Dock and Dine: A Guide to Boat-Up Restaurants on the Chicago River

Chicago’s lakefront is an award-winning place to boat. But when hunger strikes, options are limited along Lake Michigan. Plus, rough lake weather can limit your boating options.

But did you know that the Chicago River offers an excellent alternative for a unique dock-and-dine experience? In this guide, we will explore some of the best boat-up restaurants that you can find along the Chicago River. So, grab your boat, bring your appetite, and let’s set sail for a culinary adventure!

Before You Go…

  • Some docks are managed by private operators with limited slips. Call ahead to confirm availability. Bonus: most restaurants will let you dock briefly if you order pickup/takeout.
  • If you’re coming from Lake Michigan, budget an extra 15 minutes to pass through the Chicago Harbour Lock. New to locking? No worries – check out this essential guide.

PRO TIP: Chicago has the most movable bridges in the world. But city crews require a 20-hour advance notice to open bridges for recreational vessels. Instead, to make sure your cruiser’s rooftop antennas and other equipment will fit under closed bridge decks, check the Wavve Boating App for depths and current water levels. Wavve users have also marked underwater hazards and other key navigational details along the Chicago River.

North Branch – Goose Island


Azul Restaurant Chicago RiverPhoto source: Instagram @azulmariscoschicago

Upscale Azul has put Goose Island on the map for more than the neighborhood’s namesake beer. Come for the Latin-inspired seafood (mariscos). And stay for the cocktails. Dock and dine on their outdoor patio overlooking the river. Or take in the downtown skyline from Azul’s sprawling roof deck.

The menu at Azul features a good mix of small plates with grilled octopus and lobster empanadas, plus shared mariscada seafood platters. Entrees include chipotle lobster mac & cheese and surf & turf. The beverage list includes a mouthwatering selection of margaritas and sangrias.

Dock for free at one of Azul’s slips. Call ahead or go online for reservations and takeout orders.

1177 N Elston Ave, Chicago, IL 60642

North Branch – Rockwell on the River

Soul & Smoke

Soul and Smoke Restaurant Chicago River

Photo source: Instagram @souldandsmoke

Soul & Smoke is the newest addition to the vibrant Rockwell on the River marine complex. Bring the family and your appetite for generous portions of BBQ and comfort food. And enjoy dockside dining on the patio with an expansive view of the river and evening entertainment.

All meats are smoked fresh daily – so supplies are limited. Standouts include rib tips, prime brisket, and ‘nduja sausage. Pulled pork sliders are a favorite for the boat. Sides range from extra-creamy mac & cheese to garlic mashed potatoes. Wash it all down with Smoke & Soul’s proprietary cocktails or local craft brews, including German-style offerings from neighboring Metropolitan Brewing.

Unless you’re picking up takeout, book your dock space through Rockwell on the River. Dogs, kayaks and canoes are welcome, too.

3057 N Rockwell St. Chicago, IL 60618

Lawrence's Fish and Chips Restaurant Chicago River

Photo source: Instagram @lawrencessrhimp

Whether you’re on the water before dawn or after the fireworks end, head up the South Branch to Chicago’s most beloved shrimp house: Lawrence’s on Canal. Open 24/7, this casual spot has welcomed anglers and boaters from all walks – at all hours – for over 60 years.

Refuel with a variety of entrees, including baskets of oysters, calamari, fish, chicken, and their signature shrimp. Load up on Lawrence’s homestyle sides and desserts. And restock your cooler from a great selection of cold beverages.

Dock at Lawrence’s pier for free. Kayaks and canoes are welcome, too. And don’t forget to grab a selfie with their 20-foot tall crustacean.

2120 S Canal Street, Chicago, IL 60616

Main Branch – Streeterville/Ogden Slip

Robert’s Pizza and Dough Company

Robert's Pizza and Dough Company Restaurant Chicago River

Photo source: @robertspizzaco

Sheltered from downtown bustle along Odgen Slip, Robert’s Pizza is literally a slice of heaven. Boat up for signature artisanal pizza and drinks – lunch or dinner. Their riverside patio is an urban sanctuary. And it’s the perfect viewing spot for Navy Pier’s fireworks shows.

