News & Features

Staff Picks: Best Outdoor Seating

May 24 2013 - 9:00 AM

Memorial Day Weekend is upon is, and even though the weather is still unpredictable (as Chicago weather is whenever it isn’t snowing), we’re forcing our way onto the nearest patio, beer garden or rooftop as soon as possible.

We’ve all seen the typical list of must-visit patios. Big Star? Been there, done that. This roundup has the top outdoor seating as chosen by the experts – the Chicago Foodies writers! Check out their favorites and comment below to share your own. 

The Fountainhead
1970 W. Montrose Ave.

My favorite outdoor drinking/dining spots include the rooftop patio at Fountainhead. It’s virtually undetectable from street level so it feels like a nice little hideaway on Montrose Ave. –Amanda Topper

George Street Pub
2858 N. Halsted St.
Another favorite spot is George Street Pub because of their giant backyard patio. The sheer size of the patio makes it a great destination for drinking or eating with a group of friends plus, you always feel like you’re in good company because of the neighborhood feel of the place. –Amanda Topper

Las Palmas
1835 W. North Ave. 

More of a dining spot is Las Palmas. I love to take dates there. It’s quiet. There are lights strung along the perimeter. Sometimes a guitarist will play. The food is terrific and not that expensive. Their margaritas are some of the best, not too sweet but still flavorful. It’s a winner. –M. Sheppard

Gene’s Sausage Shop
4750 N. Lincoln Ave.

Even if Lincoln Square isn’t a convenient stop for you, Gene’s Sausage Shop (pictured right) is absolutely worth the trip. What looks like an average grocery store or market from the front actually contains an incredible rooftop, complete with great beer and wine and, of course, authentic Polish food. I’m a huge fan of their sauerkraut pierogis and the giant soft pretzels. The best part? The incredible view, friendly, picnic table seating and casual atmosphere. Oh, and their rooftop opens this weekend. – Marly Schuman 

Bang Bang Pie Shop
2051 N. California Ave.

I’m not a huge fan of outdoor dining usually, mostly because when it is outdoor dining season, I’d rather dine in a comfortably ventilated restaurant than melt like a discarded popsicle on a patio. I make a few exceptions, though, particularly for the grassy Eden that is Bang Bang Pie Shop’s outdoor space. It’s spacious and tranquil, exactly what I want if I’m going to dine outdoors. Primary seating is picnic tables, which makes me feel like I am camping, and I love the front wall of rickety old doors. It’s a fine setting for scarfing some pie. –Matt Kirouac

Bistro Campagne
4518 N. Lincoln Ave.

t’s not a new hotspot but it’s one of our favorite places in the city. So consistently good and comfortable.  Bistro Campagne has been serving excellent French classics for years. They also have one of the loveliest outdoor seating areas in the city. –Adam Miller

1846 W. Division St.

This organic eatery has, in my opinion, the most gorgeous and most expansive patio in the city. The fare ranges from sushi rolls, to tacos, burgers, salads and entrees. Somehow I’ve never been disappointed with my food – or the upscale patio seating. Larger parties are easily accommodated, too. For a summer brunch, when I’d like to soak in some rays with my carrot cake pancakes, I know I can count on a table at this Ukranian Village restaurant. –Marly Schuman

3258 N. Sheffield Ave.

The beer garden at Sheffield’s is always a great pick to grab some craft beer pints with friends and is pleasantly shaded for those insanely hot days and nights. –Amanda Topper

Their patio is attractive and rather quaintly situated under this huge tree. They have a great beer selection, usually something for everyone.  Their food is also good and is way above what you’d expect from a bar.  It’s a lively crowd out there but it’s never too loud.They don’t over-amp the music. And did I mention the tree? –M. Sheppard