We made it! Patio Season is upon us, friends. If you don’t know, Chicagoans live for outdoor dining in our warm (and sometimes even cold!) months. Every year I start fantasizing in February about all the spots I’m going to hit up come spring. We try to do at least two a week since our outdoor time is limited. Rooftops are a whole different blog post, which is coming soon!
I know there are probably hundreds of amazing patios across the city, but I’m starting with these top 10 of our personal favorites. If you have more you want to share with me, send them my way!
First up is Big Star (1531 N. Damen Ave)
Not only is this one of the most visited patios in the Wicker Park / Bucktown neighborhoods but it’s a prime spot for yummy tacos, margaritas, whisky, and for people-watching. You have to try the Walking Taco and the Big Star Margarita! They have a location in Wrigleyville too, but not as much outdoor space.
This beautiful space with a modern industrial design is the perfect oasis in the city. The Dawson’s large outdoor space makes you feel like you’re at a sophisticated summer soiree. You must try the frozen Mai Tais and bites of chicken-fried lobster. Is your mouth watering yet? The outdoor space is well lit and even features an outdoor fireplace. The Dawson provides the perfect cozy evening.
Gibson’s Italia is a gem located right on the west end of the Chicago River with sweeping views of the entire city. It’s a tri-level steak house with an Italian twist and some amazing cocktails. I would dine here every night if I could!
If you’re looking for a fun neighborhood quick stop you have to try PFCIC! All three major food groups are covered at Bridgeport’s new Pizza Fried Chicken Ice Cream, and now customers can devour Sicilian-style pies, pretty cool Ice Cream pops, and chef Won Kim’s (Kimski) fried chicken on a back patio. There’s a walk-up window, too.
This spot opened in summer 2016 in the Southport/Lakeview neighborhood, which is my neighborhood. Coda di Volpe has become a neighborhood favorite due to their Southern Italian fare. They bring casual sophistication to the neighborhood and they have a terrific patio, perfect for enjoying the neighborhood vibe.
They also just introduced a new laid-back arm of operations via a walk-up window called the Foxhole, where diners can find a selection of Neopolitan pizzas, salumi, antipasti, dolci, and much more. I recommend the Hibiscus Lightworks slushie (lime, vodka, cream limoncello and prosecco). Sounds amazing, right?!
If you want a unique experience, look no further than Beatnik On The River! This breathtaking riverfront oasis makes you feel like you’ve been transported to a faraway destination. Beatnik On the River draws inspiration from the ’50s and ’60s, offering dishes and drinks from around the globe. The best tables in the house are on the 80-seat patio, which sits along the Chicago River and is outfitted with colorful tile, Indonesian daybeds, and fringe-lined umbrellas. Order a glass of bubbly and stay awhile.
Located on the corner of State & Superior, you are right in the middle of all the action! Chef Carlos Gaytán really hit it out of the park with the cuisine here. You have to try the Ceviche Verde before digging into heartier entrées like the fried red snapper served with salsa, pickled veggies, peanut aioli, and handmade tortillas. Yum! And, for dessert — the Arroz con Leche is an instant hit!
A Lettuce Entertain You restaurant that serves lunch and dinner, with a menu centered around hand-stretched pizzas, artisanal pastas, and grilled seafood. Second only to the food is the sizable outdoor terrace, which hugs the Chicago River and offers breathtaking views of the city. Grab a spritz and take it all in. I could spend all day here. It’s great for kids too!
There are so many amazing spots on the riverwalk, you really can’t go wrong!
Moving back up to the neighborhoods, you can’t go wrong with Le Sud in Roscoe Village. April in Paris? Mais oui! This popular French-Mediterranean spot offers a quaint patio that transports you to a garden in the south of France. Flowers and herbs scent the air, wine barrel fire pits warm you if there’s a sudden Chicago chill and proprietor Sandy Chen shows how a trip to the villages of Provence inspired her decor. A retractable patio roof has been added so guests can dine outside no matter the weather!
We should own stock in this place because we eat here so often! An American spin on Mexican cuisine, Tuco & Blondie is designed as a neighborhood gathering place, serving food hot for brunch, lunch, and into the night, with sides and sips for sidekicks. With 3,000 square feet outside, you’ll will enjoy a picturesque bodega, brick fireplace, engaging courtyard, and other fun aspects that will keep them coming back. In warmer months they feature an outdoor margarita stand too!
I hope you enjoy these picks and start making reservations! Here’s to Spring and Summer in Chicago!