Week on the Water: Waterfront Dining

August 16, 2011 7:00:10 AM PDT
Two of the things that we love about Chicago -- the glistening water and the delicious food. Luckily, in this city there are many places where we can enjoy them both at the same time.

Lots of great dining options, all along the river are beloved favorites, with some new-comers as well.

The latest gem: the enormously popular new steakhouse Chicago Cut at 300 North LaSalle. It just opened in September, but it is already a huge hit with A-listers and heavy-hitters because of both the highly regarded food and the quintessential Chicago view.

"We saw visually that you could sit here and see the skyscrapers of Chicago. You could see the folks going down the river. You could see the "el" going by. It was removed off the street and that gave time out to really look at what Chicago is," said David Flom, co-owner, Chicago Cut.

Executive Chef Jackie Shen says she's inspired by the gently rolling river.

"The river takes you into different levels, of eating and of enjoying life, and you remember all that," said Shen.

Eventually, city leaders hope to have a riverwalk-type atmosphere in Chicago, similar to that found in San Antonio. They envision a place bustling with a variety of divergent culinary treasures, like Mary Madison's restaurant Lagniappe, which means "a little something extra" down in the delta. At the spot, you'll find authentic Creole and Cajun delicacies in Chicago between Clark and Dearborn, right at the water's edge.

"What we do here is bring authentic Cajun food to the riverwalk. We replicate the bayou here in Chicago, giving it a fair representation of what the Big Easy offers," said Madison.

Madison means mouth-watering food along with a healthy helping of jazz and blues, all of it enhanced by that mellow river vibe.

"It's just a very serene type of feeling. I think it brings peace and calmness to the people. The people really enjoy it even more when we have our live blues and jazz because we fuse the music in with it, and it gives them a very good time," Madison said.

Of course, you can't talk waterfront dining in Chicago without mentioning the iconic Riva on Navy Pier. The appropriately named favorite has been featuring great food and spectacular city views since 1995.

"We have two different personalities. We have the personality of the view and white tablecloth dining up here, which is still casual dining. It is not as fancy as people would think, but we also have the casual dining downstairs, which is more into sandwiches and cafe dining on the pier where you sit outside and enjoy a beer," said Frank D'Angelo, general manager, Riva.

All while enjoying the ships, the fireworks and the people-watching in this ever-changing city.

For more info on each restaurant, visit:

cajunjoynt.com (Lagniappe)