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Restaurants in River North

When it comes to restaurants in River North, there is a bit of everything – you can find romantic fine dining, trendy bars with a speakeasy vibe, casual cafes, and kid-friendly spots. This neighborhood is filled with restaurants and this list represents the 30+ best restaurants in River North.

A guide to the 30+ best restaurants in River North. This neighborhood is one of Chicago's dining hubs.

Many of the restaurants on this list are located on or very near Hubbard Street and Clark Street. You can get to this area by taking the el to the Red Line’s Grand Station, or by taking the Brown or Purple Line to Merchandise Mart.

Restaurant Groups in River North

Several restaurants in River North are owned by Lettuce Entertain You, Chicago’s largest restaurant group. They are the masterminds behind Bub City, RPM Steak, RPM Seafood, RPM Italian, Pizza Portofino, Beatrix, Ema, Sushi-san, and Ramen-san. The impressive thing about Lettuce Entertain You is that their restaurants are all different when it comes to the overall look and feel of the space and the cuisine served. If you don’t visit the websites, you might not even realize that they share an owner. If you live in Chicago, you will inevitably be visiting LEYE restaurants so you might want to sign up for their frequent diner club.

While Lettuce Entertain You’s restaurants don’t have a specific look, Hogsalt’s trio of River North restaurants do. Is that a bad thing? Absolutely not. Bavette’s, Ciccio Mio, and Gilt Bar are all gorgeous restaurants with a romantic atmosphere.

The other name dominating the River North dining scene is Rick Bayless. He’s the chef behind Topolobampo, Frontera Grill, Bar Sótano, and Xoco. Bayless is one of Chicago’s most respected chefs having won James Beard Awards and received Michelin stars for his restaurants. He was the winner of Top Chef Masters and the host of the PBS series Mexico One Plate at a Time.

Last updated: May 2022

Restaurants in River North

Spanish, Mediterranean

Avec’s newer and much larger second location ditched the communal tables but still serves the classics avec is loved for including the chorizo-stuffed medjool dates and the slow roasted pork shoulder. New additions to the menu include pizzas and pastas. The restaurant serves weekend brunch in addition to dinner.


A sophisticated restaurant from Carlos Gaytán presenting Mexican cuisine infused with French culinary techniques. Appetizers include classics like guacamole plus items like state tartare and a French onion soup with poblano peppers. You can find lamb neck barbacoa, carne asada, and chile relenno on the list of mains. Tzuco received Michelin Big Gourmand recognition in 2021.

Peruvian, Vegetarian

Tanta serves Peruvian classics like jalea, lomo saltado, and ceviche. The menu has a vegetarian section with a handful of options. Happy hour takes place on the rooftop bar from 5 pm – 7 pm on weekdays.

Italian, Lunch, Late Night, Kid-friendly

You can’t go wrong with Quartino. This small plates Italian restaurant has an affordable menu with something for everyone and a fun lively atmosphere. Quartino was doing small plates before everyone else and it works so well with Italian cuisine – you get to try everything you want without over ordering. When it comes to wine, Quartino has a huge wine list and sell wine by the quarter liter, half liter, liter, and bottle. Quartino is open from 11 am until 1 am every day – it tends to be busy at dinner so make a reservation. The best part: the Italian food is some of the best in Chicago.

Italian, Lunch

An Italian restaurant serving pizzas, housemade pastas, and wood-fired meats. This location has a bit more a casual vibe when compared to the more romantic Wicker Park location.

Italian, Lunch

Eataly is an Italian marketplace with multiple dining options including sit down restaurants and fast-casual food counters with seating areas. La Pizza & La Pasta is a restaurant on the second floor serving Napoli-style pizza and pasta. On the first floor you can find grab and go food items, pizza by the slice, and a pasta bar.

GT Prime
Fine Dining, Steakhouse, American, Romantic

An exceptional steakhouse fit for a special occasion, GT Prime serves seafood and a selection of prime cuts of beef. The menu doesn’t have many non-meat options but I think most vegetarians would be happy with tagliatelle with parmesan and 5 grams of truffle.

India House
Indian, Lunch, Vegetarian

India House is considered to be one of the best Indian restaurants in Chicago. The restaurant serves traditional Indian cuisine including tandoori items, curries, vindaloos, and plenty of vegetarian dishes. A buffet is offered Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 11 am until 3 pm for $19.95.

