Outdoor restaurants in Chicago
The sprawling patio at the Logan Square restaurant is the place to be, and there are light-wood picnic tables, striped umbrellas, strings of lights, spindly trees and ping-pong tables. Ordering a negroni slushie is practically a requirement, and you'll need some snacks to be able to drink more than one. The hush puppies are your best bet, and the grilled chicken tops the fried.
Is there anything better than eating a Chicago-style duck fat dog on a lush, hidden patio in Bridgeport? If there is, we have yet to find it. Come summer, the Duck Inn's tree-lined garden transforms into an intimate destination for brunch and dinner.
The huge patio, with a bar, tables, greenery and high walls, makes you feel like you’re far away from the busy corner next to the Grand Blue Line stop. Order up dinner, then stay for rounds of cocktails, like frosty mai tais.
An early frontrunner for best new patio of the year, Tied House's intimate, 48-seat outdoor space is downright dreamy. Though it's situated off busy Southport Avenue, the trellis-covered nook is an otherworldly retreat with overhead heat lamps and a lavish fireplace for those chilly summer nights. As if that weren't enough, the patio is pup-friendly, a big perk for neighborhood dog owners.
They say the pie is the thing at this instantly beloved Logan Square shop. And it's true: The pie's terrific. But don't overlook the coffee, the insane biscuits (with a spread of housemade jams and butters) or the huge yard, strung with lights and filled with picnic tables and lush greenery.
We already liked the new kid on the block in Ravenswood, but the 120-seat patio really sealed the deal. The exterior space mimics the restaurant's interior with plenty of lush greenery and comfy seating—the perfect backdrop for the bar's colorful, bird-themed cocktails.
If you ever dined at Graham Elliot Bistro in the summer, you know that the back patio was a hidden oasis in the West Loop. The chef's new concept with Matthias Merges at the same address is resurrecting that clutch outdoor space and spoiling us with an additional sidewalk patio out front. The back patio, which overlooks RM Champagne, seats 54 guests, making it one of the ’hood’s best-kept secrets.
This sibling location of Clybourn Avenue’s popular Cuban carryout joint is nearly a spitting image of the original—same toasted Cuban sandwiches, same flaky empanadas, same garlicky yuca chips, same potent café con leche. But even if the tiny interior, with its newspaper-covered walls, elicits the same claustrophobia, the big draws here are the spacious front and back patios, tropical ambience and mixers to turn BYO liquor into mojitos.
Never tried Costa Rican food? This spot is simple, authentic, cheap, supercasual, friendly—and all about the outdoor patio. Start with the hearts of palm salad—tangy stalks on a bed of shredded cabbage tossed in a lime vinaigrette, along with radishes, cilantro, cucumber, pickled beets and ripe avocado. Make it a meal by adding the steak-and-beans “pepito” sandwich and sweet plantains. Bring a bottle of malbec to match, and end the meal with an oatmeal shake (sounds strange, tastes great).
Somerset opened in the former Cedar Hotel space toward the end of last summer, leaving us just enough time to fall madly in love with the new restaurant's revamped street-level patio. What used to be a raucous outdoor scene filled with buckets o' beer and chicken fingers has transformed into a grown and sexy retreat with colorful swizzles and hamachi crudo.
The terrace at Boka is nice and secluded, and we really can't get enough of the food chef Lee Wolen cooks. For an upscale alfresco date, this is the restaurant you should head to.
Gather's 40-seat, covered terrace in Lincoln Square features shareable dishes like a Gathering Board of charcuterie and pickled vegetables, to be accompanied by summery wine coolers served by the glass and pitcher.
The second location of the hot dog chain in the city serves up the same dishes you've come to know and love at Portillo's. Stop by for a quick lunch for an Italian beef or a Chicago dog and crinkle fries and finish off your meal with a cake shake. Plus, at this location you can sit at the patio and enjoy your meal.
Inside the ivy-covered walls of this Italian oasis, it’s as lush and romantic as a fairy-tale forest. It’s hard to complain about the light, simple Italian dishes, but the food doesn’t stand a chance against the perfectly balanced setting, bathed in warm, golden light. Antipasti and something from the enormous, reasonably priced Italian wine list is all you need for a perfect summer evening.
Here's the game plan: Spend the morning soaking up the sun and views at Promontory Point, then, when hunger strikes, head to the Promontory and ask for a table on the sprawling outdoor patio. Order a cocktail and a cheeseburger. Repeat all summer.
With a name that translates as “countryside bistro,” this restaurant is so warm and inviting we could stay all night. Ingredients are fresh and meld into French bistro classics with unforgettable flavors. There isn’t a bad thing on the menu, but if we had to limit ourselves, we’d go with onion soup, mussels steamed in Belgian ale, roasted chicken and pan-seared hanger steak flanked by amazing frites. Oh, and if you can snag a table on the romantic back patio, you have the makings of a perfect summer night.
Ravenswood locals flock to this bar for its namesake warmth (everyone loves the covered, heated patio) and coziness. Come summer, the beautiful outdoor space makes the perfect backdrop for an intimate date night or a friendly get-together. The massive menu has something for every taste, including crispy calamari, saucy ribs, smoked gouda mac and cheese and a bevy of burgers.
If it’s a scene you’re after, you’re in the wrong place. The only scene at Chez Joël is an antiscene: Nobody’s dressed to impress you (not that they don’t look nice), and the music is straight from the playlist of Gérard Depardieu. Joël’s brick-laid courtyard is a respite from all that, a quiet spot where the pâtés are creamy and the Champagne is cold.
While the inside of this bar can feel a little bit like Wrigleyville (especially on game day), the patio has both low and high-tops and a ping pong table to entertain yourself. Plus, it's totally gorgeous and just the spot to enjoy a pizza, a beer and the Cubs game.
This West Loop staple may have just a sidewalk patio, but it's a beloved sidewalk patio—once the weather warms up, you'll hardly see anyone chowing down on their sandwiches and meat and cheese plates inside, with the sunny patio making for outside digs that feel just right.
What this patio lacks in size, it makes up for with major personality. The sweet, fenced-in outdoor area at Chicago Q is a beckoning oasis in the Gold Coast come summertime. Outfitted with comfy seating, colorful umbrellas and pops of bright white, the space looks like it's been pulled from a Nantucket beachfront property. Arrive while the sun's still out to enjoy brunch favorites like French toast, pulled pork eggs Benedict and the breakfast quesadilla.
Find more of the best outdoor spots in Chicago
After months spent huddling around fireplaces and shivering from inevitable bar-room drafts, you deserve a drink. Outside. With the sun beaming down, margarita in hand. Our guide to the best outdoor bars, from hidden gardens to sidewalk seats, will give you lots of ideas for things to do in the summer, the very best season in Chicago.