Chicago is known for its famous skyline and urban neighborhoods, but it’s also right next to one of the largest lakes in the country. That means miles and miles of coastline — and tons of great beach bars and restaurants located right on Lake Michigan’s sandy shores. Check out some of Chicago’s top waterfront restaurants right on the beach, offering great food and stunning lake and skyline views.

Want more waterfront dining? Check out restaurants & bars on the Chicago Riverwalk.

The Dock at Montrose Beach

A favorite for waterfront dining on the north side is The Dock at Montrose Beach. After playing in the waves, strolling in the gardens, or letting your pup splash around at Montrose Beach, you can continue enjoying Lake Michigan from The Dock’s large open patio. The food is simple and fresh, the scenery is spectacular, and you can even catch live bands on weekends.

Clock Tower Cafe

The striking English Gothic clock tower that sits along the lakefront at Waveland is home to the Clock Tower Café. The casual spot is popular with those playing on the nearby tennis courts and golf course, but all are welcome to enjoy cold drinks and a casual menu. Choose from burgers, salads, sandwiches, and hot dogs, plus your choice of seating on two different patios.

The Lakefront Restaurant

Located inside the historic Theater on the Lake, The Lakefront Restaurant is Chicago’s only lakefront spot open all year round. The Lincoln Park spot serves upscale tavern fare in its soaring interior or on the alfresco patio offering unbeatable views of both the skyline and Lake Michigan. Choose from a diverse menu of seasonally inspired dishes, from seafood to gourmet burgers to fresh salads. Their Sunday brunch service is also popular. Patio seating is weather permitting.


Castaways Cabanas

North Avenue Beach is home to one of the most popular beachfront restaurants. Castaways is instantly recognizable — when you spot the giant ship washed up on the sand, you’ll know you’re in the right place. While the first level’s menu consists of ice cream and snacks, the rooftop is a beach bar and grill with burgers and frozen cocktails. The atmosphere is laidback during the week with casual beachgoers, and more high-energy on summer weekends when live DJs bring a party vibe.

Shore Club

Also on the sands of North Avenue Beach, the resort-inspired Shore Club feels like an island getaway without leaving the city. Offering three different spaces — the Patio, the Oasis, and the Restaurant — the Shore Club’s menu features Mediterranean-inspired shared plates and plenty of summer-y cocktails. In the clubby Oasis area, reserve a private cabana where you can lounge in a daybed while enjoying personalized bottle service.

Caffe Oliva

Caffe Oliva
Caffe Oliva

Tucked away on the calm shores of Oak Street Beach, the beachfront Caffe Olivia offers a casual menu and sweeping lake views in a charming atmosphere. Food options include fresh salads topped with grilled calamari, fish tacos, coconut shrimp, and more. The patio welcomes dogs and even serves a burger patty just for your furry companion.

Navy Pier

Miller Lite Beer Garden at Navy Pier
Miller Lite Beer Garden at Navy Pier ©Ranvestel Photographic

The lakefront Navy Pier offers tons of dining options, many with outdoor patios featuring sweeping water views. Enjoy live music and cold drinks in the beer garden, casual Latin fare at Bar Sol, cocktails and breathtaking views at Offshore Rooftop, and upscale Spanish cuisine at Lirica.

Explore all outdoor food and drink options at Navy Pier.

Pier 31

Enjoy a quick bite, cocktails, and panoramic water views at this casual waterfront patio. Pier 31, located at 31st Street Beach, is a beachside bar and grill featuring a walk-up window for ordering, plenty of outdoor seating on the lively deck, and free live music while you watch the boats drift in and out of the harbor.

Reggie’s on the Beach

The patio at Reggies on the Beach
Photo by Don MacEachron

The beloved South Loop rock club has opened a waterfront restaurant and bar on 63rd Street Beach. Reggie’s on the Beach is open all day for food and drinks, featuring casual dishes like burgers and salads and plenty of tropical drinks. Check the schedule for their line-up of free concerts with an emphasis on reggae, blues, jazz, and funk.

South Shore Social Beach Club

Part of the stunning South Shore Cultural Center, South Shore Social Beach Club is a hub for fun events all summer long. Check the calendar for live music, line dancing, paint nights, invigorating beach workouts, and a plethora of other outdoor activities. Then grab a bite to eat from their culinary offerings, including burgers, wings, desserts, and a full bar.

Want more waterfront dining? Check out restaurants & bars on the Chicago Riverwalk.