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.