Chicago is one of America’s hidden-gem beach towns—at least it is in the summertime. So load up your beach bag and hit the shores of Lake Michigan, but leave the snacks at home; we've rounded up a few of our favorite places to curb your hunger near busy downtown beaches.
Enjoy a relaxing lunch at the Four Seasons Hotel's approachable yet chic American restaurant before catching the rays at Oak Street Beach. Lighter options like Ora king salmon and the gluten-free ahi tuna salad are swimsuit friendly, while bratwurst sliders laden with Gruyère, quick kraut, and tarragon mustard and a burger on a pretzel bun make up the heartier side of the menu. 120 E. Delaware Pl., 312-799-4900
You’ll be hard-pressed to find better sushi within a half-mile radius of Oak Street Beach than the fresh, signature maki at this swank concept on Rush. One bite of the aptly named Fire & Snow roll (snow crab, avocado, jalapeño, soy paper, salmon, spicy ponzu, and lime zest) is all the proof you’ll need. Pair it with a glass of sake and oxtail dumplings to stave off hunger so you can take in as much sun-soaked leisure as possible. 1009 N. Rush St., Ste. 2, 312-660-3111
A mere four-minute walk from the sandy shore of Oak Street Beach, Spiaggia’s come-as-you-are bar and lounge areas are the perfect place to refuel post-beaching. Stop in for a variety of wines and refreshing cocktails and a remarkable selection of salumi and cheeses—all prime for sharing. 980 N. Michigan Ave., 312-280-2750
Between a swath of light yet satisfying salads and sandwiches piled high with fresh ingredients, and its close proximity to Oak Street Beach and Chicago’s elite shopping district, Doc B’s is an easy choice for laidback dining while you're in the Gold Coast. Cool down with the "Beet"lejuice cocktail—a vibrant concoction of CH gin, organic beet juice, mint, and lemon—before settling in for a snooze on your beach towel out on the sand. 100 E. Walton St., 312-626-1300
It’s hardly the most lavish or most low-key place near Lake Michigan, but this boat-inspired beachside bar and grill is a worthy part of the North Avenue Beach experience—provided you’re willing to deal with crowds. Basic grill fare is a given, but the blackened grouper sandwich topped with citrus slaw and a spicy remoulade on a brioche bun and the coconut sorbet are can’t-miss. 1603 N. Lake Shore Dr., 773-281-1200
Make this posh rooftop lounge atop the Hotel Lincoln your après-North Avenue Beach destination of choice for handcrafted cocktails and small bites created by chef Paul Virant, such as hand-cut fries with malt vinegar aioli, dry-aged beef sliders, and shrimp ceviche. It’s also home to one of the best bird's-eye views of Lake Michigan you'll find. 1816 N. Clark St., 13th floor, 312-254-4747