One thing is for "shore" when it comes to Chicago weather. Summer time by the lake makes putting up with our wicked winters seem worth it.
One of the best ways to enjoy summer is by grabbing a bite to eat right on the shores of Lake Michigan.
In the summer, Chicago’s lakefront not only dishes up some breath taking views, but some mouth watering food as well.
As for who's doing the dishing – FOX Chicago News takes you on a tour that includes a stop in Edgewater, all the way down to the south shore.
Castaways Bar & Grill has long been a popular hot spot for lake front dining.
The restaurant “opened in the summer of 2000,” Castaways general manager Eugene Mori said. “As long as weather permits, we usually expect a large crowd from open to close.”
In addition to a great view of the lake and some live music, Mori said their frozen drinks, like the Miami Vice keeps the crowds coming in every day. Their menu is also a hit - including favorites like the Kobe burger, and a seafood salad from Riva's.
Castaways isn’t the only way to go when looking to grab a bite to eat along Chicago’s shoreline.
“It doesn't get much better than this, fantastic food, the best backdrop in this city, looking at the lake, palm trees I feel like I’m on the beach in the tropics,” one diner said. “Best day for lunch ever.”
What used to be Oak Street Beachstro, is now under new management and known as Oak Street Beach Food and Drink .
The Levy Restaurant Group took over the restaurant.
“We've really lightened up the menu quite a bit,” Levy Restaurant Group's Charles Przybylinski said. It includes “shrimp tacos, the fish tacos, veggie tacos, very light very fresh. We've added escabeche, and ceviche.”
Their new menu is getting rave reviews, and so it their location.
“With our backdrop of the city behind us, and the water, and the palm trees - you're right on the sand. It is like being on vacation,” Przybylinski said. “I hear all the time that people feel like it's South Beach.”
As for the palm trees, yes, they are real
“It's not North Beach, it has a completely different environment and atmosphere,” another diner said. “So it's nice, it's less like the Jersey Shore, pretty relaxing.”
This summer, there is a new kid on the lakeshore dining block.
The Dock at Montrose Beach just opened on Memorial Day. This 3,300 square foot patio restaurant and bar has some Chicagoans dropping anchor there for the summer.
“I've actually been here, probably ten times in the past two and a half weeks,” one consumer said.
Their popular rum runner drink - made from a secret recipe - isn’t the only reason to stop by.
“We make everything fresh - pico de gallo, guacamole,” The Dock’s co-owner Luke Cholodecki said. “All our food is cooked fresh to order. We've got over 26 varieties of beer.”
Opening up The Dock was a dream its owners spent the last five years making into a reality.
“I would travel here with my family and walk around,” Cholodecki said. ”It seemed like this area was missing some place to just sit down, eat, have a drink, enjoy yourself.”
If you are looking for a little less sand with your food and your sun, check out these two little known spots:
The Parrot Cage Restaurant is located in the historical South Shore Cultural Center.
“We've got a fantastic location. I really encourage people to take a look and I know that you’re going to love it,” Parrot Cage general manager Jose Cervantes said. “It's all about the food for me. The food - great food.”
The Parrot Cage is a non-profit restaurant owned and operated by the city college's Washburne Culinary School. It opened six years ago and launched a new, more contemporary, menu this summer.
It offers fine dining by the lake year round, and executive chef Angel Cruz recommends trying either the lamb chops or the tilapia.
“Very laid back, very peaceful, very relaxing, almost kind of transportive,” Waterfront owner Frank Pullen said. “I mean I hear that a lot, and that's kind of what we want to supply to the patrons, is kind of trying to take a break from Chicago busy city life.”
That’s how many of the patrons who go to the Waterfront Cafe describe it.
It too opened up just a few years ago, but it’s tucked away on the city's far North Side. Chances are you may not have heard of it unless you live in the Edgewater neighborhood.
“It's like oh this literally on a daily basis,” Pullen said. ”We hear ‘Oh my god this is so great,’ and partly ‘I don't want to tell anybody,’ ‘I want to keep it my own secret.’”
Known for serving fresh turkey bacon wraps, salads and sangria, the Waterfront Cafe also has live music.
You never know who's going to stop by and sing a few tunes.
“Last year we had Crystal Bowersox, the runner-up of American Idol, perform,” Pullen said. “A friend of mine, Brian Walker, who is now her husband, used to play here all the time.”
Now that you've seen what dining delights are on the shores of our lakefront, it is time for you to dive in and try them out for yourself - before summer is over!
When it’s this hot outside, there's no better place to grab a drink or bite and cool off, than on our lakefront.
If you like what you saw at the Waterfront Cafe, they just opened a second location at Hollywood Beach.