There's nothing better than being outside in Chicago—during summer. We've been known to take all of our meals outside from June through September, so we're well-versed in patio patrol. From fine dining's delicate gardens to sunny-drenched cruising scenes, you've got plenty of ways to hit the great outdoors. We can't let you miss out on all this sun-lovin' fun (nor can we let you burn, so bring SPF please!). Check out Chicago's best spots for outdoor indulging, and—God forbid!—if we failed to include your fave, please share with your neighbors in the comments!
Shocking, we know. It's easier to get a seat at a White House State Dinner than a spot at Big Star in the summer. Before you hate on this patio (or us!) we'd like to offer a word of advice. Go early! If you want to score a seat at Big Star's patio, you've got to beat the crowd. Not only that, but make sure your whole party is with you when you go. Big Star doesn't care if your sorority sisters are saving you a seat, you've still got to wait in line. Can't get it together? Read on for options! Big Star, 1531 North Damen Avenue (just South of North Avenue); 773-235-4039.
This might be Humbolt Park's best-kept secret, so forgive us for spilling the beans. Rootstock, which you already love for their practically perfect wine list and delicious bites, also boasts a small but amazing patio. We thought we'd never find a better pairing than a glass of Prosecco and a cheese plate, but match those with 80 degrees and a few friends, and we're set. Rootstock, 954 North California Avenue (at Augusta Boulevard); 773-292-1616.
It's okay to crave a gorgeous outdoor dining experience without the assumed beer swilling, nacho-munching crowd. Fine dining goes outside, too! Our favorite is A Tavola, Italian cuisine so good you might ask if you can move in. The patio is in the back of the restaurant, right next to their garden. Yep, they have a garden. Those yummy herbs on your plate were sitting next to you on a vine an hour ago. Come on. A Tavola, 2148 West Chicago Avenue (at Leavitt Street); 773-276-7567.
Workweek stress and responsibilities can be overwhelming, and the only cure is more patio! Kerryman in River North is a perfect patio for a workday lunch. Big umbrellas mean you wont get a telltale sunburn that you'll have to explain to clients (and the boss!). Classic American fare is yummy but quick—the chef clearly knows you have work to do. Kerryman, 661 North Clark Street (at Erie Street); 312-335-8121.
Not everyone enjoys getting stuck in the sunny seat; some of us like our outdoor time with a side of shade. Mickey's is a Lincoln Park go-to for outdoor fun times under a covered patio. This is a sporty spot, so be mindful of playoff games and college events. But most of the time Mickey's is just classic outdoor enjoyment at it's best. The bar boasts specialty mojitos and frozen drinks, so if we ever get those super-hot days we've been hoping for, you'll know where to find us. Mickey's, 2450 North Clark Street (at Arlington Place); 773-435-0007.
Anyone that would like to relive remaining treehouse fantasies from childhood should travel immediately to Moody's Pub in Edgewater. Home to some of the best burgers Chicago has ever seen, Moody's also offers carnivores a tree and flower laden patio to relax in. Foliage and fair weather sound okay to us! Moody's Pub, 5910 North Broadway Street (at Thorndale Avenue); 773-275-2696.
Welcome to the no-frills section of our program, ladies and gentlemen. Politely ask the bartender for a PBR (or Hamms?!) and park next to ten of your pals on a plastic chair while you unravel the stresses the week piled on. This Ukrainian Village institution didn't get its rep by being fancy or tossing in a gimmick. It's just a nice spot to hang outside. Happy summer. Happy Village, 1059 North Wolcott Avenue (at Thomas Street); 773-486-1512.