CHIGuide

The Best New Patios In Chicago

The best new places to eat and drink outside this summer.

Driving around Chicago right now, you’ll likely see just as many outdoor dining setups as red-light cameras. Not only have they become staples in the post-pandemic world, but Chicagoans love eating on a patio (56 months of winter will do that to a city). Here are our favorite new patios in the city—either brand new or recently remodeled.

THE SPOTS

This casual Italian restaurant in Little Italy is from the owners of Tempesta, one of our favorite sandwich and specialty shops in the city. Peanut Park’s menu has a variety of antipasta (the housemade focaccia with ‘nduja is wonderful), pastas, and mains like a crispy chicken parmesan that's covered by a blanket of cheese. It also has a rooftop patio with a retractable roof and very friendly service, which are two things that make it a great summer destination for post-work pasta and wine.


photo credit: Adam Sokolowski

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Adalina

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Adalina can be a bit of a sh*tshow. This upscale Italian spot is busy and loud, walks the line between fancy and overly formal (you’ll find servers in jackets), and gets pretty chaotic after 9pm. But the vibe on the sidewalk patio is much calmer and you’ll still have friendly service. Plus, the food is good. The patio menu has dishes like gnocco fritto with prosciutto, whipped ricotta, and honey (a fantastic starter) salads, and a $165 shellfish tower. So if you’re looking for a celebratory meal but don’t want to make conversation with the drunk people at the table next to you, sit outside.

They’re still setting up tables in the middle of Chicago streets, and that's where you'll find the patio at Jaleo in River North. This is the fifth location of this casual Spanish restaurant that opened in D.C. back in 1993, and Jaleo's colorful, busy River North space can definitely give you chain restaurant vibes. But that concern will disappear fast thanks to the attentive service and great food. The menu includes tapas, paellas, sangrias, and a long list of Spanish wines. And the crowd—while a mixed bag of tourists—is clearly having some fun. It’s a great spot for dinner and drinks before going out downtown, or if you just want to get together with some friends and not worry about how loud you’re being.


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Basant

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If you’re in the market for a new favorite outdoor Indian spot, Basant might be it. There’s a covered sidewalk patio that’s great for both group dinners and casual date nights, and for when it randomly rains. Plus, this North Center restaurant has a menu full of hits, from starters like mushroom kulcha and tamarind-glazed sweet potato chaat, to creamy lamb gustaba and smoky eggplant bharta. Not only is the food really good, but they make great cocktails and have Happy Hour from 4-6pm Tuesday through Friday). So unless you just don’t like eating delicious things, there are very few scenarios where Basant isn’t a good option.


Bar Mar is the upscale seafood-focused cocktail bar located on the first floor of Bazaar Meat in the Loop. Along with cocktails, the menu has elaborate small plates like fish-shaped bagels filled with cream cheese espuma and topped with smoked salmon, and a “not so po boy” made with fried oyster and caviar. This place is regularly filled with people who clearly came from the office, corporate travelers, and people having business dinners. Luckily the large patio has plenty of room for rolling luggage, and large umbrellas to protect visitors who are shocked Chicago has sunshine.


There are three other Avlis, but the Lakeshore East location is the newest, and has a rooftop patio overlooking the park. The outdoor space has comfy couches, heated cabanas, firepits, and is low-key enough to easily hear everyone talk about how "beautiful Chicago is during the summer." Plus, it has a slightly different menu than the others, with dishes like astakomakaronada (a lobster pasta in a great ouzo-tomato sauce) and chicken souvlaki—tender chicken breast skewers on top of a bed of fries topped with feta and yogurt sauce.


The Lardon is a salumeria, so the menu is full of salumi, cheese, and various meats they cure in-house. Basically a bunch of fun, snack foods that are perfect for a solo meal while getting some work done, or a casual date. Sit out on their patio, order a meat and cheese spread (which come with housemade accouterments like onion jam), some wine, and wave a cornichon around to emphasize a hilarious-yet-charmingly-relatable point you’re making.


