River North Neighborhood Guide: Where to Eat, Drink, Park, and More

River North, a creative hub in Chicago, has tons of underground bars, antique stores, and trendy startups. Whether you’re visiting or a local, you’ll find loads of hidden treasures in River North.

We’ve rounded up the best restaurants, bars, shops, and more, plus how to find affordable, convenient parking in River North.

Where is River North?

River North is aptly named for its location, which is just north of the Chicago River.

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Where to Go in River North

Planning a day in River North and don’t know where to start? This map will point you to the best restaurants, shops, and more all within a walking distance from one another.

Where to Park in River North

There’s abundant parking in River North! Once you know where you’d like to start your day, use this interactive map to find and book the convenient, affordable River North parking.


The Best Places to Eat, Drink, and Explore in River North

Where to Drink

The Green Door Tavern’s Hidden Basement Speakeasy: The Drifter
678 N Orleans St

The Green Door Tavern is Chicago’s oldest bar. It was built in 1872, just after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. While the upstairs bar is filled with history and beer, we suggest you visit the secret bar, The Drifter, which is in the basement and tucked away behind a hidden door.

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The Drifter is an actual speakeasy from the days of Prohibition, featuring burlesque shows and a new cocktail every night. To get in, walk down the stairs toward the restrooms and look to your right. Think that’s a shelf? Nope. Look for the doorknob.

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Asado Coffee Roasters
363 W Erie St

Asado is a bright and welcoming spot that’s a nice place to visit in the morning before starting your day. They’re fairly new and fill a gap for boutique coffee, which isn’t very prevalent in most northern parts of River North.

Our favorite Asado pick? Their cafe con leche.

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Three Dots and a Dash
435 N Clark St

This underground tiki bar made a huge splash when it originally opened in Chicago. It was right at the beginning of the tiki bar craze and Chicagoans had really never seen anything like it.

Tropical drinks are served in fun containers, like ships, fish bowls, and conch-shaped cups. Be warned, the drinks are very boozy, so make sure you have a designated driver.

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The bar is located in an alley and the area is a sea of one way streets, so make sure to use Waze or a GPS if you’re unfamiliar with River North’s streets.

Bow Truss Coffee Roasters
406 Wells St

If you’re a coffee lover, you have to try local Chicago roaster Bow Truss. There’s no wi-fi, so bring something good to read!

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Brett’s Kitchen
223 W Superior St

You wouldn’t know it walking past, but you can find one of the best, cheap cups of coffee in River North at this family-owned restaurant on the corner of Superior and Franklin.

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Where to Eat

Beatrix ($$)
519 N Clark St

This trendy restaurant, bakery, and bar is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. But we can attest to the awesomeness of their breakfast menu. It features delicious options like lemon pancakes, spicy chicken tinga, and fresh-squeezed juices.

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Leghorn Cafe ($)
600 N LaSalle St

Located in the mid-century designed Ohio House Motel, Leghorn Cafe’s mission is to be the “anti-Chick-fil-A.” They offer comfort food classics such as fried chicken sandwiches and fried chicken biscuits for breakfast.

There tends to be a bit of a wait, especially around lunch. We suggest ordering online beforehand so it’s prepared once you arrive.

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The Boarding House ($$$)
720 N Wells St

One of the coolest things about Boarding House is the enormous chandelier made of wine and champagne glasses. The expansive wine menu and upscale American cuisine doesn’t hurt either.

If you’re looking to be conservative with your wallet but still want to feel fancy, we suggest their happy hour, which serves half-priced glasses of wine 4:30-6:30 pm Monday – Friday.

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Portillo’s ($)
100 W Ontario St

Portillo’s is a Chicago staple. Nearly every Chicagoan will tell you that you have to go. Menu favorites include the cake shake, Italian beef with hot peppers, the hot dog, cheese fries, and the chocolate cake for dessert. Come hungry!

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Want more? Check out these other top rated restaurants (with convenient, affordable parking nearby):

Gilt Bar ($$)
230 W Kinzie St

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Bernie’s Lunch & Supper ($$$)
660 N Orleans St

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Farmhouse Chicago ($$)
228 W Chicago Ave

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XOCO ($$)
449 N Clark St

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Eataly ($-$$)
43 E Ohio St

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RPM Steak ($$$)
66 W Kinzie St

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What to Do and See

Merchandise Mart
222 Merchandise Mart Plaza

Chicago’s Merchandise Mart houses hundreds of startups, designer studios, stores, showrooms, and restaurants. It’s located along the bank of the Chicago River at the southernmost point of River North.

House of Blues
329 N Dearborn St

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Antique Stores

River North is known for its vast amount of antique stores. So many, in fact, you could easily spend an entire day or weekend antiquing. We suggest parking in one place for the entire day and taking the neighborhood by foot for this activity.

Here is a list of the top 4 antique stores in Chicago:

1. The Golden Triangle [330 N Clark St]

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2. Asian House of Chicago [549 N Wells St]

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3. DouglasRosin Decorative Arts & Antiques [730 N Wells St]

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4. P.O.S.H. [613 N State St]

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Art Galleries

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River North has the densest amount of art galleries in Chicago. Many of them are located on Superior and Huron streets, which run parallel to one another. It’s also easy to find and reserve parking in this area.

You really don’t need a plan when visiting these art galleries, just walk along these streets near the Franklin intersection and you’re bound to come across dozens of galleries.

If you’re a planner, however, feel free to check out Chicago Gallery News’s list of top River North art galleries.

 

Did You Know?

Like many Chicago neighborhoods, River North has seen a lot of changes over the years. Originally, the neighborhood was an industrial area. And then in the 70s, artists were attracted to the open lofts, industrial feel, and cheap rent. Now River North is one of the more upscale neighborhoods in Chicago, with luxury apartments, fine dining, and cultural attractions.

Neighborhood Resources