July 2016 Al Fresco Restaurants

by Amanda on July 12, 2016

For the past ten years, I have suggested that you (our loyal Chicago Home Partner family!) grab some friends, pack up the stroller, leash up your pups and get outside to enjoy some of the best al fresco dining that Chicago 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. The place is not a big deal when you have car leasing you can visit your favorite restaurants 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 our archives, added in some new & are pleased to announce… The Chicago Home Partner Top 10 Al Fresco Restaurants!

This special 10th Edition of the Al Fresco Dining Guide is available online at www.ChicagoHomePartner.com/dining with Team CHP commentary, links to Yelp review pages and which meal is best served at the establishment. 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.

It’s been hit or miss this year so remember that these warmer days be gone before we know it. Get on out there and share your favorites on our Facebook page at Facebook.com/ChicagoHomePartner.


Near North Side, River East | 259 E. Erie St. (312) 337-0101

oNamed one of our top new restaurants of 2015, GreenRiver opened with a splash last September, not leaving us much time to enjoy the sprawling outdoor terrace before winter hit. As the 18th-floor space emerges from hibernation this year, you’ll notice two separate sections: a bar area facing Lake Michigan that fits 40 to 45 and a dining area with urban views and room for 50. It will do the trick for impressing parents and out-of-town visitors.


Corridor Brewery & Provisions

Lakeview | 3446 N. Southport Ave. (773) 270-4272

o (2)Sky-blue vintage metal armchairs and bench seating made from the flooring of old railroad boxcars surround reclaimed wood tables on the Lakeview brewpub’s patio for 22. Stop in to sample their farm house ales and amazing artistic pizzas that will impress the most scrutinizing tastebuds!



Dos Urban Cantina

Logan Square | 2829 W. Armitage Ave. (773) 661-6452

o (3)Deemed the “most important Mexican restaurant since [Rick Bayless’] Topolobampo,” the Logan Square list-topper has seats for 40 on a sidewalk patio, complete with a wine cart stocked with vintage rosés by the glass. Starting in May, the restaurant rolls out a new menu with rotating botanas, such as chicharron croquettes with aioli and beef gorditas with guacamole, as well as large format palomas and margaritas.


Elixir Lounge and Replay Andersonville

Andersonville, Edgewater | 1509 W. Balmoral Ave. (773) 654-1751 and 5358 N. Clark St. (773) 654-1369

o (5)Opening late last season in September, the Andersonville cocktail bar and arcade bar share this 68-seat sidewalk patio fenced in by planter boxes and accented with umbrellas and light-strung trees.  The food is only overshadowed by the barrage of FREE classic arcade games!  That’s right… choice cocktails, excellent menu and video games…  (plus outdoor dining!).


Johnny’s Grill and Mezcaleria Las Flores

Logan Square | 2545 N Kedzie Ave. (773) 278-2215

Feel the vibes from beautiful Oaxaca on this Logan Square sidewalk patio shared by the diner and mezcaleria. With string lights and a retractable awning for those super-bright days, 100-ish people can kick back and relax with smoky Mexican-inspired cocktails, a burger that is “said” to rival Au Cheval and even homemade pop tarts!


Whiskey Business

West Town, Wicker Park | 1367 N. Milwaukee Ave. (773) 698-7362

o (9)This whiskey watering hole is the rooftop Wicker Park has been waiting for, with seating for 170 at picnic and communal tables—some with personal ice chests for really thirsty groups—and loveseats. While brick and artificial grass walls don’t offer much of a view (and it’s a two-story building), expect five 4-by-8-foot TVs so you’ll never miss the game. Menus for both Whiskey Business and adjacent Cheesie’s Pub & Grub are available.


Gather Restaurant

Lincoln Square, Ravenswood | 4539 N. Lincoln Ave. (773) 506-9300

o (10)Gather is a place to bring the parents, go on a third date or celebrate whatever milestone Lincoln Square residents celebrate.  If you’re with a group, great—Gather is built for this, and has a section on the menu (“gather and share”) dedicated to feeding you. It’s made up of dishes like charcuterie boards, a shareable short rib chili (you spread it on corn cakes), steak tartare served with housemade brioche. With outdoor seating for close to 100, this is a perfect spot to spend a summer evening.


Big Star

West Town, Wicker Park | 1531 N Damen Ave (773) 235-4039

o (11)I can’t believe that it’s been ten years and Big Star has NEVER made it on our list!  Chicago’s most popular patio is always an attractive option for outdoor dining, but large crowds and long waits are to be expected.  Those who tough it out and will be rewarded with delicious tacos, (try the Tacos al Pastor), and fabulous margaritas. Don’t want to wait?  Order from the takeout window and saunter over to nearby Wicker Park for a lovely picnic – just remember it’s cash only.


Forno Rosso

Near West Side, West Loop | 1048 Randolph Street (312) 243-6000

o (12)Forno Rosso’s second location, (now in the West Loop), has opened an amazing 60-seat patio this spring to create an “Italian outdoor café experience,” according to owner Nick Nitti. Guests can enjoy the full menu outside, which includes the rustic Neapolitan pies that have gained a cult-like following among pizza lovers.  Prosciutto arugula pizza is my #1, and I always pair it with one of the special red pizzas.


Small Cheval

West Town, Wicker Park | 1732 N. Milwaukee Ave (312) 929-4580

o (13)The Au Cheval spinoff offers near-replicas of the nationally-acclaimed burger that Chicagoans can’t get enough of, as well as ample patio seating so you don’t have to wait hours in line. The slimmed-down menu keeps things simple with just a few beverage options to go alongside the burgers and fries, but when the food is this good, you’ll find no complaints.  Milk shakes and craft beer… say no more.

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