Robert’s brick oven favorites include the grilled sausage, prosciutto & arugula, and caramelized onion pizzas. Plus they offer a good variety of small plates and pasta dishes. And an extensive wine and beer list.

Call ahead to reserve a place to tie up your boat. Dogs are welcome, too.

465 N McClurg Court, Chicago, IL 60611

Main Branch – Marina City
Smith & Wollensky

Smith and Wollensky Restaurant Chicago River

Photo source:

For a classic steakhouse experience on the Chicago River, it’s hard to top Smith & Wollensky. Located at the base of the iconic Marina City complex, the upscale two-story eatery offers exceptional meals and service, accompanied by stunning views of the river and the skyline.

The menu features a mix of classic steaks, chops, and seafood, like the USDA prime dry-aged ribeye and the Maine lobster tail. Portions are generous – notably the five-layer chocolate cake. And Smith & Wollensky’s wine list is equally impressive.

Call ahead to reserve a table on the riverside patio. You can also reserve a dock space through JBYS Face Dock.

318 N State Street, Chicago, IL 60654

Main Branch – Clark Street Bridge

Pizzeria Portofino

Pizzeria Portofino Restaurant Chicago River

Photo source: Instagram @pizzeria.portofino

Tie up, grab a spot on the Porto Patio, order a drink, and watch the world float past. Like its namesake fishing village along the Italian Riviera, Pizzeria Portofino delivers a laid-back vibe with delicious food.

Hand-stretched pizzas are popular, including the margherita and the black truffle mushroom pie. Portofino’s also serves antipasti and charcoal-grilled seafood. Top it off with a spritz, specialty cocktail, and one of their coastal wines.

Portofino’s dock is shared with neighboring RPM Seafood, so call ahead or reserve a slip here.

317 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60654

RPM Seafood Restaurant Chicago River

Photo source: Instagram @rpmseafood

Take the boat for a fine dining experience at RPM Seafood. Open for lunch and dinner, this multi-level riverside eatery delivers award-winning cuisine with dramatic, panoramic views. It’s a memorable destination for date night and special occasions.

RPM’s menu features a mix of seafood standards, plus oysters from both coasts. Dive deeper for specials like king crab panzanella and globally inspired entrees like charcoal-grilled black bass. Plus, the expansive wine list offers over 500 bottles.

RPM’s dock slips are shared with neighboring Pizzeria Portofino, so call ahead or reserve a spot here.

317 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60654

Main Branch – Riverwalk

City Winery Riverwalk

City Winery Restaurant Chicago River

Photo source: Instagram @citywineryriverwalk

City Winery offers the perfect jumping off point for a boat-and-dine adventure along Chicago’s 1.25 mile (2 km) Riverwalk. It’s the intersection of award-winning wine, people watching, and live entertainment.

Wines are crafted nearby at City Winery’s urban winery. And accompanying small plates – ranging from truffle fries to duck tacos – are expertly paired with suggested wines. Plus, a wide selection of cocktails and beers are available.

Reserve a boat slip through Downtown Docks.

11 W. Riverwalk South, Chicago, IL 60601

Try Any of These Spots For an Awesome Day (or Night) On Your Boat

The Chicago River is an ideal spot for boaters looking for a unique and enjoyable experience. Plus, it offers some sanctuary from the windy conditions along Lake Michigan. From upscale restaurants to dog-friendly casual outposts, there are plenty of options available.

So, next time you’re boating the lakefront playpen or cruising the shoreline, don’t forget to dock at one of these amazing Chicago River restaurants and indulge in some delicious food and drinks while enjoying the amazing views of the city.

For more information on Chicago restaurants with boat docks, including maps, directions, and the best times to boat, be sure to check out the Wavve Boating App (available on the Apple Store and Google Play ). Wavve Boating allows you to connect, share, and explore our beautiful waterways. Together, we’re leading the future of marine navigation…all from the comfort of our phones – pretty cool right?