food + drink

Best Chicago Lakefront Cafes and Restaurants

Find great eats at Chicago's beaches


Now that summer is upon us, you’ll no doubt want to spend time out on the lakefront. With 18 miles of beachfront, wide open green space, boating, biking, running and more, there’s plenty to do. And you’ll likely want to grab something to eat and drink while you’re out there. Plenty of wonderful cafes dot the lakefront from all the way up in Edgewater down to Hyde Park. Whether you want burgers and beers, tacos and margaritas or a nice ahi tuna salad with a glass of white wine, here are some breezy places to check out.

Caffe Oliva
Where: 550 E. Grand Avenue where the bike path meets Ohio Street Beach in the shadow of Olive Park
What to get: coconut shrimp; prosciutto flatbread; lamb burger; lobster roll; blackened fish tacos. Full bar available.
Tip: Book one of their cabanas for up to 10 people

Clock Tower Café
Where: Along the lakefront between Addison and Irving Park adjacent to the Sydney R. Marovitz Clubhouse.
What to get: After a round of golf, tennis, a bike ride or romp with the dog, grab a table on the patio facing the lake, refresh with chips and fresh guacamole; hot wings; a cobb salad; Southwest veggie burger; or a Wisconsin brat.

Chicago Lake Shore Café
Where: 4900 S. Lake Shore Drive
What to get: If you find yourself down near Hyde Park, check out this lakefront spot. Get fried calamari; chicken salad-stuffed tomato; turkey club; blackened catfish; pasta primavera.

The Dock at Montrose Beach
Where: 200 W. Montrose Harbor Drive at the south end of Montrose Beach
What to get: Start with a lemon Shandy or a margarita, continue with the Dock burger with cheddar, jalapeños and grilled onion; Baha fish tacos; or seared yellowfin tuna salad. Stick around for live music at night and, yes, it’s dog friendly.

Waterfront Café
Where: 6219 N. Sheridan (their sister spot, Nacho Mama’s Beach Bar, is just south at Hollywood Beach)
What to get: Sit on the patio beneath the shade of the trees and enjoy Greek fries; jerk chicken nachos; tuna-stuffed avocado salad; falafel; fish and chips; or a lobster roll. Full bar is available.

Chicago Riverwalk
Where: Along the south side of the Chicago River just below Wacker Drive
What to get: While it’s not along the lake, it is along the water. Plenty of restaurants and cafes, including City Winery, O’Brien’s and Tiny Hatt, an offshoot of Lincoln Square’s Tiny Lounge, offer a variety of eats and libations.

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