13 Rad Chicago Patios For Summer Sippin'

Photo: Courtesy of Parson's Chicken & Fish.
When it comes to maximizing outdoor-drinking season, Chicagoans don't mess around. In fact, give us 50 degrees, and we're perched on a corner, people-watching while sipping the latest and greatest craft cocktail. But, now that the weather has finally given us a well-deserved break, it's time to get serious about enjoying some fun in the sun. Case in point, we've rounded up 13 rad patios that are ripe for leisurely imbibing — and eating.
Whether you're sipping a BBQ Bloody Mary at The Dawson on a Sunday afternoon or cozying up next to your S.O. in the backyard at Ada Street on a Friday night, there are numerous excuses to hang outside. So, bust out that flirty sundress and get ready to raise a toast to Chicago's not-so endless summer. There's no time to waste.
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Photo: Courtesy of Ada Street.
Ada Street
If you’re looking for a sunny seat off the beaten path, we vote for the backyard patio at Ada Street in Noble Square. Open for its third summer season, this cozy respite reminds us of hanging out at a friend’s pad — right down to the barbecue-inspired fare (Denver lamb ribs), potent libations, and ping-pong. The best part? Nobody has to do the dishes.

Ada Street, 1664 North Ada Street (between Elston and Throop streets); 773-697-7069.
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Photo: Courtesy of Bites Asian Tapas.
Bites Asian Tapas
While the idea of enjoying tapas alfresco may conjure up memories of your trip to Spain in college, Asian tapas in the Windy City confirms that we are indeed a cultural melting pot of culinary yum. In fact, the Bite owners — both originally from Thailand — have always been inspired by American interpretations of global cuisine. So, you’ll see innovative nibbles like Oriental paella and Korean sliders on the menu. Sit back and relax on the newly renovated patio with a Wassup Wasabi, a spicy blend of vodka, ginger syrup, lychee juice, lemon, and (you guessed it) wasabi.

Bites Asian Tapas, 3313 North Clark Street (between Buckingham Place and School Street); 773-270-5972.
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Photo: Courtesy of The Boarding House.
The Boarding House
You should expect nothing less than an incredible wine list (20 by the glass and 450 by the bottle) and satisfying cuisine with master sommelier and previous Check, Please! host Alpana Singh at the helm of this River North hot spot. While the striking interior is hard to beat ambience-wise (think palatial banquettes, exposed beams, and a killer ceiling installation made from roughly 4,000 wine bottles), summer in the city is best spent on the intimate sidewalk patio with some light and citrusy ahi tuna crudo (blood orange segments, pomegranate, quick pickled fennel) and a crisp glass of rosé.

The Boarding House, 720 North Wells Street (at Huron); 312-280-0720.
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Photo: Courtesy of County Barbeque.
County Barbeque
For summertime fun, the only thing better than heading to University Village mainstay County Barbeque for a plate of pulled pork, fried okra, and a bourbon-infused custom cocktail or two is enjoying the grub and libations on the rustic patio. Like the food itself, the outdoor seating is charming and straightforward, so get ready to plop down on one of the no-frills picnic tables and dig in. The bustling, laid-back atmosphere may just make you think you're at a backyard party with a few dozen of your closest friends.

County Barbeque, 1352 West Taylor Street (at Loomis); 312-929-2528.
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Photo: Courtesy of The Dawson.
The Dawson
There's no doubt where the beautiful people will be congregating for a bit of plein air pleasure this summer. The Dawson's gorgeous new patio beckons. With seating for 150, the slick, contemporary space features a fireplace, communal seating, a beautiful metal bar, and a host of chic design touches, including an array of striking flowers and plants. Oysters on the half shell with a frozen mai tai, anyone?

The Dawson, 730 West Grand Avenue (at Halsted Street); 312-243-8955.
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Photo: Courtesy of The Gage.
The Gage
Irish eyes are smiling every year when the street-side patio opens at this South Michigan Avenue restaurant and bar from Galway natives the Lawless family. Just try to get a seat before a big concert at Millennium Park and you’ll see what we mean. Fortunately, bellying up to the bar for a pint while you wait for a table is a great experience; and you’ll be even hungrier for chef Peter Coenen’s menu of upscale comfort food featuring items like a venison burger, free-range chicken, and house-crafted sausages and spreads.

The Gage, 24 South Michigan Avenue (at Madison Street); 312-372-4243.
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Photo: Courtesy of Howells & Hood.
Howells & Hood
If you're looking for a place to cool your heels after a stressful day at work, you can't beat this sprawling patio on the side of the Tribune Tower. Soak up the views of the Mag Mile and the cityscape while enjoying a brew (or a flight of brews) from one of the city's most impressive beer lists — 114 brands are offered. If you're not into beer, there's also a host of house wines on tap, as well as refreshing cocktails like the 100 Days of Summer, a blend of Grey Goose La Poire Vodka, raspberry syrup, lime, ginger ale, and Tangerine Wheat, served on the rocks.

