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The Chicago Al Fresco Heatmap: Where to Eat Outside NOW

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Warm weather is (almost) upon us and that means it's time for patio season. Some places have already opened up their doors to al fresco dining while many more will be joining the fun in the coming days. Check out Eater's guide early and often for the newest, hottest spots to catch some sun and dream of summer. [Photo: Tanta]

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River Roast

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With a spot right next to the Chicago River, the large patio here, beginning its first full outdoor season, is a one-of-a-kind space providing guests with a front row seat to the city’s best views. Chef John Hogan’s menu features rustic, shareable roasts and whimsical cocktails along with a popular Blues & Brew Brunch on the weekends. Live musicians will play outside during the warm months and additional seasonal programming will be announced throughout summer. [Photo: Marc Much]

Virgin Hotel Rooftop

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Virgin Hotel’s indoor/outdoor terrace serving Japanese small plates and libations is set to open on April 29. Cerise will feature a main glass bar, long low-slung blue velvet couches and a DJ desk, and it’s all complemented by Rick Gresh’s “izakaya-inspired” menu and punches, cocktails, sake and more. [Photo: Nick Fochtman]

Dinosaur Bar-B-Que

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The New York-based BBQ chain has just opened its first Chicago location. The Lincoln Park spot is serving its signature St. Louis-style ribs, chicken wings and brisket in a two-level space that accommodates 168 people. Outside, a 48-seat beer garden with picnic tables will open when the weather permits. [Photo: Marc Much]

Celeste

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Celeste’s cozy English rooftop garden is an oasis that’s enclosed in brick on three sides and can hold up to 85 people. Escape from the bustle of downtown and relax on the Victorian couches while sipping on one of the punch bowls and frozen drinks. [Photo: Facebook]

Roxie's By The Slice

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Brendan Sodikoff’s Brooklyn-style pizza joint has brought out picnic tables, which seat 65, for patrons to sit and enjoy their slices. [Photo: DNAinfo]

Seven Lions

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Alpana Singh’s new contemporary American clubhouse restaurant on Michigan Avenue is a hit with its refined classic cuisine. As the weather warms up, dine outside in a large al fresco space that seats 70-80 people. [Photo: Marc Much]

Mott Street

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Mott St debuts its 68-seat beer garden with a live DJ and drink specials on Friday, May 1. Refreshing shaved-ice cocktails, a revamped list of spring libations and other al fresco favorites like grilled leeks and sweet miso shrimp will be available. [Photo: Facebook]

The J. Parker

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The J. Parker’s new retractable glass roof will allow guests to enjoy patio season, rain or shine. Lincoln Park’s 140-seat bar atop Hotel Lincoln is a popular go-to spot all season long, offering gorgeous views of the lake and downtown alongside a food menu from Paul Virant. [Photo: Tim Hiatt]

Analogue

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Construction is underway on a patio at the Cajun bar in Logan Square. The 30-seat space will feature new summer beverages, including frozen drinks. [Photo: Marc Much]

Labriola

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New this spring, Labriola’s 65-seat patio on the Grand Ave. pedestrian walkway offers perfect views for guests to enjoy craft cocktails and dishes from Executive Chef John Caputo. [Photo: Labriola]

Kaiser Tiger

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Kaiser Tiger’s massive 200+ seat beer garden has installed 2 Bocce Ball courts for guests to play. The courts are on a first-come, first-served basis and the cost is $15 for 30 minutes of play. [Photo: Kaiser Tiger]

The Betty

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This spring, guests can sip inventive cocktails and share small plates outside on a 40-seat patio enclosed by iron fencing, green ivy and purple alyssum flowers. [Photo: Nick Fochtman]

One of last year’s best new restaurants will open a small, eight-seat patio in Mid-May. The Spanish seaside cafe experience just got even closer to the real thing. [Photo: Marc Much]

Formento's

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Old-school Italian goes outside this spring at Formento’s. A 46-seat patio will open in May featuring beautiful floral arrangements and modern takes on traditional Italian recipes. [Photo: Marc Much]

La Sirena Clandestina

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West Loop’s Latin-local hotspot will have a brand-new outdoor patio in May that aims to be reminiscent of summer in South America. Revel in the warm weather and sunshine while indulging in John Manion’s refreshing ceviche and other seafood staples. [Photo: Brian Willette]

The Brass Monkey

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The new throwback restaurant in Fulton Market will open a 25-seat patio for the season. [Photo: Marc Much]

The Promontory

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Beginning its first full al fresco season, The Promontory offers two al fresco options: a first floor patio and a second floor outdoor lounge. Each seats 45 people and the ground floor features an outdoor fire pit. Enjoy brunch, dinner and cocktails downstairs while the second floor is open during shows. [Photo: Nick Fochtman]

Bar Takito

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Eat tacos al fresco at Bar Takito’s new 50-seat sidewalk patio, open for lunch and dinner Tuesday-Friday as well as brunch and dinner on the weekends. [Photo: Facebook]

