It's felt like spring has been hibernating but warmer days are finally ahead and that means it's patio season. Enjoy alfresco dining and drinking at your favorite spots around the city and soak up the sun after a long winter. Party it up on a soaring rooftop or relax in a tranquil Japanese Zen garden while taking in a breath of fresh air. So get out there and get the most out of the coming months because after all, in Chicago you never know what next week's temperatures might bring.Read More
Heating Up: Your Guide to Alfresco Dining
1. Big Star
Everybody’s favorite patio in Wicker Park is the ideal spot to hang out on a nice day, provided you can get a table. The wait times can be long but once you sit down to some tacos and a margarita, all will be forgotten.
2. Piccolo Sogno
One of the city’s top Italian spots gets even better when it’s warm out with the opening of its large patio. It might be in the heart of the city but you’d never know it by the beautiful, serene setting—a perfect match for the rustic Italian menu and a nice glass of wine.
3. Davanti Enoteca
The always-popular Italian small-plates wine bar from Scott Harris has first come, first served rooftop seating so get there early for your pastas, pizzas and wine before the lines form.
4. Three Aces
With a drink list long enough to satisfy any beer aficionado and a large outdoor patio perfect for a summer’s night, Three Aces is the place to be in University Village. And we haven’t even mentioned the Ace Burger—topped with cheddar, bacon jam and aioli—one of the best in town.
5. J. Parker
There are few views better than the one atop Hotel Lincoln at J. Parker. Peer down at Lincoln Park Zoo or the skyline and enjoy the craft cocktails of new bar manager Tony Selna. If you’re hungry, Paul Virant has created a food menu to compliment the drinks with bites like the JParker Burger and chocolate chip cookies.
6. The Terrace
Soaring high above the city on Trump Tower, The Terrace offers one of the most breathtaking views of downtown Chicago. Order yourself a drink, sit back and relax as you take in the sights down below on the Magnificent Mile and the Chicago River.
7. Sumi Robata Bar
The new Asian hotspot should get even hotter with the arrival of a 20-seat, multi-level Zen garden patio, featuring cabanas, tiered wooden decks and evergreens that set the atmosphere. The traditional Japanese Zen garden will provide a tranquil environment for relaxation amidst the hustle and bustle of the city while Sumi’s bottled cocktails will help guests cool off.
8. ESTATE Ultra Bar
Al fresco dining overlooking the river, it’s hard to beat Estate’s new rooftop. Shared plates include lobster mac and tuna tartare while a cake pop flight satiates the sweet tooth. A varied selection of craft cocktails, beers, wines and Champagnes comprise the drinks menu.
With a rooftop patio, beer garden and sidewalk café, there’s plenty of options to choose from at Market. The patio offers comfortable seating on cozy furniture and a great view of the city, as well as DJs on the weekends.
10. Owen & Engine
The Logan Square gastropub is nice enough inside, but the rooftop deck really makes the place shine. Sit back with a Pimm’s Cup and enjoy classic English fare like bangers and mash and fish and chips.
11. The Purple Pig
The always-packed Michigan Ave. restaurant offers tented patio dining along with heat lamps so you can dine outside even when it’s cool. Chow on cured meats, cheeses, chorizo stuffed olives and more while staying entertained by people-watching.
The Asian fusion restaurant in the West Loop is planning a 16-seat cabana-style lounge space along with a 46-seat shaded dining area for the summer so that you can enjoy your papaya salad and garlic chicken outdoors.
13. Terzo Piano
Located in the Modern Wing of the Art Institute, Terzo Piano offers a gorgeous look at downtown Chicago and Millennium Park. So after a long day of looking at splendid artwork, dine some place with an equally fine view.
14. RM Champagne Salon
Get your bubbles on at this industrial cobblestone patio, complete with candles, overhead lights and cozy, turquoise chairs. The entrance is accessed via a secret alleyway passage, lending even more to its charm.
15. ¡ay chiwowa!
Enjoy Ay Chiwowa’s classic Mexican street fare under the sun now at its newly renovated patio, a secret garden terrace tucked away in the heart of the city. Try one of the house kegged margarita cocktails or a tequila tasting flight.
16. Red Door
Quickly becoming one of the city’s most popular spots, Red Door’s intimate side patio is the place to drop in for happy hour specials and weekend brunch featuring bottomless mimosas.
17. Chicago Cut Steakhouse
Drop in for lunch and enjoy a nice midday meal on the banks of the Chicago River. Cut into a dry-aged steak or if that’s not what you fancy, try one of the fish or salad selections.
18. Irazu Costa Rican Restaurant
Bring your own booze and sit out on the patio on a lazy night while enjoying some of the best Costa Rican fare in town. Try the casado plate and finish it off a signature oatmeal shake that’s perfect for the season.
19. OVIE Bar & Grill
End the workday with a drink by stopping into OVIE’s new outdoor patio while waiting for the next train in the Ogilvie Transportation Center. It’ll take a load off the shoulders and make the wait that much more bearable.
A new 40-seat outdoor terrace at Gather will offer a special outdoor menu every day starting at 5 p.m. The renovated space features lush garden seating, an oversized mural by a local artist, and custom benches and chairs. The food menu will focus on seasonality and fresh ingredients from local farmers alongside a changing lineup of craft cocktails and summer wine coolers.
Evanston’s hottest new restaurant now offers alfresco seating as well as all-day dining on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays starting at 11 a.m. Amy Morton’s rustic spot serves up small plates of seasonal, farm-to-table fare and a full bar of libations.
Fitted with a fireplace, the patio at Frontier is the best place to drop in for brunch or your fix of gamey meats with a selection of house charcuterie and plates like gator ribs and antelope meatballs.
23. Bang Bang Pie Shop
Sometimes all you need is a slice of pie on a nice day so stop by Bang Bang Pie Shop to get your fill and sit out in the side yard.
24. Fiorentino's Cucina Italiana
The cozy garden patio is a nice respite from the city and a great place to spend a romantic evening. The stuffed gnocchi and other hearty Italian plates only make it that much better.
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25. Happy Village
A dive bar gem in Ukrainian Village, the outdoor patio and beer garden is covered in canopies and surrounded by wooden fences, hiding it from the neighborhood. And did we mention table tennis?
A speakeasy-style lounge with an outdoor garden terrace, Drumbar sits perched atop the Raffaello Hotel in the Gold Coast. Craig Schoettler runs the show here and his craft cocktails are just the thing for a hot day.
27. Vertigo Sky Lounge
Whether it’s hot or cold out, Vertigo Sky Lounge offers a spectacular view year-round with its comfy couches and outdoor fire-pit. Stop in for a drink, live DJ’s and party on top of the city.
28. ROOF at the Wit
With an unparalleled view of the city, few places can match the chic beauty of ROOF, where the party never stops. And a retractable roof ensures that you'll be comfortable year-round in the four areas of the space.
29. The Dec
Set to open soon, Deca will add a new luxury patio on the twelfth floor of the Ritz-Carlton. The Dec will have seats for 57 guests and feature The Lens, a reflective statue made of the same materials as Cloud Gate, as well as views of the Hancock Building and the lake.