The Best Bars and Restaurants in Chicago's River North Neighborhood

When North Shore executives and up-and-comers look to style their dream homes, they know that they can count on one neighborhood in downtown Chicago—River North—to fill their high-end spaces with the finest in art, finishes and furniture. After all, it’s home to the Merchandise Mart, the world’s largest office building that also happens to house showrooms for couture kitchens and bathrooms, plus stores that sell $10,000 Oriental rugs and made-to-order beds stuffed with luxurious horsehair. While these lofty purchases might be reserved for the elite, the River North experience turns more democratic by night, when the locals come out to play in Chicago’s hottest destination neighborhood for dining and drinking.

What River North has going for it: prime real estate near Michigan Avenue hotels and shopping, and diversity of tastes. High and low, global and local, it embodies Chicago’s wide-ranging palate for food and drink. Period. We’ve corralled a sample of the best River North restaurants and bars for date nights, happy hours and late-night dining. 

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Slink past two unmarked doors to find a whole world of nightlife awaiting in this cavernous space that pays homage to the Prohibition era. Craft cocktails, beer and the largest collection of American Whiskey in North America complement supper club fare reimagined for today’s palette.

Celeste

Evoking turn-of-the-century Chicago glam, this River North hybrid dashes the glitz on multiple floors, starting with a vintage bar. In the Deco Room, find a 1920s supper club vibe for feasting on dishes such as Moroccan chicken pita and salmon with herbed spätzle. Come summer, escape to a Victorian-inspired rooftop garden.

Bottled Blonde

River North's pizzeria/bar originated in Scottsdale, Arizona, but it seems like it’s fitting in just fine in the Midwest with its elevated bar food, craft beer and a party scene that doesn’t stop. Open M-F 11:30 am-2 am; Sa 11 am-3 am; Su 11 am-2 am.

Eataly

There's enough wine, produce, cheese, fish and meat to feed a small Italian village. Choose from 20-plus dining options (oven-fired pizza, housemade pasta, gelato and more), pick up wine, parma and specialty items.

Bub City

Country music fans will feel right at home at this honkytonk bar and barbecue joint in River North. The spot reopened in 2012 after a long hiatus with a slicker interior, live music acts, whiskey- and bourbon-fueled cocktail menu, and downhome favorites such as Chicago-style baby back ribs. L (M-F), D (daily), Br (Sa-Su).

Harry Caray's Italian Steakhouse

One of the city’s top steak houses, this classic Italian joint pays tribute to beloved Chicago Cubs sportscaster Harry Caray with walls of sports paraphernalia and a well-executed menu of prime steaks, chops and pastas, plus more casual options like sandwiches and salads.

Siena Tavern

Inspired by “Top Chef” competitor Fabio Viviani’s trip to Siena, Italy, this dining spot blends the feel of Old World hospitality with the style of a modern, industrial tavern. L (M-F), D (daily), Br (Sa-Su).

River Roast

This riverside restaurant celebrates the food (and drink) that warms the soul, from roast beef carved tableside to fire-roasted fish. The restaurant curates Midwestern beer, craft cocktails and gluten-free options. L (M-F), D (daily), Br (Sa-Su).