Chicago really does have the best of both worlds. While the city is known for its famous skyline and urban neighborhoods, it’s also right next to one of the largest lakes in the country. That means miles and miles of sandy shoreline — and tons of great beachfront dining options. Check out some of Chicago’s top beach restaurants with great food and stunning water views.
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.
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 weekend when live DJs bring a party vibe.
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 exclusive Oasis area, reserve a private cabana where you can lounge in a daybed while enjoying personalized bottle service.
Tucked away on the calm shores of Oak Street Beach, Caffe Olivia offers a casual menu and sweeping lake views in a charming atmosphere. Food options include fresh salads, coconut shrimp, hummus platters, burgers named for different Chicago locales, and more. Weekend are popular here — come on Saturday to catch the Navy Pier fireworks or on Sunday for their lobster dinners.
Del Campo Taco Stand
This no-frills Mexican joint is the perfect spot to grab a bite during a day at 12th Street Beach on Northerly Island. Head to the window at Del Campo Taco Stand and take your pick from budget-friendly options like tacos, tortas, elotes, and more, then find a spot on the sand to enjoy.
Lake Shore Cafe
A little further south, you’ll find Lake Shore Cafe just across Lake Shore Drive from Oakwood Beach in Hyde Park. It’s known as a gathering place for comfort food, seafood buffets, and live Jazz music can all be found at this establishment. It’s not right on the beach, but the views of the lake more than make up for the distance.
The Parrot Cage, steps from the picturesque South Shore Beach, is run by one of the most highly acclaimed culinary schools in the country. Students from Chicago’s Washburne Culinary Institute use the restaurant to hone their skills in the kitchen, where they create highly rated modern American cuisine. The Parrot Cage is housed inside the landmark South Shore Cultural Center that provides a refined setting for your waterfront meal.