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GreenRiver [CLOSED]

Bars, Cocktail bars Streeterville
4 out of 5 stars
4 out of 5 stars
(6user reviews)
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With impressive food, cocktails and views, GreenRiver is an excellent restaurant—and one of Chicago’s best bars.

When restaurateur Danny Meyer and the team behind New York’s Dead Rabbit Grocery & Grog announced they were opening a Chicago location, it was instantly a Big Deal. They confirmed that by signing on Julia Momose (the Aviary/Office) as head bartender and Aaron Lirette (Celeste) as executive chef, two people whose work I’ve admired for awhile—Momose for her use of unexpected ingredients and innovative flavor combinations, and Lirette for his refined takes on classic dishes (I still recall his jidori chicken and octopus dishes from Celeste fondly). With their talent, GreenRiver is one of Chicago’s best bars—with a gorgeous view to boot.

GreenRiver has a Chicago history/Irish theme, but it’s subtle, aside from the drink names, which nod to Chicago historical figures. There’s a primer on each on the cocktail list, which is divided by key ingredients, such as corn, agave and grape and apple. To do justice to this menu, you need time to read through it—do it with a drink in hand by ordering a highball from a separate list. The eight highballs are the sleeper hits of the menu, like housemade Japanese plum vinegar soda spiked with Carpano Bianco vermouth, a bright concoction with a vegetal edge, and cassis liqueur with housemade oolong tea soda, which is lightly sweet with herbal notes.

The cocktails have a lot going on, and GreenRiver’s food menu is a nice counterpoint—the dishes are familiar with gentle twists. For starters, fried chicken oysters with pickled pepper sauce are a play on chicken nuggets, and entrees include the oceanic saffron spaghetti, tossed with an uni sauce, clams and bursting tomatoes, and a crisp-skinned chicken with grits and a salty sherry jus. While the charred bread overpowered the gentle steak tartare and the mille-feuille dessert needed more flavor, food on the whole is excellent. 

And so is the view—it’s hard to find a rooftop spot where the food and drink match the ambience, but GreenRiver nails it.


Atmosphere: To get to GreenRiver, you need to go through a Northwestern Memorial Hospital building, and the way isn’t entirely well-marked, so just head to the elevators on the left, go up to the 18th floor and you’ll emerge at a host stand. Once inside, it feels nothing like a hospital building, thankfully. There’s a spacious outdoor patio with lounge furniture and beautiful views, while inside there’s an open kitchen, a sleek bar and a few tables.

What to eat: For starters, the octopus is perfectly tender and served with romesco sauce, crispy chickpeas and orange, an almost-identical preparation to the version Lirette served at Celeste, but my favorite dish is the foie gras, a melting slab atop bread pudding with tartness from cranberries and salty cashews. End with the carrot cake, served with smoked carrot ice cream and with a crunchy layer that keeps the dish light.

What to drink: Excluding the highballs, the cocktail list has 32 offerings, so there’s a lot to try, and I feel like I’ll need more than two visits to fully grasp the menu. Momose uses lots of surprising ingredients, including garam masala, mirin, Old Bay and dandelion, but each drink I tried came together perfectly. For whiskey fans, the Lincoln Park is a lightly smoky Scotch pina colada, while the Gray Wolf is a beautiful blend of Yamazaki 12-year and Benedictine rounded out with demerara and plum vinegar. On the rum side, the Fighting Mary is lush with rich fruits, including pomegranate and mango, and the Governor of Illinois is a funky Jamaican rum cocktail mixed with Irish whiskey, port, raspberry and lime, served over crushed ice and topped with berries. I also liked the Diamond Jim, a sparkling pink cocktail that tastes nothing like you’d expect—mezcal brings some smoke, while Old Bay tincture adds celery notes.   

Where to sit: Cocktail nerds should park themselves at the bar to watch the super friendly bartenders make drinks. If you’re eating—and you should—move to a table to give yourself some room. And when it’s nice out, the patio is a great option.

Venue name: GreenRiver [CLOSED]
Address: 259 E. Erie Street, 18th Floor
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 11:30am-10pm, Sat 5-11pm
Transport: El stop: Red to Grand. Bus: 26, 125, 146, 147, 148, 151.
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Average User Rating

3.8 / 5

Rating Breakdown

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Don't let the walk through the hospital fool you, GreenRiver is a must! not only do they have an out of this world cocktail list (I recommend the Lincoln Park), but you cant go wrong with any of the items on their menu. I got the burger and it is one of the better ones I've ever had. It's simple with very few frills but cooked to perfection. After dinner go grab a drink on their rooftop and take in the awesome view of the city!


I had some difficulty finding this place initially. You have to enter Northwestern Hospital and go to the 18th floor to get to GreenRiver. I absolutely love their atmosphere, and their rooftop is beautiful. One downside to the rooftop is that much of it is closed off for only dinner. 

They have quite the extensive cocktail menu here. I was a bit overwhelmed by looking at it, but my bartender directed me perfectly. Each cocktail has a story connected to it relating to Chicago history which I found very interesting. This is definitely a place I would go back to for drinks. 


GreenRiver is a hidden gem within Chicago’s dining scene. Quite literally hidden, this upscale American restaurant is tucked away inside of Northwestern Hospital in Streeterville. While the location may seem peculiar for a bar and eatery, any hesitancies you may have will melt away upon entering this city-chic locale.

The greatest advantage of GreenRiver’s location is its view of Chicago’s spellbinding skyline. One of few bars with rooftop access in the area, GreenRiver’s unique view differentiates it from other Streeterville restaurants. Its wraparound terrace is peppered with tables, chairs and couches to comfortably seat 100 diners and drinkers alfresco.

GreenRiver’s menu takes American fare up a notch, finessing it with ingredients like foie gras, saffron and uni. However, for the more traditional eater, they offer classics such as a cheeseburger or steak frites. The presentation of the food is as spectacular as the taste, so there’s no shame if you want to snap a photo.

Open for brunch, lunch and dinner, there really isn’t a bad time to drop in. However, if you’re looking for the ultimate GreenRiver experience, grab a table on the terrace just before dusk and order a cocktail. GreenRiver’s creative cocktail menu draws inspiration from Chicago’s rich history, specifically the city’s Irish-American influence. The drinks are well balanced and are the perfect accessory to a sunset-lit skyline.

GreenRiver is slightly on the pricier side, perhaps not your every night hangout. Yet, it's great for post-work cocktails or date night. 


Ill be the first to admit...I was judging the shit out of this place when I arrived. It's in NMH?!?!? GROSSSSSSSSS! Nothing screams an elegant experience like walking through a hospital lobby to the bank of elevators to this place. BUT that being said, I loved it! The place was bumping...probabLy with all the staff from NMH for a greys anatomy happy hour, lol. The service was great. Our server was fantastic on knowing when to come, when to leave us alone, what to suggest, etc. the food wowed me. I expected mediocre food but everything was great! Tartare really stands out and oh damn that bread! Drinks were meticulously prepared and served. I liked it...all except the initial 5 minutes before getting to restaurant...

This was really a surprise. Who knew there was such an amazing restaurant right inside of Northwestern. Aside from the great view and beautiful space, the bar was exceptional. I love that they use block ice for the craft cocktails it melts slow and you really get to enjoy the cocktail. Its a must if your in the area. 

The cocktail list is daunting, so if you know you're going ahead of time, set aside an hour to read over the menu (if you're into that kind of thing). But really, there isn't anything on the menu that isn't delicious. The highballs are fantastic and each cocktail is a new and different experience.