A Compendium of Chicago’s Best New Patio and Rooftop Bars
These 13 spots will keep you buzzing all summer long
If you haven’t already noticed, it’s no longer painfully, terribly, deathly cold outside. And as any Chicagoan knows, starting to feel the blood pump back into our extremities means one thing: patio season is back. Here are the 13 best new (and newish) spots for having a beer or a dram under the sun.
This highly anticipated Navy Pier addition claims to be the largest rooftop deck in the country, and at a whopping 36,000 square feet — which includes 8,500 square feet of indoor space, a 20,000-square-foot Terrace and a 100-foot bar with seating for 60 — we’re definitely inclined to believe them. Sleek industrial chic stylings sets the sprawling lounge apart from the rest of the family-friendly tourist hub, as do inventive craft cocktails, seasonal shareables from Monnie Burke’s alum Chef Michael Shrader, multiple fire pits, a 450-square-foot sculptural planter inspired by the three branches of Chicago River and, of course, epic lakefront views (not to mention those humidity-relieving breezes).
1000 E. Grand Ave. (map)
Top Chef fan favorite CJ Jacobson presides over this 4,000-square-foot rooftop oasis, where summertime guests lounge about the inviting greenery-strewn patio snacking on soulful Mediterranean fare and sipping playful, unique cocktails from Drifter vet Liz Pearce. The beloved trellised outdoor area is ushering in the season with a mix of cozy patio furniture, evening fire pits and plenty of much-needed sun to pair with your mezze plate and ultra-refreshing Friesling, a frosty blend of dry riesling, vanilla, cream soda cordial, orange and lemon.
302 N. Green St. (map)
This spring, the team behind celebrated Wrigleyville whiskey mecca Mordecai transformed their handsome second floor hideaway into the ultimate cocktail-lover’s escape, complete with artfully crafted (and markedly potent) baseball-inspired concoctions, full access to the restaurant’s lauded rare and vintage spirits collection, weekend DJs and a fully retractable front wall revealing the spot’s idyllic patio. The flat screen beside the illuminated bar runs a live feed from the stadium next door, but we suggest taking your tipple outdoors on game day so you can soak up Clark Street’s infectious energy from a safe and sophisticated distance.
3632 N. Clark St. (map)
This 22-story-high, 13,000 square-foot McCormick Place destination debuted to such fanfare last fall, we can only imagine how stoked South Loopers must be to take advantage of a full season of warm-weather reveling. Expect big crowds a brunch, when eclectic dishes like lobster chilaquiles and bacon-glazed puff pastry doughnuts with guava mousse complement classic cocktails, crisp rosé and unmatched cityscape views.
133 E. Cermak Road (map)
This lively North Beach hangout is greeting its third season on the sandy lakefront with a fresh new look and even fresher new beverage program (Frozignon Blanc, anyone?). The revamp includes an expanded dog-friendly patio bathed in vibrant local artwork, a full-service bar and globally inspired bites. If you feel like flexing, call ahead and snag a serene cabana, sunbed or daybed at the reservations-only Oasis, where large format cocktails are delivered tableside and the bottles never stop popping.
1603 N. Lake Shore Drive (map)
Renown chef Stephanie Izard (Girl and the Goat, Little Goat) helms this Peruvian stunner atop Fulton Market’s hipper-than-hip Hoxton Hotel. Come summer, guests can enjoy their citrusy pisco sours and ocean-fresh ceviche poolside at the restaurant’s adjoining open air patio. And with a recently launched lunch program in place — not to mention rave reviews from just about every publication in the city — we’re predicting this’ll be 2019’s Summer Friday central.
200 N. Green St. (map)
Perle at Politan Row Chicago
This airy German-themed beer garden is stashed inside the West Loop’s Politan Row, a sparkling new addition to the year’s rapidly expanding upmarket food hall roster. It’s also the national chain’s first standalone beverage concept, so you know they’re bringing their A game. The menu focuses on traditional European drafts plus wine and several Kräuterlikörs, a little known German style of amari destined to take us bitters-crazy Chicagoans by storm, all served out of a slick custom-designed converted shipping container. Fruity radlers and effervescent spritzes are on hand to brighten things up, as is a weekday happy hour featuring $5 Pilsners and $5 rosé from 4PM to 7PM.
111 N. Aberdeen St. (map)
Chicago hitmakers Land & Sea Dept. have done it again with this neighborhood Tex-Mex joint, and this one comes equipped with not one but two outdoor drinking options: a sidewalk patio for prime people-watching and a date night-worthy roof deck, hung with fairy lights, lined with shrubbery and ready to take on its first full season of glory. And it just so happens that both are excellent perches for washing down heaps of queso-drenched nachos with legendary barkeep Paul McGee’s world famous margaritas.
2101 N. California Ave. (map)
This brick-lined Pilsen darling is kicking off its second summer better than ever with a separate outdoor bar, strung lights, boatloads of ambience and gaslit heaters to ensure warm weather dreams last well into the fall. Grab a seat out back and get down on some cheffy farm-to-table creations (including a full lineup of juicy steaks) or get the party started with a few Little Village Palomas, a jazzed up version of the tequila-meets-grapefruit staple spiked with artichoke liqueur and tart Chilean maqui berries.
1163 W. 18th St. (map)
Parson’s Chicken and Fish
Besting the Logan Square location’s treasured patio might be damn near impossible, but Parson’s recently-opened Lincoln Park little sister, with its multiple retractable garage-style windows and iconic umbrella-topped picnic tables, is determined to put up a good fight. Who will be the victor? You’ll just have to kick back with a “Demon-Style” spicy fried chicken sandwich then fan the flames with one of the spot’s notoriously addictive (and patio-perfect) frozen negroni slushies and judge for yourself.
2952 W. Armitage Ave. (map)
We hear Andersonville is having a moment, and if this charmingly artsy mecca of wood-fired deliciousness from former Band of Bohemia baker Chef Greg Hageli is any indication, the rumors are resoundingly true. Frozen Palomas, whiskey highballs and the ultimate boozy throwback, the Sloe Gin Fizz, delight the crowds, interspersed with pizzas topped with caramelized onion merlot jam and pancetta and wood-grilled wings peppered with black garlic and peanuts. While the gaping front windows already provide ample open air exposure, the soon-to-be-opened enormous backyard and outdoor bar will really seal the deal.
5721 N. Clark St. (map)
SX Sky Bar at Hotel Essex
Stationed in the freshly reimagined landmark Hotel Essex, this bilevel sixth-floor lounge is glitzing up the South Loop with high-end beverages, Asian-influenced small plates, funky Art Deco-inspired furnishings and wide open floor-to-ceiling windows with sweeping views of Grant Park. And even if you can’t swing for the luxe $669 Dominatrix cocktail, a mix of Dom Perignon Brut, Clase Azul Reposado, orange liqueur, candied oranges, lime and agave presented in a crystal vase, at least you can work out your troubles on the dance floor.
808 S. Michigan Ave. (map)
Chef Danny Grant of Maple & Ash fame brings wood-fired New American eats and easy-drinking cocktails to Bucktown with this sunny two-story North Avenue outpost. Two full bars and a rooftop terrace engulfed in greenery and dotted with red umbrellas and quaint French bistro tables set the tone for lazy day drinking go-tos like large format margaritas and micheladas with all the fixings. It’s casual neighborhood dining at its best.
1840 W. North Ave. (map)