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Dining & Entertainment
December 2016

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Restaurants - Al Fresco Dining in Chicago

Al Fresco Dining in Chicago

Now that summer is just round the corner, Chicagoans can finally peel off the extra layers and enjoy warm breezes and fun in the sun along the lakeshore. Along with pleasant weather comes the much-anticipated revival of alfresco dining.

Click here to skip below to our restaurant suggestions.

Here are some tips on how to plan the perfect alfresco dinner:

Check the weather, bring sunscreen

At the risk of stating the obvious, weather is the key element to alfresco dining. Most restaurants will close their outdoor seating immediately during cold snaps and thunderstorms, but high humidity and overcast skies can also place a damper on an enjoyable meal. If dining in the afternoon, make sure to lather
on the sunscreen and wear sunglasses.

Call ahead, show up early

Most restaurants do not accept reservations for outdoor seating due to its overwhelming popularity. Eager to fill table outdoor spaces immediately, many restaurants seat on a first come/first serve basis. Nice weather also encourages patrons to stay a little longer to enjoy the weather, which makes it difficult for restaurants to guarantee that a reserved table will be available.

However, some restaurants will reserve alfresco dining for special
events or take requests into consideration. Your best bet is to
(1) call ahead and ask; (2) request outdoor seating when making your reservation online; and (3) show up early.

Location, location, location

While some restaurants feature intimate, enclosed terraces, others place their tables street side a la French cafes for those who enjoy people watching. Size matters, too. That is, larger parties may find themselves out of luck at restaurants with smaller outdoor seating, while a couple or smaller parties may feel confined amid the noise of crowded spaces.

Here some restaurant suggestions for al fresco dining from in your neighborhood.

South Loop

Zapatista: Zapatista is a great spot to see and be seen while dining on authentic Mexican cuisine. Awnings provide shade from extra sunlight, allowing breezes to filter in through the open space. Alfresco dining is separated with 6 smoking tables outside the bar section and 15 non-smoking tables adjacent to the dining room. The restaurant does not take reservations for outdoor dining.
Make a reservation online viewers: check out Zapatista's daily special offers, including $5 Margaritas, $2 Tacos, $5 Sangria and wine specials.

[NEW RESTAURANT] Room 21: As the latest dining venture from notable restaurateur Jerry Kleiner, Room 21 opens just in time for patrons to take advantage of the restaurant's large terrace. Although the alfresco dining area is large in size (capacity at around 100), due to popularity, outdoor seating is only available on a first come/first serve basis.
Make a reservation online

Loop / Downtown

The Park Grill: As one of the city's largest al fresco restaurants, The Park Grill can also boast about its prime location in Millennium Park. Facing an historic stretch of Michigan Avenue, patrons can take in the sights of Chicago's famous architecture as they wine and dine. The restaurant frequently features live entertainment as well. The outdoor plaza seats 300-350, while the Cafe adjacent seats 60. The Park Grill does not take reservations for alfresco dining.
Make a reservation online

Rhapsody: Rhapsodys impressive seasonal garden patio whisks patrons away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Bright yellow umbrellas surrounded by a colorful array of planted flowers create a charming atmosphere that continues to draw in new customers. Rhapsody’s garden patio seats about 50, with a first come/first serve policy.
Make a reservation online

Roscoe Village

Kaze: Offering elegance in alfresco dining, this Roscoe Village hot-spot is the perfect place to enjoy the wine and dine under the stars while dining on fine contemporary Japanese cuisine. Candlelight and white table cloths evoke the intimate atmosphere Kaze is known for. Street side seating can accommodate up to 40 people. Kaze's alfresco dining is generally first come/first serve, but the restaurant tries to accommodate special requests.

Don't miss our special offers for viewers at Kaze, including a $10 Sashimi & Sake dinner on Monday Nights.

Volo Lounge: Hip and chic, Volo's outdoor cabana lounge serves as a vineyard haven with private cedar wood cabanas, outdoor seating and a weathered barn. The backyard garden accommodates for 75, with an additional sidewalk cafe with seating for 20. Volo Lounge does not take
reservations for its alfresco dining.

River North / West

Brasserie Jo: Ideal for people watching in the afternoon or seeing the City of Chicago light up at night, Brasserie Jo’s outdoor French-style cafe seating matches its quality French cuisine. Dogs are not only allowed, but encouraged to enjoy a complimentary gourmet meal of steak tartare. The restaurant's intimate 30-seat outdoor space operates on a first come/first serve basis.
Make a reservation online

Avenue M: The secluded outdoor patio at Avenue M is romantically city-chic with white linen tables and shady trees that glow at night with twinkling overhead lights. Additional comfortable, neutral colored couches create a lounge space for dining with friends and small groups. Avenue M's patio opens at 3pm on Saturday and Sunday and does take reservations for alfresco dining.
Make a reservation online

