Group of friends having fun at bbq dinner outdoor in garden restaurant

Restaurant Review: In the Loop, Beatnik on the River a perfect end-of-summer adventure

Group of friends having fun at bbq dinner outdoor in garden restaurant

As we turn our attention to September and Labor Day (Monday, September 4) Weekend, a staycation downtown wouldn’t be complete without a nice place to view the Chicago River and enjoy a cool drink. 

One home for “bonvivants and seekers of uncharted experiences” is Beatnik On The River.The restaurant, according to their website, is named after the bohemian freethinkers of the 1950s and ’60s. Opened in 2018, the owners have created an exotic escape with maximalist interiors, lush gardens, ingredient-led cocktails and globally inspired cuisine.

Executive Chef Marcos Campos takes guests on a journey through the Middle East with flavors from Lebanon, Jordan, Israel and Northern Syria while utilizing local farms in the Midwest.

Start your adventure in freethinking good eating with starters such as TUNA CEVICHE, served Nikkei Style, with Leche De Tigre (Tiger Milk), daikon (radish) and Nori (dried seaweed) fish soy. KAMPACHI TIRADITO has Sinaloa Salsa Negra, avocado, and charred lime fish soy. SCALLOPS CRUDO boasts a creative kiwi aguachile, lemon gel, and a Galician seaweed. 

Beatnik’s take on BABA GANOUSH includes Tahini Labneh (yogurt cheese), pomegranate, and pine nuts. BEET MUTABBAL has roasted beets Tahini, goat cheese, and basil oil. 

Mezze (small plates) include a MUSHROOM KEBAB with oyster mushrooms, green garlic yogurt, and chermoula (marinade). FETA STUFFED DATES have green shakshuka, plant-based feta cheese, and fennel. 

Entrees include a CHICKEN MUSAKHAN aPalestine-style chicken, Za’atar Shatta (green chili peppers and thyme), glazed Cipollini onions, and garlic toum (garlic sauce). SHORT RIB has pomegranate molasses, and served with Israeli couscous, green garlic Labneh, and sumac onions. For family and friends, try a WHOLE BRANZINO, withIsraeli amba, green harissa, a jicama and mango salad, and lettuce cups. Or their LEBANESE LAMB FEAST with pistachio tzatziki, turmeric pickled cauliflower, cucumber salad, hummus, and grilled pita.

But if scenery is a feast for the soul, the colorful décor and river location makes the experience a banquet! As the Chicago Tribune noted, “the entire restaurant sits on the property’s river-view landing, which abounds with greenery (potted plants and a profusion of ivy on the exterior brick walls) and offers bench seating with colorful cushions, glass-tile tabletops and fringed umbrellas. An extendable awning can provide shelter from all but the most determined rains.”

Google reviewers caught the groove of Beatnik on the River. 

“This Mediterranean restaurant, I visited had a great selection of dishes, from traditional kebabs and gyros to fresh salads and hummus plates.

The food was bursting with flavor – the meats were perfectly seasoned and cooked to perfection, and the spices and herbs used in the dishes were top-notch.

The restaurant had a welcoming and cozy atmosphere, with plenty of seating and a friendly staff that made me feel right at home.

The portions were generous and filling, and the prices were very reasonable for the high-quality ingredients and cooking techniques used.

Overall, I had a fantastic dining experience at this Mediterranean restaurant. “

Beatnik On The River is located at 180 N. Upper Wacker Drive. They are open Monday-Friday, 11am-midnight, Saturday from 10am-midnight, and Sunday from 10am to 11pm. Reservations are highly recommended  For more information, click here

Alison Moran-Powers and Dean’s Team Chicago