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10 Best Secret Gardens for Clandestine Drinking and Dining

By Sarah Freeman
July 21, 2014

Looking for an escape? Look no further than the tucked-away backyards and high-in-the-sky patios of these restaurants and bars. A secluded location, lush landscaping and delectable food and drinks make them the perfect secret summertime spot.

  • Ada Street

    Bright-green Astroturf and high brick walls are the perfect backdrop for chef Zoe Schor’s seasonal cuisine and extensive cocktail menu. The backyard boasts a Ping-Pong table as well as a garden to season dishes.

    Must-Order: Smoked purple potatoes with sorrel and garlic aïoli

  • Anteprima

    Andersonville’s quaint Italian eatery serves its rustic, homestyle cuisine in the enclosed sanctuary that is its back patio. Go Lady and the Tramp-style with a bowl of pasta with prosciutto ragout underneath the green treetop canopy.

    Must-Order: Duck meatballs

  • Enoteca Roma

    A glass of Italian wine on the brick patio adorned with greenery and flowers underneath strung twinkle lights — is there anything better on a summer night? We think not, unless that glass of wine comes with Roman-style pizza and bruschetta.

    Must-Order: Arancini del Giorno

  • Happy Village

    At this hipster haven, an outdoor oasis draws crowds for cheap beers on the massive hidden patio complete with a water feature and outdoor bar. Inside, a room adjacent to the bar holds Ping-Pong tables for late-night tournaments.

    Must-Order: New Belgium’s Fat Tire

  • Piccolo Sogno

    Chicago’s quintessential Italian restaurant also boasts its most famed secret-garden escape. It's fitting that the name of the restaurant translates to “Little Dream,” because the patio feels a bit like a lush Italian dreamscape.

    Must-Order: Panzanella salad

  • The Monarch

    Prime patio seating in Wicker Park is hard to come by, but this neighborhood gem boasts an equally sophisticated secret patio — white furniture and flowering shrubs sit within the pale-green walls. Dine on blue crab wontons accompanied by a cocktail or craft beer.

    Must-Order: XO Glazed wings

  • Photo by: Anthony Thalier

    Nomi

    Tucked away on the seventh-floor patio of the Park Hyatt, this urban escape has views, booze and a market-driven food menu. Pastry chef Meg Galus also assembled a selection of seasonal treats, from donut soft-serve to berry milkshakes, to suit any summer craving.

    Must-Order: Moscato-lemon verbena shaved ice

  • Shanghai Terrace

    Exotic elegance and immaculate service describe the experience on the secluded rooftop garden at this Asian escape. Sip on bottled cocktails while dining on dim sum in one of the cabanas surrounded by sky-high plants.

    Must-Order: Peking duck

  • Photo by: Nick Murway

    Sumi Robata Bar

    This garden hidden in the middle of River North sets a Zen mood with carefully raked sand and purposefully placed rocks to elicit tranquility and serenity. As for the menu, diners nosh on the likes of creamy tofu, grilled shishito peppers and a lunch bento box.

    Must-Order: Bone-in lamb chop

  • Photo by: Nick Murway

    Whiskey Trust

    Behind Boystown’s new favorite, and only, distillery is a hidden patio with light-gray picnic tables, stringed lights and brick walls that seclude it from the busy neighborhood.

    Must-Order: $6 burger-and-beer combo

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Places Mentioned

Shanghai Terrace

Fine Dining • River North

Food26 Decor25 Service24 Cost$97
 
 
 
Anteprima

Italian • Andersonville

Food25 Decor20 Service21 Cost$42
 
 
 
Happy Village

Bar • East Village

Atmo.21 Decor19 Service23 CostM
 
 
 
Nomi Restaurant

American • Gold Coast

Food26 Decor26 Service25 Cost$75
 
 
 
Whiskey Trust

Bar • Lakeview

Atmo.- Decor- Service- CostM
 
 
 
Ada Street

Pulaski Park

Food26 Decor25 Service25 Cost$50
 
 
 
Piccolo Sogno

Italian • West Loop

Food26 Decor26 Service25 Cost$58
 
 
 
 
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