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The key to happiness is actually quite simple: It’s spending time on a great patio with your besties, good food and a few cocktails. For the past few months, those things have been in short supply but good news, friends: Chicago’s restaurant and bar patios have recently reopened with new health and safety measures in place.

We’ve rounded up the best outdoor dining spots across Chicago’s neighborhoods, so call your girls and get out there. But before you go: don’t forget your mask and some extra cash to tip your waitstaff lavishly—they deserve it, especially in times like these. You should also check the Department of Health’s website for current social distancing guidelines and other recommendations. Finally, remember that some restaurants now require reservations for these hot patio spots, so be sure to visit their websites for the latest before you make plans.

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1. Humboldt Park: Parson’s Chicken & Fish

We had no idea how much we loved fried chicken and negroni slushies, but Parson’s knows us better than we know ourselves. That must be how they created our dream patio with charming red-striped umbrellas. (FYI: Parson’s Lincoln Park outpost has the same eye-catching umbrellas on its patio, but we prefer the original location’s boulevard views.)

2952 W. Armitage Ave.; 773-384-3333 or parsonschickenandfish.com

best patio restaurants outdoor dining chicago 90 minutes cuban cafe
90 Miles Cuban Cafe

2. Palmer Square: 90 Miles Cuban Cafe

Summer travel plans cancelled? Don’t fret. Instead, savor all the ropa vieja and sun you can at this Armitage Avenue eatery. There’s a smaller Roscoe Village outpost with a smaller patio, but we stick with the original.

2540 W. Armitage Ave.; 773-227-2822 or 90milescubancafe.com

best patio restaurants outdoor dining chicago homeslice wheel house
Courtesy of Homeslice Wheel House

3. Lincoln Park: Homeslice Wheel House

Working from home all day and eager to get out of the house? Hop off the Brown Line at Armitage and post up at this tucked-away spot. You’ll forget your work blues quickly when you call your quarantine pod to share some pizza, beer and—most important—late-afternoon sunshine.

938 W. Webster Ave.; 312-789-4600 or getsomehomie.com

4. West Loop: Aba

So what if this patio is technically a rooftop? (It’s on the third floor.) When you have short-rib hummus and charred eggplant on the menu and views of the city, labels cease to matter.

302 N. Green St.; 773-645-1400 or abarestaurants.com/chicago

best patio restaurants outdoor dining chicago spacca napoli
Spacca Napoli Pizzeria/ Facebook

5. Ravenswood: Spacca Napoli

Do yourself a favor and grab a table and a couple of Neapolitan pizzas at this North Side gem. The husband-and-wife team have traveled extensively throughout Italy (he’s a certified pizzaiolo), and their tree-shaded sidewalk patio has all the charm of the old country.

1769 W. Sunnyside Ave.; 773-878-2420 or spaccanapolipizzeria.com

6. Loop: Beatnik on the River

This patio is one of the riverside’s most Instagrammable spots. Settle in beneath boho-chic macrame umbrellas and admire the small jungle’s worth of lush plants that surround you—or just gaze at the river lapping nearby. But don’t put your phone away just yet, because you’ll also want a picture of your cocktail, which may be served in a coconut or festooned with orchids.

180 N. Upper Wacker Dr.; 312-526-3345 or beatnikchicago.com

best patio restaurants outdoor dining chicago gibsons
Gibson’s Bar & Steakhouse

7. GOLD COAST: GIBSONS

We love scouting Chicago’s hot new restaurants, but sometimes you need a little old-school flavor. Enter Gibsons, our go-to for prime cuts of steak and seafood, plus a prime perch for all the best people-watching in Mariano Park.

1028 N. Rush St.; 312-266-8999 or gibsonssteakhouse.com

best patio restaurants outdoor dining chicago ceres table
Courtesy of Ceres Table

8. LAKEVIEW: CERES’ TABLE

It’s no secret that this Italian restaurant (named for the Roman goddess of wheat) makes mouthwateringly good pastas. What you may not know is that there’s Rome-worthy cacio e pepe not listed on the menu. A plate of it on the front patio makes for our kind of summer night.

