Chicago is a great city for so many reasons. From spectacular architecture and museums where you can spend hours, to numerous parks and a skyline that takes your breath away, the Windy City has it all and then some. And when it comes to dining, Chicago has amazing food to dive into.

If you want some wonderful places to dine for lunch, head over to the water, specifically the Chicago River. Running through the great city of Chicago is the Chicago River, running 156 miles from beginning to end. “But the river that flows through the heart of downtown Chicago, past forest preserves and parks, and all kinds of urban and suburban communities is the lifeblood of the region,” according to Friends of the Chicago River. While you are in Chi-Town, along the Chicago River is where you want to be for some of the hottest places to dine for lunch.

Hot Spots for a Great Lunch on the Chicago River

view of the chicago riverStop in at Porter Kitchen & Deck and grab a spot on the river, which offers a magnificent view. The atmosphere is relaxed but elegant, and the restaurant features American cuisine. From creative salads to signature lunch dishes, Porter Kitchen & Deck’s outdoor seating offers heat lamps to keep you warm as you dive into a lunch of Fish Tacos, Crab Cakes, or tasty Truffle Fries, as well as cocktails with monikers such as Rose the Riveter and Four Corners Old Fashioned.

Your classic everyday coffee shop has taken a turn for the better with Café by the River and a touch of Chef Jose Andres’ “signature Spanish flair.” You can enjoy a lovely lunch here that combines “the flavors and hospitality of Spanish cafés with the convenience of an American coffee shop,” the website said. Savor a wonderful view of the river as well as a variety of coffee drinks, tea, all-day breakfast, salads, and sandwiches including their BLT and a hot pressed ham & cheese on one of four breads.

Beatnik on the River is a creative, chic spot with a 50-seat terrace overlooking the Chicago River. You’ll find plants, couches, some amazing views, and an eclectic menu with creative Mediterranean-inspired dishes, including Feta Stuffed Dates, Confit Parsnip, Smoked Cauliflower, and Crispy Lemon Chicken. Cocktails are inventive and inviting. From a Cocoquito to The Playpen, it’s here where you’ll want to dine and relish the setting while taking in the view.

Enjoy the Chicago River Views While Having a Bite

wrigley buildingIf you want in on a secret, check out Raised for amazing river views! You’ll find this indoor/outdoor lounge at the Renaissance Chicago Downtown Hotel on the third floor. Enjoy a late lunch on the weekends and indulge in Truffle Frites, General Tso Fu, Tostone Nicoise, Scallop Crudo, and many more delicious choices. You’ll also have views of the Wrigley Building, the Tribune Tower, and Marina City.

Gibsons Italia is not your typical Italian restaurant. It’s a three-story restaurant in the West Loop of Chicago with spectacular Chicago riverfront views to go along with your incredible meal. “Chef-driven tastes of Italy are paired with the superiority of Gibsons Steakhouse, creating a restaurant that makes the familiar, exceptional,” according to the website. The lunch menu features fare including Crabmeat & Avocado Parfait, King Crab Bisque, Roasted Beet Salad, Spicy Rigatoni, Cacio E Pepe, and so much more. Pair with the perfect wine or cocktail and lunch will never taste the same.


delicious steak from a chicago steakhouse

Don’t leave Chicago before dining at City Winery Riverwalk. It “was founded in New York City in 2008 by Michael Dorf to deliver a unique combined culinary and cultural experience to urban wine enthusiasts,” the website said. Not only can you enjoy fine wine and upscale dining, but you can also catch a concert and a food and wine seminar. Sit and enjoy the sights while sipping a glass of Sauvignon Blanc and indulge in Chicken Corsica, Burrata, Branzino, Mushroom Arancini, or Kung Pao Cauliflower.

Enjoy basking in the sun and a taste of Italia at Pizzeria Portofino right on the Chicago riverfront “offering hand-stretched pizzas, coastal wines, an expansive patio, and breezy decor that will instantly transport you to the Italian Riviera,” according to the website. Here you will indulge in pasta and craft pizza as well as charcoal-grilled seafood. Try the Artichoke Bruschetta or the Roasted Garlic Bread for an appetizer. Take a taste of the Pesto Genovese, or the Spaghetti Limone, which is reminiscent of the Amalfi region in Italy. The restaurant also offers guests boat docking on the Chicago River through Downtown Docks.

