Beachfront dining is a niche group among restaurants in Chicago. It makes sense — it’s snowing half the year and unpredictable for the rest. When summer finally arrives, these restaurants, cafes and bars blossom along the shores of Lake Michigan.
A stone’s throw away from the northernmost part of the Lake Shore bicycle path is a seafoam green shack with a stained glass plaque. The plaque is inscribed with the restaurant’s name LakeBreeze (3800 N. Lake Shore Drive). The smell of freshly cut lime, charring meats and a salty beach breeze puts anyone in the mood to sip on a cool drink.
LakeBreeze has a variety of tacos and burgers available for beach bums seeking sustenance. The drink menu features a few craft beers, wine and frozen cocktails such as piña coladas and strawberry daiquiris.
As I sipped on a Revolution Cross of Gold, a golden ale, I gazed out toward the lake. The sky cracked as a fleet of crimson jets soared in a chevron formation. The Air and Water Show was in full swing.
I ordered steak tacos and tater tot elote to accompany my crisp ale. The tacos were topped with chunky red salsa, gooey queso and charred onions. The steak was incredibly tender to the point where it almost melted in my mouth. They vanished as fast as they arrived.
As I baked under the afternoon sun sipping away at my beer, the tater tot elote arrived. The elote was topped with shredded pork, drizzled in cayenne mayo and a bunch of fire-roasted corn tossed in. This dish was nothing but tasty, however I wouldn’t recommend it while out on a beach day. It was a bit too heavy and greasy for the circumstances.
The addition of tater tots to an elote dish was a strange inclusion. It detracts from what makes elote a satisfying summer side dish. What makes elote synonymous with summer has to be it’s simplicity and versatility as a side dish — fresh corn mixed with Mexican cheese, a dollop of mayo, a squeeze of lime and a dash of cayenne. Anything else added is just dead weight in my mind.
LakeBreeze has a calm and inviting ambiance that paired perfectly with the lakefront. Open tables are accompanied by umbrellas and a beautiful view of the lake. Bar stools are available, fostering a laid-back atmosphere. The food selection is varied enough to provide beach-goers with options in both food and drink. Lighter options such as ceviche or lettuce wraps could have been a better compliment to the heat of the beach and the rolling waves.
My meal was $25 with two dishes, a beer and a free tan. Check out their website at www.lakebreezechicago.com and be sure to pack sunscreen.