3124 N. Broadway St.; 773-922-4020 or cerestable.com

best patio restaurants outdoor dining chicago big star
Big Star Chicago

9. Wicker Park: Big Star

What did we do with our Saturday afternoons before this West Side nexus existed? We can’t remember, and all the margaritas and micheladas haven’t helped. Cheers to one of our favorite spots for fish tacos and friend time.

1531 N. Damen Ave.; 773-235-4039 or bigstarchicago.com

10. Andersonville: Hopleaf

Even on the hottest of days, the garden at Hopleaf couldn’t be cooler. Chill out with a hefeweizen and a salad, which may feature greens grown right around you—although you might have a hard time resisting the menu of draft Belgians paired with some mussels (prepared Belgian-style, of course).

5148 N. Clark St.; 773-334-9851 or hopleafbar.com

best patio restaurants outdoor dining chicago piccolo sogno
Galdones Photography

11. River West: Piccolo Sogno

This West Side Italian restaurant has become a bit of a Chicago institution. Why do so many choose to celebrate their birthdays, anniversaries and Saturday nights here? It’s all about the romantic patio, rustic Italian fare and impressive wine list.

464 N. Halsted St.; 312-421-0077 or piccolosognorestaurant.com

12. Bridgeport: The Duck Inn

This South Side restaurant made its name with what’s possibly the city’s best rotisserie duck. But with string lights and plenty of greenery, the back patio deserves some of the spotlight. (Although, since it comes with duck-fat potatoes, the duck will always be the star.)

2701 S. Eleanor St.; 312-724-8811 or theduckinnchicago.com

best patio restaurants outdoor dining chicago beacon tavern
Gage Hospitality Group

13. River North: Beacon Tavern

Tucked behind Wrigley Tower, you’ll find an umbrella-shaded refuge from Michigan Avenue’s hustle and bustle. Dine on fresh seafood—from oysters to soft-shell crab—on the riverside patio, and don’t be surprised if you never feel like emerging.

405 N. Wabash Ave.; 312-955-4226 or beacontavern.com

14. EVANSTON/ROGERS PARK: PECKISH PIG

Just a few steps from Chicago’s city limits (literally), Peckish Pig is popular with Evanstonians and Rogers Park residents alike. Enjoy a pint brewed on the premises, such as a blackberry Gose or a fruit-infused IPA, and while you’re at it, grab a platter of lamb kebabs.

623 Howard St., Evanston; 847-491-6778 or thepeckishpig.com

15. EDGEWATER: UNCOMMON GROUND

On the roof? America’s first certified organic rooftop farm. On the ground? Locally sourced meals served in a beer garden festooned with twinkle lights. Pick an organic beer from the restaurant’s sister brewery, Greenstar Brewing, and see what the ever-evolving seasonal food menu has in store.

1401 W. Devon Ave.; 773-465-9801 or uncommonground.com

16. PILSEN: LA LUNA

Henry James claimed “summer afternoon” are the most beautiful pair of words, but we’re pretty sure they’re actually “handmade tortillas.” Combine them all on the sidewalk patio of Pilsen’s La Luna, where cochinita pibil and seasonal vegetable tacos mingle with platters of shrimp, frosty glasses of imported Mexican beers and frozen berry mezcal margaritas.

1726 S Racine St.; 312-248-8940 or lalunachicago.com

17. HYDE PARK: Ascione Bistro

This Italian spot in Hyde Park now serves its menu al fresco beneath leafy trees and plenty of string lights. Try one of the handmade pastas or a plate of meatballs—but whatever you do, don’t forget to drag some crusty bread through their signature olive oil, which is infused with slow-roasted jalapeños. Add a bubbly glass of Pellegrino or a colorful aperitivo and ah, bliss.

