A lively crowd is the perfect backdrop for dinner on an outdoor patio or drinks up high in a rooftop bar. We’ve got suggestions for 10 Chicago patio and rooftop bars that are local favorites and great places to do some summer in the city people watching.
1. ROOF on theWit
The vibe: Young professionals cutting loose after a long week of work in the Loop crowd this lively rooftop lounge on the 27th floor of theWit hotel. With its modern design, glittering city views and nightclub atmosphere, it’s no wonder Travel + Leisure named it one of the top three rooftop bars in the world.
Must try: Go for dishes like the stuffed scallops or grilled beef kebab, followed by a Lululemon Lemon Drop shot (vodka, fresh citrus, and lavender).
The vibe: Inspired by a Great Lakes beach house with its glowing string lights and picnic table seating, this rooftop restaurant perched atop The Chicago Athletic Association Hotel draws downtown execs with its jaw-dropping views of Millennium Park and Lake Michigan.
Must try: Share the shellfish platter and pair it with a Howl at the Jun (an elixir of gin, Kombucha, grapefruit, and sparkling rosé).
3. Parsons Chicken & Fish
Must try: The fried Amish chicken goes surprisingly well with the signature Original Negroni Slushy (gin, bitters, and sweet vermouth).
4. The Dawson
The vibe: In trendy West Town, local young professionals and couples can be found on the welcoming rustic outdoor patio with its own bar and French doors that lead into the beautiful restaurant housed in a historic former fireplace mantle factory.
Must try: Pair the wood-grilled Spanish octopus swimming in black garlic vinaigrette with the popular frozen Mai Tai.
5. Monnie Burke’s
The vibe: A chic take on your classic neighborhood restaurant, right on a bustling stretch of the vibrant Pilsen neighborhood. The interior is all high ceiling and exposed brick, leading out to Monnie Burke’s secluded patio that’s the place to be all summer long.
Must try: The menu changes seasonally, so you’ll be surprised every time you go. One usual dish is the popular Spanish octopus with n’duja vinaigrette, shishito peppers, and papas bravas. Make sure to check out the cocktail menu, too.
6. The Promontory
Must try: Go for the grilled Gulf prawns with black pepper barbecue and cheese grits, then toast the evening with an herb-infused Booze & Botany (vodka, dry vermouth, and celery bitters).
7. Athena Greek Restaurant
The vibe: The spacious outdoor patio of this Greektown restaurant with a smashing skyline view is packed in the summertime with West Loop workers, residents, large groups, and families, along with tourists who are looking for a little Opa!
Must try: You can’t go wrong with the rich pastitsio: baked macaroni mixed with beef and cheese, topped with bechamel sauce. For dessert, sip the Buttered Rum Cake Martini crowned with whipped cream.
8. Raised – An Urban Rooftop Bar
The vibe: Guests staying at the Renaissance Chicago Downtown Hotel and locals in the know flock to this sleek rooftop deck that features an indoor/outdoor bar and a private VIP greenhouse that’s right in the middle of the action.
Must try: Pass around shareable plates like the beef tenderloin sliders with truffle cheese and split a decanter cocktail for six, such as the Parley (rum, seasonal berries, and mint).
9. Shangai Terrace
The vibe: Shades of deep red and elegant Asian decor create a vintage 1930s supper club feel at this fourth-floor oasis in The Peninsula Chicago hotel that is a favorite of the well-heeled Magnificent Mile crowd.
Must try: Order the Cantonese dim sum, including barbecue pork buns and spicy beef pot stickers, sided with a Lost in Shanghai (vodka, lychee, and cassis).
10. Harry Caray’s Tavern
The vibe: Located near the main entrance to Navy Pier, the interior of Harry Caray’s Tavern is decked out in sports memorabilia. But the outdoor waterfront patio is the perfect place to enjoy the incredible views of Lake Michigan.
Must try: Harry Caray’s Tavern combines outstanding smoked barbecue and great selection of local craft beer, so order some of both and dig in.