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Pilot Project patio
Photograph: Courtesy Pilot Project

The 11 best beer gardens in Chicago

When summer arrives, there's no more glorious pastime than sipping a cold one at the city's best beer gardens

By Zach Long

When summer finally arrives, there's no better place to spend a sunny afternoon than clutching a cold glass beneath an umbrella in a beer garden in Chicago. Many of these outdoor drinking locales are known for their scenic patios, with some hiding behind Chicago dive bars, set up in taproom parking lots or on rooftops. Once you've snagged a table (you may need to make a reservation), you can order burgers, barbecue or frites to enjoy while you sip beer from Chicago breweries. Find a comfortable spot and settle in for the evening with our guide to the best beer gardens in Chicago.

RECOMMENDED: Discover even more patios and rooftops in Chicago

Best beer gardens in Chicago

fountainhead chicago
Photograph: Courtesy Fountainhead

1. Fountainhead

Bars Beer bars Lincoln Square

Instead of putting a few tables on the sidewalk in front of this popular Ravenswood bar, the owners of Fountainhead looked to the sky. Head up the stairs inside and you'll emerge on the rooftop beer garden, which boasts its own bar, lots of sunny seating, a few TVs to watch the game on and access to a long list of hard-to-find beers. Naturally, the rooftop fills up quickly on a warm summer day, so book your reservation early!

Photograph: Martha Williams

2. Hopleaf

Bars Beer bars Uptown

Occupying a small courtyard behind this Andersonville institution, Hopleaf's tree-lined beer garden allows you to sample its lengthy menu of Belgian beers in the sun. Surrounded by brick walls with a goblet of St. Feuillien, a pile of mussels and a cone of frites in front of you, it's easy to imagine that you've momentarily escaped the city and found yourself in a quaint pub in a small European village. Tables are first come, first served.

Kaiser Tiger
Photograph: Courtesy Kaiser Tiger

3. Kaiser Tiger

Restaurants Gastropubs West Loop

There are few more picturesque places to drink outdoors in the West Loop than in Kaiser Tiger's beer garden, which is festooned with lights and features its own bocce court. Drafts from some of the city's best breweries are the main attraction, but you'll no doubt be tempted by the meaty food menu, which features an abundance of bacon-wrapped delicacies, including "the Bomb," a five-pound hunk of beef and pork sausage surrounded by a crispy bacon weave.

Chief O'Neill's Pub and Restaurant
Photograph: Courtesy Chief O'Neill's Pub and Restaurant

4. Chief O’Neill’s Pub

Bars Pubs Avondale

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 pub have built. Sequestering relaxed regulars from the harsh world beyond the privacy fences, the prime garden serves as a stellar summer spot for sipping cider, Scotch and beer while enjoying hearty dishes like fish and chips or shepherd's pie.

Pilot Project patio
Photograph: Courtesy Pilot Project

5. Pilot Project

Bars Breweries Logan Square

Founded as an incubator where multiple breweries share equipment and produce small batches of beer, Pilot Project is a great place to sample wildly different types of beers in one sitting. An adjacent patio lined with picnic tables provides plenty of room for outdoor drinking—you can even order a sandwich if you're hungry. An early-morning menu of coffee and pastries caters to freelancers, who post up with their laptops throughout the afternoon. Outdoor seating is first come, first served.

Photograph: Martha Williams

6. Sheffield’s

Bars Dive bars Lake View

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 (and maybe a plate of barbecue).  

Small Bar
Photograph: Courtesy Small Bar

7. Small Bar

Bars Beer bars Avondale

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 tiny kitchen churns out delicious wings and fried cheese curds, which can be enjoyed on a bare-bones patio in back. The relatively small arrangement lends a communal feel to the space, so don't be afraid to ask your neighbors for a beer recommendation. Tables are first come, first served.

Photograph: Max Herman

8. The Village Tap

Bars Beer bars North Center

Roscoe Villagers have supported this stalwart for nearly 30 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. 

Moody's Pub
Photograph: Martha Williams

9. Moody’s Pub

Bars Pubs Edgewater

The indoor portion of Moody's Pub may look like a dark ski lodge, but the adjacent tree-lined space has the feel of a European-style beer garden—though you'll mostly find domestics on tap. Order a pint and save some room for a Moodyburger, which decks out a half-pound patty with your choice of toppings. If you're not a beer drinker, there's also a cocktail menu filled with oversweet concoctions that will take you back to your college days. Seating is first come, first served.

Photograph: Courtesy Royal Grocer

10. The Royal Grocer & Co.

Restaurants American Bucktown

A sunken courtyard next to this Bucktown New American restaurant makes for a relaxing beer garden, providing a view of Damen Avenue as you peruse a menu that's heavy on local craft options from the likes of Off Color, On Tour and Aleman. This is Royal Grocer & Co., so don't be shy about ordering something to eat, from fried cauliflower to a Nashville hot chicken sandwich.

Cork & Kerry, Beverly
Photograph: Courtesy Cork & Kerry

11. Cork & Kerry

Bars Pubs Beverly

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 feel, complete with antique decor and two bars that are great places to root for the Sox.

Find more great bars in Chicago

Photograph: Nick Murway

The best bars in Chicago


Chicagoans don't discriminate when it comes to booze: We love guzzling craft beer, fancy cocktails, margaritas by the pitcher and interesting wines. Our city is a drinker's paradise with options that run the gamut—from age-old dives and secret speakeasies to ritzy rooftops and watering holes open till 4am. Consider this your exhaustive guide to Chicago's always-evolving bar scene.


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