Barley & Brass

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Do all the people-watching you want at the new bar and restaurant on Damen and Division. The 40-seat gated patio will include high tops and low tables, as well as planters and umbrellas. Sip on one of the kegged cocktails or craft beers for the perfect patio pairing. [Photo: Marc Much]

Oak + Char

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Weekend brunch has just launched at Oak + Char and with it, a new spacious 56-seat patio. Try brunch items like smoked trout belly bagel, PQM oat brioche French toast and smoked chicken omelet while enjoying the warm weather. [Photo: Nick Fochtman]

Fat Rice

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The always-popular Logan Square spot will accommodate more people in the summer with an 18-seat, walk-in only patio. [Photo: Facebook]

Bin 36

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The wine bar, which recently reopened in the West Loop, includes an intimate oasis with tables, lounge and shaded seating for wine lovers to try flights and regional American fare. [Photo: Marc Much]

RM Champagne Salon

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Escape from the city at RM’s intimate, candle-lit space. The revamped patio for 2015 will include an enhanced outdoors bar and a lounge-like feel on the lower patio with brand-new banquettes and other furniture. [Photo: RM Champagne Salon]

Mash, located in the former Bad Dog space, is a new Lincoln Square concept showcasing a broad spectrum of house-smoked meats, specialty burgers and fresh selection of seafood. Sip local craft beers on tap in the new and improved outdoor dining patio. [Photo: Facebook]

Elle on the River

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After debuting last summer, the riverside patio outside Travelle is a getaway in the Loop for Mediterranean tacos, boozy punch and nostalgic frozen desserts.

River Roast

With a spot right next to the Chicago River, the large patio here, beginning its first full outdoor season, is a one-of-a-kind space providing guests with a front row seat to the city’s best views. Chef John Hogan’s menu features rustic, shareable roasts and whimsical cocktails along with a popular Blues & Brew Brunch on the weekends. Live musicians will play outside during the warm months and additional seasonal programming will be announced throughout summer. [Photo: Marc Much]

Virgin Hotel Rooftop

Virgin Hotel’s indoor/outdoor terrace serving Japanese small plates and libations is set to open on April 29. Cerise will feature a main glass bar, long low-slung blue velvet couches and a DJ desk, and it’s all complemented by Rick Gresh’s “izakaya-inspired” menu and punches, cocktails, sake and more. [Photo: Nick Fochtman]

Dinosaur Bar-B-Que

The New York-based BBQ chain has just opened its first Chicago location. The Lincoln Park spot is serving its signature St. Louis-style ribs, chicken wings and brisket in a two-level space that accommodates 168 people. Outside, a 48-seat beer garden with picnic tables will open when the weather permits. [Photo: Marc Much]

Celeste

Celeste’s cozy English rooftop garden is an oasis that’s enclosed in brick on three sides and can hold up to 85 people. Escape from the bustle of downtown and relax on the Victorian couches while sipping on one of the punch bowls and frozen drinks. [Photo: Facebook]

Roxie's By The Slice

Brendan Sodikoff’s Brooklyn-style pizza joint has brought out picnic tables, which seat 65, for patrons to sit and enjoy their slices. [Photo: DNAinfo]

Seven Lions

Alpana Singh’s new contemporary American clubhouse restaurant on Michigan Avenue is a hit with its refined classic cuisine. As the weather warms up, dine outside in a large al fresco space that seats 70-80 people. [Photo: Marc Much]

Mott Street

Mott St debuts its 68-seat beer garden with a live DJ and drink specials on Friday, May 1. Refreshing shaved-ice cocktails, a revamped list of spring libations and other al fresco favorites like grilled leeks and sweet miso shrimp will be available. [Photo: Facebook]

The J. Parker

The J. Parker’s new retractable glass roof will allow guests to enjoy patio season, rain or shine. Lincoln Park’s 140-seat bar atop Hotel Lincoln is a popular go-to spot all season long, offering gorgeous views of the lake and downtown alongside a food menu from Paul Virant. [Photo: Tim Hiatt]

Analogue

Construction is underway on a patio at the Cajun bar in Logan Square. The 30-seat space will feature new summer beverages, including frozen drinks. [Photo: Marc Much]

Labriola

New this spring, Labriola’s 65-seat patio on the Grand Ave. pedestrian walkway offers perfect views for guests to enjoy craft cocktails and dishes from Executive Chef John Caputo. [Photo: Labriola]

Kaiser Tiger

Kaiser Tiger’s massive 200+ seat beer garden has installed 2 Bocce Ball courts for guests to play. The courts are on a first-come, first-served basis and the cost is $15 for 30 minutes of play. [Photo: Kaiser Tiger]

The Betty

This spring, guests can sip inventive cocktails and share small plates outside on a 40-seat patio enclosed by iron fencing, green ivy and purple alyssum flowers. [Photo: Nick Fochtman]

Mfk

One of last year’s best new restaurants will open a small, eight-seat patio in Mid-May. The Spanish seaside cafe experience just got even closer to the real thing. [Photo: Marc Much]