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The key to happiness is actually quite simple: It’s passing an afternoon (and maybe an evening…and, OK, a night) on a great patio with your besties, good food and a few cocktails. We’ve rounded up the top spots across Chicago’s neighborhoods, so call your girls and get out there.

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Logan Square: Lula Cafe

You don’t have to travel far to find a buzz-worthy patio in Logan, but we’re faithful to this decades-old restaurant. Snagging a table for two on the patio, ordering from the farm-to-table menu and people-watching the boulevard traffic beats a crowded scene any day. 

2537 N. Kedzie Blvd.; 773-489-9554 or lulacafe.com

Plein air cafe
Courtesy of Plein Air Cafe

Hyde Park: Plein Air Cafe

We thought it took a glass of rosé to get us feeling that summer glow. Then we found this place: With its light seasonal fare and a patio that feels like it’s somewhere in Europe, it leaves us feeling downright sparkly.

5751 S. Woodlawn Ave.; 773-966-7531 or pleinaircafe.co

parsons chicken and fish
Clayton Hauck

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.

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

90 miles cuban cafe chicago patio restaurants
90 Miles Cuban Cafe

Palmer Square: 90 Miles Cuban Cafe

You can technically fly to Cuba, but it ain’t easy. Instead, savor all the ropa vieja and sun you can at this Armitage Avenue eatery. There’s a smaller Roscoe Village outpost with a smallerpatio, but we stick with the original. 

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

get some homie chicago
Courtesy of Homeslice Wheel House

Lincoln Park: Homeslice Wheel House

Tough day at work? 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 crew to share some pizza, beer and—most important—late-afternoon sunshine.

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

Enoteca Roma back patio
Courtesy of Letizia’s Natural Bakery

Ukrainian Village: Letizia’s Natural Bakery

Our ideal Sunday includes a torte mimosa and a cup of Caffe Umbria on Letizia’s sunny back patio. We love it so much that we often return for a dinner of pesce bianco at sister restaurant Enoteca Roma

2144 W. Division St.; 773-342-1011 or superyummy.us

aba chicago
Jeff Marini

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 abarestaurantchicago.com

Spacca Napoli Pizzeria
Spacca Napoli Pizzeria/ Facebook

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 patio has all the charm of the old country.

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

beatnik on the river
Francis Son

Loop: Beatnik on the River

This patio proves the old adage “location, location, location” true. It’s one of the riverside’s most Instagrammable spots, and it’s just steps from the Lyric Opera House. Hello, date night.

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

gibsons
Gibson’s Bar & Steakhouse

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

ceres table
Courtesy of Ceres Table

LAKEVIEW: CERES’ TABLE

It’s no secret that this Italian restaurant (named for the Roman goddess of wheat) makes to-die-for 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

big star chiacgo
Big Star Chicago

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

tack room
Tack Room

Pilsen: Tack Room

Tack Room is yet another jewel in the crown of Thalia Hall (home to the concert venue and Michelin-starred Dusek’s). But this equestrian-themed bar holds its own with live music and a breezy patio made for sitting and sipping a fresh mint julep.

1807 S. Allport St.; 312-526-3851 or tackroomchicago.com

hopleaf chicago
Hopleaf

Andersonville: Hopleaf

Even on the hottest of days, the garden at Hopleaf couldn’t be cooler. Chill out with a hefeweizen and a cauliflower-and-parsnip salad—made with greens grown around you, no less. But you might have a hard time resisting the menu of draft Belgians and the brisket sandwich. 

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

galdo chicago
Galdones Photography

River West: Piccolo Sogno

This West Side Italian restaurant has become a bit of a Chicago institution. Why do so many 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

the duck inn
The Duck Inn and Kevin Hartman

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

honey butter fried chicken
Rachel Brown Kulp

Avondale: Honey Butter Fried Chicken

Honey butter might be two of our favorite words. We love the stuff, especially on this Avondale eatery’s addictive little corn muffins. Other keywords we love here: fried chicken and patio seating.

3361 N. Elston Ave.; 773-478-4000 or honeybutter.com

beacon chicago
Gage Hospitality Group

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

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