Summer Dining and the Living’s Easy: An Outdoor Patio Guide

on Jul29

28 July 2017 | 3:08 pm

As summer slowly slips from our grasp, it’s not too late to visit some of Chicago’s premiere outdoor dining spaces.  Here’s a short guide to the must-visit restaurants before they close their patio umbrellas for the season.  

With less than 60 days left of summer it’s time to soak up what little sun we have left by dining outdoors.  You know there are only two seasons in Chicago, right? Winter and patio. And you need to scramble as soon as possible, as soon as temperatures stay anything above 65 degrees and those outdoor tables, chairs and umbrellas come out.  You already know what time it is: Patio time.  There’s a sense of calm and cheer that consumes the city.  We know the worst is behind us (usually) and it’s our chance to get out and enjoy the sun after months of brutal harsh wind and snow.  It’s as if people have multiplied overnight and humans are coming from underground or have awaken from winter hibernation, to enjoy the summer.  At least that’s what the start of patio season feels like to me and here are some of my favorite places to enjoy summer outdoor dining.

1.  Parson’s Chicken & Fish 

     2952 W. Armitage Ave.

     Chicago, IL 60647

Parson’s is first on my list.  Full disclosure, Parson’s is walking distance from my house in the beautiful Logan Square neighborhood, so it’s my No. 1 go-to in terms of summer dining.  That being said, don’t judge it by the long wait times and huge backyard patio, and definitely don’t call it an overrated establishment.  You can enjoy delicious crispy fried chicken or fish, hush puppies and cheese curds and sip icy cocktails under an outdoor patio umbrella.  They have signature frozen cocktails like their Original Negroni Slushy that has a real tartness to it or my favorite the Purple frozen alcoholic delight.  Simply called “Purple,” the beverage takes red wine and other goodies and transforms them into a frozen sangria type drink.  But wait, there’s more! My favorite thing about the outdoor patio at Parson’s on top of all the great food, drinks and view of the beautiful Humboldt Boulevard is that it’s dog friendly.  I bring my pup with me all the time.  It’s a great place to hang out, soak in summer vibes and drink with your dog.

Photo by Clayton Hauck for Parson’s Chicken & Fish

2. Bang Bang Pie & Biscuits 

    2051 N. California Ave.

    Chicago, IL 60647

Oh Bang Bang, let me count the ways I love thee.  Bang Bang is another hot Logan Square restaurant, with a location in Ravenswood as well, that has plenty of hype, but delivers.  The first time I went to Bang Bang I thought it was just a pie shop, but it’s so much more than that.  Yes, their pies are ahhmazing and they have a beautiful outdoor patio that feels cozy with their shared picnic tables, but they also have savory biscuits and pot pies! And let me tell you their buffalo-style chicken pot pie is out of this world.  Also, you can’t miss out on their candied bacon.  I often dream about the crisp crunch of their sweet bacon, trust me on this one.  So come for the constantly rotating pie menu, stay for the candied bacon and outdoor seating.

Bang Bang Pie & Biscuits

3.   El Cid

      2645 N. Kedzie Ave.

      Chicago, IL 60647

What I love about El Cid is its laid-back feel.  It’s a no-frills mainstay of Logan Square and has a gorgeous back patio to enjoy in the warmer months of Chicago.  The food is great, amazingly priced and you can order pitchers of margaritas.  What more could you ask for in a restaurant? This outdoor space feels more quaint and cozy than the others listed, and that’s why I love it.  Feels like you’re at someone’s backyard fiesta.  Grab a burrito, let the drinks flow and you have yourself a recipe for a great summer evening.

4.  Big Star

     1531 N. Damen Ave.

     Chicago, IL 60622

Big Star is a Wicker Park staple.  Right off the Damen Blue Line, it attracts people from every part of the city.  Why? Is it because of its delicious tacos? Could it be its expansive menu of whiskey, tequila and cocktails? I’d like to think its popularity is due in large part to its enormous outdoor patio.  Big Star is the epitome of what outdoor dining is in Chicago – with the ability to simultaneously create a party mood and a relaxed vibe with their outdoor lighting and seating.  To add to the beautiful setting, Big Star has amazing tacos, my favorite being the al pastor and fish taco as well as their yummy guacamole.  At first the $8 price tag on the guac turned me off, but it’s worth the price.  Few places get the salt/lime ratio right for me, but it is my duty to inform you that Big Star nails it.  Another amazing feature of Big Star is that if the wait time to be seated is too long (as it often can be on beautiful summer nights), they have a to-go window where you can order delicious food to your heart’s content and then sit in their “to-go” section.  So you can get your grub on in the same setting without the wait!

Big Star

5.  90 Miles Cuban Cafe

     2540 W. Armitage Ave.

     Chicago, IL 60647

I’ve never been to Cuba, but at 90 Miles I feel like I don’t have to in order to get authentic Cuban cuisine.  Like Bang Bang, 90 Miles has multiple locations, but the one I’m referring to specifically is their Logan Square location.  With a beautiful patio, outdoor seating, and of course what would an outdoor space be without string lights, 90 Miles serves up delicious Cuban cuisine under the stars.  Another added bonus is 90 Miles has a parking area just down the street for those driving.  I don’t know what more you could ask for in a dining experience.  I recommend going for the classic Cubano with some papas fritas (French fries) and washing it down with some café con leche.  On top of this it’s BYOB, so feel free to bring some libations along with you.

While I didn’t mean to comprise this list of mostly Logan Square restaurants, I’m also not apologizing for it either.   These are honestly some of my favorite outdoor spaces and restaurants in general.  So get out there, savor the sun and get your grub on!

90 Miles Chicago

By Lauren Stevens


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