Despite the forecast saying showers for the rest of the week, I think it's about time I put out my list of favorite outdoor dining options in Chicago. You might have to plan ahead for these guys, and it's really not all that long until the heat gets to the unbearable point one might expect in late July or early August. That being said, the glory days of Chicago weather are upon us for the next few weeks. Go for a run during the day so that you can gorge yourself by night at some of these great spots.
It's hard to miss the big sign with the fish just off of Ashland that practically screams EL BARCO! The inside is packed with large parties drinking heavily and making noise. The patio is lively as well, but in a more tolerable quantity. Go for the fried whole red snapper and you won't be sorry.
One of the best Napoli style pizzas in town makes the trip up the Brown line to Montrose a worthy journey. The patio has plenty of space and is on a relatively low traffic street making for some peaceful enjoyment of an ideally burnt and chewy crust. The Diavola is my pick here with some excellent in house peperoni.
It's tough to find good food in Streeterville, and yet it's probably one of the most common areas people ask me for recommendations (given that's where I work). All that aside, Volare offers up classic Italian fare with some really standout pasta and chicken dishes. The patio helps you forget how fast paced the whole neighborhood can be.
You might be surprised how close the menus look between Irazu and 90 Miles despite Cuba and Costa Rica being two obviously different countries. You're bound to get a good fill of beans, rice, plantains, and possibly yuca. Irazu has a great outdoor, BYOB setup as well with a not so subtle kick to their food.
This BYOB spot has one of the livelier atmospheres in Logan Square. With a large covered patio in back and the open one in front, you can enjoy a bunch of different seating options. Plus, it's more likely the heat from the food will make you sweat than anything the seasons might throw at you.
On a summer day this is one of the best brunch patios around. There are plenty of passers by on their way to the lake shore path, Green City Market, or the Lincoln Park Zoo. Of course that means you'll have plenty to do after you eat as well. The menu changes up occasionally, but the french toast and the homemade sausage are usually a good bet.
This back patio is just the best place to try out one of their well designed seasonal menus. Soup and salads for lunch are some of the best around. I’d put special mention in for the Grilled Gruyere. The prices are very reasonable too, making this an excellent place to enjoy the nice weather.
Definitely one of the more popular patios in the city. The wait might scare away some, but you can always leave your cell and go grab drinks around the corner. It's probably so popular because of the tacos, margaritas, and $1 Schlitz. Come for the food, but enjoy the single speed bikes and gauged earrings that come with the crowd.
What's better than a patio? Obviously it's a roof! There's not too much to look at in University Village where Davanti Enoteca sits, but the rooftop is great nonetheless. Enjoy some Italian small plates and drinks. I'd give special mention to the Chicken Liver Mousse and the Truffle Toast.
Despite the somewhat dumpy look to the surrounding area, Piccolo Sogno continues to provide a safe haven with its enclosed back patio. They've got enough overhanging trees and table umbrellas to make you feel secluded from the noisy surroundings. This place is perfect for a romantic night "out." Split one of the many salads and pasta dishes for what will become a surprisingly reasonable price despite how nice the digs are.