Six Top Chicago Patios For Outdoor Dining

When the weather is as unpredictable as it is in Chicago, a warm and sunny day is not to be wasted. As soon as the thermometer starts rising, restaurants across the city throw open the doors and set up their patios. Dining "al fresco" brings a whole new charm to a meal. From rooftops to riversides, you can find a cozy outdoor spot in any neighborhood. We recommend these patios to get a side of sunshine with your order.

Chicago Firehouse
This south side steakhouse occupies an old fire station, giving the venue a certain stately charm. The patio is no different: white tablecloths and big, shady umbrellas accent the cool stone courtyard.

J. Parker
This rooftop stunner has more seats outside than inside, and they fill up fast. It would be all too easy to get lost in the view as it expands over Lincoln Park and out to Lake Michigan. The creative small plates and cocktails are reason enough themselves to stop by, rounding out a perfect outdoor meal.

This meat-lovers' darling has a cozy, rustic beer garden that will make anyone comfortable enough to try some of the more exotic dishes on the menu. Lights strung across wooden beams light up the area, and a fireplace will keep off the last of the lingering winter chill.

A River North favorite, Quartino spent the winter expanding its patio seating options. Now their outdoor area is two stories: a fully exposed balcony on top and a shady enclave underneath which still catches the warm spring air. It's the perfect place to people watch as you enjoy a little wine and charcuterie.

For something a little more lively, Castaways on North Avenue Beach is the quintessential beach spot. After all, it is shaped like a boat. Its "top deck" offers lots of sunny seating. You can watch the beach volleyball players as you enjoy bar food favorites and work on your tan.

Big Star
You can't mention patios without giving Big Star a nod. The beloved Wicker Park taco joint is always busy, but it explodes when the weather heats up. Their wide outdoor seating area is stuffed with tables, but no one's complaining so long as the margaritas are flowing. If the wait's too long for you, order to-go and make your own "al fresco" experience in the nearby park.