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Casual Spots For An Easy Dinner Outside

The best part of Summer in Chicago is not everything has to be such a production. Need groceries? Walk to the store without worrying where your hat and gloves are. Feel like taking a walk? Go for it, it's 100 degrees outside if you factor in humidity. Want to grab dinner? There are a lot of casual restaurants where you can sit outside and eat a great meal without spending a fortune, and these are the places to do just that.

To check out the rest of the 2016 Chicago Summer Guide, click here.

the spots


Chop Shop

2033 W. North Ave.

Chop Shop is a bar, restaurant, butcher shop, and live event space year-round. That’s a handful, but during the summer there’s only one part of Chop Shop you need to worry about: their rooftop. It’s a more secluded and laid-back outdoor space than its partytime neighbor, Big Star, so it’s ideal for a midweek casual hang.


St Lou's Assembly

664 West lake Street

One of the more intriguing new openings this year is St. Lou’s, which dubs itself an old-school “meat and three.” Layman’s terms: St. Lou’s is a 1950’s-style cafeteria where you can order one meat (like prime rib or fried chicken) and add any three sides, one of which should always be mac & cheese. It’s very casual, and we’re very into it - especially the patio out back.


Part sandwich shop, part bar, all around cool place - welcome to Wyler Road. We love everything this casual Logan Square restaurant is doing, from cheese curds, to a heavy-duty short rib sandwich, to a more delicate smoked salmon sandwich with charred onion jam. You can grab a casual and delicious meal plus beers during the week without worrying about spending too much.


Spacca Napoli

1769 W Sunnyside Ave

Let’s not fight over deep dish. Let’s just talk about our favorite Chicago pizza -Spacca Napoli. We aren’t shy to proclaim our love for the Neapolitan-style pies here, and that’s particularly true in the summer when we’re trying to stay in beach body shape. You can’t be eating deep dish and putting on a swimsuit, so stay sexy with Spacca Napoli instead.


Fish Bar

2956 N Sheffield Ave

When it comes to oysters and lobster rolls, Chicago isn’t the East Coast - but that doesn’t mean we can’t have nice things. When you have a craving for clams or lobster this summer, check out the picnic benches at Fish Bar. Lobster rolls are the obvious move, but what we really like is the Satchmo Po’boy with fried shrimp and crawfish on a bun.


Emilio’s has been serving tapas in Chicago since before Americans could comprehend the idea of “small plates,” and we’re proud to say we’ve been eating here for a long time. The Streeterville Spanish restaurant is low-key and laidback, but it’s also in an ideal location right in the middle of the city. Emilio’s is the closest thing here to a real Spanish experience, and that’s a situation you shouldn’t pass up.


The warehouse space at Green Street is great, but barbecue is always better outside. That’s why Green Street is ideal in the summer, when you can post up on one of their many picnic benches with a cold beer and a tray full of barbecue and sides. You can’t hide the meat sweats indoors, but you can blame it on the sun when you’re sitting outside.


Big Jones

5347 N. Clark St.

There’s nothing like down-home Southern cooking on a nice summer day, and Big Jones is the place to get it. The Andersonville restaurant serves Southern favorites like fried chicken, shrimp and grits, and crispy catfish, and their small back patio is where you’ll want to eat it all. And we do mean eat it all, because when we’re at Big Jones, there’s no holding back. Don’t miss out on the dessert, either.

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