To get a real feel of the city, it’s best to get out into the neighborhoods where Chicagoans live, work, and play. Here’s a taste of some of the Windy City’s hidden gems – backyard patios with lush gardens and peaceful settings that transport you from the gritty city to the calm “country.”
The Dawson in West Town arguably has everything you want in a patio – it is spacious and has greenery, twinkly lights, and its own outdoor bar to keep you quenched all evening. Open all week for dinner, it’s the perfect spot for a fun or romantic evening at dusk. Plus, The Dawson serves brunch on the weekends in a sunny, outdoor oasis. Chow down on tasty French toast or oysters and let the stress of the week drift away.
Just caddy corner to The Dawson is one of Chicago’s most romantic patios, at Piccolo Sogno. You can dine al fresco on delicious Italian food while sitting under light-strung mature trees. Despite the location on two main corridors, it’s like you’ve been transported to the Italian countryside.
Head up to the far North Side neighborhood of Andersonville for a truly local feel and make a beeline to the leafy back patio of Hopleaf, where you’ll find what is likely the best lineup of Belgian brews in the city.
3 Arts Club Café
Technically this place isn’t outside, but with the potted trees, huge skylight atrium ceiling and brick paver floor, it totally feels like an outdoor patio. And it’s gorgeous. 3 Arts Club Café is a garden courtyard inside Chicago’s flagship Restoration Hardware. The beautiful room is topped with a crystal chandelier that hangs over a charming fountain. The menu offers coffee, light breakfast and creative lunch dishes.
Feel like a local over at Wicker Park’s Big Star, a honkytonk-slash-hipster bourbon and beer-focused taco bar with a bustling outdoor patio. Grab a spot outside and order some cold beers to accompany cheap and tasty tacos.
The Duck Inn Chicago
Kevin Hickey’s Duck Inn is breathing some life into the revitalized Bridgeport neighborhood. You won’t go wrong with any of the dishes at this locally sourced and seasonal gastropub. And the tree-covered, wooden-fenced backyard patio is another great escape from the sights and sounds of the city.
Moody’s Pub is a Chicago institution on the far North Side, known for its huge, wraparound garden shaded by trees. As Moody’s has been slinging chargrilled burgers since 1959, a burger is a must – try it accompanied by one of their pitchers of sangria.
Step away from the city at The Promontory’s two striking outdoor areas. Situated on Chicago’s South Side in leafy Hyde Park (home to the University of Chicago and near the family home of the Obamas), this “hearth-to-table” restaurant-music venue combo has a first-floor patio with a fire pit and a second-floor outdoor lounge. The Promontory’s pride and joy is the huge fireplace in the back of the dining room in which many of the dishes are prepared.