Summertime day drinking is one of the best things about living in Chicago. Not just because you finally get the chance to be outside, but also because you’ll probably be in bed by 9pm, and therefore not as hungover the next day. And, unlike last year, this summer you can actually drink with your friends on a patio instead of by yourself in the shower. So, you need a spot that’s comfortable enough to hang out, and, ideally, one that serves food - because according to our team of experts, eating something while drinking will reduce your chances of feeling terrible tomorrow by about 1,000%.
Recess in the West Loop is a theme bar, and the theme is basically “City Hall,” which means menus are made to look like municipal forms and cocktails have names like the “Alderman’s Choice.” We’ll be the first to admit that might not sound like fun, but we promise it is. The outdoor space is huge (14,500 square feet), and includes tables situated inside repurposed shipping containers, giant games of things like Connect Four, and it even has an outpost of Bob’s Pizza. In conclusion, come here, play games, get drunk, order pizza, and repeat all season long
This Logan Square bar has a large fenced-in back patio full of colorful picnic tables and bright green turf. It’s a fantastic low-key drinking spot, where you can meet some friends and even bring your dog to hang out with you for an hour on fake grass. Plus, now they make great Sicilian-style pizza, so your dog won’t need to wake you up after you pass out with a DiGiorno’s in the oven.
When you’re at The Delta, you want to be sitting with friends on the back patio. It’s far enough away from North Ave that you won’t hear the traffic, and surrounded by enough trees to make you forget that you’re a few buildings away from the Blue Line. The cocktail menu here is long (with some drinks coming in shareable “vases”), and the food is Southern - so you can get things like hush puppies and Delta-style tamales. This spot is perfect for small groups looking to chill out - or for people who like drinking out of vases, but don’t want the hassle of getting rid of the flowers first.
Kaiser Tiger has one of the largest patios in the city, and the words “sausage, bacon & beer” are painted on the side of the building in huge lettering. If that doesn’t sound like a day drinking call to action, then we don’t know what does. Come here with a group and share “the bomb” - five pounds of beef and sausage wrapped in bacon. Then, like those kids from Stand by Me, plan on needing some time away from each other - it’s the kind of thing that changes you.
There are a lot of brew pubs open during the day, but only one space that’s four taprooms in one. At Brew yards, there’s beer from Burnt City, Around The Bend, Bold Dog, and Casa Humilde, as well as Lillie’s Q Barbeque. - all on a 90 person patio with fire pits. Plus, you pour your own beer here, so you can control your day-drinking destiny.
The Moonlighter in Logan Square is a fantastic day drinking spot, primarily because of its massive front patio. Add in pitchers of cocktails and an extensive bar food menu full of things like burgers and wings, and coming here is an easy choice to make. Plus, their patio is dog-friendly.
This is a rooftop in Wicker Park, and at 3,000 square feet, it’s very large. On the weekends Whiskey Business serves bottomless brunch, and boozy brunches are always an excellent opportunity to play catch up with your friends. The drink package is $25, and must be purchased with an entree like French toast, chicken and waffles, or chilaquiles. And in non-day-drinking news but also worth knowing: on Mondays and Wednesdays they have an outdoor movie night.
Park + Field in Logan Square is less of an outdoor patio and more of an outdoor empire. The space is gigantic and has tables, Adirondack chairs, TVs, multiple firepits (where you can make s’mores), and a camper-turned-bar. If you want an outdoor place to hang with your friends but don’t want to drive to Wisconsin to go camping, this spot has you covered.
The secluded outdoor space at the now-closed Monty Burke’s in Pilsen was fantastic, so we were happy when we heard Pilsen Yards took over the space. The patio now has a covering, a bar, and the restaurant hosts “hangover vinyl brunches,” which include vinyl, brunch dishes like breakfast burritos, chilaquiles, and pineapple concha toast, and hopefully not too many hangovers.
Lark is a bar in Boystown (now called Northalsted), but it’s not far from Wrigley Field now that live sports are a thing and you and your friends want to catch a game. Lark has a fantastic plant-filled back patio, and on the weekends hosts drag brunches or has live DJ’s spinning themed soundtracks like “90s” or “girl groups.” You can get bottomless mimosas, Bloody Mary’s, sangria, bellinis, and a variety of “duck mules,” where your cocktails include a cute rubber ducky. Oh, and there’s food too - eggs, biscuits and gravy, breakfast pizza - you get the idea.