Howells & Hood, 435 North Michigan Avenue (between Hubbard and Illinois streets); 312-262-5310.
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Photo: Courtesy of Fish Bar.
Fish Bar
There’s nothing like beating the heat with a po’ boy and an ice-cold beer, and in Chicago there’s no better place to do that than this hopping Lake View spot that recalls a New England fish shack of yore. Take a seat at a picnic table on the rear patio, order up some ceviche, fish tacos, and a citrusy Belgian-style witbier, and remember why it’s worth enduring our outrageous Chicago winters.

Fish Bar, 2956 North Sheffield Avenue (at Wellington); 773-687-8177.
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Photo: Courtesy of Cicchetti.
Listed as one of Chicago magazine's best new restaurants of 2014, Cicchetti quickly won the hearts of critics and regular diners alike with its delicious interpretation of Venetian cuisine. Executive chef Michael Sheerin (Blackbird, Trencherman) serves up dishes like charred baby squid, shaved root vegetable salad, and slow-roasted salmon — all perfect for enjoying alfresco on the sidewalk patio in the bustling River North 'hood. Or, head there for a leisurely weekend brunch — nothing says Sunday Funday quite like enjoying a speciality cocktail. We recommend the Rossini, a delicious blend of fresh strawberry puree, Prosecco, and rhubarb bitters.

Cicchetti, 671 North Saint Clair Street (at Erie); 312-642-1800.
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Photo: Courtesy of Parson's Chicken & Fish.
Parson's Chicken & Fish
The patio at this Logan Square spot is the stuff of legends. There you can dine on delicious fried chicken and fish, and sides like hushpuppies and Texas toast, in an expansive, open-air setting. If that wasn't conducive enough to celebrating summer, the patio also features a bar with a Negroni slushy machine, well-edited draft beer selection, creative cocktails menu, hip music, and a ping-pong table. We’re also thrilled to hear that Parson's is now serving its Nashville hot chicken daily. There's only a limited amount of the extra-spicy take on the house specialty available every day, so get your order in early.

Parson’s Chicken & Fish, 2952 West Armitage Avenue (at Humboldt Boulevard); 773-384-3333.
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Photo: Courtesy of South Branch.
South Branch
The 4,000 square-foot patio at South Branch (along the banks of the Chicago River) is a great drinking destination for those living and/or working in the Loop. If you're looking to escape the sun's rays, pull up a seat in the glass pavilion bar, which boasts retractable walls for protection. But, you'll find us hanging in the open lounge area with a pale ale in hand. Hungry? The hearty salads like the sesame-crusted ahi tuna will fill you up without weighing you down.

South Branch, 100 South Wacker Drive (between Monroe and Adams streets); 312-546-6177.
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Photo: Courtesy of Table, Donkey and Stick.
Table, Donkey and Stick
Logan Square continues to be a hot bed of some of the edgiest new restaurants in the city, as evidenced by chef Scott Manley’s Alpine-inspired Table, Donkey and Stick. If you’re in the mood for a bit of culinary exploration this summer, grab some friends and head to the backyard patio to share in Euro-inspired small plates such as rabbit ballotine, crispy tripe, and a Swabian pretzel with cauliflower and comte fondu, paired with one of the craft beers or a mixed spirit. The “wanderteller,” or build-it-yourself hiker’s plate of unique charcuterie (like pheasant galantine) and artisanal cheeses is especially popular.

Table, Donkey and Stick, 2728 West Armitage Avenue (at Fairfield); 773-486-8525.
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Photo: Courtesy of Unite Urban Grill.
Unite Urban Grill
The 14-seat sidewalk patio at Unite Urban Grill in West Town is a perfect example of good things coming in small packages. We love the adorable (and delicious) cocktails that pay homage to some of Chicago's most celebrated 'hoods, stretching from the Gold Coast (Novo Fogo Silver Cachaca, Aperol, Prosecco, vanilla peppercorn syrup) to Hyde Park (Pierde Almas Mezcal, house falernum, lemon, Creme de Cacao) and beyond. The shareable snacks, like braised short-rib sliders and spinach flatbread, are perfect for a casual gathering with pals, while the decadent brunch menu (think brioche French toast and quiche) starts — or ends — any weekend with a bang.

Unite Urban Grill, 1450 West Chicago Avenue (at Bishop Street); 312-455-8900.

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