There's nothing like The Great Outdoors. And once you're finished with the Aykroyd/Candy buddy comedy classic, there's nothing like drinking outside during the Chicago Summer. Because you need to make the most out of every fleeting moment of sunshine, we've taken the liberty of ranking the best spots to do so, for your convenience...
3258 N Sheffield Ave; 773.281.4989
The massive outdoor beer garden was an institution even before they added a BBQ-minded kitchen thanks to the exhaustive beer selection and the enormous shade-providing tree will momentarily make you think you're in a forest, which is also possible result of sampling enough of the beer.
1072 N Milwaukee Ave; 773.772.4322
It's unlikely that many a pioneer had the privilege of dining on smoked gator ribs with blueberry BBQ sauce or buffalo heart sliders, but they did spend a fair amount of time outside, as you should on their wood-trimmed patio equipped with a fireplace that extends its life when others have closed on account of the cold.
5. Roof on theWit
201 N State St; 312.467.0200
The retractable roof ensures that an unexpected deluge (or an expected one) won't spoil your spectacular view of downtown, and the ridiculously good looking crowd becomes even more so when you're there over the course of an entire Sunday Funday.
201 E Delaware Pl; 312.924.2531
The garden terrace atop the Raffaello Hotel was already prime real estate for before they nabbed the former Aviary drinks master to oversee the cocktail program, meaning your rooftop view now comes with a margarita made with liquid nitrogen. Okay, that's not entirely true, you still have to buy it.
3. Parson's Chicken & Fish
2952 W Armitage Ave; 773.384.3333
The youngest entry on the list has drawn comparisons to a certain taco joint sitting one spot further down, and while it's still learning to navigate the hungry fried chicken-seeking hordes that have been there since day one, there's no denying the powerful combination of sun-drenched picnic tables and Negroni slushies.
2. Big Star
1531 N Damen; 773.235.4039
The people watching is top-notch, and the pork belly tacos are better. Almost too good, as scoring a table can be rough. But then, getting there early just means more hours spent outside washing down taco after taco with margarita after margarita, so really they're doing you a favor, right?
1. The J. Parker
1816 N Clark St; 312.254.4747
Being a bit removed from downtown atop the Hotel Lincoln a singular view of Lincoln Park (so much Abe!) fading southward into the skyline, and Paul Virant's resto being right downstairs means your Templeton Rye-fueled Midwest Mule can be paired with some walleye "burgers" and crispy chicken sausage.
Sheffield's is a BBQ joint in Chicago that's got a huge, tree-shaded patio area and a ton of drafts for you to enjoy.
It may not be the final frontier, but with ice-taps pouring 16 traditional and seasonal brews, a meat heavy menu featuring specialty sausages, steaks, and "Animal Service", flat screen TVs, and a beer garden, you won't need to explore any further. Allied: Ready yourself for Animal Service with some Smith & Forge, the hard cider that's built strong -- built from Apples and built to Refresh.
Do you like models, bottle service, and DJs? If so, theWit's rooftop lounge is for you. More than just a glitzy bar, the 27th-floor hotspot features a retractable roof (it's open year-round, after all), a 3D video-mapping wall, and a sleek bar that turns into a runway. The food and drink menu is equally fit for a glam squad, serving up flatbreads, seafood towers, fancy craft cocktails, and punch bowls.
Not only is Drumbar one of the sexiest rooftop lounges in Chicago, the 18th-floor bar atop the Raffaello Hotel has a brag-worthy selection of whiskey, scotch, bourbon, and cognac. The sleek spot has a cozy den-meets-gentlemen's club decor with dark leather couches, wood-paneled walls, and a marble bar. During the summer, the seasonal outdoor patio makes it even more of an after-work drinking destination near the Magnificent Mile.
Parson's Chicken & Fish in Logan Square knows a thing or two about deep-frying -- the menu features chicken, fish, hush puppies, and cheese curds in all their breaded and battered goodness. Not everything is deep-fried though; there's a small raw bar selection and small plates to share. The spot is upscale for a quick-serve spot, and its large outdoor patio is one of the top summer hang spots in Chicago.
A lot of things about Wicker Park's Big Star will make you feel like you're in Texas. First, there's the taco-centric menu that features a dozen taco varieties and necessary sides like guacamole and queso. Then there's the drink selection, which is heavy on whiskey, tequila, and craft beer. The massive outdoor patio begs for you to order a margarita and drink the day away, especially during the summer when the seasonal music series is in full swing.
This rooftop bar atop the Hotel Lincoln features an impressive cocktail list, views of the park/lake shore/skyline, and small bites so good you'll hang around for a dangerously long time--no big deal.