1500 E 55th St.; 773-363-8161 or ascionebistro.com

18. BEVERLY: CORK & KERRY

After you find a seat in this Irish pub’s beer garden in Beverly, it’s decision time: Which of the 20 draft beers will you try first? (To make your choice even harder, there are 40 varieties of bottled and canned suds to choose from, too.) If you visit on a Friday night, you can snag snacks from local food trucks; recent visitors have included Cheesie’s and Aztec Dave’s.

10614 S Western Ave.; 773-445-2675 or corkandkerry.com

19. BRONZEVILLE: SIP & SAVOR

If the prospect of a German Chocolate Mocha isn’t enough to make you jump out of bed in the morning then what is? Enjoy said beverage (or a frappe, smoothie or chai latte) on the airy patio of Sip & Savor’s Bronzeville location. All the shop’s coffee drinks are made with certified fair trade beans, which makes every order a good choice. Check out the day’s selection of pastries from local bakeries, and you’re all set for a good day.

528 E 43rd St.; 773-855-2125 or sipandsavorchicago.com

20. SOUTH LOOP: ROOTS HANDMADE PIZZA

The local chain’s newest location in the South Loop features impressive views of the surrounding skyline, but you’ll probably be too busy staring at the house-made mozzarella to notice. It pops up throughout the menu in salads, apps (hello, mozzarella sticks) and, most importantly, on more than a dozen varieties of pizza, each of which is made with Roots’ signature tangy-sweet malted dough. Thirsty? A roster of nearly 40 draft beers is here to help.

733 S Dearborn St.; 773-645-4909 or rootspizza.com

21. ROGERS PARK: R PUBLIC HOUSE

In the daytime, this welcoming Rogers Park spot offers bloody Marys with a house-made mix, carafes of bubbly spritzes, and stick-to-your-ribs brunch fare. In the evening, the wood-fired pizza oven roars to life to crisp up perfect thin-crust pies, which pair perfectly with draft beers or the bartenders’ latest cocktail creations (many of which are cheekily named after current events).

1508 W Jarvis Ave.; 872-208-7916 or rpublichouse.com

22. AVALON PARK: THE WOODLAWN

This event space and community center—home to a tech incubator, podcast studio, art gallery, and more—now welcomes visitors to its new rooftop patio. Brothers’ on the Wall has taken up residence in the kitchen to whip up platters of rib tips, jerk chicken, catfish steaks and more. Share an order of fries with your friends and do a show-and-tell of what you’ve brought to drink at this BYOB-friendly spot.

1200 E 79th St.; 773-902-2470 or thewoodlawn1200.com

23. AVONDALE: CHIEF O’NEILL’S

Chief O’Neill’s puts the “garden” in “beer garden” with its vibrant flowers and verdant lawn. But this Irish pub is no slouch in the beer department, either. Enjoy Guinness and Harp (plus several local brews) on tap, along with dozens of bottles and cans to choose from. Feeling peckish? Fish and chips or some Guinness-infused meatloaf should take care of that.

3471 N Elston Ave.; 773-583-3066 or chiefoneillspub.com

24. WRIGLEYVILLE: SMOKE DADDY

With baseball games in short supply this summer, gazing at Wrigley Field may be the next-best thing. Settle in on Smoke Daddy’s rooftop patio to dig into Chicago-style spareribs or dip soft pretzels into jalapeño beer cheese. After a few old fashioned cocktails or smoky Bloody Marys, nobody will blame you if you start singing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.”

3636 N Clark St; 773-227-2583 or thesmokedaddy.com

25. SOUTHPORT: CROSBY’S KITCHEN

This kid- and pup-friendly patio is an ideal spot for people-watching and sipping lemonade with rotating flavors like hibiscus and mango. Popular plates at this Southport spot include lobster deviled eggs, iron-skillet cornbread, and avocado toast studded with lump crab. (And speaking of kid-friendliness, here’s a hot tip: children eat for free from 4 to 6 p.m.)

3455 N Southport Ave.; 773-883-2525 or crosbyschicago.com

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