Best of Chicago Outdoor Dining 2021

by Amanda on July 20, 2021

Dear friend,

After a year’s hiatus, we at Chicago Home Partner are more than excited to announce the return of one of our favorites.  That’s right Chicago – it’s time to grab some friends, pack up the stroller, leash up your pups and get outside to enjoy some of the best al fresco dining our city has to offer. 

Al Fresco:  From the Italian word al fresco meaning “in the fresh air”.

Dining:  From the French word diner meaning “to have dinner”.

Al Fresco Dining:  A tradition of eating outside during the summer.

Over the years, we have tried to provide you with our favorite destinations whether Northside, Southside, Westside or The Loop. Regardless of cuisine or location, we have strived to provide you with the best of the best, year after year.  That’s why this year we’ve searched through the archives and are pleased to announce… The Chicago Home Partner Top 10 Al Fresco RestaurantsREOPENING EDITION!

Where this list may be FAR from complete, you’re sure to find a new spot you haven’t tried yet that may quickly become a favorite.

Remember that these warmer days will be gone before we know it so get on out there and share your favorites on our Facebook page at

La Palapa  –  Bridgeport –  2000 W. 34th St.  773-376-9620

Palapa:  (def) – a traditional Mexican shelter roofed with palm leaves or branches.
So you might not think “Palapa” when visiting Bridgeport, but this seafood/shellfish spot is not to be missed.  Settled along an “urban” part of Damen, (yes North Siders it DOES go past Grand Avenue), this mariscos place provides seating in the sand (parking lot), nestled amongst palm trees (fake), a loud norteño band, thatched umbrellas, and a giant rubber shark perched atop the restaurant.  If that doesn’t get your heading to the South Side tonight, know that their ceviche is top notch, the garlicky langoustines are outstanding and best of all – your own bucket of beer.

Smoque BBQ – 3800 Pulaski –  (773) 545-7427

Hands down the BEST barbecue in the city of Chicago, Smoque doesn’t waste your palate on tons of sauce, instead creating meaty BBQ dreams that melt in your mouth (can you tell we liked it!)  Pulled pork, ribs and our personal favorite the brisket are all smoked daily and ready for your dining pleasure.  Don’t forget to try the panko-baked mac-and-cheese to go along with your piles of meaty goodness!

La Creperie:  2845 North Clark Street, (773) 528.9050

Really?  A Crepe restaurant consistently ranks among the top of CHP’s list?  Well, when it comes to outdoor dining La Creperie takes the cake.  A quiet garden with twinkling lights welcomes you and creates a wonderfully intimate atmosphere right off Clark Street.  Come for dinner with a party or dessert with that special someone and order the Nutella/banana crepe with a scoop of hand made vanilla ice cream.

Tango Sur:  3763 North Southport Ave., (773) 477.5466

There isn’t a ton of outdoor seating, you’re right on Southport and you’re going to wait a bit to enjoy this Lakeview gem – but one bite of the steak vesuvio and you’ll forget everything else.  This authentic Argentinian steakhouse is not to be missed – nor is the Vesuvio – stuffed with spinach, garlic and mar del plata cheese.  This is one dish that will keep you coming back.

90 Miles Cuban Cafe:  2540 West Armitage, (773) 227.2822.  

Hot Chicago evenings on the patio dining on Lechon and Tostones while sipping on a Mojito.  It doesn’t get much better than this and no one serves up better Cuban food in the city than 90 Miles.  Toasted Cuban sandwiches, amazing flaky empanadas, garlicky yuca chips and some seriously potent café con leche.  However the big draws here are the spacious front and back patios along Armitage avenue, allowing customers to enjoy these delicacies in the heat of Chicago evenings.

Park & Field:  3509 W Fullerton Ave., (765) 426-6657

Chicagoans have been enjoying the spacious 6,000-square-foot patio at Park & Field since it debut. In keeping with the old-timey vintage gym theme, guests can also play bocce on the outdoor courts, huddling around the fire pits sipping cocktails.  PF also provides and amazing farm-to-fork dining experience, a full ice cream menu of vintage favorites AND a dog menu for your favorite patio-pal.

Gather – 4539 N. Lincoln Ave., (773) 506-9300

Features a 40-seat, covered terrace in Lincoln Square features shareable dishes like a “Gathering Board” of charcuterie and pickled vegetables, to be accompanied by summery wine coolers served by the glass. Community Food + Wine aims to set itself apart with a reputation for quality, creativity and engaging service with a focus on locally-sourced ingredients and an approachable wine list.

Parson’s Chicken & Fish– 2952 W. Armitage, (773) 384-3333

Another of the “picnic table garden” entries this year, Parson’s does an excellent job of providing comfort food in a laid back atmosphere.  Make sure to try the hush puppies, pimento toast, and save room for a piece of pie from Bang Bang bakery around the corner.

Reno – 2607 N. Milwaukee Ave., (773) 697-4234

40 sidewalk seats make for an amazing afternoon of excellent pizza and hipster-watching at this Logan Square gem.  Their wood-fired pizzas are amazing and taste direct from Italy, especially the Paulina (pepperoni, jalepeno, pesto and mozzarella) and the Hang Ten (spicy coppa, red onion, grilled pineapple and mozzarella).

Longman & Eagle, 2657 N. Kedzie Ave., 773-276-7110

Avoid the loud and cramped interior and head to the sidewalk café.  Whether dinner, lunch or brunch, this Logan Square staple delivers amazing food and an unbeatable drink list. Reservations are now being accepted and walk-ins are added to their waitlist while enjoying cocktails at the bar. Don’t miss their brunch offerings which are second to none!

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