There’s nothing like summertime in the city, when Chicago is overflowing with outdoor dining options. Looking for a secluded garden covered in romantic string lights? Or a bustling patio where you can sip frozen cocktails and dig into fried chicken? Whatever vibe you’re looking for, there’s a Chicago restaurant patio for you. Here are just a few of our favorite outdoor dining options.
Looking for something elevated? Check out Chicago’s rooftop bars and restaurants.
Parsons Chicken & Fish
This Logan Square spot features a leafy outdoor patio outfitted with cheery picnic tables, red-and-white-striped umbrellas, string lights, and ping-pong tables, just for fun. The fried Amish chicken goes perfectly with the signature Original Negroni Slushy (gin, bitters, and sweet vermouth).
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. Pair the wood-grilled Spanish octopus swimming in black garlic vinaigrette with the popular frozen Mai Tai.
Beatnik on the River
Beatnik on the River is a Bohemian paradise tucked away on a quiet stretch of the Chicago River. The waterfront restaurant features lush plants, creative cocktails, and colorful daybeds perfect for lounging in the sun. The globally inspired menu includes bites like falafel with black tahini yogurt, Lebanese roast lamb, and scallops with Jamón Ibérico.
Stylish Hyde Parkers and University of Chicago students populate this combination restaurant and music venue that boasts two levels of open-air patio seating in an industrial-chic space. 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).
Athena Greek Restaurant
The spacious outdoor patio of this Greektown restaurant is packed in the summertime with West Loop workers, residents, large groups, and families, along with tourists who are looking for a little Opa! 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.
Harry Caray’s Tavern
Located near the main entrance to iconic Navy Pier, the interior of Harry Caray’s Tavern is decked out in sports memorabilia. The outdoor waterfront patio is the perfect place to enjoy the incredible views of Lake Michigan. Harry Caray’s Tavern combines outstanding smoked barbecue and great selection of local craft beer, so order some of both and dig in.
The Duck Inn
This neighborhood gastro-tavern in Bridgeport is housed in a pre-Prohibition era tavern with a retro aesthetic inside and a cozy patio outside. In the summer, you’ll find The Duck Inn patio packed with locals for backyard pizza nights and Sunday brunches. Don’t miss their signature dishes, like the whole rotisserie duck or the Duck Inn Dog, a tribute to a classic Chicago style hot dog.
The patio at this refined Italian spot in West Town has major secret garden vibes. The charming outdoor space at Piccolo Sogno features string lights, yellow umbrellas, and ivy-covered walls, the perfect setting for to enjoy fresh, seasonal Italian cuisine. Order an Aperol spritz or a glass of cold white wine from their impressive all-Italian wine list.
The Big Star patio is the place to be during summer in Chicago. The bustling Wicker Park space is always packed on nice weather days, when people from all over the city gather to enjoy pitchers of margaritas, tacos on handmade tortillas, whisky cocktails, and honky tonk vibes. If the wait for a seat is too long, head to the walk-up window for a bag of tacos to go.
In a neighborhood packed with hot new restaurants, etta still manages to shine. This Wicker Park spot, located just off a few blocks from the buzzy Six Corners area, is particularly popular in the summer, when you can grab a spot on the sun-bathed, second-floor patio and enjoy wood-fired pizzas, ultra-fresh veggie dishes, and some of the best focaccia you’ll ever taste.
Gibsons Italia is an upscale spot situated on a scenic stretch of the Chicago River. The casually elegant spot serves Italian fare with an emphasis on pasta, seafood, and — most of all — steak. Choose from prime Angus, grass-fed Australian, Japanese, and Wagyu cuts while watching boats drift down the water and soaking in the skyline views.
Blue Door Kitchen
This charming Gold Coast gem feels like dining in the backyard of your (incredibly chic) best friend. Enter through the indoor dining room, decked out in vintage furniture, before emerging onto the secluded outdoor patio. The lush space is filled with string lights, hanging chandeliers, greenery, and bistro-style seating. The fresh, farm-to-table menu is crafted by chef-to-the-stars Art Smith and changes seasonally.
You’ll be instantly transported to the coast of Italy at this riverfront restaurant. Their patio at Pizzeria Portofino is always packed with people sipping Aperol spritz and soaking in the sun, while boats sail past on the calm Chicago River. An indoor/outdoor bar connects the patio to the main dining space, making the entire restaurant feel open air. The menu includes casual Italian favorites, like zucchini blossoms, burrata, hand stretched pizzas, and cacio e pepe.