Food & Drink

Chicago's Best New Outdoor Bars

Published On 08/04/2016 Published On 08/04/2016

Saint Lou's Assembly

West Loop

The charmingly retro meat-and-three specializes in serving meals consisting of one protein and three sides (get it?). Honestly, the setup sounds like something your mustache-sporting dad would be into, and not the kind of establishment that has one of the hottest backyard patios in town. Who knows, maybe your pops would enjoy knocking back cold ones on the wood chip-filled patio equipped with string lights and a bocce ball court? So yeah, we're basically saying bring your dad and party.

COURTESY OF NICHOLAS JAMES

LondonHouse Rooftop

The Loop

It seems like every few months a hot new rooftop opens, claiming its views are more breathtaking than squeezing into Donald Trump's corset. Well, start the slow clap, because the LH Rooftop may have the most-memorable view in the city, peering right down the middle of the concrete canyon that surrounds the Chicago River. Bring all your cash, because you won't want to leave.  

COURTESY OF BEST INTENTIONS

Best Intentions

Logan Square

Some locals got their underpants in a wad when Marble closed down to re-concept, but then Best Intentions emerged like a majestic flamingo hatching from its cocoon. This updated take on a neighborhood dive offers a few wallet-friendly drinks and Big Buck Hunter, but the real draw is the backyard patio. Equipped with verdant palm plants and a cabana bar, it's one of the best summer-drinking spots in town.

COURTESY OF WHISKEY BUSINESS

Whiskey Business

Wicker Park

If you like whiskey, patios, and not being in danger of getting eaten by a shark, Whiskey Business is the place for you. Its sizeable rooftop patio, which it shares with the adjacent Cheesie's Pub, has room for 120 and overlooks bustling Milwaukee Ave. Also, it has zero sharks. That's a win-win.

COURTESY OF BLUE DOOR KITCHEN & GARDEN

Blue Door Kitchen & Garden

Gold Coast

Taking over the space formerly occupied by Table Fifty-Two, Art Smith's Blue Door Kitchen & Garden is a stunning eatery. Awash in pastels and boasting marble-topped tables, the restaurant looks like it belongs in the French countryside. Luckily, diners can also enjoy farm-to-table fare and garden-to-glass cocktails in the charming backyard patio while stretching out in comfy wicker chairs.

COURTESY OF FEDERALES

Federales

West Loop

Federales is the Big Star of the West Loop, and we mean that as a compliment. Tailor-made for summer hangouts, the outdoor patio buzzes with a crowd at seemingly all hours. The indoor area also has a retractable roof, allowing Federales to open up like the Bears' run defense and patrons to catch some rays at the bar. Order up a few tacos and a tequila shot served in an ice glass, and repress all memories of winter forever.

COURTESY OF JOY DISTRICT

Joy District

River North

Located on the roof of this multi-level clubstaurant, the patio is a choice spot to grab after-work drinks. It's colorful and offers plenty of room to breathe, like an abandoned carnival. But unlike an abandoned carnival, there's a restaurant downstairs offering an eclectic menu that features everything from sushi to tacos. There's something here for everyone in your group.

COURTESY OF HEINEKEN PUB 97

Heineken Pub 97

North Center

Heineken Pub 97 is located at The PrivateBank Fire Pitch, which is a 125,000sqft complex dedicated to year-round soccer. Inside, visitors will find plenty of 4K big screens and accessible pub grub. However, you should venture to the outdoor patio, which offers picnic tables, bags, a ping-pong table, and field-side seating from which you'll enjoy soccer games in *gasp* the actual real world.

Courtesy of Osteria Langhe

Osteria Langhe

Logan Square

Admittedly, it'll take some planning to get to this reservation-only patio, which is appropriately named Giardino Segreto ("secret garden" in Italian). Yet, if you're planning a special dinner for you and 13 of your closest friends (or cocktail reception for up to 30), this is the spot. As a bonus, Chef Cameron Grant will prepare one of the finest Italian meals in town. That's a slam dunk.

