The Navy Pier Survival Guide

So you’re at Navy Pier. Here’s where to eat.
The Navy Pier Survival Guide image

Navy Pier is generally full of bad food, tourists, and stores with rotating displays of keychains that have other people’s names on them. If you live in Chicago, you’ve probably been avoiding coming here. But eventually you’ll need to take your cousin visiting from Omaha on the Ferris wheel.

When this happens, don’t panic. This guide has all the best places for eating and drinking nearby (i.e. within a 15-minute walk or five-minute car ride), and even some not-terrible places at the Pier itself.



Magnificent Mile

$$$$Perfect For:Date NightEating At The BarImpressing Out of TownersSmall Plates
Earn 3x points with your sapphire card

The very best strategy for handling hunger at Navy Pier is to leave. Take a five-minute walk to The Purple Pig, which is still in a tourist-heavy area, but serves Mediterranean small plates so good they’re even worth a trip across town. If your cousin is still trying to find his way through The Amazing Maze when you get hungry, know that the bar at The Purple Pig is great for dining alone, too. You’ll be back before he’s done—hopefully.



OpenTable logo

This also falls under the “short walk from Navy Pier” category, and it’s an option worth abandoning your children for while they’re waiting to ride the Ferris wheel. Robert’s, located on the Ogden Slip, has pizza with a flavorful, airy, slightly crispy thin crust. You’ll find a variety of toppings, from fennel with pepperoni and honey, to sausage with caramelized onions. And the good news is that you can see the Ferris wheel in the distance from the patio. We’re sure your kids are just fine.

The Michigan Ave location of Billy Goat Tavern is a Chicago institution, and within walking distance of the Pier. But in case you’re here with a New Yorker who’s only accustomed to walking tiny city blocks, the Navy Pier outpost is an acceptable alternative. Whichever location you pick, make sure to order the double or the triple burger—the bun’s too thick for a single patty. Eat something iconic here and then do a lot of Chicago-y things, like riding the Ferris wheel and trying to avoid being pick-pocketed.

Giordano’s is a deep-dish pizza chain. While it’s not our favorite (that would be Lou Malnati’s, it’s still very satisfying. And this is a perfectly valid choice if you decide to stay at Navy Pier. The pizza here is stuffed deep dish, which means it’s double-crusted, with tomato sauce on top and about 25 pounds of cheese inside. It also means you should probably avoid riding the Wave Swinger after eating it.

Yes, this is a national chain, but it’s our national chain, and it happens to be the least worst option in the food court at Navy Pier. If you’ve never had a Potbelly sandwich, all you need to know is that they’re toasted and delicious—get the Italian or the disorientingly good PB&J. And don’t leave without a milkshake, which you can drink on your long walk down the pier to The Original Rainbow Cone.

The Original Rainbow Cone image

The Original Rainbow Cone


The original Original Rainbow Cone is in Beverly and has been around since 1926. The Rainbow Cone stand at Navy Pier doesn’t have the same history, but it serves the same thing. That thing would be the rainbow cone itself, which has layers of chocolate, strawberry, Palmer house (vanilla with walnuts and cherries), and pistachio ice creams, plus orange sherbet. Just make sure that when you’re here, you get it in a dish instead of a cone - Navy Pier is hard enough to navigate without babysitting a melty, multi-layered ice cream cone through the crowd like a contestant on American Ninja Warrior.

$$$$Perfect For:Big GroupsBirthdays


OpenTable logo

Ron of Japan is about four blocks away from Navy Pier. It’s a lot like a Benihana, but more of a local micro-chain (the other location is in Northbrook). Given the location, it actually has fewer tourists and giant groups than you might expect, but it’s still really lively, and everyone will have a good time—you’ll be sitting at a communal table as you watch the chef flip shrimp tails into his hat. No guarantee he’ll flip them into anyone’s new “I Love Chicago” hoodie, though.

You got ice cream at Rainbow Cone before your movie at the Imax, and then you ate a $72 box of popcorn supplemented with some Junior Mints. If you’re still hungry, you might be in the mood for something kind of healthy. Walk to the Streeterville Beatrix, where you’ll find plenty of salads, plus entrees ranging from chili and chocolate glazed salmon to a cauliflower steak.

After spending time at Chicago’s version of the Mall of America, it might be nice to balance everything out with some culture. Do so at Marisol in the MCA. It’s the spot on this list that’s the furthest from Navy Pier (an 18-minute walk, or six-minute drive), but it’s an excellent restaurant, and it’s still close enough that you should know about it. You’ll find things like sunflower seed hummus, housemade pastas, and a fried quail with date honey that tastes like a fancy version of chicken and waffles. Plus, Marisol is right next to Water Tower Place, just in case you (or the people you’re with) haven’t had enough of Chicago malls for one day.

Offshore Rooftop & Bar image

Offshore Rooftop & Bar


According to Offshore, this is the largest rooftop in United States. Maybe even the world. Or the universe. Either way, it’s definitely the largest one in Chicago (it sits above almost half the pier) and has a beautiful view of both the skyline and the lake. Come here for some drinks and small plates to share like hummus, crudite, or flatbread. If you’re here on a Wednesday or Saturday you can watch the fireworks and celebrate the fact that your time at Navy Pier is almost over.

Chase Sapphire Card Ad

Suggested Reading


Where To Eat In Streeterville

Our guide to the best spots in the neighborhood.

Fish Bar image

Fish Bar is like the offspring of a New England fish shack that spent some time in New Orleans. Nothing wrong with that.

Ron of Japan image

A tradition unlike any other - Ron of Japan for teppanyaki and egg sauce.

The Purple Pig image

Purple Pig is a small plates restaurant on the Mag Mile with good food and a touristy atmosphere.

Infatuation Logo


2024 © The Infatuation Inc. All Rights Reserved.
The views and opinions expressed on The Infatuation’s site and other platforms are those of the authors and do not reflect the official policy or position of (or endorsement by) JPMorgan Chase. The Infatuation and its affiliates assume no responsibility or liability for the content of this site, or any errors or omissions. The Information contained in this site is provided on an "as is" basis with no guarantees of completeness, accuracy, usefulness or timeliness.


Get it on Google PlayDownload on the App Store