North Michigan Avenue/Gold Coast

Peninsula Hotel Shanghai Terrace: With a sophisticated menu and breathtaking view of Michigan Avenue, the Peninsula Hotel's Shanghai Terrace ranks among the most luxurious in alfresco dining. The restaurant can accommodate around 70 people, and Shanghai Terrace will take reservations for the outdoor terrace.
Make a reservation online

Tavern on Rush: Always packed with people, Tavern on Rush is the ideal alfresco dining venue for people watching. The ample-sized sidewalk cafe accommodates 80 people on a first come/first serve basis.
Make a reservation online

Lincoln Park

Mon Ami Gabi: Nestled in a flourishing garden, Mon Ami Gabi's charmingly French outdoor restaurant complements the quaint Lincoln Park neighborhood it resides in. Weather permitting, outdoor seating is first come/first serve, with space for around 64 people.
Make a reservation online

Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba: This summer, take your tapas on the terrace with a cold pitcher of sangria at Café Ba-Ba-Reeba. The breezy, enclosed patio invites a colorful view of Lincoln Park with a lively ambiance of world music and entertainment. Terrace seating is plentiful in number with a capacity of 150, but goes quickly with their first come/first serve basis.
Make a reservation online

Boka: Whether stopping in before a production at Steppenwolf or just looking for trendy dining, Boka's terrace is a metropolitan must. Much like the interior of Boka, the veranda incorporates simple modern design that integrates nicely with the recently updated landscaping elements. If attending before a show, make sure to allow extra time as alfresco seating is first come/first serve and limited to a 30-person capacity.
Make a reservation online

Wicker Park/Bucktown

Meritage Cafe & Wine Bar: Intimate and romantic, Meritage Cafe's outdoor patio is a worthy visit for the finest in alfresco dining. The veranda glitters with overhead lights, creating a dreamy atmosphere for sipping on wine from Meritage's extensive wine list under the stars. During colder months, Meritage Cafe covers and heats the patio for year-round alfresco dining. Meritage Cafe does accept reservations for their outdoor
seating, which seats up to 75 people.
Make a reservation online

Green Dolphin Street: Green Dolphin Street's enclosed garden atrium works as an extension to the restaurant, allowing fresh air to slip in through large, open window. Doubling as a music venue, the restaurant's seating availability is subject to change on any given night for planned events and weather permitting, with a maximum capacity of 120 people.
Make a reservation online

MAS: MAS's Latin dishes are a perfect complement to the summer heat. Outdoor seating is limited, but worthwhile if you can grab a table. MAS does not take reservations for outdoor seating, operating on a first come/first serve basis.
Make a reservation online

Old Town

Adobo Grill: Adobo Grill invites you to enjoy regional Mexican fare on the patio at their Old Town and Wicker Park locations. Seating is moderate between 8-12 tables, but goes fast as the restaurant does not take reservations for their outdoor seating.
Make a reservation online

Order $25 Gift Certificates for only $10 for Adobo Grill.

Bistrot Margot: This French bistro features 12 intimate street side tables for 2-3 along the bustling Wells Street ideal for people watching while sipping on wine and nibbling on French bread. As a popular feature of the restaurant, Bistrot Margot does not take reservations for their alfresco dining.
Make a reservation online

Order $25 Gift Certificates for only $10 for Bistrot Margot.

North Shore

Jacky's Bistro: Known for their Southern French elegance, Jacky’s Bistro opens its terrace to the quiet and comfortable greenery of Prairie Avenue. Featuring 11 tables, outdoor seating is on a first come/first serve basis.
Make a reservation online

Lovell's of Lake Forest: Surround yourself with refined French Colonial ambiance and cuisine with a view at Lovell's of Lake Forest. The restaurant does accept reservations for the 10 available outdoor tables.
Make a reservation online

Western Suburbs

Antico Posto: Dine alfresco Old World-style at Antico Posto. The restaurant features over 30 varieties of wine by the glass and half-glass, ideal for a romantic evening at one of 10 outdoor tables. Alfresco seats are first come/first serve.

Carlucci Downers Grove: Combining elegant and modern ambiance with Old World cuisine, alfresco dining at Carlucci's brings chic, metropolitan dining to the west suburbs. 10-15 outdoor tables are available depending on the evening on a first come/first serve basis.
Make a reservation online

Catch 35 Naperville: Eat your surf on the turf at Catch 35's outdoor terrace. While you might not be able to have the summer seaside view, pleasant dining weather can usually make up for that. Accommodating up to 30 people, the restaurant does not take reservations for the veranda.
Make a reservation online

The Clubhouse at Oakbrook: The handsome Clubhouse restaurant opens its doors to enjoy the prime cuisine and luxurious service under the stars. With 11 outdoor tables, the restaurant cannot guarantee outdoor seating, but will try to accommodate special requests.
Make a reservation online

Our Favorites: Al Fresco Dining in Chicago

  • The Terrace at Trump
  • Zapatista - CLOSED
  • Zapatista - CLOSED

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