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Pilsen Yards
Photograph: Courtesy Pilsen Yards

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

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

Written by
Morgan Olsen
,
Emma Krupp
&
Samantha Nelson
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Chicagoans love dining outside when the weather is nice, and even when it’s only tolerable. The best outdoor restaurants in Chicago provide plenty of opportunities for people watching and enjoying the bustle of the neighborhood, but sometimes you want to enjoy the weather without constantly being interrupted by passing traffic or people walking by on their phones. Luckily the hidden patios in Chicago offer a respite from the urban environment, including secluded rooftop restaurants and enclosed beer gardens where you can soak up the sun in relative tranquility—sometimes, it's like being transported to another place.

RECOMMENDED: Discover more outdoor dining options in Chicago

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

  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • River West/West Town
  • price 2 of 4

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.

  • 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 bohemian freethinkers of 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. During colder months, a glass enclosure keeps the heated area warm while offering the same spectacular views.

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  • Restaurants
  • Contemporary European
  • North Center

North Center European bistro Cobblestone features both a 43-seat canopy-topped streetside patio and a cozy hidden courtyard with room for another 38 people. Come for brunch to enjoy the sweet and savory flavor of chicken-fried pork schnitzel served atop a lemon poppyseed waffle or drop by in the evening for a bowl of beef cheek goulash with bread dumplings. You’ll also want to taste your way through the menu of 20 craft beers and 35 hard ciders.

  • Restaurants
  • American
  • Bridgeport
  • price 2 of 4

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.

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  • Restaurants
  • Israeli
  • Andersonville

Just off of Clark Street in Andersonville, Fiya features an enclosed patio packed with trees, planters and ivy-covered walls. Enjoy shade from bright umbrellas during the warmer months or reserve one of the four heated igloos when it’s chilly. The menu offers Israeli fare including housemade pita cooked in a wood-burning oven and served with olive oil and za’atar and lamb meatballs with hummus and tzatziki. Cool off with an Israeli soda, which comes in novel flavors such as plum sage and apple clove.

  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • Logan Square
  • price 2 of 4

Tucked away from the bustle of Logan Square, Osteria Langhe’s back patio is a secret garden lined with planters and strung with lights. With a covered patio that allows for outdoor dining well into the fall, it’s become a popular destination for weddings and other private parties. When it’s not fully booked, you can get a walk-in spot and enjoy a negroni or spritz along with traditional fare from Italy’s Piemonte region such as housemade focaccia with citrus-herb butter or prosciutto-wrapped rabbit loin.

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  • 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.

  • Restaurants
  • Mexican
  • Lower West Side

Patio hangs can take place all year round at this new casual Mexican concept in Pilsen, which serves tacos and a long list of cocktails and beer from its tucked-away (yet surprisingly massive) patio. Once cooler weather hits, nestle up in the covered patio—there, heated cement floors and radiant overhead heaters ensure coziness, while elegant hanging lights set a dreamy mood.

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  • Bars
  • Wine bars
  • Loop
  • price 2 of 4

The 24th floor rooftop atop the Carbide & Carbon Building was once reserved exclusively for private events and other ritzy gatherings. Now, the lofty indoor-outdoor space has been transformed into a French Riveria-themed hideaway complete with a respectable rosé menu, soaring views of Michigan Avenue and DJs spinning French house music. Order a bottle of bubbly and pretend you're sunning along the shores of the Mediterranean. 

  • Restaurants
  • Contemporary American
  • West Loop
  • price 3 of 4

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. In colder months, the restaurant replaces the tables with heat lamps, fur-lined benches, lounge chairs and candles to create a cozy place to enjoy a glass of glögg.

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  • Bars
  • Beer bars
  • Uptown
  • price 2 of 4

Hopleaf is open 365 days a year and its interior is regularly packed with beer enthusiasts enjoying regularly changing drafts and servings of mussels and frites. While the Andersonville pub just started taking reservations by Tock, the enclosed ivy-lined patio remains first-come, first served from spring through fall. Relax at one of the umbrella-topped tables and enjoy some Belgian-inspired fare paired with a goblet of one of the 62 beers and ciders available on tap or 10 draft wines available by the carafe.

  • 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.

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  • Bars
  • Beer bars
  • Avondale
  • price 1 of 4

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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  • Restaurants
  • Greek
  • Wicker Park
  • price 2 of 4

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.

  • Restaurants
  • Bakeries
  • 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.

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  • Restaurants
  • American
  • West Loop
  • price 2 of 4

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 blood orange gin and tonic or a passionfruit whiskey sour before digging into a plate of Korean barbecue wings or a patty melt on marble rye featuring caramelized onions and a side of waffle fries. Plan ahead and order a skillet cookie, which takes 20 minutes to bake but delivers gooey goodness with a caramelized turtle cookie, sea salt and ice cream.

  • Bars
  • Pubs
  • Avondale
  • price 2 of 4

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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