Summer, summer, summer time. Time to sit back and unwind. Alright, so it's not quite summer yet, but we’re creeping up on it slowly. The good news is snow has finally passed for a while (we think), and your pale self can get back outside because it's actually enjoyable. That means you’re going to want to spend as much time in the open air as possible, and what's the best outdoor activity? Eating and drinking, of course.
Here are 25 great places to eat and drink outside right now.
BIG STAR IS TAKING CREDIT CARDS OMG TELL EVERYONE YOU KNOW. While this will save us a trip to the ATM, it’s ultimately not that big of a deal. Both the tacos and the waits will remain the same, but we’ll still put in our usual 2-3 trips this summer to eat and drink infinity tacos and margaritas on a beautiful day. You should too.
Fountainhead has one of the very best beer menus in the city, so when you add that to a great rooftop it's a guaranteed good time. The menu isn't huge, but enough basic items like a burger or some wings will do just fine.
Can we interest you in a quiet dinner on the Piccolo Sogno Patio? Pasta, wine, and simply prepared fish is the move.
Another summer is on the doorstep, which means we will pound our chests grunting and insisting you hang at Bang Bang Pie on a regular basis for the next couple of months. It’s literally like having a backyard picnic, except for their awesome biscuit sandwiches and pie are better than the gross ham and cheese you might make yourself.
Tanta is always a fun restaurant with a lively scene, but it's best in the summer. Combine a River North rooftop with the fresh, citrusy goodness of their cebiches and you have a winning combination. Don't forget a pobre niguiri, which is skirt steak and quail egg over rice, and one of the better small bites you can eat.
Beer. Craziest Bread. Pizza. Beer. Craziest bread. Pizza. Beer. Craziest Bread … can you guess what comes next? Load up on all three at the Parlor Pizza Party Patio, a name we just trademarked™ .
Fire up the fried chicken and negroni slushies because we’re on the verge of full-blown patio season. Parson’s is about to be lit! See how awkward that sounds? That’s why you shouldn’t say lit, either. Stick to eating the fried chicken at Parson’s instead.
Small Cheval doesn’t offer the same glorious bacon on the burger as Au Cheval, and that’s a shame. But they make up for it with no waits and a nice little patio to hang outside.
Get ready for an influx of "b*tch don't kill my vibe" and “I could give up pizza, but I'm not a quitter” inspirational quotes in your Instagram feed. You have Homeslice to thank for that. The quotes might be played out, but Homeslice patio life with pizza and beer is still great.
Frontier wants you to get weird with the meats, which is why they serve alligator, elk, and turtle bolognese. They also do a "whole animal service" where you can get all your friends together and have a serious feast. PSA: we want to get a whole alligator this summer (it’s stuffed with a whole chicken), so please feel free to reach out if you’re interested. For real.
Gather the crew, no matter how big, and make a huge reservation at 90 Miles Cuban Cafe. Colorful artwork, Cuban food, and sangria and mojito mixes to go along with their BYOB policy make for a fun night.
Cindy’s is getting ready for its first full Spring/Summer combo, and oh man are we giddy just thinking about it. The space and the views here are unparalleled, especially on a clear day. Cindy’s can and should be your happy place.
Logan Square is a happening place when it’s nice out, and there are a few restaurants on the actual square where you can sit outside and get a glimpse of everything going on. But Lula Cafe is always the place we want to do it, particularly for brunch.
If you're a "designer," "artist," or "creative director" of sorts, then odds are you'll love the back alley patio of RM Champagne across the street from Soho House. But, no matter your profession, we encourage you to sit outside here over drinks, oysters, and other light seafood bites. Accountants welcome.
You can always count on Tavern (and Luxbar next door) to be the first place with tables outside as soon as the weather turns. While the food is fine, they make up for it with exceptional people watching. Drink every time you see a small dog in a purse, and finish the whole thing if the dog is wearing more expensive clothes than you.
It’s tough to tell where exactly Tavern on Rush’s patio seating ends and Luxbar’s begins, but that's not a bad thing. Luxbar has a smaller and a more basic menu, but, other than that, they’re pretty similar. Order a round of shots if the fancy dog in the small purse is wearing sunglasses too.
Con: GreenRiver is located on the 18th floor of a Northwestern Med School building, and getting up there is definitely a little weird. Pro: the terrace and views of the city make it all worth it. Post up with a cocktail and get involved with the food if you'd like.
We’ve been big proponents of this casual sandwich spot-bar hybrid since it opened, and that was before anyone was able to experience their quaint patio out back. Safe to say Wyler Road should be in the immediate plans if it wasn’t already.
This is one of the biggest patios in the city, like, a couple hundred people huge. What’s back here other than just picnic tables? Bocce ball, giant jenga, and cornhole. Get involved in the games as well as sausages and beer.
Bernie’s strikes the perfect balance of giving you just enough action on the northwest side of River North while still avoiding some of the ridiculous aspects of other sceney restaurants nearby. Translation: it’s fun, it’s cool, but it’s not too fun and too cool to make you feel out of place. Those vibes also transfer over to the rooftop, and the food is really good.
Another cute, new-American food restaurant in Lincoln Square. And if you're someone who doesn't get to Lincoln Square much, then trust us when we say you're missing out. Change that the next nice day. The sticky bun at brunch alone is worth it.
When we first ate at The Duck Inn, we were surprised at how great both the food and space were. You can always expect a great experience here, and a delicious rotisserie duck is even better when you can eat it in their garden patio.
Hey city folk - Hyde Park has feelings too, and it also has a lot of great places to dine. One of those spots would be The Promontory, which, not only serves good modern-American food on a great outdoor patio, but acts as a music venue too. A lot of good things are going on here.
The picnic benches are out, so grab some BBQ and kick it outside of Green Street for some Texas style smoked meats. We're real into their brisket and all of the sides.
It’s worth heading down to 95th Street in Calumet year round, but if you're unwilling to do it while it's cold out, now is the time. Hop in your car, request an Uber, ride a bike, walk, or swim for all we care - just make sure to get down to Calumet Fisheries soon. The smoked salmon is one of the best things you'll ever eat.