Summer in Chicago is a glorious time, and there's no better place to spend it than a beer garden. Some beer gardens also offer edibles, whether it's German food like grilled sausages or some of the best barbecue in town. Secure a frosty stein of German brew or a local craft beer, then grab a comfortable spot and settle in for the evening.
RECOMMENDED: Beer gardens, rooftop bars and outdoor dining spots in Chicago
Best beer gardens in Chicago
It would take a lush garden verdant with grass and lined with blooming trees to overshadow the gray landscape of Elston Avenue, and that’s exactly what the owners of this old Irish favorite have built. Sequestering relaxed regulars from the harsh world beyond the privacy fences, the prime garden serves as a stellar summer spot for sipping ciders, Scotches and beers, including what has to be the most refreshing beer cocktail around, the Snake Bite: Harp lager and cider with a dash of black currant liqueur.
Hang with the Beverly crowd at this Far South Side institution, where Irish brogues are the norm and the staff is among the friendliest in town. The fenced-in, wooden deck has a homey, antique decor (i.e., wagon wheels and hanging plants), along with two bars that are great places to root on the Sox.
In the summer, Gene's opens its glorious rooftop and serves canned and draft beer, grilled sausages, potato pancakes and pretzels. The beer is icy cold, the sausages are showstoppers, and the only concern is managing to finagle a table big enough for all your friends.
Authentic German biergartens are tough to come by anymore in Chicago, yet this institution has stood the test of time. Could be the spaetzle or the schnitzel, but we think it’s the romance of making your own Munich with a stein of weiss in the open air. While wrought-iron patio tables, wooden privacy fences and pops of bright flowers make for a common but comfortable setting, it’s the beer list that stands out, especially the weiss, or German wheat, options. Try the Franziskaner’s dunkel, a slightly darker style that goes toe-to-toe with the kitchen’s carb bombs.
Back before Lakeview (or much of Chicago, for that matter) gave a rat’s ass about craft beer, Sheffield’s began providing locals with a solid brew education. Today the mission is the same, to turn basic beer drinkers into better beer drinkers and keep the aficionados happy. Under the canopy of massive cottonwood limbs, the side patio feels lush and secluded, all the better for sampling through just about every style of beer known to man.
We’re almost hesitant to remind you about this tucked-away gem on Logan Square’s Avondale edge, but you don’t win friends by being selfish. The appeal might not be apparent at first glance (the shoebox-size interior sports tatted-up pop-punkers glancing at a couple of TVs), but beyond the tiny kitchen turning out solid tater tots, you’ll find a bare-bones backyard patio party. The tight squeeze means mellow clusters become fast friends, a good way to discover new beers.
Roscoe Villagers have supported this stalwart for more than 20 years, flocking to the picnic tables in the ivy-draped patio during all four seasons. The heat lamps and plastic enclosures are tucked away for now, making it prime time for patio drinking. Strollers and softballers give way to a wilder bunch of beer geeks late in the night, groups who gather under the stars to debate the merits of dry hopping versus wet hopping. Jump in if you can keep up, but enter holding a Five Rabbit Huitzi to ensure instant cred.