The Best Outdoor Dining Options in 12 Chicago Neighborhoods

By Sarah Freeman  |  June 9, 2014

Summer is short. Don't waste any of it on a less-than-idyllic rooftop or lackluster back lot. Here are the top outdoor options in 12 different hoods.

  • Honey Butter Fried Chicken in Avondale
    Eating crispy bird in the great outdoors is as good as it gets, which is why when the team behind this popular hot spot was scouting locations, the large patio was a major plus.

    Must-Order: Fried chicken, obviously.

    Insider Tip: The restaurant is rarely crowded during lunch on weekdays.

    3361 N. Elston Ave.; 773-478-4000

  • Red Door in Bucktown
    This neighborhood favorite is a dream on warm nights when the high walls and sunken patio create an enchanting escape. Dine on small plates at one of the communal picnic tables.

    Must-Order: Boozy sno-cones.

    Insider Tip: Stop by on the weekend for brunch with bottomless mimosas.

    2118 N. Damen Ave.; 773-697-7221

  • Sportsman’s Club in Humboldt Park
    One of the hottest bars in Chicago recently opened what is sure to become one of the most-visited backyards. Pony up to the bar behind the intimate tavern for daily cocktail specials and craft beer.

    Must-Order: Beer.

    Insider Tip: The summer barbecue series invites guest chefs, food trucks and brewers to grill out on Sundays.

    948 N. Western Ave.; 872-206-8054

  • The J. Parker in Lincoln Park
    It's impossible to be in a bad mood when overlooking Lincoln Park, Lake Michigan and the Chicago skyline with a cocktail in hand. House drinks focus on refreshing, seasonal flavors. Sip one while sitting in the chic fireside lounge area.

    Must-Order: J. Parker burger.

    Insider Tip: Liquid Brunch kicks off every Sunday at noon. Grab a craft cocktail and follow the DJ's lead.

    1816 N. Clark St.; 312-254-4747

  • Gene’s Sausage Shop in Lincoln Square
    Encased meats cooked on a wood grill, wines by the glass, beers on tap, a gazebo and garden—the rooftop patio located above the European market and delicatessen has it all.

    Must-Order: Polish sausage or bratwurst plate.

    Insider Tip: The rooftop is only open Thursday through Sundays.

    4750 N. Lincoln Ave.; 773-728-7243

  • Three Aces in Little Italy
    The biker bar, rocker haven and industry favorite turns its parking lot into a summer patio with murals-covered fences, picnic tables and strings of lights.

    Must-Order: Bolognese fries.

    Insider Tip: Keep an eye out for the restaurant's next concept, scheduled to open this summer in West Town.

    1321 W. Taylor St.; 312-243-1577

  • Parson’s Chicken & Fish in Logan Square
    After opening last summer, this massive patio became an essential destination for Ping-Pong and fried chicken.

    Must-Order: Negroni slushie.

    Insider Tip: This space is dog friendly, so bring Barker Posey along.

    2952 W. Armitage Ave.; 773-384-3333

  • Fountainhead in Ravenswood
    This gem of the North Side specializes in beer and whiskey with an equally tempting food menu created by chef Cleetus Friedman. While the rooftop doesn’t offer much of a view, high wood walls and flower boxes add to the ambiance.

    Must-Order: Smoked hummus is a summertime favorite.

    Insider Tip: Although this popular rooftop is usually packed (especially on weekends), the mix of high- and low-tops as well as spacing between tables makes it feel open.

    1970 W. Montrose Ave.; 773-697-8204

  • Tanta in River North
    This urban paradise, nestled among the brick buildings and stone facades of River North, has two bars: one specializes in pisco; the other, raw seafood.

    Must-Order: Ceviche sliced to order.

    Insider Tip: It’s a smart alternative when the dining room is crowded (which it usually is).

    118 W. Grand Ave.; 312-222-9700

  • Piccolo Sogno in River West
    Chicago’s quintessential Italian restaurant (the name of which translates to “Little Dream”) also has a secret garden.

    Must-Order: Prosciutto di Parma.

    Insider Tip: The roof is only open Thursday though Sundays.

    464 N. Halsted St.; 312-421-0077

  • Little Goat in West Loop
    Cozy lounges and a quaint bar create a laid-back atmosphere at this intimate space above the retro diner. Don't be alarmed by the large goat that spins to see the Sears Tower to the east and Randolph Street to the west.

    Must-Order: Goat-liver mousse.

    Insider Tip: Grab lunch in Little Goat Bread and head upstairs, or wait until the evening when the bar opens.

    820 W. Randolph St.; 312-888-3455

  • Mott St in Wicker Park
    When Big Star is crowded (yet again), head south to a more picturesque patio illuminated by strings of light and a fire pit.

    Must-Order: Everything wings.

    Insider Tip: The patio will host a series of Secret Garden Sake Suppers starting tonight.

    1401 N. Ashland Ave.; 773-687-9977