Spring in Chicago means it's finally time for one glorious thing—patio season. As the weather heats up, many of Chicago's best restaurants and bars are opening their patios and rooftops for guests to catch some rays while enjoying outdoor staples like tacos and daiquiris. Here are many top spots below, as well as some new openings for 2016, so check it out to see where you'll be lounging around the next few months.Read More
Chicago's Patio Season Guide, 2016 Edition
Because you made it through another winter
1. Bang Bang Pie Shop
The only thing that makes Bang Bang’s pies even better is getting to enjoy them out in the side yard. Rows of picnic tables line the area, making it the perfect spot to relax over a savory biscuit sandwich or luscious slice of pie.
2. Bernie's Lunch & Supper
Michigan-based import Bernie’s Lunch & Supper is ready for its first full al fresco season. The seasonal rooftop deck is a nice after-work drinks spot that’s bound to see plenty of crowds stopping in for craft cocktails and a menu full of rustic Mediterranean flavors.
3. Big Star
Chicago’s most popular patio is always an attractive option. Large crowds and long waits are to be expected but tough it out and you’ll be rewarded with delicious tacos and margaritas. Or order from the takeout window and saunter over to nearby Wicker Park for a lovely picnic.
4. Chop Shop
Wicker Park’s restaurant, bar, butcher shop and event space has an upstairs patio perfect for escaping the noise of the city. Decked with strung-out lights and umbrellas, it’s tucked away from the rest of the neighborhood and opens at 11 a.m. daily, giving guests a daytime spot to lounge around while enjoying a burger or nice steak.
The Chicago Athletic Association's beach house-style rooftop is sure to be a popular destination this spring. The picturesque view of Millennium Park and Lake Michigan makes an ideal backdrop for some daytime drinking, or stop by in the evening and huddle around the fire pits outside. Either way, it’s hard to find a more awe-inspiring terrace.
6. Dos Urban Cantina
The highly-acclaimed Mexican restaurant will unveil a brand new sidewalk patio that seats over 40 guests. It’ll feature lush botanicals, creating an inviting new outdoor destination to lounge over a drink or enjoy dinner in Logan Square.
7. Earls Kitchen + Bar
The New City location of the Canadian restaurant chain has a modern and spacious patio area accommodating up to 100 guests, complete with lounge seating and fire pits. Enjoy globally-inspired, seasonal fare like a Sante Fe chicken salad and Strawberry Spritz cocktail.
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8. Firefly Kitchen
Up in the suburb of Wilmette, this Brooklyn-inspired bistro features a 35-seat enclosed back patio. The space includes quad tables with umbrellas, chairs, lounge furniture and heaters so guests can enjoy the restaurant’s seasonal comfort dishes outside even when it’s cool out.
9. Forno Rosso
Forno Rosso’s second location in the West Loop is debuting a 60-seat patio this spring to create an “Italian outdoor café experience,” according to owner Nick Nitti. Guests can enjoy the full menu outside, which includes the rustic Neapolitan pies that have gained a cult-like following among pizza lovers.
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Beer and whiskey aficionados love Fountainhead for its extensive drink selection. Just as impressive is the restaurant’s rooftop, which is where you’ll want to be when it opens in May. A menu of seasonal, pub-friendly fare pairs well with the booze and locals have made the spot a neighborhood favorite by packing the house nightly.
Thanks to the expansive retractable roof, Fremont provides an al fresco feel to guests throughout the restaurant during all hours of the day. The large moon roof on the upper level offers cityscape views while guests enjoy cocktails, dinner or a decadent weekend brunch buffet.
One of last year’s biggest openings is ready for its first full patio season. The rooftop restaurant debuts its terrace again, boasting sweeping views of the cityscape. The outdoor bar area can accommodate 40-45 people standing and features Head Bartender Julia Momose’s highballs such as Yuzu Gin & Tonic, GreenRiver Vodka Soda and GreenRiver Rhum & Cola. An adjacent dining area can seat up to 50 guests for Chef Aaron Lirette’s seasonal fare.
13. Happy Village
This Ukrainian Village dive bar has been around for more than 50 years and it’s not hard to see why it’s so popular. The beer garden, which is open year-round, is an oasis filled with plenty of seating, a tent and even a goldfish pond. There are also ping pong tables inside, making it a great place to bring your own food and host a party.
14. Mezcaleria Las Flores
Fans of mezcal will soon be able to enjoy more than 60 bottles of the agave spirit on a sidewalk patio. The new Logan Square bar will share the space with neighbor Johnny’s Grill so guests can relax over a smoky cocktail and a griddled burger.
