A Guide to Lakeshore East: Where to Eat, Shop, and Play

INSIDER’S GUIDE: Chicago’s newest neighborhood is also its newest dining destination

III Forks; an aerial shot of Lakeshore East Park; dogs greeting each other at Lakeshore East Park; a customer at Mariano’s Fresh Market
Clockwise from top left: III Forks; an aerial shot of Lakeshore East Park; dogs greeting each other at Lakeshore East Park; a customer at Mariano’s Fresh Market. For more photos, launch the gallery »

Never heard of Lakeshore East, the 28-acre enclave just south of the river and north of Millennium Park, tucked between the Mag Mile and the lake? You’re not alone. “People don’t realize it exists,” says Brian Gordon of the Magellan Development Group, which began transforming the area a decade ago. Planned or not, locales that spring up fully formed are unusual—especially ones that come with all the hallmarks of a go-to restaurant row. Get to know the former rail yard with our picks for food and more.

[1] Steak houses abound in Chicago, but how many deliver filets with a side of breathtaking? The rooftop lounge of the restaurant, which opened in October, offers views of the skyline, the lake, and the river. A happy hour hit for its 30 by-the-glass wines, the place also knows its steak. We like the 28-day wet-aged bone-in rib eye. 333 E. Benton Pl.; 312-938-4303, 3forks.com

[2] Lakeshore East’s architectural pièce de résistance, Jeanne Gang’s 82-story Aqua, is home to the opulent Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel, which in turn houses this Italian restaurant and lounge. Open since November, the bi-level space sets the stage for rustic dishes (try the braised oxtail gnocchi), and well-heeled professional types pack the downstairs bar. Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel, 221 N. Columbus Dr.; 312-565-5258, filinichicago.com

Small Lakeshore East map
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[3] Also in the Radisson, this no-nonsense spa—a sauna, showers, two treatment rooms—is ideal for type A’s from surrounding office buildings in need of an orange-blossom body polish and massage ($145 for 60 minutes). Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel, 221 N. Columbus Dr.; 312-565-5258, radissonblu.com

[4] At the center of doughnut-shaped Lakeshore East is this pristine six-acre public space. Ample foliage and lighted fountains provide a dose of tranquility among the cranes and jackhammers, and a designated off-leash area gives dogs room to romp. With free Wi-Fi, it’s a good option for working picnic lunches. 450 E. Benton Pl.; 312-742-7649, chicagoparkdistrict.com

[5] Opened in October, this 55,000-square-footer is not your typical corner market but a veritable food fun house, complete with an olive bar, a sweets counter stocked with handmade fudge, and a pizzeria churning out Roman-style pies. The vibe is frenzied weekdays at lunchtime, but a park-facing patio offers a reprieve. 333 E. Benton Pl.; 312-228-1349, marianosfreshmarket.com

[6] Named not for the brunch staple but for a childhood friend of one of Lakeshore East’s developers, this café was slated to open in April, courtesy of Custom House Tavern’s Peter Drohomyrecky and his wife, Sue. Slinging diner-style breakfast and lunch fare all day, Eggy’s plans to resurrect the blue-plate special with dishes like fried chicken; family-style meals will make this a stroller-friendly zone. 333 E. Benton Pl.; eggysdiner.com

[7] Scheduled to launch upstairs from Eggy’s this month, Maison will be the Drohomyreckys’ take on a French brasserie. In addition to the usual suspects (onion soup), the menu will include a charcuterie and raw bar, as well as keg wine. And what would a Lakeshore East address be without a park view? At presstime, a spacious outdoor area was in the works. 333 E. Benton Pl.; maisonbrasserie.com

Bonus! Pritzker Pavilion [8] is just across Randolph Street. Here, early notice on free summer shows:
Downtown Sound, Mondays from May 28 to July 30, showcases top indie, pop, and rock acts, our favorite cure for the back-to-work blahs. . . . New this year, an electronica series slides into the mix Thursdays from June 7 to July 12 (except June 21). . . . The city’s best jazz acts take the stage Thursdays from July 19 to August 30 (except August 9). . . . The Gospel Music Festival kicks off on June 21 with a spirited fete in the park. 201 E. Randolph St.; 312-742-1168, explorechicago.org

The Chicago Spring Half Marathon and 10K, on May 12, features a lakeside route and a postrace picnic in Lakeshore East Park. Entry is $60 for the half marathon and $45 for the 10K; for info, chicagospringhalf.com.


Photography: (Lakeshore East aerial shot) Courtesy of Magellan Development Group by VHT Photography; (all others) Travis Roozée

Photo gallery



2 years ago
Posted by ChicagoMom

I can't believe you forgot Caffe RoM! They have been here longer than any other business and have supported the community since day one! They have amazing products and are an independent Chicago-owned business. Shame on you for only supporting places w/ big corporate money behind them!

2 years ago
Posted by 17trum52

You all also neglected to point out that Lakeshore East has their own swim school,Swim with Kathy-Chicago which operates out of the Aqua Building...the school has been there for almost a year and was yet another amenity brought to the community from the Magellan Dev. Group. The school teaches babies, young children, triathletes, and new adult swimmers. http://www.kathyswimschicago.com/ Another wonderful convenience for neighbors in the Lakeshore East Community.

2 years ago
Posted by mentor154

As well, there is no mention of Lakefront Children's Academy which has been educating the neighborhood preschool children for over twelve years. This preschool has an amazing program and curriculum. It was named one of the top schools in the country with many of their graduates being accepted into gifted and selected schools. The Academy's location is in the 400 East Randolph (Outer Drive East) building, directly at the street entrance which leads to Lakeshore East. The preschool serves the Lakeshore East, as well as, the New Eastside residents. Visit the schools website at www.lakefrontchildrensacademy.com. LCA has been referred to as one of the best kept secrets in town but with the rapid growth of the Lakeshore East community the word is out.

2 years ago
Posted by Life ByvDesign Fitness

I love this neighborhood.
I do a lot of fitnes training in the East Lakeshore area. Planning to move there within the year. Would lke to be able to advertise my personal fitness training expertise in this vicinity.

Sandi Berger

2 years ago
Posted by LSE Resident

Shhhh. We like that no one knows LSE exists.

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