Rose Mary is a great Croatian spot in the West Loop and reservations are hard to get. But now they’re a little bit easier thanks to extra seating on their outdoor patio. Those new outdoor tables are all covered with large umbrellas to protect you from the sun, and decorated with string lights to distract you from noticing all the construction cranes swinging around the neighborhood. The menu has dishes like a tomato, farro, and asparagus salad, delicious crni rizot topped with grilled squid, and incredible pastas. And the service here is great—both inside and outside.


The Duplex in Logan Square serves food from different restaurants every six months, which always makes this place feel new. Right now they’re serving Latin American food from Cacahuates (with dishes like mushroom chile rellenos and chorizo con queso) and Mediterranean-inspired things like shrimp pita and Greek fries from Kalista. This place feels more like hanging out at a bar with great food than a restaurant—they have live djs and activities like game nights. There’s a large sidewalk patio, and this place is great if the decision to get together is impromptu, because there is a very good chance you will be able to just show up and get a table.


We’re always on the lookout for a secluded patio, and Land & Lake, an American restaurant in Andersonville has a cute one in the back of the restaurant. Also important is that on the weekend they serve bottomless brunch, with unlimited mimosas for $18.


Gioia is an upscale Italian restaurant in the West Loop with a cute sidewalk patio that has plenty of plants, and comfortable tables and chairs that don’t look like they were hastily purchased from a discount garden store. The focus here is on handmade pastas, which include things like a fantastic bucatini cacio e pepe, pici with ragu, and paccheri mancini prepared tableside. And while Gioia is on one of Chicago’s busiest streets (Randolph) in one of the busiest neighborhoods, it’s just far enough away from the foot traffic you won’t have to worry about Labradoodles trying to steal your food.


The Diver at the Park is a Tulum-inspired restaurant in Wrigleyville with a large fenced-in beer garden. And as you might have deduced from that description, this is a party patio. The outdoor (and dog-friendly) space is huge, has picnic tables, swings, a vintage camper bar, and serves food like tacos, nachos, and ceviches. They also do a bottomless brunch on the weekend. Maybe you can train your dog to call the Uber.


We were delighted when this French-Canadian restaurant in Lincoln Park opened a cute patio for outdoor dining. And to the surprise of no one, foie gras terrine with fluffy milk bread, snap peas with crispy garlic, and aged duck breast are even more enjoyable outside on a summer night. And while the patio is small, the intimacy just adds to the charm of this little spot. In other words, it’s exactly the kind of place where you will gleefully take extra time to finish off that bottle of wine, preferably with a piece of their maple chevre cheesecake for dessert.


Every summer we tell people to go hang out at the outdoor space at Green Street Smoked Meats. You should still do that, but now you should also check out Trivoli Tavern. It’s owned by the same team and they’re also a part of Gin Alley. This means they have a twinkly lit cobblestoned patio that’s very cute for a date. Trivoli serves upscale bar food like fish and chips (they have a very good steak frites) and dinner here just might take the sting out of your canceled European vacation.


We definitely weren’t expecting to find one of our favorite new patios hanging out on a side street in Bucktown. But that’s where you’ll find Leavitt Tavern, a bar and inn (they have three rooms) that has a smashburger that’s very good. Despite the fact that it’s pretty close to the Kennedy, the outdoor space is incredibly peaceful. There’s no foot or street traffic, and the patio is huge with two sections - one that’s tented and heated, and one that’s on the grass and feels like hanging out in the park.


You go to Azul Mariscos when you’re in the mood for the kind of spot that has a live DJ, bottle service, a rooftop and patio on the water, and gives you the option to order cocktails for the table in a $150 clay pot. This seafood restaurant recently opened along the Chicago River in Goose Island, and the food is Latin-inspired. This means the menu is full of things like lobster empanadas, tacos, shrimp aguachile, and seafood towers. Is it Miami? No, but it doesn’t feel like Chicago either.


Ok, hear us out. Babygold Barbecue isn’t in Chicago, it’s actually out in Berwyn. But if you really miss live music, and listening to some jazz while eating some barbecue ribs sounds fun, you should consider a trip out here. This new restaurant opened at FitzGeralds, a 40-year old music venue. They recently remodeled their outdoor patio, and they have live music nightly, with bands playing everything from jazz to blues to bluegrass.


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