River North is an interesting spot in Chicago. Is it truly a neighborhood? Or is it just an amalgamation of restaurants and hotels? If you pay attention to the restaurant scene in Chicago, and if you have any enthusiasm toward that scene, then you’re probably shouting, “Of course River North is a neighborhood!” at your screen now. Many diners who are on a first name basis with their favorite servers or bartenders would argue the same point. It feels like home when you visit the River North Chicago restaurants frequently enough that they’ve got your order down as soon as you walk in.
River North Chicago Restaurants & More About This Area
But for a great many people who come downtown for work and then go straight back to their familiar stomping grounds, River North can seem like a confusing jumble. Sure, it’s a bit of a revolving door of new restaurants, renovated restaurants, expanding restaurants and some national chains as well. It’s a bit hard to identify a neighborhood vibe in the austere surroundings of glass and steel skyscrapers as well. But for the nine-to-fivers who call the area’s restaurants home during the week, and the legions of hospitality workers who make it run smoothly each day of the week, River North is indeed a warm and welcoming place. Here’s a quick guide to becoming more familiar with the neighborhood that boasts some of Chicago’s most exciting concepts and boldest flavors in the restaurant scene. And for a town that’s quickly becoming the culinary capital of North America, that’s saying something.
There are no shortage of restaurants in River North, but there’s an ample supply of bars and late night spots as well. Of course you could easily extend your elegant dinner at Joe’s Stone Crab and linger at the bar, but you could also wander out into the streets of River North with no short supply of places to carry the night to a raucous conclusion. There are the massive bars lining Hubbard, Kinzie and Illinois if you’re feeling like a throwback to college days or if there’s a huge game on the screens. Or you could catch live music at House of Blues, see dueling pianos at Howl or sidle over to the home of the Blues. You can play games at the arcade bar or smash a few ping pong balls (we know a good place!) while you sip craft cocktails. If you’re looking for a late night spot there are plenty of reasons to linger in River North.
Find a Hidden Gem
There’s no better feeling than being first out of your social group to discover a place that’s worth sharing with the rest of the squad. Underground tiki bars, massive ping pong playgrounds and award winning restaurants are all tucked away in little-known spots throughout River North for the intrepid urban explorer, each of them awaiting discovery.
Learn Your History
The Chicago Riverwalk is turning into the next premiere sightseeing avenue in the city. The Riverwalk is dotted with plaques and little curios to call out the historical significance of the unsung waterway that is the Chicago River. So much more has happened on the banks of the river than a bit of green dye for St. Patrick’s day! And there are several restaurants in River North that take advantage of this burgeoning public space by setting up seasonal businesses along the new stretches. And of course there are established favorites with spectacular views of all the riverfront buildings on refreshing patio seats.
So there you have all the reasons why River North, with its many fantastic restaurants, welcoming bars and pubs, rocking music venues and places to play games and kick back, is a legitimate Chicago neighborhood.