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1. Saint Lou's Assembly 664 W Lake St, Chicago, IL 60661 (West Loop)

This rustic-meets-retro spot is a self-titled meat-and-three: they specialize in cafeteria-style meals featuring one protein and three sides, a concept we can more than get behind. You'll make your way down the counter, which may bring back high school memories, and customize your platter as you go with comfort foods like fried chicken, salmon, and mac n cheese. Be sure to bring your meal (and a cocktail) to the backyard patio, where you can play bocce ball under strings of white lights.

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2. LondonHouse Rooftop 360 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60601

The rooftop at this super-luxe Loop hotel has not one, but THREE levels, each with views of the Chicago skyline that give all other rooftops a run for their money. Each floor is different: the 21st floor features an indoor cocktail bar, while the 22nd is all about the outdoor terrace. The 23rd floor is the most formal of the three with exclusive dining under the building's signature dome. Reservations are recommend for all levels.

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3. Best Intentions 3281 W Armitage Ave, Chicago, IL 60647 (Logan Square)

Best Intentions is a neighborhood dive with a fancy twist: the drinks and digs are a bit sleeker than your typical watering hole. But, fear not, you can still play Big Buck Hunter while you sip on one of their many beer options, a craft cocktail, or shots of Angostura bitters -- a rarity in the city. The best part? There's also a backyard patio with palm plants and a cabana bar that makes this Logan Square spot a go-to for warm-weather drinking.

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4. Whiskey Business 1367 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60622, Chicago, IL

Sporting arguably the best open rooftop on Milwaukee, this Wicker Park pub offers excellent outdoor patio drinking space and equally laudable french fries. The casual, relaxed space features a '90s aesthetic, with condiments organized in throwback metal lunchboxes and old-school tunes playing in the background. The grub and drinks, however, are more of the modern variety, and include 115 kinds of whiskies.

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5. Blue Door Kitchen & Garden 52 W Elm St, Chicago, IL 60610 (Gold Coast)

Formerly known as Table52, Blue Door Kitchen & Garden is serving up only the freshest dishes and drinks -- sourcing local ingredients, including from its own garden. The space is something out of the French countryside, boasting pastels, marble-topped tables, and wicker chairs on the beautiful outdoor patio. On the menu, you'll find delectable small plates like purple potato gnocchi, entrees like organic salmon with rutabaga latkes, and, of course, its beloved buttermilk fried chicken.

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6. Federales 180 N Morgan St, Chicago, IL 60607

Federales is bringing all the Mexican restaurant requisites (tacos, ceviche, margaritas) to the West Loop dining scene. The space is prime real estate for outdoor eating and drinking given its 145-seat patio (with a retractable roof!) but beware: it doesn't take reservations.

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7. Joy District 112 Hubbard, Chicago, IL (River North)

A clubby, multi-level bar and restaurant, the party is always on at River North's Joy District. Seafood makes up most of the sexy, shareable sides on offer (think ahi poke, shrimp lollipops, and spicy octopus tacos), and the house libations won't disappoint. After dinner, dance the night away to electro pop tunes.

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8. Heineken Pub 97 3626 N Talman Ave, Chicago, IL 60618 (North Center)

Located at The PrivateBank Fire Pitch, a 125,000-square-foot complex dedicated to all things soccer year-round, Heineken Pub 97 boasts a dozen 4K big screens and some seriously scrumptious pub fare, including burgers and flatbreads -- perfect for game day. Be sure to head out to the outdoor patio, too, where you'll find picnic tables, a ping pong table, and field-side seating to enjoy live soccer games. It's the ultimate soccer-fan spot.

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9. Osteria Langhe 2824 W Armitage Ave, Chicago, IL 60647 (Logan Square)

This Logan Square spot seamlessly blends slow food (literally, there's snail confit) with fine wines, all while transporting you to the northern Italian countryside. Expect rich dishes like prosciutto-wrapped rabbit loin and hand-pinched ravioli tossed with Parmesan, thyme, and butter. You'll want to grab a table in the Giardino Segreto ("secret garden" in Italian), but heads up: you'll need a reservation to dine on this lovely patio, so be sure to plan ahead.