The Secret Patios Of Chicago
photo credit: Kim Kovacik
People want to sit outside when it's nice out. And tons of places have been able to set up tables on sidewalks and streets, so there are more places to eat outdoors than ever. But if you want to sit outside in some relative peace and quiet—without having pedestrians, dogs, couriers, and the ever-present fleet of Amazon Prime trucks going by—you still have options. Here’s a list of relatively secluded or out-of-the-way patios for you to eat and drink outside in Chicago.
After a three-year hiatus, Best Intentions quietly reopened in 2023, simply writing “we back” on a teeny note posted outside their building. This also included this Logan Square bar's secluded back patio. And that cute outdoor space happens to be an ideal place to drink $10 cocktails (which are way better than they have a right to be) and eat $6 smashburgers—you can even get a baker’s dozen for $72.
Bistro Campagne’s courtyard is charming, with brick walls, ivy, and lots of plants and trees. It’s also one of the best-kept secrets in Lincoln Square, which means the crowd (to the extent that there is one) seems to be filled with mostly regulars. Stick with French classics like escargot and boeuf bourguignon, and plan on ordering a second bottle of wine as an excuse to spend more time here. Who knows, maybe you’ll become a regular, too.
This Filipino restaurant in Wicker Park works well for date night, dinner with a friend, or even just having some chicken adobo by yourself. The charm factor increases even more when you can sit on their small, tree-lined back patio. It feels like the kind of tiny urban backyard you’re certain exists but have never experienced for yourself, like exact change or a runner’s high. Don’t skip out on dessert while you’re here—the pastries are fantastic and the halo halo is some of the best we’ve had in Chicago.
Chief O’Neill’s in Avondale feels like a classic Chicago bar (meaning full of wood and dim lighting to protect you from the light of day). But there’s also a spacious garden area for outdoor dining, the tables are spaced far apart, and overall it feels very peaceful. Plus they have live music on Sundays in their beer garden. Because drinking and eating corned beef while listening to an Irish folk band is classic Chicago, too.
Fiya opened in Andersonville in 2020, and this Israeli restaurant is great. From the pillowy pita to the tahini-rich hummus that’s slick with olive oil to a khachapuri filled with shakshuka—it’s all delicious. And you can’t see it from the street, but they have a large, quiet, courtyard behind the restaurant that’s filled with string lights and trees. It’s exactly the kind of relaxing spot that’s perfect for a casual weekday dinner.
OK Trivoli isn't really a secret. You already know about the picnic table-filled outdoor space at Green Street Smoked Meats, and Trivoli Tavern is owned by the same team. The twinkly-lit cobblestoned patio in the alley isn't visible from the street, and is perfect for a quiet dinner outside. Trivoli serves upscale bar food like fish and chips, great pastas, and a very good steak frites.
Hopleaf in Andersonville has an exceptional beer selection, and the food menu (with dishes like mac and cheese, mussels, and a delicious cashew butter and fig jam sandwich) goes above and beyond what you’d find in an average bar. There’s also a large, secluded beer garden out back, which provides a nice break from the parade of strollers rolling down Clark Street.
You never got around to planning that romantic getaway to Galena did you? Don’t feel bad - when you’re eating on the enclosed backyard patio at The Duck Inn in Bridgeport, you can forget you’re in the city. Order anything involving duck (including the whole rotisserie duck, which needs to be arranged ahead of time), or the duck-inn dog (a hot dog cooked in duck fat). Just make sure you have enough time to hang out after dinner and have drinks. The space has fire pits and comfortable chairs that will make you want to stay a while.
From the outside, Enoteca Roma in Wicker Park looks like a little Italian spot that can fit about 25 people. But don’t be discouraged—this place is the restaurant equivalent of Mary Poppins’ carpetbag, thanks to a huge back patio. It’s secluded and very cute, with string lights and lots of green stuff to help you forget you’re in the city. Start out with a polenta board for an appetizer (our favorite is topped with a venison bolognese), then follow up with a pasta, like the penne arrabiata or one of the handmade specials. Hang out here until they ask you to leave.
One of our favorite spots in Logan Square is Giant. And in the summer you can take advantage of their fenced-in back patio, which you might not realize exists since you can’t see it from the street. Once there, you can pretty much go with anything on the menu—we’ve yet to find something we don’t like. The broccoli and cheese is a must-order, and you’ll also want to try their pastas, like the tagliatelle with crab and uni butter.
The Delta has a very nice back patio that you might not know exists. You can’t see it from the street, and it’s far away from all the noise of Chicago Avenue. Come here for dishes like hush puppies, Delta-style tamales (which are simmered instead of steamed), and a burger.
At first glance, the front patio at this Gold Coast Italian restaurant will look like your best bet for eating outside here. But don’t let the misdirection fool you—there’s actually a hidden back courtyard that’s way more appealing. It’s filled with pretty string lights, has the perfect atmosphere for a quiet dinner outside, and is a great place to avoid the neighborhood foot traffic.
Ada Street is in a barren, industrial part of Bucktown, and the entrance is on what looks like a frontage road. If you’re not expecting this, you might think you're lost. The isolated atmosphere continues with the enclosed and hidden courtyard in the back of the restaurant. But once you get settled and text everyone to let them know you’re alright, you can have a nice, quiet dinner without hearing city buses go by. Order the steak tartare and the pasta of the day.
M. Henry is a very popular brunch spot in Andersonville with a little back patio that you might not notice. But M. Henry is also open during the week—when you can order things like bacon-wrapped baked eggs, cinnamon roll french toast, or crab cake benedict and relax knowing that the hidden patio means there’s a good chance your boss won’t see you eating pancakes instead of having your eyes dilated.
There are multiple outposts of this coffee shop, but the location in Bronzeville is the only one with a fenced-in patio. You can get things like lattes and cappuccinos, but you’ll also find a long list of delicious specialty drinks like their banana mocha (with espresso, steamed milk, banana syrup, and chocolate) or the iced Dreamsicle made with white mocha, orange, and whipped cream.