Where To Have Brunch Outside In Chicago
Some excellent outdoor spots to break your quarantine brunch drought.
Chicagoans wait all year for patio season, so the pandemic persisting into late summer has been a devastating blow to a brunch-obsessed city that can barely count on three months of good weather. As a bright spot, plenty of reopened restaurants have outdoor seating. So, we’ve rounded up 19 of our favorite outdoor brunch spots during one of the strangest patios seasons since, well, ever.
Aba’s picturesque rooftop patio offers an escape from Fulton Market’s sidewalk seating and not-very-cute views of orange construction barriers. Bring someone you want to impress with the Chicago skyline and some beautifully plated short rib shakshuka, charred eggplant spread and whipped feta.
Saint Lou's Backyard
St. Lou’s Assembly is a welcome reprieve from the small plates and high prices of some of its West Loop counterparts. St. Lou’s brunch menu features classic American dishes like biscuits and gravy, patty melts, and apple skillet pancakes. Plus, the fenced-in back patio will remind you of hanging out in a friend’s backyard.
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OK, everything may be up in flames, but damn if we don’t feel better about it while eating fresh bread and cured meats. Get your fill of these at a Chicago brunch classic - The Publican. The patio is open, and maple braised bacon (and the world) is frying.
Variety is the spice of life - in both cloth masks and brunch options. Luckily, food hall Politan Row has eight different food and drink concepts. This way you can order anything from gyoza to lobster rolls to fried chicken to charcuterie, and enjoy your buffet while social distancing on their large patio.
Besides Little Goat’s takeout window, all the other “goat’ concepts focus on dinner - but not Cabra in the Hoxton Hotel. This the only restaurant in the goat empire serving up a seated outdoor brunch. You can get Peruvian-inspired small plates like ceviche, anticuchos, and of course, pisco sours on a beautiful open-air rooftop with poolside seating.
Beatnik On The River
Beatnik On The River serves up a wide-ranging brunch featuring flavors and ingredients from all over the world. You can get everything from bulgogi to arepas to pan con tomate. Come for the mezze, stay for the tropical plant-covered patio, and view of the river.
Sometimes all you need is a stiff cocktail, brunch, and a rooftop patio to sit on while you enjoy them both. If you’re in River North, Bernie’s has you covered for both. You can’t go wrong with fantastic options like balsamic goat-cheese avocado toast, house-cured lox, or their burger.
Farm Bar in Lakeview is where you go for a hearty outdoor brunch. The menu is full of Midwestern favorites like cheese curds, biscuits and gravy, and (of course), a farmer’s breakfast with eggs, toast, potatoes, and your choice of sausage or bacon.
Longman & Eagle
If you’re looking for a little sweet, mostly savory, and a lot of booze, Longman & Eagle’s has something for everybody - including whiskey. Seriously, they have over 400 different whiskeys, with over 36 at $3 a shot. So basically, 2020 is the summer of 10 a.m. smash burgers and Old Fashioneds.
Ina Mae Tavern & Packaged Goods
You’re probably not hopping on a plane and going to New Orleans for beignets and gumbo, no matter how cheap those tickets may be. Instead, get your fix at Ina Mae’s in Wicker Park. Sure, Milwaukee isn’t as lively as Bourbon, but you can just down a couple of frozen cocktails and use your imagination.
Frontier is known for its whole animal roasts and meat-heavy dinner menu, but don’t overlook their fantastic brunch. That’s where you’ll find tasty things like peach cobbler french toast, or (the dish that really sold us) the Croque Frontier on Texas toast with smoked pork and pimento mornay. Plus it’s on the outskirts of Wicker, making it way easier to find parking than near some of the other spots in the neighborhood.
Parson's Chicken & Fish
Both locations of Parson’s (Lincoln Square and Lincoln Park) have big patios with lots of space for picnic tables and playing games like cornhole and ping-pong. The menu is short, focusing on fried chicken (both hot and regular), fried fish, and a couple of sides. So there’s no small-plates pressure to share “two or three dishes” per person. In other words, both the space and the menu are perfect for a fun brunch with your quarantine buddy.
Dusek’s has a lot of great brunch dishes to choose from, each more enjoyable than the last. Start with a dutch baby or some tomato toast, work your way up to the board and beer special, and then split a small stack of pancakes with your pathogen-sharing roommate.
Frida Room has great Mexican and American breakfast classics, from strawberry-banana pancakes to enfrijoladas. But the real showstoppers here are the coffee drinks. They use a proprietary blend of slow-roasted Mexican and Columbian coffee beans that serve as a delicious base for hot and iced drinks with cajeta, coconut, cinnamon, Nutella, vanilla, or mocha. Enjoy your coffee on the sidewalk patio while waiting for your enchiladas con huevos.
The Duck Inn
You wouldn’t know just by looking at it from the street, but Duck Inn has a quiet patio hiding out in the back. And on Sundays, you can enjoy duck-themed brunch plates like duck sope, duck hash, and the Egg McDuckInn, a play on the classic breakfast sandwich but with a double sausage patty, American cheese, and maple syrup onions. Oh, and yes, they have non-duck based dishes too.
Truth Italian Restaurant
Truth Italian’s breakfast is available every day of the week, so you don’t have to wait till the weekend for their french toast flights and big plates of lobster & grits. But with the delicious food and impressive portion sizes, we can’t imagine anyone having a productive workday after eating breakfast here.
Nella Pizza e Pasta
Six words: Burrata. Black truffle. Soft scrambled eggs. If those don’t convince you to come to this Hyde Park Neapolitan pizza spot for brunch, maybe “Italian pizza omelets” and “Nutella calzones” will.
Kalish is vegan, but you might not realize it by looking at the menu, or even by your first bite of the food. They’ve managed to create delicious plant-based versions of brunch favorites like pancakes, scrambles, and even chicken and waffles. Plus if you head next door, the same team is also serving up vegan Detroit-style pizza at Longacre, and vegan Jewish deli food at Sam and Gerties - that’s gotta be the highest concentration of vegan options outside of California.
River Valley Farmer's Table is permanently closed
photo credit: Sandy Noto
River Valley Farmer's Table
You can be sure you’re eating one of the freshest brunches around at River Valley Farmers Table. The restaurant gets all its produce from River Valley Ranch, their sustainable farm, and turns them into seasonal dishes like omelets, benedicts, pancakes, and salads.