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La Storia patio
Photograph: Anthony Tahlier

13 hidden patios, rooftops and gardens for outdoor dining in Chicago

These tucked-away oases transport diners from the hustle and bustle of the city

By Morgan Olsen
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Come summertime, the best restaurants in Chicago expand their physical footprint with sidewalk patios and sky-high rooftops, offering alfresco dining opportunities galore. When the sun is shining, the most popular outdoor restaurants in Chicago buzz with diners chasing long summer nights. But if you want to skip the wait list, head to the city's most beautiful hidden patios, rooftops and gardens instead. None of the spots on this list are total secrets—in fact, many are quite well known (we even included a Michelin star Chicago restaurant). But because their outdoor spaces are tucked away in backyards and off the beaten path, they offer quiet dining oases in the middle of the bustling city. Add the city's most beautiful hidden patios to your summer bucket list, and enjoy an alfresco dining experience that feels worlds away.

RECOMMENDED: Discover more outdoor dining options in Chicago

The best of the city

Time Out Market Chicago
Photograph: Gosia Matuszewska

Tony’s Rooftop Bar at Time Out Market Chicago

Bars West Loop

Named for Time Out's late founder Tony Elliott, Tony’s is the crown jewel of Time Out Market Chicago. The cozy all-season rooftop bar is decorated in vintage Time Out London covers, twinkling lights and handsome wood beams that stretch the length of the room. The space is anchored by a sprawling bar that serves a curated selection of wines, beers and signature cocktails. If the sun is shining, wander outside to take in skyline views and enjoy a meal on the breathtaking terrace.

Hidden patios and rooftops in Chicago

Piccolo Sogno patio
Piccolo Sogno patio
Photograph: Eugene (Huge) Galdones

Piccolo Sogno

Restaurants Italian River West/West Town

Situated on one of the city's busiest intersections, Piccolo Sogno manages to transport guests to the quiet Italian countryside with the help of a rather tall fence, plenty of greenery and massive yellow umbrellas that shield diners from the relentless sun. Of course, the food doesn't hurt either: Antipasti, house-made pastas and flame-kissed pizzas pair perfectly with a lengthy wine list that's rife with hits.

beatnik on the river, beatnik, patio, outdoor
beatnik on the river, beatnik, patio, outdoor
Photograph: Francis Son

Beatnik On the River

Restaurants Loop

Upon entering this breathtaking riverfront oasis, you might catch yourself wondering if you've been transported to a faraway destination. An offshoot of the popular West Town dining destination by the same name, Beatnik On the River draws inspiration from the ’50s and ’60s, offering dishes and drinks from around the globe. Adorned with Indonesian daybeds and fringe-lined umbrellas, the patio out back offers a front-row seat to the Chicago River.

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The Duck Inn patio
The Duck Inn patio
Photograph: Courtesy The Duck Inn

The Duck Inn

Restaurants American Bridgeport

From the street outside this Bridgeport staple, the low hum of good conversation wafts over the fence along with the scent of duck fat dogs and crispy cheese curds. It's coming from the Duck Inn's backyard patio, a magical nook that doubles as a verdant garden. Swing by on Wednesdays for Backyard Pizza Night, when wine flows and wood-fired pies are made to order.

elske patio
elske patio
Photograph: Carolina Mariana Rodríguez

Elske

Restaurants Contemporary American West Loop

Anyone who's dined at Michelin-starred Elske is familiar with the restaurant's serene patio, which you must walk through on your way in. Separated from Randolph Street with a brick wall and anchored by a roaring fireplace, the quiet, plant-filled courtyard boasts a few tables for alfresco diners to enjoy a set menu from husband-and-wife team David and Anna Posey.

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La Storia patio
La Storia patio
Photograph: Anthony Tahlier

La Storia

Restaurants Italian Rush & Division

Occupying what was once a Gold Coast home, La Storia exudes warmth and comfort. When the weather cooperates, the dining room overflows into a secluded backyard patio that's adorned with string lights and lush ivy, creating the perfect backdrop for date night. An order of tiramisu to share is a must—if only to make the evening last a few minutes longer.

Cebu patio
Cebu patio
Photograph: Courtesy Cebu

Cebu

Restaurants Filipino Wicker Park

As you walk through this sweet Wicker Park restaurant, something green will catch your eye toward the back of the space. A door leading outside reveals a secret backyard patio that's surrounded by lush trees and ivy. Once you've secured a table, prepare to be wowed by a menu of modern regional Filipino fare that's packed with personality.

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The Patio at Cafe Brauer
The Patio at Cafe Brauer
Photograph: Courtesy The Patio at Cafe Brauer

The Patio at Cafe Brauer

Restaurants American Lincoln Park

Nestled inside Lincoln Park, the Patio at Cafe Brauer hugs the edge of South Pond and offers a postcard-worthy view of the city skyline. Before exploring your surroundings, grab a table and enjoy a carafe of wine as well as handhelds like sandwiches, tacos and burgers.

Stella Barra patio
Stella Barra patio
Photograph: Jordan Johnson

Stella Barra Pizzeria

Restaurants Pizza Lincoln Park

This courtyard-style patio is a cheerful respite that's open all year thanks to a nifty retractable roof that can welcome in sunshine or shut out snow. During the week, it's all about hand-stretched pizzas and wood-grilled proteins, but when the weekend rolls around, the bountiful brunch menu sports classics like fluffy buttermilk pancakes, egg sandwiches and breakfast burritos.

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Lost Larson patio
Lost Larson patio
Photograph: Jamie Kelter Davis

Lost Larson

Restaurants Andersonville

Andersonville residents are lucky to live in such close proximity to this phenomenal bakery, where owner and renowned pastry chef Bobby Schaffer deals in pristine croissants, cardamom-scented buns and exquisite cakes. After you order at the walk-up window, secure a table on the peaceful back patio—it's ideal for couples and small families who want to take a load off. On your way out, you might just be tempted to grab a loaf of bread to go—good call.

Chief O'Niell's
Chief O'Niell's
Photograph: Courtesty Chief O'Niell's

Chief O’Neill’s Pub

Bars Pubs Avondale

This Irish bar isn't just stouts and corned beef—though there are plenty of both on the menu. In nice weather, the sprawling back patio doubles the capacity, with towering hedges muffling the sounds of Elston Avenue, while winter means a chance to warm up by three fireplaces inside.

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Saint Lou’s Assembly
Saint Lou’s Assembly
Photograph: Courtesy Saint Lou’s Assembly

Saint Lou’s Assembly

Restaurants American West Loop

It's a stretch to call this popular backyard patio "hidden," but first-timers are always surprised to see the tidy and welcoming outdoor seating that's tucked behind Saint Lou's Assembly. Order a round of slushies for the table before digging into a patty melt or Polish sausage.

SmallBar Patio
SmallBar Patio
Photograph: Courtesy SmallBar

SmallBar

Bars Beer bars Avondale

Ty Fujimura's corner pub stands out as a classy neighborhood joint in a sleepy residential block, and the garden patio out back only sweetens the deal for nearby residents. A round of ice-cold beers is in order before browsing the eats on offer—from pulled pork nachos and saucy wings to salads and cheese curds.

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taxim rooftop
taxim rooftop
Photograph: Courtesy Taxim

Taxim

Restaurants Greek Wicker Park

If you're itching to dine alfresco in Wicker Park but don't want to navigate the sea of sidewalk patios, snag a table on Taxim's tucked-away rooftop deck. The no-frills space is home to some seriously impressive Greek eats—think seafood soup, grape leaf-wrapped shrimp, duck gyro and octopus—plus an expert wine list.

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