If you just want to sit with friends outside, drink some cocktails, and eat pizza, Pizzeria Lobo in Logan Square is where you can do this. On the weekends they open at noon, and you’ll find excellent Neapolitan pies like the “amatrice yo-self” (roasted tomato, pancetta, and Calabrian chile), or the castello bianco - with meatballs, ramps, and parm. Plus, their large patio is heated and partially covered, so you can hang over pitchers of beer no matter what the weather is like.
Roots is a solid West Town option for pizza, and an excellent option for day drinking. The pies are Quad Cities-style, which means they’re cut into rectangles and the toppings are under the cheese. But the huge bar with garage-style windows, sidewalk patio, and interesting specialty pies make it a great local spot for hanging out with pizza and beer - especially if you’re with a large group.
The spacious rooftop bar at the Godfrey has lots of couches that are perfect for hanging out with your friends over drinks and small plates like hummus or edamame. Plus, it has a fantastic view of downtown, and a retractable roof so you don’t need to worry about bad weather ruining your plans.
Bandit is a smallish spot in the West Loop that feels like a party, but is still low-key enough for a casual get-together to listen to your friend confess they’re secretly glad they had to cancel their wedding last year. Come here for day drinks and bar snacks like disco fries during the week, or come on the weekends for bottomless brunch. For $30 you can get unlimited mimosas and Bloody Mary’s, along with dishes like eggs, pancakes, and chilaquiles. One of the best things about this place? The bathrooms are decorated with wall-to-wall posters of Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears, respectively.
If you’ve ever been stuck deciding between eating tacos or going to the club with your friends, Federales is for you. This is the kind of place where you can drink too many margaritas from pitchers and have one (or six) ill-advised tequila shots, but it’ll seem like a smart idea because you can throw shot glasses made of ice at a bell. (It’s a thing here, just go with it.)
The Dawson in River West has a lot going for it. It’s a big two-story space with a huge fenced-in patio that’s great for groups, and they have decent food. On the weekends you can get brunch dishes like fried chicken and waffles, pozole, or smoked salmon toast. But we come here mainly for drinks, and to sit outside under some trees and string lights with friends.
Parson’s in Logan Square has one of the best set-ups in the entire city for hanging out. The patio, which is fenced off from the street, is huge, with lots of umbrella-covered picnic tables. You can play ping pong there, and they’ll even let you bring your dog. Add in fried chicken and negroni slushies, and you have a great place to drink all summer long.
You can pretty much live on the patio at Big Star in Wicker Park. And considering how crowded it always is, we’re not convinced this isn’t already happening. But we get why so many people love this place- the space is large and comfortable, and you can even bring your dog. While the tacos here aren’t the best in the city, they’re perfectly fine, and the cocktails are great. Come early to get a table, and if you decide to stay, don’t forget to forward your mail.
Parlor Pizza in the West Loop is another spot that feels like a constant party, but more of the house-party variety. And its two large outdoor patios are some of the best in the city for meeting people. Round up your friends, order a bunch of pizzas (they aren’t mind-blowing, but they’re satisfying), and spend the afternoon eating pizza and drinking beer. Like nature intended.
Truth Italian Restaurant
The large outdoor space at Truth Italian is perfect for groups, and the walled-off, covered patio means you can’t use the weather as an excuse to cancel. Also worth noting - this place serves a fantastic breakfast (with lots of french toast variations) seven days a week, and their long mimosa menu makes it ideal for a boozy weekend brunch
If you need us to remind you that Sheffield’s in Wrigleyville is a great place for day drinking, you either just moved to Chicago or you actively avoid social settings. You won’t even have to plan a day drinking session here - it’s the kind of thing that just happens. This is because Sheffield’s has everything that makes Chicago great when it’s nice out - wine and craft beer, solid food (in this case, BBQ), and a spacious outdoor area. What we’re saying is that if you don’t know about this place already, you should.
Off Color Brewing’s taproom, Mousetrap, has a great front patio. It’s full of shaded picnic tables that have plenty of distance between each other, and they’re large enough to grab beers with a small group. And while they don’t serve food, you can always order drunk pizza from Pequod’s when you get home.