5 Kickass… Al Fresco Dining Spots

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Picture this: you’re dining out on the perfect summer night in Chicago. The air is warm, but not humid, and there is a slight breeze making the trees wave. You’re with your favorite dinner partner and you’re on that beautiful patio everyone is always talking about. Finally. Cue a satisfied sigh and the exclamation, “I just love Chicago in the summer.” Yup, we’ve all been there. Though there are countless places to get your patio dining fix in the city, some are particularly kickass. Here are a few picks for our favorite al fresco dining.

Cafe Ba Ba Reeba | Learn more

2024 N. Halsted

We already had a soft spot for this Lettuce Entertain You favorite, but add a few pitchers of sangria and a patio and it becomes an instant summer favorite. They have over 70 tapas and pintxos to chose from, so there really is something for everybody in the list. Ba Ba Reeba is great for a night out with friends, but it can be a romantic date spot, too. Though you can’t reserve a table outside, they take requests, and you’ll usually be granted one unless it’s an incredibly busy weekend night. Colorful walls surround the brick patio, which is strung with lights to illuminate your dining. They also have a retractable roof, so don’t fear the rain… you can still get your patio fix.

Piccolo Sogno | Learn more

464 N. Halsted

Almost every Chicago media outlet is going to tell you about this patio. And they should, it’s gorgeous. You’d never know it was there, located in a pocket of the still mostly industrial River West, but combine a sleek wooden deck with luxurious tables and chairs, covered by bright yellow umbrellas, and you are transplanted into a whole new place. Beautiful sprawling trees shade your elegantly prepared meal and you may even feel like you’re actually in Italy. They even have a citrus tree! And don’t forget to linger — this is the perfect place to enjoy a glass of wine after dinner.


937 N. Damen

On a sunny summer Sunday, brunch outside is an absolute must, and will help cure that hangover fast. Wake up, put on those sunglasses, and head to Jam. They have a side patio open for lunch or dinner with drooping trees lined with lights. A giant iron horse guards the restaurant, tied to the tall wood fence in front. Brick buildings line each side of the tiled patio, while the tall trees provide shade on a hot day. Potted plants dot the landscape of black iron tables covered in innovative breakfast favorites. Get their early and enjoy brunch in a new setting.


212 N. Halsted

If you’re looking for something ethnic, head to Athena for a Greek night out. This Greektown favorite has a gorgeous (and gigantic!) side patio, transplanting you right to Greece with its fountains and greenery lining the outdoor space. Greek staples are done right here with succulent lamb and flaming saganaki tableside. Enjoy the east facing view of the Chicago skyline and take in all this cultural pocket has to offer. And don’t forget the baklava!

Tilli’s | Learn more

1952 N. Halsted

If you’re tired from a day of shopping in Lincoln Park, the next natural step is a lunch or dinner at Tilli’s. Grab a seat on their large outdoor patio, which spans an entire city lot. The patio consists mostly of large iron tables with reclining iron chairs and big umbrellas. There is often a wait in the summer, but if you can’t quite get outside or don’t want to wait, they open all the windows and doors so the entire restaurant can enjoy the nice weather. Tilli’s menu has something for everyone, so each member of your crew will be satisfied. After you’ve eaten, stick around for a cocktail or two and people watch on Halsted.

Photo Credit

Tessa McLean

About Tessa McLean

There is just something about that feeling when you have been away — maybe for a weekend, a month, 6 months — and you’re driving into Chicago and that first glimpse of the city skyline appears. It just always makes me smile.

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