River North is a perplexing place: You love it. You hate it. The restaurants are great. The restaurants are annoying. It’s great people watching. Oh my god these people are the worst.

This is the roller coaster of emotions you’ll experience whenever you find yourself in the neighborhood. How to deal? Know exactly what you’re looking to get out of your meal and choose a restaurant accordingly. Whether you’re with friends and family, potential significant others, or work people, picking a place with the right vibe is key. From over-the-top steakhouses to hot dogs on-the-go, here are spots we keep going back to in River North.

Shaw’s Crab House
Shaw’s is all things seafood in a refined dining room. It’s a great place to come with the family and have a comfortable, upscale meal. The more casual oyster bar is also a great option – go heavy on the little shucked ones and appetizers and you could skip entrees all together, if that’s your mood.

Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak, And Stone Crab
Originally opened in Miami, Joe’s has officially become a Chicago classic, too. This location does a great job of incorporating its signature stone crabs with an otherwise traditional Steakhouse menu and vibe. Joe’s proves there’s no better way to do surf and turf than steak and stone crabs.
RPM Steak
DAMN YOU GIULIANA RANCIC. Your steakhouse may feel like an episode of Keeping Up With The Kardashians, but the food is excellent. And to that we say touché.

RPM Italian
Giuliana Rancic’s back again. Everything we said about RPM Steakhouse holds true at her Italian restaurant too. It’s quite the scene, but it’s a fantastic choice if you’re craving all kinds of delicious pastas.
Disclaimer: Beatrix could easily be categorized as both casual and trendy. It’s casual in the mornings for a cup of coffee and a baked good, any day of week for lunch, or weekends for a great brunch. But it’s also a trendy spot for dinner (without being annoyingly so). Overall, it makes for a versatile and quality restaurant. No matter what time you come here, order dessert.
Ema is like a Mediterranean Beatrix, partially because it’s owned by the same people and only a block over. But they’re also similar in the sense that Ema can feel both casual and trendy at the same time, which makes it good for almost any occasion. Keep it simple with Mediterranean basics like hummus and kefta, or order some of the more interesting dishes like sweet corn and bulgar risotto or braised lamb shoulder with dates and cherries.