Chicago River Cruises

city cruises on the chicago riverGet even closer to the water with the Premier Plus Architectural Lunch Cruise on the Chicago River. The two-hour lunch cruise is an afternoon experience offering the best of Chicago. There will be dining, scenic views, and a narrated architectural tour of Chicago. You’ll enjoy a three-course, chef-prepared plated menu, creative cocktails, and extraordinary service. Whether it’s lunch for two, the entire family, or with friends, you will appreciate the cruise and the views from the climate-controlled interior or open-air outdoor deck. This lunch is one you’ll remember for a lifetime.

If you’re full from having a great lunch, you can always check out the Sights & Sips Cruise on the Chicago River. This cruise is perfect for friends and family looking to unwind, kick back, relax, and enjoy some wine, beer, signature cocktails, snacks and hors d’oeuvres while taking in the Windy City from the Chicago River.

There are so many fine dining places along the Chicago River for you to try. It is not just the great food you will remember, it’s also the wonderful views of Chicago. Make a trip to one or more of these wonderful establishments to make great memories.

FAQs – Where to Get Lunch on the Chicago River (2024 & 2025)

What are some popular spots for lunch along the Chicago River?
Chicago’s Riverwalk and surrounding areas boast a variety of dining options. Popular spots include City Winery for wine enthusiasts, The Kitchen American Bistro for farm-to-table fare, and Beatnik On The River, which offers a bohemian vibe with globally inspired dishes.

Is there an option for a quick and casual lunch by the Chicago River?
Yes, Island Party Hut Tiki Bar & Grill offers a laid-back atmosphere with burgers, tacos, and tropical drinks, making it perfect for a casual lunch. Additionally, Tiny Tapp & Cafe provides quick bites and refreshing drinks with beautiful river views.

Can I find any dining cruises for lunch on the Chicago River?
City Cruises offers a variety of dining cruises on the Chicago River, including lunch cruises that combine sightseeing with gourmet dining, providing a unique perspective of the city’s architecture and culinary delights.

What makes dining on the Chicago River unique?
Dining on the Chicago River offers a unique blend of culinary experiences with stunning views of Chicago’s skyline and architectural marvels. The riverside setting adds a serene backdrop to meals, making dining experiences both visually and gastronomically pleasing.

Are there vegetarian or vegan options available at restaurants on the Chicago River?
Yes, many restaurants along the Chicago River cater to vegetarian and vegan diets, offering a range of dishes that accommodate these preferences. It’s always a good idea to check the menu in advance or inquire about vegetarian and vegan options when making a reservation.

What type of lunch experience does City Cruises offer on the Chicago River?
City Cruises provides a sophisticated lunch cruise experience, featuring a buffet or seated lunch menu with a variety of options, allowing guests to enjoy gourmet meals while taking in the breathtaking views of Chicago’s architecture and the river’s scenic beauty.

How long is a typical lunch cruise with City Cruises on the Chicago River?
Lunch cruises typically last about 2 hours, giving guests ample time to savor their meals and enjoy the panoramic views of the city from the unique vantage point of the river.

Can City Cruises accommodate dietary restrictions for their lunch cruises?
City Cruises often accommodates dietary restrictions with advance notice. Guests with specific dietary needs are encouraged to contact City Cruises directly when booking to ensure their requirements can be met.

Is there a dress code for a lunch cruise with City Cruises on the Chicago River?
While City Cruises generally recommends smart casual attire for their lunch cruises, the dress code can vary depending on the specific cruise and event. It’s best to check directly with City Cruises for any specific dress code requirements for your cruise.

How can I book a lunch cruise with City Cruises on the Chicago River?
Booking a lunch cruise with City Cruises can be done through their official website, where you can find the schedule, menu options, and pricing details. Early booking is recommended to ensure availability, especially during peak tourist seasons.

Original Post Date: May 18, 2023