With more daylight and higher temps comes patio season, the greatest season of all in Chicago. As restaurants, cafes, and bars eagerly unveil their patios, here are some prime spots for al fresco eating.
One of the largest patios in the city can be found at Howells & Hood, a restaurant whose al fresco space is larger than many restaurants themselves. Stocked with an impressive 300 seats, the patio is lavishly maintained and landscaped, draped with soothing umbrellas for sunny days and equipped with infrared heating for chillier evenings. All in all, with 5,700 square feet of al fresco space, this is the place to linger this spring and summer.
One of the coolest patios in the city can be found at Ada Street. The quasi-clandestine restaurant is poised to raise its garage door to open up its boisterous backyard patio, draped in twinkling lights and Astro-Turf, and bedecked with outdoor ping-pong. The whole al fresco experience here feels like someone's backyard barbecue party.
Decadent lobster rolls and burgers bring the glam to Acadia's new outdoor patio in the South Loop. The revered restaurant's intimate patio provides seating for 12 to 16 diners, featuring food and beverages from the bar menu.
Get ready for lustrous views to go with your lustrous cocktails and food at River North's new Celeste. The multi-floored bar and restaurant is poised to debut The Garden, its rooftop patio, as weather gets warmer. Expect vintage-y punch bowls, Victorian-style seating, ivy-covered walls, and a general sense of ambient happiness.
One of the liveliest patios on Taylor Street can be found at Three Aces. The American/Italian bar/restaurant boasts a parking lot-sized patio lined with picnic tables. The full booze and food menu is provided, and Three Aces has been known to project movies onto the adjacent wall on the other side of the patio on certain nights.
Just across the street from Three Aces is another promising patio, this one from County Barbeque. As the restaurant enters its first patio season, guests will have their first chance to perch themselves behind the restaurant, with a front-row view of the restaurant's hefty smoker.
Located on a quaint strip in Lakeview (quaint by Lakeview standards, at least), City Dough is the ideal setting to bask outside immersed in flowers. Starting May 1, that fantasy becomes reality. The ample patio provides seating for roughly 60 patrons, lined with flowers, and catered to with full bar and food menus.
The Godfrey Hotel's I|O Urban Roofscape provides a panorama like no other. With the snazzy, stylish feel of a beach-y knoll, the restaurant boasts the largest year-round retractable outdoor lounge in Chicago. When retracted, guests can pour out onto the patio, which provides a sprawling view of River North.
In Streeterville, sister spots Tre Soldi and Coco Pazzo Cafe are both rolling out nifty patios for the season, through November 30 actually (weather permitting). Both spacious spots serve full menus all afternoon, providing a nice ambient escape from the downtown hustle.
On the border of Ravenswood and Lincoln Square lies another of Chicago's newest patios, a sprawling al fresco oasis at Grand Tour. Running along the eastern side of the restaurant, the patio spans almost the whole length of the space with seats for 80. Large windows along the walls allow outdoor patrons to view sporting events on TVs.
Then there's The Terrace at Trump, the closest thing you'll ever get to being a bird perched atop a skyscraper. Located on the 16th floor of the Trump International Hotel & Tower, the stunning setting re-opens in May with a gorgeous vista of downtown Chicago. While here, indulge in chic cocktails and warm-weather bites.
Photos: Howells & Hood, Ada Street, Three Aces, I|O Urban Roofscape, The Terrace at Trump