GT Fish & Oyster

A shared plate seafood restaurant with a more casual vibe than GT Prime, GT Fish and Oyster has a daily section of oysters with a champagne pairing, seafood towers, caviar, and fish-centric starters and main courses. For those who prefer meat, there is a steak on the menu.

The Hampton Social
American, Seafood

An East-Coast themed restaurant with an Insta-gram ready decor, a “rosé all day” lounge, and a menu filled with seafood options. In addition to seafood, the menu has pizzas and some meat mains. The Hampton Social has a second location in Streeterville.

Siena Tavern
Italian, Lunch

A modern Italian restaurant from Top Chef Winner Fabio Viviani that serves weekday lunch, weekend brunch, and dinner. The housemade pasta is the star of the menu with classics like carbonara, lasagna, squid ink linguine, and cacio e pepe. Pizzas and a couple of meat and fish entrees are available, or if you are especially hungry, a 22-ounce ribeye. A four-course tasting menu is available for $85 per person.

Untitled Super Club
American, Romantic

Untitled is prohibition-era Chicago supper club and bar located in a basement that has burlesque performances and live entertainment Wednesdays through Saturdays. What starts as a romantic spaces turns into a party as the night goes on. The food menu includes a seafood raw bar, several pastas, and steaks. In 2021, Untitled received Michelin Bib Gourmand recognition.

Edie’s All Day Cafe
American, Breakfast/Brunch, Lunch

An all day cafe & bar in the former 3 Greens Market/Cocello/Dillman’s space. Edie’s has coffee, pastries, cold pressed juice, and smoothies, plus a lunch/dinner menu featuring snacks, salads, sandwiches, and flatbread pizza. It’s a great place for a casual coffee, happy hour with friends, or co-working.


This restaurant by José Andrés serves traditional Spanish tapas, paella, and sangria in a vibrantly decorated space. The menu includes a Best of Spain tasting menu for $45 per person and a Sangria happy hour on weekdays (except Wednesday).

Gene & Georgetti
American, Steakhouse, Italian

Gene & Georgetti opened in 1941 and earns the title of being the oldest steakhouse in Chicago. Since this steakhouse’s founders were both Italian, the menu is an even mix of traditional Italian food and steakhouse classics.

French, Fine Dining, Romantic

Brindille serves a seasonally changing menu of elegant French cuisine. This restaurant is ideal for a special date night. The dress code is smart casual.

Big & Littles
American, Fast-casual, Lunch

Tucked into a quiet corner on North Orleans Street, this fast casual restaurant has a very eclectic menu including everything from tacos and burgers to fried soft shell crab. They serve lunch and dinner daily.

Hogsalt Restaurants

Bavette's is a romantic steakhouse and one of the best restaurants in River North

Bavette’s Bar & Boeuf
Steakhouse, French, Romantic

Bavette’s has consistently been on the list of best restaurants in Chicago since it opened a decade ago. Scoring a reservation isn’t easy, but if you go early you might have luck grabbing a seat at the bar where the full menu is offered. The menu focuses on seafood and steaks along with exceptional salads and mouthwatering side dishes. Save room for dessert, the chocolate pie is one of the best desserts in Chicago. The cocktail program is one of Chicago’s top.

Ciccio Mio
Italian, Romantic

A sister to Bavette’s located just next door, Ciccio Mio has a romantic space with deep red velvet banquettes and oil paintings illuminated with candlelight. A self described “nice Italian restaurant”, Ciccio Mio’s menu emphasizes pastas like black truffle bucatini and porcini mushroom bolognese, and includes several meat and seafood dishes. Plus there are sharable antipasti and sides.

Gilt Bar
American, Romantic

Another sister to Bavette’s located on the same block of West Kinzie Street, Gilt is a lounge with decor inspired by a vintage library. The cocktail menu highlights classic cocktails with several different old fashions and martinis. The menu has a mix of seafood, pasta, and meat entrees.

Restaurants in River North: Doughnut Vault kicked off a doughnut craze in Chicago

Doughnut Vault

When an unused coat closet at Gilt Bar was converted into a tiny doughnut shop, it created a massive doughnut craze in Chicago. Each day a handful of flavors are offered until they sell out. The menu focuses on cake style doughnuts but sometimes has a yeast style doughnut or two. Chicago is a city filled with doughnut shops, but this is one of the best.

