into the second location of one of Chicago’s most popular restaurants. Avec helped define Chicago’s restaurant scene with popular items like the legendary bacon-wrapped stuffed Medjool dates. Those classics remain, served a much roomier quarters. But the staff has added new items, like pizza and small plates (chicken liver crostini is a winner).

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 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. 

The owners of Rooh Chicago have gone more casual with this pub with tropical drinks inspired by Goa, the coastal city in India. This is a great place for light dinners with sandwiches, fries, and other pub fare. Bar Goa has an attitude, and it’s to leave your cares behind.

A low-lit bar space lined with stools.
Tropical vibes are on the menu all year long.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Billy Dec has built a large reputation in Chicago, as the fedora-wearing nightclub owner opened River North bars like Rockit. Dec has since moved to Nashville, but Sunda might be his legacy. The Asian restaurant has leaned more into Filipino cuisine (Dec is Fil-Am), and it’s the only place to eat adobo pork belly in an upscale venue. Look out for a stellar gluten-free menu, sushi, and the Kameyan feast, a Filipino family-style meal for two to four.

Since 2012, star chef Carrie Nahabedian has treated loyal fans to a special type of French dining. Brindille has all the elements customers would expect from a French bistro, but the chef sprinkles a little of bit of an Armenian touch. The menu changes, but for fans of fine cheeses, the restaurant continues to lead the way. The wine list is also strong.

Crowned with the “Outstanding Restaurant” title at the 2017 James Beard awards, this fine-dining fixture from Rick Bayless is best known for the upscale Mexican tasting menus that have been offered since 1991. It’s the hub of Bayless’s empire in the neighborhood, which includes the wildly popular Frontera Grill, subterranean drinking spot Bar Sotano, and casual counter-spot XOCO.

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.

This Chicago classic is a sports fan’s dream with nostalgia packing the walls in the forms of photos, jerseys, and trinkets from all the games. Named for the baseball announcer who called games for both of the city’s teams, Harry’s is an old-fashioned Chicago steakhouse with great pork chops and calamari. The bar also has a great old Chicago feel, so come in and grab a classic drink and escape the elements. 

Rohini Dey is a bit of a superwoman: model, chef, and in recent years an activist, trying to unite the women in the city’s restaurant world. Vermillion, once one of the hottest restaurants in the world — with a New York location where author Salman Rushdie was an investor — is the little engine that could, blending Indian and Latin flavors. The dishes are still unique, and Vermillion is one of those restaurants that Chicagoans need to cross off their bucket lists.

Chef Carlos Gaytán is a household name in Chicago and Mexico. When his West Town restaurant, Mexique, earned a Michelin star, Gaytán became the first Mexican-born chef with a Michelin-starred restaurant. He’s become a mentor to many, and with Tzuco, diners will find a beautiful dining room that breaks the mold of the boring design that plagues many of Chicago’s restaurants. Gaytán’s food still blends French techniques with Mexican ingredients, but he’s gone bolder in recent years. There’s also a killer brunch featuring baked goods that deserve more spotlight in Chicago.

Kitchen + Kocktails is built around special occasions. Like the original in Dallas, the restaurant is Instagram-friendly, with plenty of drinks and spaces where customers can snap photos. The menu is a medley of southern food with lamb chops, shrimp and grits, and more. Owner Kevin Kelley has famously instituted a dress code. This a spot to be seen.

Link copied to the clipboard.

A round blue plate holds a seared duck breast dish.
Seared duck is a house specialty.
Chris Peters/Eater Chicago

Obelix expertly navigates modern and traditional French cooking in a comfy space, hidden away from downtown’s skyscrapers. The beef Wellington is spectacular. The oysters and escargot are top-notch. But there’s a smile from the French American owners who grew up in Chicago, the children of the founders of Le Bouchon, a French mainstay in Bucktown. Fun dishes like a foie gras taco bring different flavors and perspectives to the table and make Obelix special. There’s also a portion of the menu dedicated to duck

A round blue plate holds a seared duck breast dish.
Seared duck is a house specialty.
Chris Peters/Eater Chicago

This is it: the Italian beef stand that the first season of The Bear took place at. Well, the TV show didn’t really take place here, they just filmed the exteriors because the real-life Mr. Beef is much smaller than the fictional Original Beef of Chicagoland. Chicagoans have varied opinions of Italian beef, but it’s best to pick an independent that actually cooks the beef onsite versus one that just heats meat from a bag. 

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.

Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

This Greek mini chain continues to excel. Louie Alexakis wants to give diners more than gyros (but do try the gyros here; they’re delicious). Lamb chops and skewers are juicy and tender. The spreads are satisfying, and the wine list doesn’t disappoint.

Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Torchio Pasta Bar remained closed for much of the pandemic, but it’s back and this noodle-focused restaurant delivers. This isn’t a red sauce Italian spot, but a restaurant with carefully made pasta, including a memorable pappardelle. Come hungry and check out this family-owned spot.

Phil Stefani is a beloved Chicago restaurant owner, and Bar Cargo is what happens when his children take over. A fun spot in the middle of River North, Anthony and Gina Stefani has created a fun pizza bar with a unique pizza that differs from other attempts at square Roman-style pies. The Stefanis have done a good job at combining Chicago with Italy, and serving tasty pizza and cold drinks in a friendly atmosphere. There’s also a solid brunch.

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.

One Off Hospitality successfully transformed this River North spot into the second location of one of Chicago’s most popular restaurants. Avec helped define Chicago’s restaurant scene with popular items like the legendary bacon-wrapped stuffed Medjool dates. Those classics remain, served a much roomier quarters. But the staff has added new items, like pizza and small plates (chicken liver crostini is a winner).

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 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. 

A low-lit bar space lined with stools.
Tropical vibes are on the menu all year long.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

The owners of Rooh Chicago have gone more casual with this pub with tropical drinks inspired by Goa, the coastal city in India. This is a great place for light dinners with sandwiches, fries, and other pub fare. Bar Goa has an attitude, and it’s to leave your cares behind.

A low-lit bar space lined with stools.
Tropical vibes are on the menu all year long.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Billy Dec has built a large reputation in Chicago, as the fedora-wearing nightclub owner opened River North bars like Rockit. Dec has since moved to Nashville, but Sunda might be his legacy. The Asian restaurant has leaned more into Filipino cuisine (Dec is Fil-Am), and it’s the only place to eat adobo pork belly in an upscale venue. Look out for a stellar gluten-free menu, sushi, and the Kameyan feast, a Filipino family-style meal for two to four.

Since 2012, star chef Carrie Nahabedian has treated loyal fans to a special type of French dining. Brindille has all the elements customers would expect from a French bistro, but the chef sprinkles a little of bit of an Armenian touch. The menu changes, but for fans of fine cheeses, the restaurant continues to lead the way. The wine list is also strong.

Crowned with the “Outstanding Restaurant” title at the 2017 James Beard awards, this fine-dining fixture from Rick Bayless is best known for the upscale Mexican tasting menus that have been offered since 1991. It’s the hub of Bayless’s empire in the neighborhood, which includes the wildly popular Frontera Grill, subterranean drinking spot Bar Sotano, and casual counter-spot XOCO.

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.

This Chicago classic is a sports fan’s dream with nostalgia packing the walls in the forms of photos, jerseys, and trinkets from all the games. Named for the baseball announcer who called games for both of the city’s teams, Harry’s is an old-fashioned Chicago steakhouse with great pork chops and calamari. The bar also has a great old Chicago feel, so come in and grab a classic drink and escape the elements. 

Rohini Dey is a bit of a superwoman: model, chef, and in recent years an activist, trying to unite the women in the city’s restaurant world. Vermillion, once one of the hottest restaurants in the world — with a New York location where author Salman Rushdie was an investor — is the little engine that could, blending Indian and Latin flavors. The dishes are still unique, and Vermillion is one of those restaurants that Chicagoans need to cross off their bucket lists.

Chef Carlos Gaytán is a household name in Chicago and Mexico. When his West Town restaurant, Mexique, earned a Michelin star, Gaytán became the first Mexican-born chef with a Michelin-starred restaurant. He’s become a mentor to many, and with Tzuco, diners will find a beautiful dining room that breaks the mold of the boring design that plagues many of Chicago’s restaurants. Gaytán’s food still blends French techniques with Mexican ingredients, but he’s gone bolder in recent years. There’s also a killer brunch featuring baked goods that deserve more spotlight in Chicago.

Kitchen + Kocktails is built around special occasions. Like the original in Dallas, the restaurant is Instagram-friendly, with plenty of drinks and spaces where customers can snap photos. The menu is a medley of southern food with lamb chops, shrimp and grits, and more. Owner Kevin Kelley has famously instituted a dress code. This a spot to be seen.

More articles

Latest article

Barrington-based Bredwell Brings Healthy Meals For Dogs This Holiday Season

Dog lovers in the Chicago area and beyond now have a unique way to treat their pets...

“Eat & Evolve” Raising Funds For The Evolved Network

Chef Sebastian White of The Evolved Network, along with event partner, The Paramount Group, are excited to...

8 Chicago Breweries With Seasonal Winter Beers This Year

If there’s one thing that’s always in season, it’s beer. There’s always a good time to have...

5 Spots For Black Friday Brunch in Chicago This Year

Let’s be honest: Thanksgiving is really the holiday for feasting. While being grateful for what we have,...