The Riverwalk is an award-winning walkway that stretches along the Chicago River. Spend an afternoon strolling the pedestrian walkway. Along the path, you will find cool cafes, wineries, art, monuments, museums, and water activities.
If you start at Wacker Drive and walk to Lake Michigan, the length is about 1.5 miles. Stop an any of the open benches to rest along the corridor at numerous spots to people watch or see the boats sail by.
The Chicago river is one of my favorite places, so I highly recommend visiting this area. It’s a lovely space for spending a day and there are some terrific riverwalk restaurants to enjoy everything from brunch to dessert. Here is a list of our recommendations.
Best Restaurants to Visit on the Riverwalk
The Northman Beer & Cider Gardens
The garden brings a traditional European alfresco atmosphere to Chicago’s beautiful Riverwalk. It features wine and cider cocktails and a full bar with over 50 varieties of bottles and cans as well as a delicious menu in a dog- and kid-friendly environment.
For out-of-towners, note that Northman is an esteemed cider for out-of-towners in the Lincoln Square district of Chicago.
This one-of-a-kind riverfront open-air pub is within walking distance of the touristy part of the Riverwalk where most boat tours stop, but it’s a great representative of the local craft beer scene in an extraordinarily great area.
There are a select number of beers and ciders on tap and it includes favorite selections of beers made by Northman such as 5 Rabbit or Begley.
Add a large bottle and a cocktail list and they have everything you need for a summer drink on the river. The Data Sausage is well assembled and satisfying. You’ll find other noshes like cheese, salads, and the famous Chicago foods, like the hotdog (albeit the prices here are high for the amount of food). Of all the Chicago Riverwalk restaurants, Northman may be the most popular for meals and drinks.
There are shaded picnic tables with perfect views as the boat floats down the river.
Open Daily: 11 am – 10:30 pm
The Brewhouse is a nice spot like most places on the river for the atmosphere and the views. Of course, downtown is usually expensive for tourism but one thing you’ll love about this place is that it sells local Chicago-based food and beer.
The menu board tells you where the recipe came from and they use eco-friendly service materials. Try the falafel balls and hummus. It is very tasty and made with pine-roasted red cabbage, green tomato cucumber, and lemon tahini sauce.
You will enjoy other foods like the Beef Banh Mee and Gyro Slider. Afterward, you can walk around the Chicago river for a relaxing stroll and hang out. You can’t beat the view if you sit at a table by the river for an early dinner.
Open Daily: 11 am – 10:00 pm
Beat Kitchen on the Riverwalk
As you continue your walk, Indulge in a culinary journey along the Chicago Riverwalk restaurants. The area is scenic and a great place to grab lunch or a light meal while strolling along the river. It’s a great spot for pictures too.
Tacos are delicious and meaty, so one or two is enough. It’s a bit touristy but has a nice vibe. No reservations are required, they have outdoor seating and it’s good for groups.
Try the fish tacos, Thai Shrimp Taco, Barbacoa Cauliflower Taco, or quesadillas — they are the most popular dishes. You can spend good times relaxing and watching the boats and yachts pass by.
Open Daily: 11 am – 10:00 pm
This is the perfect place to relax and enjoy a cocktail while taking in the river views. The menu was limited, and the cafe was busy.
If you want a heavy meal, you may want to consider other restaurants. But here, you can find a table on the river, nachos, sandwiches, flatbreads, cheese curds, and craft beers in the bottle or on tap!
It’s also a great spot for watching the sunset as it reflects across the skyscrapers while enjoying free live music and entertainment.
Open Daily: 11 am – 10:00 pm
Island Party Hut
Welcome to the island paradise on the Chicago riverwalk! It is filled with Polynesian and Caribbean decor and the sounds of island music.
The Island Party Hut concept is fantastic and fun! They offer free lawn games like Giant Connect 4 ping pong and corn pit. Or you can have fun with pails, shovels, or chess pieces).
One cool thing that you can appreciate is that they make mocktails for kids or anyone who doesn’t want to drink. Their food options are simple, like burgers, hot dogs, chicken sandwiches, etc.
This is a kid-friendly experience as there are many games available. You can also climb into a large wooden chair for crazy fun photos.
City Winery at the Riverwalk
If you love wine and want great river views to check out the City Winery on the Riverwalk. The food and service can be hit or miss but if you visit during the chilly season, reserve a dome in advance.
It is a noteworthy destination for tourists seeking a unique and immersive wine experience in the heart of Chicago. This urban winery offers a blend of wine production, dining, and live entertainment. Expect a welcoming and stylish atmosphere, with a spacious outdoor patio that provides exceptional views of the river and the city skyline.
Open Daily: 1:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Sweet Home Gelato
This sweet spot is a nice addition to the area and is located in front of a water fountain where kids especially love to splash around in. Of all the Chicago Riverwalk restaurants, this one is a must-do after a long day of touring.
Find a seat and chill on a hot summer day while enjoying the refreshing flavors of gelato or sorbet. There aren’t a huge variety of flavors, but it will help beat the heat.
Open Daily: 11:00 am – 9:00 pm
On the real-real….there are other restaurants on the riverwalk, but I don’t recommend them because of poor quality food, crazy touristy prices, and below-par service.
Final Thoughts about Top Chicago Riverwalk Restaurants
From casual eateries to upscale dining, Chicago Riverwalk restaurants cater to all tastes. During the weekday, the area is filled with locals who want to experience an outdoor lunch in warmer weather.
Especially in spring and summer, walking along the Chicago Riverwalk provides a captivating experience that seamlessly combines scenic beauty, culinary delights, and our city life.
For tourists looking to make the most of their visit, I highly recommend taking the time to stroll along the Riverwalk to see the stunning views and unique experiences like the tiki hut.
Whether you’re seeking a peaceful walk, or an early morning run, its Riverwalk is a gem in Chicago and leaves a lasting impression.