Lettuce Entertain You Restaurants

One of the great things about Lettuce Entertain You restaurants is that they all have gluten-free menus.

RPM Italian

The three RPM restaurants are co-owned by Giuliana and Bill Rancic and Lettuce Entertain You. RPM Italian is a chic modern restaurant with a menu that balances modern and contemporary Italian cuisine. The menu is divided into sections with housemade pasta, steaks & chops, Italian classics, and seafood.

RPM Steak
Steakhouse, American

RPM Steak is a sleek upscale steakhouse that serves nearly two dozen different cuts of beef and a dozen a la carte side dishes. The menu also has oysters, chilled shellfish, and fish. The dessert menu includes a 14K chocolate cake and tableside baked Alaska service.

RPM Seafood

RPM Seafood is a multi-level restaurant right on the Chicago River. The menu focuses on shellfish and seafood but also includes steaks and pasta.

Pizzeria Portofino
Pizza, Lunch

A beautiful sunlight restaurant on the Chicago River specializing in thin crust pizza, pasta, and seafood.

Bub City
American, Barbecue, Southern, Lunch

A casual restaurant serving barbecue and Southern cuisine with a country music theme and live music Wednesdays through Saturdays. The restaurant specializes in smoked bbq meats and also offers burgers, fried chicken, and several types of macaroni and cheese.

Mediterranean, Lunch

Ema combines a lighter California style of cooking and Mediterranean small plates. Signature dishes include spicy hummus and lamb Kefta kebabs and the menu features a variety of grilled seafood.

Healthy, American, Breakfast/Brunch, Lunch

A relaxed restaurant serving American fare with plenty of healthy options. If you want something more indulgent, check out the pastry counter. Beatrix also has locations in Streeterville and West Loop. The River North and Streeterville locations are close to each other and this can cause confusion.

Lil’ Ba-Ba-Reeba
Street Patio

A smaller version of Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba in Lincoln Park, Lil’ Ba Ba Reba serves sangria, tapas, and pintxos. The menu is very similar to Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba’s, although paella is not offered.

Sushi, Japanese, Lunch

A casual sushi restaurant that plays old-school hip-hop music, Sushi-san offers grab n’go lunch and late night eats in addition to a sit down lunch and dinner. For a more formal dining experience, go to the ten seat Omakase Room which serves an 18-course tasting menu.

Restaurants in River North: Ramen-san

Ramen, Japanese, Lunch

Ramen-san’s original location offers an express lunch (pictured above), lunch, dinner, and late night bites seven days a week. The menu has mantou buns, chicken wings, and dumplings in addition to six varieties of ramen.

Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab
American, Seafood, Steakhouse

Joe’s serves stone crabs, fish, and seafood plus prime steak and poultry. This restaurant has a large menu and is a fitting place for a special occasion.

Rick Bayless Restaurants

Rick Bayless has a fine dining restaurant, a casual restaurant, a fast-casual spot, and a bar all on the same block of North Clark Street. All have exceptional food and offer completely different atmospheres and dining experiences.

Romantic, Fine Dining, Mexican, Lunch

James Beard Award Winner Rick Bayless helms a trio of restaurants on the same block of North Clark Street. Topolobampo is the most formal and serves a multi-course tasting menu for $145 per person.

Frontera Grill
Mexican, Lunch

Frontera Grill serves regional Mexican cuisine with a focus on locally sourced sustainable ingredients. The restaurant has a large menu with Mexican specialities like Oaxacan pork loin with yellow mole and Puebla-style enchiladas plus a variety of wood-grilled meats.

Bar Sótano
Mexican, Vegetarian

The entrance to this basement bar is hidden in the alley behind Xoco. The bar has a huge mezcal and tequila menu while the food menu has a seafood and raw bar, vegetable dishes, “deluxe” tacos, and a few larger plates. A five-course chef’s experience is available for $60 per person, with the option to add three cocktails for $25 more. The menu has a variety of vegetarian options.

Mexican, Lunch, Fast-casual

Xoco is a fast-casual sandwich spot and the perfect place for a quick meal. The menu includes sandwiches, tacos, salads, and sides plus a guacamole bar where guests can select their own guac toppings.

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