Who's Ready for Al Fresco Dining?
This lovely list arrived in my inbox this week. After the long, rough winter we have had, Chicagoans are anxious to enjoy a long, steamy summer with lots of outdoor dining. Here's a round-up of places you'll want to hit this summer for cocktails on the patio or lunch under the umbrella.
The end of the polar vortex is finally in sight for Chicagoans and a season full of al fresco dining is ahead. Charming street-side tables, bustling patios and breezy rooftop bars are in store, everywhere from The Loop to quaint neighborhoods. Whether for a cheerful, sunny lunch or cocktails under the stars, an ideal al fresco destination is waiting for everyone. Those celebrating this longed-for season can grab their favorite pair of shades or light summer wrap and head to these outdoor favorites:
1664 N. Ada St.
Spring is finally springing, kicking off patio season at Ada St. As the weather starts to warm up, the restaurant from the DMK Restaurant group will open its popular backyard patio for its third summer season. Featuring fresh, seasonal BBQ-inspired dishes, refreshing summer cocktails, outdoor ping-pong and more, Ada St.'s backyard is a unique retreat for guests to kick back and feel at-home while enjoying warm Chicago evenings.
1467 N Milwaukee Ave
Since opening last fall in Wicker Park, this neighborhood gem has transported locals and visitors to the Italian dinner table with regional, classic Italian cuisine. Located on the lively stretch of Milwaukee Avenue, Azzurra's patio (12 seats) will be the perfect spot to dine and imbibe alfresco this summer.
151 W. Erie St.
Located in the heart of River North, Barcito's bustling and chic, stand & eat bar features 60 outdoor seats ideal for sipping, sharing and soaking up the sun. Guests can enjoy the bar's creative kegged cocktails, wines, beer, and the restaurant's top-selling sangria-the signature drink of summer- al fresco-style. Barcito's menu also offers a range of tasty tapas to satisfy either a light or hearty appetite, and refreshing house made sodas.
1352 W. Taylor St.
This spring, diners can dig into regional favorites at Chicago's first chef-driven barbeque concept on a brand new patio. Launching this season, the spacious outdoor seating area located just behind County Barbeque will provide guests a first-hand view of the legendary smoker tended by Chef Erick Williams and Chef Michael Kornick. An array of smoked meats, mouthwatering sandwiches and seasonal sides celebrating fresh, simple flavors can all be enjoyed al fresco, plus a bourbon list crafted by Beverage Director Michael Rubel.
505 N. Michigan Ave.
Tucked away on Illinois Street at the corner of Michigan Avenue, ENO's patio is set just close enough to catch all of the Mag Mile action, while the lounge seating for 20 allows guests to sit back and enjoy ENO's signature offerings - wine, cheese and chocolate.
2956 N. Sheffield Ave.
What better setting to enjoy sustainable seafood fare than al fresco in Lakeview? DMK Restaurant's casual seafood joint offers street-side seating on Wellington complete with rustic picnic tables. Enjoy fresh oysters, po'boys, lobster rolls and more in a lively setting in the heart of the city. Top the outdoor experience off with refreshing seasonal sea sippers like spiked sweet tea, garden gimlets and more.
2434 W. Montrose
This newly opened Ravenswood spot, which celebrates vibrant world cultures and international cuisine, will also offer a patio come warmer weather for al fresco neighborhood relaxing. The street-side patio, providing seating for 80, will feature a comfortable and friendly sidewalk environment, with the capabilities to view sporting events and entertainment through windows looking into the main dining room. Perfect for a weekend brunch or lively dinner, guests will be treated to an array of international-inspired menu items plus a new "tour" each month where Chef Roger Herring takes diners on a culinary journey of different countries. International beers, craft cocktails, wines and natural juices can be enjoyed outside as well.
3506 N Clark St
Once the warmer weather hits Chicago, guests at Old Crow Smokehouse will be able to enjoy the sun while chowing down on delicious barbecue and sipping on signature moonshine cocktails thanks to the restaurant's large retractable roof. Old Crow Smokehouse's retractable roof-the largest in Chicago, will bring the spirit of spring into the restaurant's dining room all season long.
720 N. Wells St.
Alpana Singh's The Boarding House welcomes summer with a lovely and intimate patio located along the stretch of Superior St. in River North. The flowery, al fresco space accommodates 25 seats for guests to enjoy Chef Tanya Baker's seasonally-inspired dishes paired with the perfect glass of wine. Guests are invited to toast the warm weather with rosés and Rieslings, snack on pizza or charcuterie, or order from the restaurant's full dinner menu, now available in the first floor bar and adjoining patio.
24 S. Michigan Ave.
At The Gage, diners can enjoy rustic Irish-inspired American fare on their pub-style patio (28 seats), overlooking Millennium Park on Michigan Avenue. Guests will find a lively crowd day or night, enjoying specialty plates, cold beers and craft cocktails al fresco.
401 N. Wabash Ave.
The Terrace at Trump, Trump International Hotel & Tower® Chicago's sophisticated outdoor dining venue, will re-open in May for the season. The chic, 16th floor outdoor oasis - which has become one of the city's most sought-after summertime destinations since opening in 2009 - showcases unobstructed, picturesque views of the Chicago River and its famed bridges, Wrigley Clock Tower, and Lake Michigan, as well as the summer fireworks displays from Navy Pier. The menu features innovative cocktails and inspired summer fare.
501 N. Ogden Ave.
Twisted Spoke boast's Chicago's very first rooftop establishment, making this patio a must during al fresco season. The full menu is available outside, including the famous Fatboys, shrimp po'boy, bar-b-que brisket sandwich, smoked mussels and more. Guests can also order from the list of 500 whiskeys, sip on a number of Bloodies (including the Road Rash Mary Classic) and craft cocktails. Located in Chicago's hip West Town neighborhood, guests can look out onto the Chicago skyline in the background and soak in rooftop patio history.
1450 W. Chicago Ave.
Located in the heart of West Town, this neighborhood restaurant features a 14-seat sidewalk patio overlooking Chicago Avenue. Serving seasonally inspired, modern comfort fare, the menu includes grilled steaks, seafood, shareable snacks and an assortment of vegetable-focused items. Al fresco diners can enjoy an array of local craft brews, a producer-focused wine list and cocktails paying homage to Chicago's iconic neighborhoods. Unite's patio will be open for dinner service each night and Sunday brunch.
1400 W Randolph St
Urbanbelly and bellyQ invite guests to head to the West Loop for some patio action this spring. The restaurants share two patio spaces, which seat about 50 guests. Diners can enjoy delicious Korean barbecue from bellyQ or slurp up some ramen from Urbanbelly while cozying up at the fire pit located on the back patio at the restaurant. Come summertime, Chef Bill Kim will begin hosting his cooking demos in the outdoor space.