13 Chicago Restaurants With Great ViewsHead to these spots when you want to take it all in.
Chicago has traffic, sprawl, and year-round highway construction, but when you get past all that, this city can be pretty scenic. We have a reversible river, sandy beaches, and that giant blue thing we call Lake Michigan, not to mention a very recognizable skyline. Chicago’s patio and rooftop scene is strong, but some places have views that take it to the next level. Whether you’re trying to impress a boss, a visiting friend, or you simply want to stare at something cool for a few hours, here are 13 restaurants with views that’ll remind you why this city is so great.
RPM Seafood checks all the boxes. It has great seafood, solid cocktails, a lively crowd, and a large riverfront patio with umbrellas to protect you from the elements. And because it’s at street level, it doesn’t suffer from the wafting scent of sewage mingled with the underside of the Clark Street bridge. Instead, you’re treated to an elevated river view surrounded by beautiful architecture and high rises reflecting the water. Go for a golden hour dinner, and watch as the sunset shining in the glassy buildings melts into a twinkly backdrop.
Pizzeria Portofino gets a lot of attention for being a very beautiful (and absurdly busy) spot right on the river. Go a little further north and eat on the quiet patio at Robert’s Pizza And Dough Company instead. It’s a great pizza place on the Ogden Slip that also has a lovely view of the water. You can even see the Ferris wheel at Navy Pier. Order one of the specialty pies with a flavorful, airy, slightly crispy thin crust, and use all that extra time you would have spent waiting for a table at Portofino pretending that you own a boat.
Tetto is a rooftop from the Recess team, who’ve proven they know what’s required of a fun outdoor space: lots of places to sit, a great sound system, and strong drinks. That all applies to Tetto, including the option to buy bottle service and little cabanas with couches. But what makes this West Loop rooftop someplace we want to be is that it serves food from Professor Pizza, and has a postcard view of the skyline (because it’s not actually in the skyline).
Cindy’s in the Loop has one of the best panoramic views of everything that makes this city great. It’s located on the roof of the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel, and because this place is incredibly busy there can be an hour-long wait just for the elevator. But once you’re upstairs, you’re rewarded with an unbeatable view of the illuminated skyscrapers (during the day, the twinkling skyline is traded for the beautiful view overlooking Millennium Park and Lake Michigan). Aside from its fantastic view, this airy, greenhouse-like bar also has good cocktails. The food probably won’t blow you away, but the atmosphere makes up for it.
The Kennedy is on top of the Hyatt in Wicker Park, and since you’re not literally in the skyline, you have a sweeping view of the entirety of downtown Chicago. It also has a long menu full of cocktails and bar food, and plenty of tables and couches. It’s a great option for year-round admiration too. In the winter, The Kennedy has heated, private, twinkly domes that you can rent out.
This guide exists specifically for places like Miru—and let us count the ways. This Japanese restaurant is on the rooftop of the $700-a-night St. Regis Hotel in Lakeshore East. The view of the skyline is incredible, and the service is even better. The food isn't amazing (the long menu ranges from just-OK sushi to not-very-good entrees like burnt miso cod), but great food isn't why you're here. It's to admire the view, have a bunch of drinks or dessert, and feel like you can afford to throw money off said rooftop.
Utopian Tailgate is a bar on top of the Second City building in Old Town, and unsurprisingly, their menu is tailgate-themed, so expect food like nachos, pizza, and skewers. It reminds us a lot of a rooftop version of Paradise Park—meaning astroturf, lots of colorful patio furniture, and things like swing sets and giant Jenga. The only difference is that here, a fun DJ set and game of bags will be accompanied by a great city view.
According to Offshore, this is the largest rooftop in the United States. Maybe even the world. Or the universe. Either way, it’s definitely the largest one in Chicago (it sits above almost half of Navy Pier) and has a view of both the skyline and the lake. Come here for some drinks and small plates to share. If you’re here on a Wednesday or Saturday in the summer, you’ll have a prime seat to watch the fireworks.
Vu is a rooftop bar on the 22nd floor of a building near the McCormick Center. And since it has both firepits and retractable windows, it’s good for the occasional 53-degree Chicago summer day. There’s a long menu of small plates, with dishes like popcorn shrimp, crab dip, and flatbreads. It’s all fine, but our favorite activity here is to drink, take in the sweeping views of the lake, skyline, sun setting over the relatively flat sprawl southwest of the city, and be glad we’re not going to the Morningstar Investment Conference this year.
This is a fancy spot at the top of The Peninsula, a luxury hotel near Michigan Ave. Because of its location, it has a great view of the Magnificent Mile, which makes it an ideal place to take out-of-towners. You’ll find small plates like foie gras-filled bon bons and marrow “poppers” (which are basically tater tots filled with bone marrow). Come here and eat some expensive bar food with anyone you’re trying to impress—like visiting colleagues, or your soon-to-be sister-in-law who kind of hates the city.
Everyone knows what spots have the best views. Look out your window, we bet you can see a view-hoarder right now, sitting on top of some hideous high rise that's probably blocking your view. But Bar Avec (the rooftop bar above Avec) is a calm oasis on the eighth floor of a reasonably sized building in River North. The rooftop is full of plants and trees, is shaded, and has a separate Spanish-inspired menu than what you’ll find downstairs. And, it’s magically situated with a view of downtown Chicago minus the gale-force winds and hordes of tourists.
North Pond is named after the pond in Lincoln Park next to the zoo, which is exactly where this restaurant is. It’s a beautiful setting where you can stare out over the park in quiet contemplation, making it great inspiration for your Walden fan fiction. Or, use it for a special occasion dinner since they offer a reasonably priced tasting menu and it’s not hard to snag a last-minute reservation. A meal here is like eating in a really nice cabin, and the seasonal American food is always outstanding.
One of the drawbacks of sitting on a rooftop downtown is that you can’t see the whole skyline, because you’re technically in it. This isn’t the case at Cabana Club, the rooftop bar on top of a high-rise hotel (The Robey) in Wicker Park. It’s not so much a restaurant as it is a place for drinks and light snacks, like shrimp skewers and jalapeno cheese fritters. But because it has an incredible perspective of the city, it’s a great spot for a cocktail with a view.