15. Osteria Langhe
The well-received Italian eatery offering Piemontese fare is launching a “secret garden” in early May. The reservation-only, quaint backyard features a communal table for 14 guests accompanied by a garden where Chef Cameron Grant sources fresh ingredients.
16. Parson's Chicken & Fish
Delicious fried chicken and a spacious patio. What else could one need? In this case, a Negroni slushy is the perfect complement to warm spring day in Chicago. Parson's bucks the trend of bad frozen cocktails by making theirs in a machine with Letherbee gin, Luxardo bitter and sweet vermouth.
17. Piccolo Sogno
Date night doesn’t get more romantic than with a rustic meal on Piccolo Sogno’s lush garden patio. Escape from the hustle and bustle of the city with a glass of wine and some of the best Italian fare in town.
18. Queen Mary
Explore British maritime drinking traditions at the Ukrainian Village tavern on Division Street. The 50-seat sidewalk patio, set to open this spring, will allow guests to drink up on gin, rum and scotch-based cocktails outside while singing their favorite shanties.
19. Red Door
Chef Troy Graves is dishing out globally-inspired bites at this Bucktown gastropub. That means the menu offers items ranging from Hong Kong noodles and ricotta gnocchi to Dorilocos, a Mexican street food. Best of all, you can enjoy it from the glorious wood-accented patio that seats up to 100 guests.
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20. Replay Beer & Bourbon
New for the season, the arcade bar shares a 68-seat, dog-friendly patio with adjacent cocktail lounge Elixir. Guests can enjoy both menus al fresco while taking in the sights and sounds of Andersonville.
21. River Roast
Kick back and feel the cool breeze of the lake from the patio of Chicago’s premier riverfront restaurant. To complement the gorgeous view, Chef John Hogan delivers an array of contemporary tavern fare including signature roasted meats, fish and veggies, all carved tableside.
22. Small Cheval
The Au Cheval spinoff offers near-replicas of the nationally-acclaimed burger that Chicagoans can’t get enough of, as well as ample patio seating so you don’t have to wait hours in line. The slimmed-down menu keeps things simple with just a few beverage options to go alongside the burgers and fries, but when the food is this good, you’ll find no complaints.
23. SPiN Ping Pong
The newly opened ping pong social club features an outdoor patio directly off State Street. The space will have a STIGA ping pong table for playing, alongside a lounging area for guests to enjoy al fresco dining and custom cocktails.
24. St Lou's Assembly
Hot on the heels of its surprise opening, Saint Lou’s Assembly will launch a back porch patio in mid-May. The 100-seat space will feature bleacher seating, lush planters and a bocce ball court while guests can unwind with picnic-style grab & go bites as well as boozy floats and select cocktails from Moneygun.
25. Tanta Chicago
Pisco sours and patio season go hand-in-hand. Luckily, Tanta makes a fantastic version of the South American cocktail for guests to enjoy on its rooftop along with summer-centric Peruvian bites. A retractable awning also keeps guests warm and dry, making it a great spot to hang out during spring showers.
26. The Dawson
The huge patio—decked out with strung-up lights, lots of greenery and its own bar—makes this a hotspot during spring and summertime. The signature frozen Mai Tai is a definite crowd favorite, made with a boozy mix of Bacardi 8, Rhum Clément Agricole, housemade orgeat and cointreau.
27. The Duck Inn
A stone's throw from U.S. Cellular Field, The Duck Inn packs in a crowd on warm-weather days and nights. It's a bi-level backyard with rustic benches and tables over a brick floor.
28. The Gwen, A Luxury Collection Hotel, Chicago
The Gwen, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Chicago will open its doors to the public on May 16th and house a fifth-floor terrace for guests to relax on. Dubbed Upstairs at The Gwen, the Art Deco-infused space will focus on elevated craft cocktails paired with shareable small plates.
29. The Promontory
Hyde Park’s restaurant/music venue concept has two floors of open-air space along with patio seating. Jared Wentworth presents a menu of modern hearth cuisine so diners can feast on items like grilled gulf prawns, kalbi short ribs and wagyu strip steak.
30. Whiskey Business
There can never be enough outdoor seating in Wicker Park so this new whiskey bar is getting in on the action with its rooftop. Expect an ample amount of space (170 seats), communal tables and big-screen televisions showing all of the big games starting in May.
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